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

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Dreamworks To Debut New ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Holiday Special

Courtesy: Dreamworks Animation

Dreamworks is bringing its hit How To Drain Your Dragon franchise back to television this holiday season with a new half-hour special.

How To Train Your Dragon Homecoming is scheduled to air at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 3 on NBC.  The story reunites stars Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler and Craig Ferguson for a story that picks up 10 years after the end of the property’s movie trilogy.  It bridges the span where the trilogy’s finale ended and the reunion of Hiccup and Toothless at that movie’s very end.

Hiccup and Toothless open the 30-minute special, sharing stories of their adventures with their families.There is just one problem.  With so much time having elapsed between the end of the trilogy’s climactic battle and the friends’ reunion, the vikings had forgotten about the bond between the dragons and vikings.  This leads Hiccup to come up with the idea to develop a grand holiday pageant celebrating that once unbreakable bond.

Tim Johnson (HomeAntz) directed the new special.  Jonathan Groff (blackish) and Jon Pollack (Modern Family) co-wrote the script for the brand new holiday special. Craig Rittenbaum (Dreamworks Dragons) associate produced the special.

How To Train Your Dragon Homecoming is scheduled for release on DVD Dec. 3, the same day it airs on NBC.  It will premiere on digital on Dec. 4 and on Hulu on Dec. 5.

The new special is just the latest appearance that the hugely popular franchise has had on television.  It has also spawned the animated series Dragons: Riders of Berk and Dragons: Race To The Edge as well as the previously released holiday special, Dragons Holiday: Gift of the Night Fury.

More information on this and other titles from Dreamworks is available online now at:

 

Website: http://dreamworks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DreamWorks

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DreamWorks

 

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Lionsgate, Hulu Partner To Release Casual: Season One Next Month

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Lionsgate announced this week that it will release the first season of Hulu’s original dramedy Casual in physical form.

Casual: Season One will be released on Tuesday, April 5th in stores and online. It will be available exclusively on DVD + Digital combo pack. The original series from Hulu focuses on brother and sister team Alex (Tommy Dewey—17 Again, The Mindy Project, Step Up: Revolution) and Valerie (Michaela Watkins—The New Adventures of Old Christine, Trophy Wife, Enough Said) as the pair tries to balance living together along with Valerie’s teenage daughter Laura (Tara Lynne Barr—Aquarius, God Bless America, Dawn). The pair has to navigate the difficult waters of the dating world, fraught with one-night stands strange encounters and much more all while raising Laura and the ups and downs of family life that is anything but that of Full House, The Brady Bunch or any of those other idealized family sitcoms. The series was nominated for a Golden Globe for “Best Comedy: TV Series” in its debut season. It also stars Nyasha Hatendi (Narcopolis, The Ghost Writer, Silent Witness) and Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, American Horror Story, The Aviator).

Along with its ten full-length episodes, Casual: Season One will also include a bonus behind the scenes featurette that outlines the series’ birth and everything that went into its episodes. The two-disc set is currently expected to retail at MSRP of $29.98 and can be pre-ordered online now direct via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=34013&TitleParentId=10326. Fans can view a trailer for Casual: Season One online now at http://www.lionsgate.com/tv/casual/.

 

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

 

More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lionsgatetv

 

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

King, Cowherd, Schaap To Fill In For Olbermann Beginning Next Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The “King” of talk is coming to ESPN.  Larry King will fill in for ESPN’s Keith Olbermann on Olbermann next Tuesday – Thursday, October 1st – 3rd. King will fill in while Olbermann takes a temporary leave of absence to host TBS’ Major League Baseball post season studio show.  Olbermann will be gone from his namesake show from next Monday, September 30th to October 2oth.  He will return October 21st.  King will fill in for Olbermann each night at 11pm ET when the show airs.  He is also scheduled to make an appearance on Olbermann this Friday, September 27th.  King, who hosts his own show, Larry King Now, discussed filling in for Olbermann when asked about his temporary assignment.  “I am a great admirer of Keith Olbermann who I think is the quintessential sports host,” said King.  “Sports have always been my avocation – they’re part of my being.  Having the chance to come back to my hometown of New York and host Keith’s show for several days is a terrific joy for me and a return to my first love.”

ESPN Executive VP of Programming and Acquisitions Norby Williamson was just as pleased that King accepted the offer to fill in for Olbermann.  “Olbermann is designed specifically around Keith’s one-of-a-kind personality so having a guest host like Larry, who can deliver a similar level of editorial expertise and intellectual commentary to entertain sports fans, fits the bill perfectly,” said Williamson.  “Larry is so popular and well-known to television viewers but being able to bring them his unique perspective on sports topics is a new twist and we’re excited to have him.”

Once King’s turn is up on Olbermann ESPN’s own Jeremy Schaap and Colin Cowherd will each have a turn hosting the show with Schaap hosting first from October 8th – 10th.  Cowherd will fill in for Olbermann from October 15th – 17th.  Jamie Horovitz, ESPN VP of Original programming and production was optimistic in discussing having two ESPN veterans filling in for Olbermann in his absence.  “Both Jeremy and Colin have distinctive personalities and points of view that will bring a different perspective to the program while Keith is away,” said Horowitz.  “While we’ll certainly miss Keith in the coming weeks, we’re also looking forward to producing some fun and entertaining shows for sports fans with our guest hosts.”

King’s new web only series, Larry King Now, is much like his previous hit CNN show, Larry King Live.  He continues interviewing some of the most important names in the news and world of entertainment in his show, which can be seen on Hulu and Ora TV.

