The 1990s were a golden age for cartoons on TV. The Disney Afternoon dominated the scene, but those shows were, unsurprisingly, aimed at children. They were fun for adults, too, for the most part; but it was Warner Bros. who made the best shows overall, with their time-tested formula of aiming shows at adults but making them fun for kids as well. It started with Tiny Toon Adventures, which was often good but never quite made it to classic status. And then there was the brilliance that was Animaniacs.
For fans of old Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies short cartoons, Animaniacs was the gourmet meal we’d been waiting for while biding our time eating tasty but unsatisfying fast food. Produced by Steven Spielberg (as Tiny Toon Adventures had also been), and with top-caliber voice actors and animators, Animaniacs hit the sweet spot: they managed to be fun for kids to watch, but good and humorous enough that adults would want to watch on their own as well. There were plenty of episode segments that fell short of the mark, and some that were just unfunny and/or boring, but it was the rare episode that didn’t have at least one excellent segment; you could usually count on Yakko, Wakko, and Dot to be funny, and then of course there was “Pinky and the Brain.” And I have to say that it took re-watching the segments with Katie Ka-Boom as the parent of a now-teenage daughter to finally understand what was so funny about them.
In any case, there are 99 episodes of Animaniacs ready for streaming on Netflix right now, and if you have a sense of humor you owe it to yourself to watch them. Either you, like me, vividly remember watching the show when it first aired 20 years ago and can’t wait to do so again, or you have a lot of great new-to-you television to look forward to. And don’t wait to get started – you never know how long anything will stick around on Netflix.