Hulu’s ‘Animaniacs’ Reboot Falls Flat In Its Debut Season

Courtesy: Hulu/Studio Distribution Services

Reboots are big business for Hollywood, or so it would seem.  Looking at recent headlines for TV shows rebooted by the major TV studios (including digital servers), reboots do not actually seem to be doing as well as studio executives and advertisers would like people to believe.  Punky Brewster became the most recent reboot to be cancelled this month.  The show was axed from NBC’s Peacock streaming service after just one seasons.  Also cancelled this year are reboots of MacGuyver, Murphy Brown, Charmed (which did not even get past the pilot stage), and even Lizzy MacguireFuller House, the reboot of the classic sitcom Full House also got the axe from Netflix this year after five seasons.  Even the reboot of Rod Serling’s classic series The Twilight Zone was justifiably canceled early this year after just two seasons. Between that reboot, the update of Hawaii 5-0, and that of MacGuyver, which itself ran for five seasons before its end (two seasons less than the original series’ run), it is safe to say that reboots really are not the safe bet that studio execs and advertisers thought they would be.  Even Roseanne ended up being “cancelled” and re-tooled as The Connors.  Now keeping all of this in mind, one cannot help but wonder how long Hulu’s reboot of the classic cartoon series Animaniacs will last.  It was just recently announced that the series, which saw its first season released to DVD June 1, will launch its sophomore season in November.  If the lead season of this reboot is any indicator, one can only imagine that it will be lucky to be renewed for a third season.  That is proven in part through the content featured in the first season of this reboot.  It will be discussed shortly.  The lack of any bonus content with the season’s home release is also of concern, especially considering the original series’ legacy.  So this will be discussed a little later.  Looking at all of the negatives noted here, it makes the DVD’s pricing problematic, too.  This will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this recently released collection.  All things considered, they make the first season of Hulu’s Animaniacs a completely disappointing presentation.  It additionally is more proof that reboots are clearly not the best investment for any network.

The first season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is proof positive that for all the reboots out there, reboots do not make the best business sense for any network, whether on TV or online.  This is proven in large part through the content featured throughout Season 1.  Given, there was plenty of adult-themed humor that ran through the original series during its five-season run from 1993-1998.  Steven Spielberg himself was even quoted as saying much of the humor in the original series was inspired by the humor of Looney Tunes and none other than Groucho Marx.  At the same time, there was also plenty of more family friendly content included throughout the show in the noted time frame.  By comparison, this updated take on the series is nothing but dated, adult humor.  It is all snarky shots about the world’s current social and political atmosphere. The only time when the show actually goes full family friendly comes late in its run in the short, “Here Comes The Treble.”  The celebration of classical music finds the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot going toe to toe against a very self-righteous conductor.  The story is a reboot in itself of a certain classic Looney Tunes short in which Bugs Bunny faces off against an arrogant opera singer.  Even worse is the moment in the “Pinky and the Brain” short, “Mousechurian Candidate” in which the writers decided to go blue.  Brain tells Pinky in one line that he is going to put one character “through hell.”  Yes, the writers went there.  Thankfully it is the only point at which such language is used.  The original series succeeded without ever having to use foul language, so why did the show’s writers feel the need to go such route here? 

Speaking of Pinky and The Brain, they are they and Ralph are the only secondary characters who are regularly featured in this season.  There is one episode, “Good Warner Hunting,” in which the writers bring back all the old secondary characters (E.g. The Hip Hippos, Slappy Squirrel and her nephew Skippy, Katie Kaboom, etc.) but instead of paying tribute or even hinting at them being brought back long term, the story in the episode feels more like the writers were thumbing their noses at viewers.  They were acknowledging the absence of those characters from the reboot, but basically just kept them as a secondary element in that one sole episode.  In their place are far worse secondaries “The Incredible Gnome in People’s Mouths” and “Starbox and Cindy.”  These characters and their shorts come across like something that was crafted when the writers were high on something.  One cannot help but wonder, in looking at these new secondaries, if the writers from Ren & Stimpy were involved in this season, considering this and all of the primary writing concerns.  All things considered here, the content featured in the lead season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is reason enough to not watch or even buy the show’s two-disc set.  It is just one of the problems from which this set suffers.  The lack of any bonus content detracts from the presentation’s appeal even more.

The lack of bonus content is important because while Animaniacs only ran for five seasons in its initial run in the 90s, that was still a long run.  To this day, it is still very much a beloved property.  That is again because of the brand of verbal and physical comedy that it brought forward.  Yes, it was modern at the time, but it resurrected a brand of comedy that was far more common to cartoons and movies of the early 20th century.  What’s more, the work put in by the voice cast and the animators added even more appeal.  Sadly, none of that is discussed here.  As a matter of fact, there is no bonus content to speak of.  There is no retrospective on the importance of the original series.  There is no defense made by the show’s cast and crew for this unnecessary reboot.  That someone or certain parties felt that the show did not need defense in its rebooting (considering it is among so many reboots) is just lazy and irresponsible.  Maybe had someone taken the time to try to defend this reboot, it might have led some viewers to rethink their views especially after watching the featured main content.  That is not guaranteed, but the possibility is there.  On another note, that the only references made to the original series came in the shorts (and in rather sarcastic, dismissive fashion at that) is only that much more disrespectful to the legacy of the original show and to the fans.  It leaves audiences feel that the writers wanted to bring in the audiences who watched the original show, but did not care enough to actually keep things family friendly.  It is all just so disappointing.

Now keeping in mind everything addressed here, it makes the two-disc set’s pricing problematic in its own right.  Walmart has the set available in store at a price of $20.  It should be no more expensive than $15, honestly, considering It runs 13 episodes.  If it were more expansive, that would guarantee the price.  That is the same price at Amazon, Target, and Best Buy.  Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and Books-A-Million each list the set at $24.99 and $24.98 respetively, far exceeding the more commonly occurring price of $20.  All things considered, neither price is worth paying considering how little this set has to offer audiences of any age.  Between the dated, adults-only content that fills out most of the season and the lack of any bonus content, the prices are just too much all the way around.  Keeping this in mind, it is yet another negative and shows once more why this two-disc debut season of Hulu’s Animaniacs reboot is a failure.

Hulu and Studio Distribution Services’ DVD presentation of Animaniacs Season 1 is a disappointing offering from the companies.  Knowing that the series has already been re-upped for a second season, odds are that those behind this reboot or even its home release have learned anything from the mistakes of this presentation.  There is nothing redeeming about the set.  The main content is clearly aimed mainly at adults, unlike the original series.  To make it worse, the content featured here does not even have any longevity.  It is dated throughout so much of what is shown.  All of this in mind, the content is just one of the set’s shortcomings.  The lack of any bonus content in the set decreases its enjoyment even more.  Taking that into account along with the less than memorable primary content featured in this set, the whole makes the set’s pricing even less appealing.  Keeping all of this in mind, the whole makes this presentation anything but appealing.

Animaniacs Season 1 is available now for those who actually want the set.  More information on the set is available along with all of the latest Animaniacs news at:

Website: https://www.hulu.com/theanimaniacs

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theanimaniacs

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

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