ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 3
Come join the Warner
With the Steven Spielberg presents moniker attached, ANIMANIACS was and is one of the best kidís shows to ever play on the boob tube. A mixture of the style of Warner Bros. classic animated shorts, plus modern sensibilities and topicality, ANIMANIACS knew how to tickle the funny bones of both adults and kids alike. For my money, nothing says delicious animated entertainment like a rich candy coating of slapstick and cartoon violence, but ANIMANIACS also added a chewy nougat of pop culture references and sophisticated humor to create the perfect confection.
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 3 ($45) comes to DVD in a five-disc set that features the series next twenty-five episodes. The twenty-five episodes are as follows: Branimaniacs / The Warners And The Beanstalk / Frontier Slappy, Ups And Downs / The Brave Little Trailer / Yes, Always, Drive-Insane / Girlfeathers / I'm Cute, Brain Meets Brawn / Meet Minerva, Gold Rush / A Gift Of Gold / Dot's Quiet Time, Schnitzelbank / The Helpinki Formula / Les Boutons Et Le Ballon / Kung Boo, Of Course You Know, This Means Warners / Up A Tree / Wakko's Gizmo, Oh, Oh, Ethel / Meet John Brain / Smell Ya Later / Spike, Ragamuffins / Woodstock Slappy, Karaoke-Dokie / Cranial Crusader / The Chicken Who Loved Me, Baloney And Kids / Super Buttons / Katie Ka-Boom: The Driving Lesson, Scare Happy Slappy / Witch One/ Macbeth, With Three You Get Eggroll / Mermaid Mindy / Katie Ka-Boom: Call Waiting, Lookit The Fuzzy Heads / No Face Like Home, The Warners 65th Anniversary Special, Take My Siblings Please / The Mindy 500 / Morning Malaise, Miami Mama-Mia / Pigeon On The Roof, We're No Pigeons / Whistle Stop Mindy / Katie Ka-Boom: The Broken Date, Randy Beaman: Guy Gets Lost / Mime Time: Finding An Imaginary Coin / Randy Beaman: Bath With Brother / Good Idea Bad Idea Combined #2 / Randy Beaman: Scab Collection / I'm Mad / Bad Mood Bobby / Katie Ka-Boom: The Blemish / Fake, Super Strong Warner Siblings / Nutcracker Slappy / Wakko's New Gookie / A Quake, A Quake!, Variety Speak /Three Tenors And You're Out / Bingo / Finale, Deduces Wild / Rest In Pieces / U.N. Me, A Hard Day's Warners / Gimme A Break / Please Get A Life Foundation, The Tiger Prince Cold Opening / All The Words In The English Language / The Kid In The Lid / Method To Her Madness and The Presidents Song / Don't Tread On Us / The Flame Returns.
Warner Home Video has made all the episodes that comprise ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 3 available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. Like the previous offerings, the episodes contained in ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 3 look quite pleasing on DVD. Image quality is just fine and remains fairly consistent with Warner Bros. television caliber animated output from the 1990s. The programs appear just as crisp and solid as one would expect from this type of film based 2D TV animation. Colors are generally well saturated and cartoony, while maintaining stability. Blacks look fine, as do the whites. As expected, the film elements do display minor blemishes and other inconsistencies, as well as a smattering of grain. Digital compression artifacts are never a problem.
For this release, all of the episodes contained in ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 3 have been upgraded to a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtracks. As I stated previously, the upgraded soundtracks are surprisingly good for this type of animated television fare. Sound effects are nicely deployed during key moments, and utilize the outlying channels reasonably well. Additionally, the music component has been nicely spread throughout the soundstage and has character. Fidelity is very good for an animated kidís show. Voices are well recorded; dialogue is crisply rendered and is always totally understandable. An English 2.0 surround track is also included, but no subtitles are present.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as They Can't Help It If They're Cute, They're Just Drawn That Way, a twenty plus minute program dedicated to the animation style and design of the series, plus They're Totally Insane-y: In Cadence With Richard Stone, another twenty plus minute program- this one focused on the series music and its later composer.
ANIMANIACS were always fun, but are a bigger joy on DVD sans pesky commercials. The series remains an outstanding piece of animated television entertainment because it always aimed higher than the kiddie demography and scored just about every time. The DVDs look and sound just fine, so youíll be wanting to add ANIMANIACS, VOLUME 3 to your personal cartoon collection. Recommended.
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