The thing: I bought Season One of Animaniacs on iTunes, because I remembered liking them before, when I was a snarky post-collegiate slacker. I wanted to see if I still liked them, as a snarky middle-aged workaholic type. The following post covers Season One, Episode Three. You can see my previous reviews here.
First segment: “H.M.S. Yakko,” a parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” starring the Warners (each of whom is, apparently, “the very model of a cartoon individual”), and introducing Captain Mel, a pirate with two peg-legs, who has to hop around everywhere he goes. High points: “imaginable” rhymes with “cannibal” in Yakko’s song at one point. You can’t beat that. Also: last week, I worried that by the early nineties, parental concerns had already decreed crazy cartoon violence to be off-limits. I was wrong! We’ve got guns here, and we even use them — not to mention the “big cartoon cannon!”
“Slappy Goes Walnuts” introduces Slappy Squirrel, her nephew Skippy, and one of her antagonists, Doug the Dog. I love this, always have. Slappy is far and away my favorite of the Animaniacs sub-series. It’s also one of the most meta. The setup is that Slappy, a retired star from the Golden Age of cartoon shorts, has to entertain her easily-excitable nephew. Everything in Slappy’s world hearkens back to her glory days. Consequently, the jokes are always in-jokes, never, um, out-jokes. If you know what I mean. For example, in order to “get” this segment, you have to have some familiarity with the classic Xylophone gag. The humor isn’t in the gag itself; it’s in the way the script dances around that gag. In other words, Slappy Squirrel segments are fan service for very old, overly self-aware fans like me, not for kids who might have encountered this series on a random day after school. But like I said: I love it!
This episode closes out with “Yakko’s Universe,” which tries to do for the vastness of the cosmos what “Yakko’s World,” last time around, did for the specificity of the geopolitical map. It’s okay.