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Review: Totally insaney over 'Animaniacs' vol. 4

It’s time for more “Animaniacs” — finally!

AnimaniacsCoverThey’re sill zany to the max on this three-disc collection that gives us the remaining episodes from one of the greatest cartoon series ever made.

It’s a perfect mix of humor, heart, music, slapstick, frivolity, character, “did she really just say that?” madness, and it was a real treat sitting in the comfy chair and laughing out loud.

Not everything is perfect, but it hits far more than it misses, and I’m glad Warner Bros. bowed to fan demand to complete the series on DVD.

The main characters on “Animaniacs” are Yakko (voiced by Michigan native Rob Paulsen, whom I got to interview back in the day), Wakko (Jess Harnell) and Dot (Tress MacNeille). In classic cartoon style, they’re critters of indeterminate nature and are locked in a water tower on the Warner Bros. But “they break loose and then vamoose and now you know the plot.”

But they were far from alone. The huge stable of hilarious characters included Slappy and Skippy Squirrel; Buttons and Mindy; the Goodfeathers; Chicken Boo; Rita and Runt; and the breakout characters Pinky and the Brain, lab mice always trying to take over the world.

Oh, where to begin? I’m a musical guy, so those parodies were always among my favorites. Here we see send ups of “Sound of Music” and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then there are all the original songs, many of which are in semi-regular rotation in my CD player. Highlights include “Multiplication Song,” “Big Wrap Party Tonight” and “The Ballad of Magellan.”

The nonmusic parodies are also a hoot, with “Star Truck” being especially fun. And then there are the sweet moments, such as candle flame watching Francis Scott Key writing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The show is also brilliant in its use of humor for adults and kids. Watching it then and watching it now are completely different experiences. My jaw actually dropped during “My Mother the Squirrel.” Did Slappy really just say what I thought she said? Yes! How did that make it on a kid show? Bwahaha!

You gotta love a show that includes not one, but two “That Girl” bits in one cartoon. And it’s still relevant with references to Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich.

If you’re looking for some nostalgia to go along with your viewing, I highly recommend this article from mental_floss. Producer Tom Ruegger and Paulsen offer a “guided tour” through the set. Think of it as the missing commentary track on this bare-bones release.

Eric Henrickson is a Detroit News copy editor who has also been writing about comic books, video games and anime for The News for more than 10 years. His favorite bit of geek cred so far: appearing in an online "Star Trek" fan series.