The Warners and Pinky and the Brain are back again, as Hulu released Animanaics season two on November 5. I loved Animaniacs growing up, as did many other people. So when it was announced in 2017 that a reboot of Animaniacs was on the way, I was ecstatic. Was there ever a time where a lighthearted approach to addressing current events was more necessary? I think not. And the moment we saw the Jurassic Park-themed trailer, I knew Animaniacs was returning in full force, ready to unleash its parodic humor on a world that needed it most.
It wasn’t the same as the original series, but it wasn’t supposed to be. The intensified adult humor, cultural references, and the animation style that was reminiscent of Ren & Stimpy (which is also being rebooted) made it clear that this show wasn’t made for kids, but for the adults who grew up watching the original series. Though let’s be real, it’s most of the humor from the 90s show skipped over kids’ heads as well.
But more importantly, with all the reboots we already have and the many more we have coming, I loved that this was a reboot that could make fun of itself for being a reboot (which only Animaniacs can pull off) and that it delivered unique and humorous comedies and parodies to deal with the craziness we were dealing with at the time.
I’m happy to report that season two delivered the nostalgic charm and the culturally-relevant humor that makes Animanaics special. However, I do feel as though there is a decline in quality from the previous season simply because of weaker episode storylines and a failure to correct some shortcomings from the previous season.
Animaniacs Season Two – The Highlights
Animaniacs Season two follows a format largely similar to the episodes of the first season. We are treated to the Warner siblings (Yakko, Wakko, and Dot) performing a variety of ridiculous antics in different storylines ranging from fighting emperor Nero, ruining a sweet 16, and participating in a Willy Wonka-styled family reunion competition. We then get Pinky and the Brain attempting and failing miserably at trying to take over the world with schemes involving cloning, beauty pageants, 1960s music, etc. We also get new episodes of the new sketches that were introduced last season such as “Starbox and Cindy,” “The Incredible Gnome In People’s Mouths,” and “Math-terpiece Theater.”
Most of this zaniness works well. Some of my favorite Warner sketches include a piece where the Warners work for Benjamin Franklin and learn the hard way how unchecked capitalism can hurt the working man, Noah’s ark parody with mythical creatures, and a bit where they showcase lame characters who were rejected from being regulars (i.e. Mime and Meme, the Social Butterfly, and Aqua-Clause).
But the stars this season by far were the laboratory mice whose genes have been spliced. Pinky and the Brain are the subjects of several hilarious storylines this season, my very favorite was a bit where the Warner Bros. CEO showcases archived pilots of the sketch. Those pilots parody TV classics including I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch, Cheers, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I also loved seeing a compelling new character from last season make her return in this season. Pinky and the Brain have always been hilarious and gripping, and this season they really shined. One can’t help but wonder if they’re on their way to getting their own show again.
There’s a lot to love in this season, and there’s very little to hate. That said, this season has its disappointments.
Animaniacs season two is a set down from the first season. Most of the Warner siblings’ storylines are somewhat forgettable. The sketch where they go up against Nero is a clear parody on the Trump era in the White House, and quite frankly I’m sick of all the Trump references when the man has been out of office for nearly a year. There’s also an Olver Twist parody that I found uninspired and dull, and an archival sketch on wiping feet that even Yakko, Wakko, and Dot agreed made no sense. The Warners got into some memorable and funny sketches last season such as the parody of It and the episode where Russia was ripping off their show. Most of their storylines in this season fall much flatter than the storylines from last year.
Quite frankly, when the Warners are really the faces and stars of the show, there’s something wrong when they are being outshined so much by Pinky and the Brain. I know some people love the latter much more (hence why they got their own show), but I’ve always treasured Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, and I think they deserve better plots than this season gave them.
And I’m gonna say it very clearly, while I can admire some new sketches, I really think characters like Slappy Squirrel and or the Goodfeathers should be given comeback opportunities, as I think they will always outshine all the newer entries. And on that note, I am tired of the sketch with the angry gnome living in people’s mouths coming out to scream at people. It wasn’t funny last season, and was in fact worse this season.
Animaniacs season two is great in spite of some forgettable sketches for the stars of the show. I was entertained, I did laugh, and I am looking forward to the confirmed third season. While the Warner siblings didn’t get the best plots, there were some diamonds in the rough, and Pinky and the Brain stole the whole show. At least some new sketches are showing promise, but I’d still like to see some 1990s fan favorites make a comeback. I’d also like to see the gnome go away altogether, but I doubt that’s going to happen.
Ultimately, this is a solid entry into a funny reboot. Animaniacs season two still maintains a nostalgic charm with some truly hilarious moments.