In 1990, Steven Spielberg helped usher in what some would later call the "Silver Age" of Warner Bros. Animation with the animated kids' show Tiny Toon Adventures. With Spielberg as executive producer and a talented crew of animators, writers, voice actors, and composers behind the scenes, it became a big success.The next Spielberg/WB collaboration to follow that hit was Animaniacs. Premiering in 1993, Animaniacs took everything Tiny Toon Adventures did to the next level. This animated gem is finally available on DVD and fortunately, it is just as great as it was 13 years ago.
The stars of Animaniacs are the Warner brothers Yakko and Wakko and their sister Dot. This trio of kid cartoon characters was created in the 1930's. They caused so much havoc at the studio that they get locked up in the Warner Bros. water tower. They escape in the present time and cause havoc for studio psychiatrist Dr. Scratchnsniff, CEO Thaddeus Plotz, Ralph the Security Guard, and the studio nurse (or "Hello, Nurse!" as Yakko and Wakko like to call her). Part zany cartoons and part Marx Brothers, the Warners are the most prominent part of Animaniacs.
However, the Warners are just one part of a menagerie of characters. These other characters star in their own cartoons as well and give the show a variety and flexibility that few animated comedies have today. These characters include:
Pinky & The Brain: The only Animaniacs characters to spinoff and get their own show, they are genetically altered lab mice who try to take over the world in each cartoon. The Brain is a hilarious sendup of Orson Welles while Pinky is kind-hearted but incredibly dim.
Slappy Squirrel: Slappy is a retired Looney Tunes star who takes care of her nephew Skippy. Featuring great voice work and dialogue by writer/creator Sherri Stoner, Slappy Squirrel cartoons skewer both old Hollywood and old cartoon conventions.
Buttons & Mindy: Mindy is a cute but overly inquisitive child and Buttons is the faithful dog who is always put in charge of her safety. These cartoons are somewhat of a parody of Lassie but they also work as a none-too-subtle jab at parents who don't parent.