Animaniacs was one of the most beloved animated series of the 90s. Who didn’t get a thrill out of watching the zany antics of the Warner siblings (Yakko, Wakko, and the Warner sister, Dot) alongside equally memorable characters like Pinky and the Brain, Slappy Squirrel, and Chicken Boo? The humour was clever, the tunes were catchy, and the show uniquely appealed to children and adults alike. So, when Hulu announced a reboot of the Animaniacs show with the original voice cast, you can bet fans were excited to see their favourite characters back in action.
This was a dream come true for all of us who had grown up religiously watching the ridiculously funny show. However, for the show’s original creator, Tom Ruegger, the return of his beloved characters brought feelings of utter displeasure. Ruegger was one of the creatives who was sidelined from the revival project despite having played a significant role in the show’s success. Needless to say, this exclusion seems to have left the successful animator more than a little bitter.
In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the American animator and songwriter voiced his discontentment at being excluded from the reboot, with the fourteen-time Emmy-winning producer and creative force behind some of the most popular animated shows going so far as to say that the “reboot didn’t work”. Ouch!
“I had trouble processing the Animaniacs reboot,” Ruegger explained. “After seeing what they’ve done with it… it was not what I would’ve done with it… I thought it was ethically, morally, and professionally wrong for Warner [Bros.] to make the reboot without me and the rest of the original creative team involved in a significant role. The reboot didn’t work.”
Ruegger also took the opportunity to reminisce on the freedom he and his original creative team were granted by the show’s executive producer, Steven Spielberg, saying, “We had no one telling us what we could do or not do.” This allowed the team to fully explore their creative vision without needing to pander to what their younger audience would enjoy. As a result, the show included many jokes and pop culture references that most kids wouldn’t understand. Ruegger further stated that when writing the series, they aimed to include what they thought was funny rather than trying to imagine what kids would want to see. These sentiments were also reiterated by the show’s original writer, Paul Rugg, who said:
“We never actually sat down and said, ‘Okay, what do kids want and what will they understand?'” Rugg said. “We just wrote what we thought would be funny. We were writing things that made us laugh and referencing things, no matter how obscure, that we got a kick out of.”
While Ruegger may think the “reboot didn’t work”, Hulu’s Animaniacs series has an impressive score of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences on IMDB have also given the series a good rating with the Animaniacs reboot receiving an average of 7.8/10on the platform. The show, which was only supposed to last two seasons, had a fantastic three-season run thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response from audiences and critics. Although the revival series did not last as long as the original 90s show, it has undoubtedly been more successful than other recent reboots that have made their way onto our screens.
You can currently catch (or try to catch) Yakko, Wakko, and Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana-Fana Bo-Besca the Third (more commonly known as Dot) as they continue their zany antics in the Animaniacs revival series on Hulu.