ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 2
We're zany to the max
Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, ANIMANIACS remains one of the best-animated kid’s shows to ever hit the airwaves. ANIMANIACS can be thought of as a throwback to the classic animated shorts produced by Warner Bros., with modern sensibilities and hipness thrown in for good measure. Additionally, ANIMANIACS was downright funny and appealing to a more adult audience, thanks to a lot of sophisticated humor and pop culture references that were well above the heads of the series supposed target audience.
The main characters in ANIMANIACS are The Warner Bros., Yakko & Wakko, along with their cute sister Dot (AKA Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca...the Third), who, up until recently, were locked in the water tower on the Warner studio lot. Personally supporting the Warners in their antics are studio psychiatrist Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, studio CEO Thaddeus Plotz, Hello Nurse and a dim-witted studio security guard named Ralph. The other characters featured in their own separate cartoons are Pinky and the Brain, the lab mice with aspirations of world domination and Slappy Squirrel- an elderly curmudgeon of a toon, who still she gets big laughs with her old school "cartoon violence" antics.
Bringing up the rear are the Goodfeathers, which is a running send up of Martin Scorsese movies featuring pigeons; Buttons and Mindy are reminiscent of Lassie rescuing his child master, but with a lot of cartoon violence induced pain for our poor canine hero; Chicken Boo, a six-foot-tall chicken who is surprisingly successful pretending to be human; Rita and Runt is a story of a cat and a dog looking for a home, with Bernadette Peters' singing as a musical enhancement. The Hip Hippos are also along for the ride, but their antics are only mildly amusing. Additional vocal talent behind ANIMANIACS includes Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille, John Mariano, Chick Vennera, Maurice LaMarche, Frank Welker, Jeff Bennett, Tom Bodett, Julie Brown, Jack Burns, Corey Burton and Nancy Cartwright.
ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 2 ($45) comes to DVD in a five-disc set that features the series next twenty-five episodes. The twenty-five episodes are as follows: Testimonials / Babblin' Bijou / Potty Emergency / Sir Yaksalot, You Risk Your Life / I Got Yer Can / Jockey for Position / Moby or Not Moby / Mesozoic Mindy / The Good, The Boo, And The Ugly, Draculee, Draculaa / Phranken-Runt, Hot, Bothered And Bedeviled / Moon Over Minerva / Skullhead Boneyhands, O Silly Mio / Puttin' On The Blitz, The Great Wakkorotti: The Summer Concert, Chairman Of The Bored / Planets Song / Astro-Buttons, Cartoons In Wakko’s Body / Noah's Lark / The Big Kiss / Hiccup, Clown And Out, Bubba Bo Bob Brain, Very Special Opening / In The Garden Of Mindy, / No Place Like Homeless / Katie Ka-Boo / Baghdad Cafe, Critical Condition / The Three Muska-Warners / Dough Dough Boys / Boot Camping / General Boo-Regard, Spellbound, Smitten With Kittens / Alas, Poor Skullhead / White Gloves, Casablanca Opening / Fair Game / The Slapper, Puppet Rulers, Buttermilk, It Makes A Body Bitter / Broadcast Nuisance / Raging Bird, Animator's Alley / Can't Buy A Thrill / Hollywoodchuck, Survey Ladies / Of Nice And Men / What A Dump!, Useless Facts / The Senses Song / The World Can Wait / Kiki's Kitten, Mary Tyler Dot Song / Windsor Hassle / ...And Justice For Slappy, Turkey Jerkey / Wild Blue Yonder, Video Review / When Mice Ruled The Earth, Mobster Mash / Lake Titicaca / Icebreakers, Very Special Opening / A Christmas Plotz / Little Drummer Warners, Slippin' On The Ice Song, Snowy Titles, 'Twas The Day Before Christmas / Jingle Boo, The Great Wakkorotti: The Holiday Concert / Toy Shop Terror.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 2 available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Like the first collection, the twenty-five episodes look really, really good for afternoon animated television fare, but they aren’t demonstration material either. What holds the cartoons back from being stellar is an afternoon TV budget and the fact that there were originally produced on film, so there are modest film based flaws and some grain here and there. The picture looks pretty crisp for this type of 2D animated production, but there are some instances of softness. Colors generally hold up quite well, appearing pretty vibrant most of the time, with occasional instances where the hues come across with less intensity. Blacks are accurately rendered and the whites are stable. Digital compression artifacts are generally well contained.
For this release, all of the episodes contained in ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 2 have been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. The soundtracks are surprisingly well mixed for animated programming of the afternoon variety. Sound effects can be very well implemented to take advantage of the outlying channels. In addition, the music has been given really nice spread. Fidelity is very good for a television level program. Voices are nicely recorded; plus dialogue is always easy to understand. An English 2.0 surround track has also been included. Subtitles are available in French and Spanish.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as The Writer’s Flipped, They Have No Script, a thirty-minute program hosted by Maurice LaMarche, and featuring the series’ writers.
Thanks to its clever writing, pop culture references, old school cartoon violence and slapstick; ANIMANIACS is one of the best animated programs to be produced for afternoon television consumption. Warner’s presentations get very high marks, but are only limited by the source materials. Highly recommended.
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