Thursday, July 13, 2006

"The way I see it, there's two kinds of kids in the world: kids who like Animaniacs, and kids who don't like Animaniacs."

One more "Animaniacs" cartoon I wanted to draw attention to is a Chicken Boo cartoon, "The Good, the Boo and the Ugly." Chicken Boo was the weirdest concept on "Animaniacs" and one of the funniest once you caught on to it. Every cartoon was the same: Boo, a giant chicken with no anthromorphic qualities (he looks like a chicken, acts like a chicken, can't talk), manages to fool nearly everyone into thinking he's a respected authority figure merely by putting on a fake mustache or a hat or something. Yet when he loses his disguise and is exposed as a chicken, everyone turns on him.

The cartoons were basically meta-cartoons satirizing a bunch of cartoon tropes: the fact that cartoon animals can interact with humans (Mickey Mouse is a giant mouse, after all, except he's a cartoony mouse whereas Boo is a non-cartoony chicken), the convention that no one can see through a cartoon character's disguise, and the repetitiveness of cartoon plots. "The Good, the Boo and the Ugly" is probably the best of the Boo cartoons; it's preceded by a Good Idea/Bad Idea segment.



23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ha, wow. Thanks for reminding me how good Animaniacs was back then - after Hysteria came on, I don't think I ever saw it broadcast again in my area, so I haven't seen the show in probably a decade. Since then I've heard complaints about how the show paved the way for too much sitcom-based writing in kid's cartoon.

Funny thing is, I distinctly remember this sketch, but since I hadn't seen the Leone movies at the time I didn't even get most of the references ("A few feathers more!"). But dammit, Chicken Boo's distinctly non-human animation always gets me laughing, like when he dodges the gunman here and puts him down. "I told ya that guy was a chicken!" I always found that absurd cruelty at the end of each sketch to be hilarious, but in many ways I was an odd child.

Still, I don't know if I'd put THAT much stock into the skit meta-parodying cartoon conventions. Especially this sketch, it's more of a slap against the Man with No Name films.

Anonymous said...

Why do you devote words and energy to this crap?!? You need the eyes and brain of a 4-year-old not to know it sucks, in which case all the references are over your head. What the hell is the point of this dreck?

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Why do you devote words and energy to this crap?!?

[Shrug] -- this blog is, mostly, about Stuff I Like (SIL). "Animaniacs" is very high up in the SIL category and has been since it premiered. I don't expect everyone to like it, but I do enjoy explaining why I like it.

Anonymous said...

Why you like it is because you have no taste. That's all the words it takes.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Why you like it is because you have no taste.

Entirely possible, but how does that explain my liking other stuff you like? (Unless you hate everything I like, in which case this probably isn't a blog that's worth reading.)

I don't really care said...

--It would depend on why you like what I like. You might like it for juvenile reasons. As far as I can see, a person could only like Animaniacs for juvenile reasons, no matter how many words he uses to explain it.

I only came here because you posted a link to your Animaniacs treatise on JohnK's blog. It made me curious what somebody could say in favor of it. What it seems to prove is that a person can over-intellectualize any crap in the world. I feel utterly insulted when I watch it. Why don't you? You CAN tell the animation is terrible, can't you? Are the stories and jokes so good that you just don't care? You better not say yes...

And the chicken idea MIGHT have been funny, but it's not, because it's not non-anthropomorphic, it's just LESS anthropomorphic. The pigeon that takes the food back from Ren and Stimpy in BIG HOUSE BLUES acts more like a real bird than this one. Chickens don't have eyes in the front. They are on the side. Leaving them there would have been a lot funnier, and more committed to the gag.

I have to assume it's purely for little kids, but then they have Sergio Leone jokes.... HUH?
Yes it's made better than My Little Pony, but so what? I can't see how this is worth any adult's time, by any meaningful standard. --Unless, maybe you have a singing trout on your wall.

I'm not against people watching what they like. Hey, go for it.

But if you're gonna invite fans of Spumco to come have a look, you've got a slam comin'.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

I feel utterly insulted when I watch it. Why don't you? You CAN tell the animation is terrible, can't you? Are the stories and jokes so good that you just don't care? You better not say yes...

See, I don't see that. "Animaniacs" did have some weak visuals and weak stories, particularly toward the end when it was on the WB and many of the best artists and writers had left. In this cartoon, though, I see a lot of moments where visuals, writing and music combine for solid humor (like the hand with the tambourine sticking out of the hiding place, which has made me laugh for over a decade). Animation, not great, certainly not terrible.

But if you're gonna invite fans of Spumco to come have a look, you've got a slam comin'.

