Friday, July 5, 2013

Animaniacs Volume Four: Update 3: “The End!” …And a Question!

Ya know how it is when you don’t wanna “take that last bit o’ something”, hoping it’ll last just a little longer, and you can enjoy it all the more?   Well, that’s how it was with ANIMANIACS VOLUME FOUR, where I held off watching that final episode for several weeks. 

And, you know what?  It WAS all the more enjoyable an experience for having done so, rather than just knock it off at the end of some great big “flurry-watching” session!
Hurry!  Hurry!  Let's watch in a Flurry!
It seems we’ve been posting on bittersweet goodbyes this week – like THIS ONE.  But, for ANIMANIACS, it was different – and better – because it was clearly planned, and “Episode 99” (referred to as such in the end credits sequence) got to go out just as you’d hope such a thing would. 

The show began with the “expanded theme sequence” that was occasionally used in later years – running for about 03:05, with fast and slow tempo passages and additional animation added to the standard version of the theme.    
...And we're zaaa-nee to the max!
It opened routinely with the “Goodfeathers” short “Birds on a Wire”, where everyone’s favorite argumentative Italian New York pigeon, “Pesto”, hauls-off on one of his pals, in response to almost any old random declarative sentence. 
Pesto's on the right.  Watch what you say to him!

We then get up to speed with “The Scoring Session”, a cartoon about “musically scoring an Animaniacs cartoon”.  For our special session, the Warner Bros. in-house orchestra is made up of nearly every character that has appeared on the show since its debut in 1993 – and is a REALLY NICE way to get them all into this final episode for a farewell appearance.  Other members of the orchestra appear to be caricatures of actual musicians who have worked on the show – nice touch there, too!   
So, are you in zuh orchestra too?

WB composer / conductor Richard Stone (the ‘90s version of Carl Stalling) is also mentioned by name, as being on vacation.  His replacement conductor is the pompous rhino “Nivel Nosenest”.  Need I say that the Warners drive him to distraction, while giving us civilians a peek into a vital “behind-the-curtains” part of the animation production process. 
Nivel annoyed!

Goof Alert:  Look closely at Ralph the Guard (at the drums) and you’ll see that the “WB” patch on his uniform sleeve briefly turns to a “NB”.  Auuugh!  An animation error in the final episode!  Oh, well.
Someone REALLY shoulda caught that!

Finally, we end with a special and fitting farewell to one of the great animated programs of the modern age with “The Animaniacs Suite” – introduced thusly by Yakko, Wakko, and Dot (All three alternate):

Hi, we’re the Warner Brothers – and the Warner Sister.  And we’d like to invite you, and all the members of your household, to gather around the TV set and celebrate the first 99 episodes of ANIMANIACS…”

Wakko (Breaking tempo, more enthusiastic):
“…And, here’s the GOOD NEWS, folks – it actually DOESN’T STINK!” 

In fact, it REALLY "doesn't stink"!

And so we are treated to a still longer, expanded version of the ANIMANIACS theme (14:00 – 20:57 of the show), under the segment title of “The Animaniacs Suite”.  Credits:  Edited by Al Breitenbach.  Composed by Richard Stone.  (Yes, THAT great Richard Stone!) 
He was GREAT, wasn't he, Sibs?

You couldn’t ask for a better farewell retrospective, as the wordless instrumental plays over scene after familiar scene of this modern classic of animation:  The Warners bopping the ‘30s Looney Tunes (um…) “starBuddy (from “The Warners 65 th Anniversary Special”), Pinky and the Brain from “Jockey for Position” and “The Brain’s Apprentice”, the anthropomorphic Candle Flame observing the signing of the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, a moment of high panic from the hilarious “Night of the Living Buttons”, and on and on…

THIS is "living"?!

The ANIMANIACS theme plays both fast and slow, soft and hard (depending on the accompanying images), and veers off into individualized passages that include the respective signature themes of the show’s component features: Pinky and The Brain, Slappy Squirrel, Goodfeathers, Mindy and Buttons, and Rita and Runt.  …You’ll KNOW THEM when you hear them! 

Yeah, I HEAR 'EM all right!  I ain't THAT DEAF!

The piece ends with Dr. Scratchensniff, Ralph the Guard, and Hello Nurse getting their final revenge by slamming butterfly nets over the Warner Sibs, to the final beat of the music – and “That’s All Folks”, for ANIMANIACS! 

Good night, everybody!

The closing credits roll with the full-screen message: 

A special THANK YOU to all those who contributed to the success of ANIMANIACS”. 

Within the credits lies the declaration:

This is Episode 99”. 

And, for the awaited (and final) joke credit – as the show is wont to do, we get: 

Just wait until Episode 100!  Just wait!  And wait!  And wait!”

To end it all, the Warners pop out of their Water Tower to shout:  Good-BYE, Nurse!” 

It’s clear that everyone involved wanted to “go out” with something special, and did they ever succeed!   

Now, I have a question for all of you…

My recollection was that this final episode of ANIMANIACS was originally aired, Saturday morning (November 14, 1998) on “Kids WB” in an hour-long  block with “Star Warners” a STAR WARS parody starring the ANIMANIACS characters (with a cameo by Freakazoid!  and his cohorts Mo-Ron, and Fanboy!). 
Hello!  I was looking for the "Star Wars Parody"! 

I quite naturally assumed this was to be “Episode 100” of ANIMANIACS – ending the series on the same nice round number as DUCKTALES, and ten shy of BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES’ count of 110. 

Oddly, TINY TOON ADVENTURES also pulled up short, with 98 episodes.
And we did our own Star Wars bit too!  Who didn't?
Considering these were arguably the four most significant series of the ‘80s-‘90s Disney / Warner TV animation boom (in terms of both popularity – and, more importantly, what they influenced) it sure seemed fitting to me that each should log 100 or more episodes. 
So, is it ours?

But, despite the fact that Yakko, Wakko and Dot assumed the starring roles of the piece (…and their name is even in the TITLE), “Star Warners” is somehow classified as the final episode of PINKY AND THE BRAIN – yet the “laboratory mice, whose genes have been spliced” only played the “C3PO” and “R2D2” corresponding characters, respectively!   
...Or OURS?  Either way, we must prepare for tomorrow night...

It’s a PINKY AND THE BRAIN at IMDB and closes out the final DVD set (Volume 3) of PINKY AND THE BRAIN, so Warner Bros. clearly regards it as such.   And, I have never understood why. 

So, just curious… Do you remember this as I do?  And can anyone offer an explanation why “Star Warners” is regarded as a PINKY AND THE BRAIN, and not an ANIMANIACS? 
Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
I think so, Brain... But, if "Star Warners" stars "The Warners", why is it a "Pinky and The Brain"? 
I'm afraid I'm going to have to hurt you, Pinky! 

Will we be BACK with more Animaniacs Volume Four Updates?  Aaaaah... Probably one more, someday!  Still gotta devote a post to "Back in Style"!

For those who really don't wish to say "Good-Bye" just yet, you can find our previous ANIMANIACS updates HERE and HERE

...Now, it's REALLY time to say "Good-Bye"! 

Say "Good-Bye", fans!

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