What Will the Show's Sense of Humor Be Like?
The original Animaniacs, as noted earlier, was all about continuing the style of Golden Age Looney Tunes, right down to its jokes. The humor was fast-paced with gags from far back as vaudeville bumping up against references to everything from Prince to Jeopardy. It was anachronistic, to say the least, and downright quaint when compared to what shows like The Simpsons or Ren & Stimpy were doing. In the years since Animaniacs concluded, it's come under criticism from some corners for outdated gender stereotyping. ("Helloooo, Nurse!" probably rings a little creepy now in the age of post-Weinstein Hollywood.)
So will this new version follow in its predecessor's footsteps? Well, some gags ring eternal -- remember, even The Sopranos had fart jokes. But throwing Borscht Belt shtick at modern kids raised on YouTube videos rather than reruns of 70+ year old cartoons may fall on deaf ears.
More likely, the new Animaniacs will hew to the approach other recent WB Animation revivals used. Boomerang's New Looney Tunes (known as Wabbit in its first season) brought back the original characters and their iconic personalities -- Bugs is a wiseacre, Daffy a nutcase, etc. -- but updated the way its sense of humor was portrayed. That is, instead of an anvil falling on Yosemite Sam's head in any given episode, he instead would be blasted into a wall.
The characters themselves could also be updated. See Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! (another Boomerang show) which kept most of the Mystery Machine crew the same, but turned Daphne into an eccentric who adopts a new personality trait each episode (communicating solely through hand puppetry, dramatically narrating everything) to great comedic effect. For a better example -- and one that the new Animaniacs would do well to emulate -- there's Disney's Mickey Mouse. The news shorts keep the core selves of Mickey and the rest intact, but with an average of 3-5 minutes per story, twists everything else into whatever's needed for the joke.
As the original Animaniacs had such a distinct voice and style, so too must this revival, both to prove its own worth and as the testing ground for Hulu as a source of new family comedy ala Netflix.
How Mad Will This Make Fans of the Original Series?
Any reboot, reimagining or revival of a beloved children's property that isn't Power Rangers or Doctor Who will inevitably come up against criticism from devoted fans of the original. Teen Titans Go! is the best example of this. Despite being a very funny show on its own weird, unique terms, it's been attacked ever since its first episode by folks mad it's not the original Teen Titans or Young Justice.
Honestly, though, it's fine for a new version of an old show to have its own identity. Welcome, even. To go back to DuckTales... have you watched the original show lately? Yeah, it's still a lot of fun, but outside of the gorgeous animation, it's kinda stiff. The nine episodes of the new DuckTales that have aired at this time, though, are more sitcom first, adventure show second, which works brilliantly. A good way to make people like a show or comic or whatever is if it can make them laugh.
If this new Animaniacs can do that above all else, the aesthetics, casting, writing and the rest will all fall into place.
Steven Spielberg’s classic Warner Bros. animated series Animaniacs will return in 2020 with a two-season order from streaming service Hulu. Spielberg will executive produce the series’ revival for Hulu, Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Television.