I have no problem with that at all. You may not remember this but there were intercine wars on usenet in the '90s between Animaniacs fans and Spumco fans (Spumcovites?). I enjoyed that, and I still do.

DrBear said...

One thing I've never understood is why one version of something has to be better than another. I like Animaniacs; I like John K's stuff. Just because I like one a bit better doesn't mean that I think everything the other has done is trash. But for some reason - especially in animation - this really is prevalent.

(PS-My favorite was - darn, I've forgotten the title - the one with Boo as James Bond.)

I don't really care said...

I have no problem with that at all. You may not remember this but there were intercine wars on usenet in the '90s between Animaniacs fans and Spumco fans (Spumcovites?). I enjoyed that, and I still do.

Well I am at least relieved to know that you can take it in good humor.

I like Animaniacs; I like John K's stuff. Just because I like one a bit better doesn't mean that I think everything the other has done is trash.

Well for me, it seems like this: That's kind of like saying, I like to eat good food, but I also like to eat dirt. Just because I like one, doesn't mean I have to hate the other... If you like both of them, I don't see how you can possibly be getting the same things from Spumco that I get from it.

Animation, not great, certainly not terrible.

TERRIBLE. Here's why --NOBODY does anything meaningful. It's just bouncy for bouncy's sake. They might as well not do it at all. It might as well be stiff as a board, because it doesn't make it any more interesting in any way, and that fact alone is enough to actually make it even more annoying, since it is supposedly an homage to classic animation. --But it's really a buttfuck of classic animation, with none of the flavor, and none of the style. it has all the authenticity of a Japanese Elvis impersonator.

I'm not saying it's supposed to look like an old Warner's cartoon. It should look at least like a relative of them, in terms of its underlying values.

Instead, Ren and Stimpy looks more like a realtive of old Warners, not in its design, but in its underlying substance, and that's what we want. That's the ideal we need to spread. It's not important to look superficially like an old 30's cartoon character, it's far more important to try to fully use the principles from when cartoons were their greatest.

Jaime J. Weinman said...


I'm not saying it's supposed to look like an old Warner's cartoon. It should look at least like a relative of them, in terms of its underlying values.


I never really thought of "Animaniacs" as being in the spirit of the old Warners cartoons (despite all the hype that tried to pretend it was the new Looney Tunes or whatever), so I don't really accept the premise.

For meaningful movement in an Animaniacs cartoon I'd point to Dot's wide-eyed, coy joy at seeing the garage in "Garage Sale of the Century," or the animation of Mr. Director when he first appears in "Hearts of Twilight."

I don't really care said...

For meaningful movement in an Animaniacs cartoon I'd point to Dot's wide-eyed, coy joy at seeing the garage in "Garage Sale of the Century," or the animation of Mr. Director when he first appears in "Hearts of Twilight."

It may be there, it may not be, but if you have to look that hard to find something legitimate, then something is generally wrong.

I don't really care said...

I never really thought of "Animaniacs" as being in the spirit of the old Warners cartoons (despite all the hype that tried to pretend it was the new Looney Tunes or whatever), so I don't really accept the premise.

The premise is that cartoons should be well-made and genuinely funny.

P.C. Unfunny said...

"It may be there, it may not be, but if you have to look that hard to find something legitimate, then something is generally wrong."

Or maybe you are so blinded by your hatered of the show,you refuse to see any sort of redeeming qualities of it.The show had alot of nice animation, especially the shows animated by TMS.

P.C. Unfunny said...

I don't see how you can possibly be getting the same things from Spumco that I get from it.


That is possibel, Animaniacs had the flaws of too much focus on dialogue but I got something good out of it. John K.'s stuff has way too much tiolet humor,but again,I get something out of it.

Anonymous said...

idon'treallycare, take a deep breath, remember what blogs are all about, and chill a teensy bit there, man. ; )

I can well understand why many, many human beings(and most if not all accredited Spumco fans)dislike "Animaniacs" intensely--first and foremost among the reasons being that in the days when A! was on the air, John K. spent more print than he needed to do to rip it at every opportunity. It became his prime example for What was Wrong With All Animation, his whipping boy, the Anti-Cartoon, and while he's entertaining, he's so set in his POV that I assure you he felt the way he did without ever watching much, if any(I'd bet any), of the actual show.

On the other hand, the fans who liked it(God knows why), did so for the purest of reasons: they watched the episodes and it made them chuckle, laugh or smile. These people weren't ComicCon regulars, ASIFA members or otherwise hardcore vintage cartoon fans, they just happened to catch an afternoon cartoon show, and it tickled them. In that, they are pure and simple audience members, and TV is what it is: you take what you enjoy, ignore the rest. It seems, though, to infuriate fans of "cool" cartoons that ther are people who can love Ren and Stimpy, Bob Clampett's Bugs Bunny and ALSO Animaniacs. They'd rather those fans DIDN'T like R&S-it taints the fandom for it, it's embarrassing that such a shitty show shares fans with such an obviously superior, great one. How silly.

