Hulu has ordered a reboot of Animaniacs – one of the most beloved cartoon TV shows of the 1990s – for a two season run starting in 2020. The streaming service is also immediately adding the existing library of not only Animaniacs episodes, but also its sisters series Pinky and the Brain, Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain, and Tiny Toon Adventures.
Created by writer Tom Ruegger and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Animaniacs originally ran for five seasons on the FOX network and, later, the WB. Animaniacs was essentially a variety show, collecting short skits featuring a rotating cast of characters anchored by three unhinged siblings: The Warners, who consisted of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. The show’s brand of humor was both appropriate for young children and notably sharper than many of its Disney contemporaries. Pinky and the Brain was a popular enough segment to spawn its own highly successful spinoff series. Coupled with Batman: The Animated Series, Animaniacs saw Warner Bros. become a major player in television animation for the first time in many years.
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Hulu is now getting the zany band back together. The streaming service has announced it is teaming with Spielberg to revive the series – Hulu’s first family friendly original – for two straight to order seasons, the first of which will debut in 2020. It will also serve as host to all previous episodes of the series and its spinoffs, as well as its Spielberg produced predecessor Tiny Toon Adventures, which featured the young progeny of classic WB cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
Notably, Hulu’s press release refers to the new series as a reboot rather than a revival, and doesn’t name any actors or crew beyond Spielberg. The vast majority of the original series’ voice actors are still active in animation, and it seems likely that they would all be willing to return to, what is for many of them, their most widely beloved work. However, it’s equally possible that Hulu will more radically reinvent the series in the wake of the success of the total reboot of one of its Saturday morning contemporaries – Disney’s DuckTales. That series is a complete departure from the original, and features a voice cast stocked with celebrities like David Tennant and Bobby Moynihan, in lieu of animation voiceover veterans.
As mentioned earlier, Animaniacs is essentially an animated sketch show, so its reboot might take a different approach than a more narratively linear series like DuckTales. Certain aspects of the show are almost sure to change – it’s hard to imagine the hand drawn animation style of the early ’90s would be feasible in 2020 – but even if the voice cast is turned over, hopefully the Animaniacs reboot can maintain the irreverent, witty comedic style that made its predecessor one of the most memorable series of its era.
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The Animaniacs reboot series becomes available for streaming through Hulu in 2020.