Saturday, February 16, 2013

Animaniacs Volume 4: Update 2: “Meet the Warner Brothers, and the Warner Sister Dot".

No, we’re certainly not meeting them for the first time.  More like we’re getting started on the great new DVD set Animaniacs Volume 4.   …Though, just for fun we MIGHT “…run around the Warner Movie Lot”.  Just a little, maybe…

You can find our original post on the set HERE, and our first update HERE.   This final volume begins even better than I expected.  Nothing but complete and utter enjoyment, spread out over the first three episodes.    
I’m issuing "Spoiler Warners”… I mean “Spoiler WARNINGS” on all.   Here they are: 
We're the Spoiler Warners and the Warner Sister Dot -- and you're our "Special Friend"!

Episode # 1:  Gimme the Works” / “Buttons in Ows” / “Hercules Unwound”:

Right out of the gate, the Warners screw with your expectations…  Bless their devious little trickster hearts.

They run across a loud, foul-tempered hot-dog vendor, whom Yakko ominously declares is their new “special friend”.  But, just when you were expecting Hot-Dog Guy to get the titular “Works”, Dot declares that she’s just not into it today, and the trio walk off leaving the venomous vendor sadly un-harassed.
What's "hot" is "not" for Dot!

Heedless toddler Mindy crawls off after little dog Toto, with her canine rescuer Buttons in hot pursuit, and they all get tornadoed-away to Oz.  Does Buttons get Munchkin-mashed, and Ruby Slipper-slammed?  Whadda you think?!  Special appearance by Pinky and The Brain, as “the mice behind the curtain”.
He's off to be creamed by the Wizard!

Finally, an ultra-whiny version of Hercules faces his legendary labors… and the prospect of being heckled by Yakko, Wakko, and Dot.  But, in a marvelous “call-back” to the show’s opening, Dot’s still not into it so, believe it not, we abruptly shift into a Pinky and The Brain cartoon... using Hercules and Zeus as The Brain’s latest pawns toward achieving (ancient) world domination! 
After the Warners left... Joan Rivers?
Talk about screwing with your expectations!  I don’t think I’ve EVER seen such an unexpected shift in focus before.  I’m sorry if I’ve spoiled this for anyone – but it serves to show just how talented the ANIMANIACS staff of writers actually were!   
The same thing we do every night... Try to take over a cartoon!

Episode # 2:  This Pun for Hire” / “Star Truck” / “Go Fish” / “Multiplication Song”:

Oh, did I say the writing staff on ANIMANIACS was TALENTED?  I can’t begin to adequately describe the feelings brought on by watching “This Pun for Hire”! 

I’ve not seen “This Pun for Hire” for nearly 15 years, and I loved it THEN… but NOW that I’ve come to fancy myself a writer (if even in my own mind, and a few scattered issues of Disney comic books), I view it with utter awe and unabashed envy!  How I would love to write dialogue THIS GOOD and THIS FUNNY! 

What could have been little more than a routine parody of “The Maltese Falcon” in lesser hands, is an absolutely amazing, non-stop laugh fest!  This is the kind of thing that can make you laugh heartily out loud, even when sitting alone with it late at night, after your spouse has retired.  (It did for me!) A relentless assault on your funnybone, that pushes the envelope in every conceivable direction.  When a guest appearance by FREAKAZOID! isn’t even the second-or-third funniest thing in the picture, you KNOW you’ve got something special.
You mean I didn't get the BEST LINES?!

Not to be overshadowed, “Star Truck” may very well be the best animated parody / tribute to that classic series.  What’s worse than becoming the Warners’ “special friend of the day”?  Why, having them be FANS of yours, of course!  And, like so many of us nerds and geeks, fans of “Star Truck” they are. 

This episode may have pioneered the “halting cadence” that has now become the de-facto method of vocally impersonating William Shatner.  We see the “Scotty character’s” transformation from the relatively slim engineer of 1966’s first season to the bloated, mustachioed persona of the ‘80s film series occur before our eyes.  And, the Spock character has the “expected / unexpected consequences” of a mind-meld with Wakko.  You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Wakko’s familiar “Faboo!” spoken in a Spock-parody voice!