I personally don't care for 90% of Animaniacs, but I do appreciate the 10% that works for me, sometimes due to the hard work of people like sometime Spumco artists Mike Fontanelli and Eddie Fitzgerald. it helps to take these things in context...I wonder if Jaime would love the show today, but that's not the point: he(or is it she? I've never known)liked the show back then, 14 years ago when it originally aired.

I will say, though, that for all its strengths and weaknesses A! had a very good crew of artists, and I'll also say that 'Chicken Boo' was beyond annoying and dumb, NOT one of the high points(not least for its incessant sameness which imho wan't a 10th as clever as the writer contingent thought it was, just plain....dumb).

I don't really care said...

idon'treallycare, take a deep breath, remember what blogs are all about, and chill a teensy bit there, man. ; )

You seem to be implying that I am upset about something. Nope. I could not be more "chill". I'm only saying what appears to be neccessary to counter an argument.

I can well understand why many, many human beings(and most if not all accredited Spumco fans)dislike "Animaniacs" intensely--first and foremost among the reasons being that in the days when A! was on the air, John K. spent more print than he needed to do to rip it at every opportunity. It became his prime example for What was Wrong With All Animation, his whipping boy, the Anti-Cartoon, and while he's entertaining, he's so set in his POV that I assure you he felt the way he did without ever watching much, if any(I'd bet any), of the actual show.

I said the things I said, based on what little I've seen, and I swear to GOD I hope I never see any more. I have never seen what JohnK said about it, but it sure looks like an "anti-cartoon" to me. Animaniacs is not the whipping boy here, because IT is the torture.

That does not mean nobody should be allowed to like it. I'll tell you why I don't believe in God, if you want to know, but I don't care if you go to church. I just think it would be a big step in the right direction if nobody would.

Lots of people liked "HEE HAW". Don't you think a sophisticated professional comedian could intelligently break down why it's not very good, at least by a sophisticated standard?

P.C. Unfunny said...

"I'll tell you why I don't believe in God, if you want to know, but I don't care if you go to church. I just think it would be a big step in the right direction if nobody would."

Post that on your Blog, I am curious of what you have to say .

SamuraiFrog said...

I like bits and pieces of Animaniacs, but I think Chicken Boo was one of the things I hated the most. For me, "every cartoon was the same" does not equal hilarious. That's the reason I hated Chicken Boo! But sometimes, something like "Yakko's Universe" or "The Magellan Song" would really get me.

Jorge Garrido said...

>I have no problem with that at all. You may not remember this but there were intercine wars on usenet in the '90s between Animaniacs fans and Spumco fans (Spumcovites?). I enjoyed that, and I still do.

You too, Jaime! Haha!

Hysteria was my favourite show of all time. Brilliance. That shaped 0ym entire childhood.

Anonymous said...

Fontanelli and Fitzgerald didn't work on Animaniacs. They worked on Tiny Toon Adventures. But hey, all cartoonists look alike, right?

Anonymous said...

Hi anonymous, this is "other anonymous"; as a matter of fact, Eddie Fitzgerald sure as hell did work on Animaniacs--at least, that's the crew he was on when he quit to go work on season 2 for R&S, in, I think, 1992. He was there all through development of A! and actually tested for "Pinky & the Brain" to do Pinky's voice himself(which would have been much better than the neo-cockney accent thing they chose). Fontanelli also worked on development for Animaniacs, whether he likes to admit it or not. It's true Fontanelli left earlier than Eddie fro Spumco(John sent him a cake at WB with "Welcome, asshole!" on it), but he was still on Animaniacs a while later after Spumco lost the show and EVERYone not at Games needed a job. Ask Fontanelli; he worked very briefly but very loudly for a time doing models and even I think some board bits. Fact. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

P.S. Eddie was at Spumco for only a few months before Nick pulled the plug; I think he was able to do layout on only a very few episodes that aired at all. It may have been less than 6 mos later, actually.

And no, not all cartoonists look alike. I was there, and I'm pretty sure you weren't. ; )

Mattieshoe said...

Y'know, I could be wrong, but I think everyone's finally coming to grips when it comes to the Quality of Animaniacs.



Even Thad (Almost) called an episode "Excellent". that was a big shock. (And furthermore, the episode wasn't written by Tom Minton)


I like to think I helped at least raise Animaniacs from the "Most evil cartoons of all time" Category.