Many 90s kids anticipated the Animaniacs reboot last year and weren’t disappointed. The series brought many of the big fan favorites back onto our television sets but updated the material to reflect today’s sensibilities and pop culture. The second season will premiere this week and we bring you our first impressions.
Although the show has characters from yore, it is starting to create its own path and do its own world building. Returning from last season on the Warner siblings’ side is the new CEO, Nora Rita Norita. It’s fun to see her more developed and continuing to be an antagonist to the stars. We catch a glimpse into her family life and much like characters in the past, she makes appearances in the skits as a background character at times, especially in the period pieces.
For the Pinky and the Brain segments, Julia comes back to be a thorn in her ex-husband’s side and ruin his plans to take over the world. In Julia, Brain has an interesting and worthy adversary that can match him intellectually. In addition, she has intimate knowledge of him that enhances their connection and that she can use to exploit his weaknesses. Also, the new Starbox and Cindy shorts amusingly finds the tiny alien trying to bring about a planetary invasion but being thwarted by an oblivious little girl. All of these characters are welcome new additions to the franchise.
Animaniacs still incorporates the zany adventures its known for but the storylines in the five episodes screened to press are hit and miss. The lost pilots featuring Pinky and the Brain is a standout that pulls at the nostalgic feelings with its odes to classic television. Many of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot’s shorts are entertaining. From their safety tips to their mandatory exercise breaks, they are filled with random silly comedy.
However, other plots are unsuccessful. Sometimes, the material can seem dated such as the series’ take on the Roman emperor Nero whose mannerisms bring up a former president. Other times, including Pinky’s infatuation with the web series, Backwards Gary, are too out there to understand their relevance or their humor. Even the music, which is usually a strong point, is inconsistent. There can be a catchy boy band pop ballad in one episode but in the Oliver Twist take, the songs are only going through the motions other than the time appropriate “Nations of the World.”
Season two of Animaniacs could have been a good time to expand the cast and skits beyond the Warners, Pinky, and the Brain. Despite new storylines for each segment, it can be a bit repetitive revisiting the same faces each episode particularly for a series that was known for its ensemble. New characters could have injected some much needed freshness and prevent things from becoming a little stale.
The latest season delivers much of what made Animaniacs such a popular and beloved series but for those expecting something new or different may be disappointed. Granted, this is based off of less than half of the new episodes so it might not be representative of the whole.
Stream the second season of Animaniacs beginning Friday, November 5, on Hulu.
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