A closeup of a Dot figurine

Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third

It’s Cartoon Friday, again.

When we enjoyed the Pinky & The Brain Christmas special, I promised a visit to the original home of that spin off.

Another award-winning cartoon produced by Steven Spielberg, Animaniacs ran for 99 episodes over 5 seasons. The title characters are three siblings who secretly live behind the Warner Brothers logo in the studio’s water tower. Periodically, they escape from the tower to wreak havoc on the studio or the world at large. Each has a well-defined schtick: Yakko has a dry wit and sounds like a reject Marx Brother. Wakko sounds like Ringo Starr and eats a lot. Dot is adorable. Her full name, Mental Floss reminds us in “Way More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Animaniacs,” is actually Princess Angelina Contessa Louisa Francesca Banana Fanna Bo Besca the Third.

The titular trio are a largely amoral force of chaos. In “The Big Candy Store,” episode 8′s main feature, they invade a fantastical candy story (doing business under the surreal title Flapjack’s Totality of Candy) whose owner’s only crime is being an overly committed capitalist. The havoc they wreak on Flapjack (a literal weasel in a toupee?) is completely out of proportion to the crime, yet utterly hilarious — which is why it passes for justice in the Animaniacs universe. Wikipedia is right to point out the show’s debt to Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, but other moments feel inspired by Monty Python. And some, like “The Presidents,” clearly belong in Tom Lehrer’s wheelhouse.

Each episode was an anthology with 2-3 longer cartoons interspersed with songs or absurdist shorts. Supporting features included Pinky & the Brain, the Goodfeathers (gangster pigeons) and, as in this episode, the snarky and sarcastic Slappy Squirrel. Her travails should be sympathetic to anyone who has dealt with a traumatic Disney cartoon and a young child. There’s also a foot fetish joke thrown in as a non sequitur, because this is a kid’s cartoon.

Bonus: one of the show’s funniest gags ever: Slappy Squirrel at Woodstock.

What are your favorite cartoons?

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Photo by JD Hancock released under a Creative Commons license.