Parodies in Animaniacs
Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs was a 1990s animated television program that often parodied popular TV shows and movies. The Animaniacs animators made fun of everything and everyone, including their own fans, such as the episode "The Please Please Pleese Get a Life Foundation", which made fun of the show's fans that communicated over the internet. Many spoofs were multi-layered, with the episode parodying one specific subject and referencing several other subjects along the way. For instance, the episode "Hooked on a Ceiling" did not only parody The Agony and the Ecstasy, but it also featured Quasimodo shouting "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!", a direct reference to The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Because of Steven Spielberg's involvement in the series, several of his films and even Spielberg himself were parodied numerous times. In the episode "Hooked on a Ceiling", Spielberg was even made the "eminence" of the Sistine Chapel, and the Warners also painted an E.T. picture on its ceiling.
Animaniacs mocked an abundance of celebrities, including Mel Gibson, Barbara Walters, Diana Ross, David Hasselhoff, Whoopi Goldberg, Whitney Houston, Howard Stern and Robin Quivers, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Jerry Seinfeld, Jaleel White, Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Rush Limbaugh (on only one occasion), Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, Janet Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Christopher Walken, Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Winona Ryder, Paula Abdul, Dolly Parton, Jim Carrey, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Liza Minnelli, Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, Shirley MacLaine, Siskel and Ebert, Lionel Richie, Tom Cruise, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, David Letterman, Tina Turner, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Madonna, Cher, Sigourney Weaver, and even President Bill Clinton on several occasions. They have also paid tributes to now-dead celebrities, such as Christa McAuliffe, who was scheduled to be the first teacher in space, before she was killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
The show even made spoofs of various disasters, such as the sinking of the Titanic and a full-length song about the 1994 Northridge earthquake in which they proclaimed that "L.A. Town Is Falling Down!"
Other parodies included acts of war, such as the episode about the Second World War, in which the Warners are teaching about wartime rationing and conservation, such as curtailing automobile usage, growing victory gardens and donating products to the war effort. In the episode, the Warners also collect fishnet stockings to be converted into mosquito netting, at which the Warner brothers are their usual aghast selves to see so many ladies donate their stockings.
Animaniacs segments often parodied major motion pictures and other films as well. The early episode, "Hearts of Twilight," was a parody of Heart of Darkness. The cartoon also made fun of Jerry Lewis' unfinished film The Day the Clown Cried, showing a Lewis-like character continuously trying to find an ending for a movie about a clown. Also, a long segment called "Star Warners", which appeared on the Animaniacs Super Special, parodied the Star Wars films. Furthermore, The Circle of Life intro to The Lion King was parodied, with Yakko taking on the role of Rafiki. In the cartoon, Yakko accidentally drops the Simba character from the cliff and exclaims, "I thought they were supposed to land on their feet." In a Rita and Runt segment Witch One, Rita sings a song, the tune of which closely resembles the title theme from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. At the song's end, Runt remarks, "That sure was pretty, Rita. I hope we don't get sued." In "Miseranimals" Rita and Runt parody the play based on Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables". In the episode "Hello Nice Warners", where the Warners act as directors, their films directly parody Old Yeller and Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the episode Mobster Mash, the Godfather was parodied, with the Godfather resembling the look and speak of Don Corleone. In another episode "Roll Over Beethoven", Dot parodies the character Susie Diamond from The Fabulous Baker Boys as well as the famous scene where the character lies on the piano singing "Making Whoopee", this being "Writing Whooey".
The Goodfeathers had three notable parodies. Their West Side Story parody involved Squit falling in love with a female sparrow, which caused unrest between the two bird gangs because the Sparrows wanted to perch on the head of the statue of Martin Scorsese, which was Goodfeather territory. The second musical parody was of Fiddler on the Roof where the Goodfeathers try to work out their relationships with their female companions. The cartoon ends with the statue of Martin Scorsese being replaced with a statue of Regis Philbin. When faced with the prospect of perching on the head of Regis, the Goodfeathers each decide that they would rather be a "Pigeon on the Roof." This cartoon is followed by a short segment in which Pesto rants and raves to Bobby that the cartoon story was stupid, and Bobby launches into a parody of a West Side Story song, encouraging Pesto to, "Stay cool, bird! Beak it, buzz it, easy does is...stay cool, bird. Real cool." The third parody is of Rocky, where Bobby has to train to box another bird. Bobby is trained by a bird similar to Burgess Meredith, who constantly calls Bobby a bum. When Bobby asks him, "Why do you keep calling me a bum all the time?" his trainer responds, "Because you're a bum, you bum!" Also, Bobby did a parody of the stair climbing scene in which first Bobby climbs the stairs and starts punching, and then Rocky himself climbs the stairs to the top, knocking Bobby off the memorial in the process.