The balance of the show has Wakko playing a card game with himself (escalating the stakes and violence level), and one of those Yakko educational songs about multiplication.   After the first two ABSOLUTE GEMS, it’s almost as if… who cares!  You could have tacked on ANYTHING, and the show would still be a success. 
I know... Let's just tack on ANYTHING!

Episode # 3:  “The Sound of Warners” / “Yabba Dabba Boo” :
Ev-ery-ting is peaceful... TOO peaceful!
The Warners meet their match in a “Julie-Andrews-like” nanny assigned to keep them out of trouble.  A really nice twist to this is that Yakko, Wakko, and Dot can’t drive her away in their usual heckling style because she has not been rude, or taken any aggressive actions against them.  It’s sort of their code, like the later Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny.  So, they get someone else to handle the job.  Care to guess who? 
Ahhh... Don't think so HARD, ya might HURT yerself!

By now, you know the drill.  Chicken Boo, now in the guise of script-doctor “Larry Gel-Boo” is brought in to save a Flintstones script, which is failing badly.  His “clucks” are amazingly just what the script needs to send the producer and the rest of the Writer's Room into fits of laughing hysterics.  A lone writer, who sees Boo as the chicken he is, sits dumbfounded until vindicated by the eventual reveal. 

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that not everyone likes Chicken Boo, nor do they find the variations on the single plot of a chicken infiltrating various areas of human endeavor to be as absurdly funny as I do.   But, I can’t apologize for that.  This tickles my sense of the absurd, and that must have been the feeling at Warner Bros. and Spielberg’s as well.  So, add a few points if you’re a “Boo-Booster”, and subtract a few if you’re not.  
Give me a "B"!  Give me an "O"! Give me an "O"!
 No matter, I just hope you're all enjoying ANIMANIACS Volume 4 as much as I am! 
Will be be ..."Back" with more?  Ya never know!


Dan said...

Hellooooooo, Nurse Joe!

Great promo & anticipation for "Animaniacs" Vol. 4, this set was a long time coming. I imagine there was fan demand for this set to be completed (& the recent deal to re-air the series on the "HUB" Network didn't hurt, either.)

I urge anyone who reads this blog to pick up Vol. 4 just to watch the “Back in Style” episode you referenced in an earlier post: this cartoon alone is WORTH THE PRICE OF THE SET!!!

Those with a good knowledge of animation history will dig this one... a non-stop barrage of 60s-70s animation industry inside references (they made it just for us!)

I am not often a laugh-out-loud guy, but can tell you the FILMATION "Fat Albert" parody is so bitingly accurate to that studio's style that it continues to bring me to fits of laughter. After "Darkwing" it's probably my favorite Jim Cummings v/o performance. There's tons more good stuff inside.

As you know, any monetary response to this recent resurgence in interest of "Animaniacs" could signal some new projects (collected editions of the D.C. comic book would be most welcome.) I do know through his "Talkin' Toons" podcast, Rob Paulsen (Yakko/Pinky) has received permission from WB to do a live tour with musician/writer Randy Rogel, performing songs from (and intended for) the series sometime this year.

Here's a project proposal I cooked up that could REALLY propel things forward: an audio podcast featuring Yakko, Wakko & Dot chiming in on current day trends. Imagine if WB was willing to pay for a writer plus Tress, Rob & Jess to let loose in a recording booth every two weeks? Imagine the Warner sibs taking on subjects like Lady Gaga, Honey-BooBoo and "Real Housewives"?

C'mon. That show would reach #1 in a matter of HOURS! - Dan

Joe Torcivia said...


“Back in Style” is one of those truly unique experiences in animation that everyone should see at least once. In fact, everyone stop reading these comments, and go watch it NOW! A test will follow… and it’ll be an ESSAY test, none of those easy multiple choice tests ‘round here!

Nothin’ like THIS:

“Back in Style” parodied which cartoon bear:

A: Yogi Bear.

B: Barney Bear.

C: Smokey the Bear.

D: Bear-y Manilow.

It distressed me, for all those years between Volume 3 and 4 that I might never see it released! But, finally WHV came to its senses – and, as recent posts indicate, seem to be on an actual ROLL with animation releases once again following the fallow years of 2009-2010. Let’s take full advantage of it, while it lasts!

And, anything that results in an Animaniacs cast reunion is a “Good Idea” (…as opposed to a “Bad Idea”), and we don’t need Tom Bodette to tell us that! You’ve got my vote, now go and convince Warner…