Animaniacs Volume 2 cover

STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $44.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 531 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURE: "The Writers Flipped They Have No Script" featurette

The Pitch

a treatise on human behavior as written by Bizarro!"

The Humans

Paulsen, Tress MacNeille, Jess Harnell, Maurice LaMarche, Bernadette Peters.

The Nutshell

Warner brothers, and their sister Dot, wreak another five discs of havoc on
cartoon tropes, religious fixtures, traditional plots, historical figures,
myths, legends, and pomposity, along with their varied cast of compatriots.

The Lowdown

Many of
my observations about volume 1 of this fine show remain true. The humor still varies
from worst-pun-ever to highbrow parody, and the ideas and colorful characters
continue to delight. If anything, this second volume shows the gradual
improvement of the writing, forming the supple upward curve of the inevitable
Bell graph. Yes, supple.

I’m not supposed to say "supple."

Once a
team of zany siblings has conquered most of history and literature, as the
Warners do in the first volume, where can they possibly progress to? Volume 2
will never disappoint with its scenarios, rising above taboos to deliver you,
most notably, an episode in which our heroes confront that darling of
children’s entertainment: Satan! And moving on from there to give you a
touching story in Nazi-occupied
Poland. I heartily applaud the show’s
creators for expanding their palette to include fare so unusual, and even
controversial. There’s no censorship, here, much as there can be none for the
Warners within the context of the show.

If that’s
the stuff that will make you stroke your beard contemplatively, then there’s
plenty more to make you giggle like an inmate. An example: One of the frequent
criticisms my mother brought against Animaniacs when I first got into
them (being, er, like eleven at the time) was that it wasn’t much more than
"potty humor." It seems as though a number of similar complaints reached
the ears of the writer, because volume 2 contains a glorious little bit whose
script contains little more than Wakko dancing around with his legs crossed,
asking, "Potty, potty, potty. Do you have a potty?" Put that in your
bowl and flush it.

Where I live, Brain would fit in right alongside our mayoral candidates.

There are
a number of other memorable episodes contained on these discs, including
several of my favorites: Wakko’s one-man vendetta against clowns, the "Ben
Stein tells a long and boring story with many tangents" episode, and the
episode in which all the cartoons are mixed and matched (or mis-matched) with
each other. ("It’s Mindy and the Brain / Mindy and the Brain…")

plenty emotionally involved, this being one of the high points of my rather
boring childhood and all, but it’s not hard to find a critical admiration of
this show. Instead of settling into any of the ruts which may have been carved
in the first volume, these episodes show a charming mix of low-level satire, an
awareness of the world beyond the fourth wall, and enough bizarre situations to
give Harpo a headache. The expansive list of inspiration material brings up the
promise of sophistication from the earlier episodes, while the writers make
sure to take plenty of time to elevate juvenilia to an art.

Definitely too soon.

The Package

I noticed
compression problems with a few episodes, but these didn’t seem to cross into
other episodes, as if the transfer protocol was different for different
episodes. It’s unnoticeable on a small screen, but gets kind of distracting on
anything over 30".

There’s a
single bonus, in which Maurice LaMarche hosts a round table discussion for some
of the writers on Animaniacs, inviting them to share insights on their favorite
episodes. This is the sort of bonus that will cement your appreciation for
certain episodes if you’ve already got it, but won’t do much to convince you if
you’re a skeptic.

7.7 out of 10