Animaniacs has parodied popular television shows as well. A segment called Star Truck parodied Star Trek: The Original Series in which the Warners are beamed aboard the Enterprise. Spoofed characters include "Squatty" instead of Scotty and "Spork" instead of "Mr. Spock." When the Warners are all hugging the crew, Wakko quips, "We're cling-ons, get it?" referencing the alien species from Star Trek. In the episode "Hot, Bothered, and Bedeviled," Yakko is asking Wakko and Dot for suggestions to get out of their dilemma. He then asks "Bones" and a caricature of Dr. McCoy answers "Darn it, Yakko! I'm a doctor, not a magician!" Also, the show Friends was parodied as "Acquaintances", where the character Chandler had his sarcastic putdowns horrifically enacted upon him. Later in that same episode, The Brady Bunch is referenced and there is a parody of Seinfeld. In another episode, when Wakko is portraying an American Indian hunter, one of his catches is "the cast of Friends", revealing caricatures of the six stars. Yakko is unimpressed, noting that the catch could be found anywhere. In Back in Style, the Warners are forced to make guest appearances in Cal Cabibeara, Ohuru, Where Are You?, Thunderdog, Obese Orson and The Feebles, spoofs of The Yogi Bear Show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, Underdog, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids LA Law and The Beatles respectively.
Animaniacs also parodied several children's shows during its run. "Super Strong Warner Siblings" lampooned the 90's TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, featuring replicas of the "real" show's costumes and similar villains. Another parody, albeit a cold opening rather than a full "segment", depicted the Animaniacs characters as babies in a parody of the title sequence of Rugrats. Popular kids' character Barney was also parodied as "Baloney", a goofy character (who mysteriously frightened people) whose upbeat personality remained unaffected by the massive amounts of abuse to which the Warners subjected him, much to their annoyance. Also the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were parodied in a history segment on Michelangelo, in which the historian advocates that the pop culture has undermined great artists and that Michelangelo was NOT a turtle. They also spoofed other popular TV shows including The Jetsons and Gilligan's Island.
Animaniacs had also parodied trends that were popular in the U.S. Late into the series run, the parody "Macadamia Nut" aired, a spoof of the infamous music video/song "Macarena" by Los Del Rio. The song was mainly performed by the Warners, but the music video featured almost every major character to ever appear on Animaniacs all doing The Macarena dance (although Katie Ka-Boom was not featured).
- "The Please Please Please Get a Life Foundation". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 72. 1995-09-23. Kids’ WB.
- "Hooked on a Ceiling". Animaniacs. Season 1. Episode 4. 1993-09-16. FOX Kids.
- "A Quake, A Quake!". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 70. 1995-09-09. Kids’ WB.
- "Of Course You Know, This Means Warners". Animaniacs. Season 1. Episode 57. 1994-02-17. FOX Kids.
- "Hearts of Twilight". Animaniacs. Season 1. Episode 4. 1993-10-12. FOX Kids.
- "Star Warners". Animaniacs. Season 5. Episode 99. 1998-11-14. Kids’ WB.
- "The Tiger Prince". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 73. 1995-09-30. Kids’ WB.
- "Cutie and the Beast". Animaniacs. Season 4. Episode 82. 1996-09-07. Kids’ WB.
- "Star Truck". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 75. 1997-09-13. Kids’ WB.
- "Acquaintances". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 91. 1997-10-11. Kids’ WB.
- "Super Strong Warner Siblings". Animaniacs. Season 3. Episode 70. 1995-09-09. Kids’ WB.
- "Animani-rats". Animaniacs. Season 4. Episode 83. 1996-09-14. Kids’ WB.
- "Baloney and Kids". Animaniacs. Season 1. Episode 61. 1994-05-02. FOX Kids.
- "Dot - The Macadamia Nut". Animaniacs. Season 5. Episode 90. 1997-09-13. Kids’ WB.