Colin Cowherd can be heard regularly on ESPN and ESPN radio on his show, The Herd with Colin Cowherd.  It runs daily from 10am ET – 1pm ET.  The former host of SportsNation, Cowherd also now hosts Colin’s New Football every Sunday morning at 9am.  Cowherd shares his personal thoughts on football and life in general.

Jeremy Schaap hosts ESPN Radio’s The Sporting Life and serves as correspondent for ESPN’s E:60.  He also contributes to ESPN’s Outside The Lines, NFL Countdown, and College Game Day.  His interviews and commentary are featured each week on ESPN’s flagship show, SportsCenter.

More information on each of these shows and more is available online at http://www.espn.com and http://www.facebook.com/ESPN.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Martha Stewart Holiday Collection Offers Lessons, Ideas For The Holidays

Courtesy: A Squared

Martha Stewart recently announced that she has made a deal with Hulu to have some of her programming broadcast via Hulu.  Now, audiences of all ages have a brand new way to enjoy Martha Stewart like never before.  Martha & Friends:  Holiday Collection follows a ten your old Martha and her friends (Hannah, Kevin, and Lily) through the holidays.  The single disc collection starts off on Halloween.  In Martha’s Halloween, Martha and her friends have to go hunting for her dogs, Francesca and Sharkey, after the dogs get scared during Kevin’s filming of his Halloween movie.  Martha, Lily, and Hannah play a trio of “glampires” who attend a Halloween costume party with the aim of turning everyone else into “glampires.”  The dogs think that Martha and her friends really are vampires, so they run off and accidentally pull the plug to the power in the old barn in which Kevin is filming his movie.  This leads the kids to go off in search of the dogs.  There’s nothing overly scary here.  So both parents and kids of all ages will be able to sit down and enjoy this episode that would be a great fit for any child’s Halloween party.

Martha and her friends learn in Martha’s Halloween that as a certain president once noted, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  She and her friends learn even more valuable lessons in the collection’s Thanksgiving episode.  In Martha’s Thanksgiving, Martha and her friends all have family visiting from out of town.  Along with their aunts and uncles, all four kids have to deal with their cousins, too.  So it’s up to Martha to figure out how to entertain her friends’ cousins and her own cousin, too, all while managing their Thanksgiving plans, too.  The kids’ cousins aren’t the only hurdle that Martha and her friends have to face in the collection’s Thanksgiving episode.  They learn that the elderly Mr. McGregor isn’t the mean person that they were previously led to believe he was.  In turn, they learn not to let what they’ve heard be the basis of what they think of someone.  These are more great lessons for viewers of all ages.  It all comes together to make for a fun and memorable addition to the collection.

Along with the valuable lessons about family that this episode teaches, audiences are also reminded of proper pet care during Thanksgiving.  Francesca and Sharkey (Martha’s dogs) remind audiences that dogs can’t eat turkey bones because it’s not safe for them.  So instead, they show audiences how the turkey bones can be used to help make a broth.  That creativity echoes throughout all three episodes of this collection.  It too is something that parents and kids alike will love. 

Viewers learn one more very valuable lesson in the final piece of the Martha and Friends:  Holiday Collection.  In the Christmas episode included in the set, Martha and her friends are setting up a Christmas tree for the annual Christmas tree decorating contest.  She wants to win really badly.  Even her friends realize that maybe she’s a little too caught up in what she’s doing.  So when things don’t go exactly as planned, thanks to the weather, young Martha realizes what’s really most important.  Parents will love the lesson taught by this episode.  While it’s a holiday episode, the lesson taught here is one that will resonate throughout the year.

The trio of holiday shorts included in this set teaches audiences lots of great lessons that will apply throughout the year. They’re just a part of what makes the shorts a joy for the whole family.  There are also lots of ideas of how to decorate and cook special dishes for the holidays that kids and adults alike will enjoy.  Parents can even pop the DVD into their computers to access bonus content including:  cookie cutter templates and templates just to name a couple bonuses.  There are also a handful of bonus webisodes that families can enjoy without even the use of a computer.  It all combines to make a holiday DVD that the whole family will enjoy again and again throughout the holiday season.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Martha Stewart, Emeril Lagasse Come To Hulu & Hulu Plus

Martha Stewart is now on Hulu.  And she hasn’t come alone.  Stewart has brought friend and chef Emeril Lagasse with her as part of the deal between the Martha Stewart Network, Hulu and Hulu Plus.  Lagasse’s show, “Emeril’s Table” debuted yesterday online along with her shows, “From Martha’s Kitchen” and “DIY Crafts.”  Late night host Conan O’ Brien joined Stewart in the premiere episode of “DIY Crafts” while celebrity chef Mario Batali made a guest appearance on “From Martha’s Kitchen.”

“From Martha’s Kitchen”, “Emeril’s Table” and “DIY Crafts” are just a drop in the bucket with this new deal.  Thanks to this new deal, audiences will also get to check out special Martha Stewart seasonal programming.  This comes just in time for the holidays.  Hulu is also planning on adding even more content during the month of October and into the year’s end, giving audiences a prime location to get all the latest shows from the Martha Stewart Network.

Fans can check out the first batch of episodes from “Emeril’s Table”, “From Martha’s Kitchen” and “DIY Crafts” now via Hulu at http://www.hulu.com/emerils-table, http://www.hulu.com/from-marthas-kitchen, and http://www.hulu.com/diy-crafts

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.