Once again, it?s time for Animaniacs? and they?re still zany to the max.
Picking up where last season ended, Animaniacs begins as The Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister), Yakko, Wakko and Dot, as they attempt to grapple with new leadership of the Warner Movie Lot. Faced with new (and more serious) security, they need to find new ways to torment their tormentors. At the same time, other animated hijinx features Pinky and the Brain, who continue to look for new ways to take over the world and tiny alien Starbox, who yearns to begin his planetary invasion (if playmate Cindy will allow him).
Back for their third (and possibly final?) season on Hulu,?Animaniacs?feels more comfortable this year than it has the previous two. Whereas it has never been uncommon for animated series to throw in the occasional joke geared towards parents, the latest iteration of?Animaniacs?seemed to be taking the opposite approach by targeting adults over their kids. (This is not to say that content was inappropriate but rather that references adult pop culture were dominating the writing.) As a result, although the series has been around forever, one had to wonder if they had begun to lose their target audience. However, with Season 3,?Animaniacs?returns to a more balanced approach. As with earlier seasons, their focus has returned to be on pre-teen children with tone and style while still adding allusions to things like ?Meghan and Harry? and?Max Max: Fury Road?included secondarily for the parents.
And the series is far better because of it.
In a lot of ways, Animaniacs? latest season feels as fresh as the original series. Rarely does a series seem to improve with age but the Warners and Pinky and the Brain somehow have managed to refuel the tanks with energy. As one of the forerunners of this style of humour, they continue to adapt to modern sensibilities and sensitivities. Gone are the stereotypes of the ?Good Feathers? of the old series, replaced by a desure to be ?gender-balanced, pronoun-neutral and ethnically diverse?. Even so, they never cease to hack away at pop culture with unrestrained glee. (Remember that ?they did meta first?.)
But what?s most interesting about the new season is that it seems to take on a bit of a social conscience. Without losing any of their trademark biting humour, Season 3 takes on some issues that affect children of this generation. Conversations surrounding social media and global warming all get tackled by the Warners while still getting the laughs. (In fact, the episode surrounding a social media influencer losing her childhood for the sake of ?likes? is particularly well-written.) In doing so, Animaniacs walks the fine line between satire and reality. Yes, they know to to be insane-y but they also take their shot at keeping kids informed.
After all, even if you?re zany to the max, you still need to care about things that matter.
For this reason, while the ?brand new contracts? that the Warners have signed may have expired, there?s still no reason why season four couldn?t become a reality. With their ability to adapt and, more importantly, mature with the times, Animaniacs proves yet again that they deserve another chance to run around the Warner movie lot. But, even if Hulu decides to lock them back them in the tower, you can never ever keep the Warner Bros (and the Warner Sister) from escaping?and I, for one, hope they get another chance to wreak havoc.
Animaniacs returns to Hulu with 10 new episodes on Friday, February 17th, 2023.