'Animaniacs, Vol. 1'
(5-Disc DVD / NR / (1993) 2006 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Ensemble cast of off-the-wall Warner Brothers characters, appearing in a wide variety of roles. Wakko, Yakko, and Dot Warner, are WB Studio creations who were just too "zany" to be of any use to the studio. Pinky and the Brain are two mice bent on world domination. Rita and Runt are a cat and dog team, who get into perilous situations every episode, put always seem to find time to sing a song. Bobby, Pesto, and Squit are the Goodfeathers, part of a New York mob of pigeons, who worship.
DVD Verdict: So, is this show as good as we used to think it was?! Well, yes and no. Certainly this TV-made show, more than any other, comes close to the quality of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons. Unlike Tiny Toons which relied too heavily on the "look, they look like young versions of the Looney Tunes!" factor, Animaniacs blasted onto the screen in a flash of originality. The problem lies with the format of the show. As it featured a number of different characters the quality of the show depended on which characters appeared that day. The Warners (brothers and sister) were the stars and deservedly so. Riffing on the Warner back catalogue (both animated and live-action) without being reliant on it, the wacky adventures of these characters were the spine of the show. Also a highlight were Pinky and the Brain (so good they got their own show) and Slappy Squirrel ("You remind me of a young Scappy Doo!"). The rest of the characters were less successful. Mindy and Buttons was a variation of the tired old 'runaway child and victim babysitter' scenario that has been done by Popeye, Tom and Jerry and Roger Rabbit to name a few (although one episode brilliantly referenced this with look-alikes of all these characters chasing babies around a construction site). Goodfeathers, although amusing initially, was a one joke wonder that really went over the heads of anyone who wasn't familiar with the films it parodied and Rita and Runt didn't seem to even have one joke to keep it going. The less said about the Hip Hippos the better although Chicken Boo was a welcome sight as long as his segment didn't last more than 60 seconds.
All this said, many of the best moments come when one or more of these characters made cameos in the cartoons of others and one-off's such as 'The Flame' showcased some beautiful writing and characters that would not have otherwise had a forum. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
25 episodes on five discs
Animaniacs Live! Comic Maurice LaMarche hosts an in-studio-style interview via satellite big-screen TV with Animaniac friends