Another anniversary that is occurring this year -- this fall, to be exact -- which will not be celebrated by anyone is the 10th anniversary of the 1998-99 TV season on the WB network, and the beginning of the end for the WB TV animation unit that had started less than a decade earlier.
I've gone into this before, but in brief: in 1995, the WB network co-opted most of the WB TV cartoons for itself, taking them off the Fox network where they were more at home. By 1996, there was frustration at the overly-wide demographic appeal of shows like Animaniacs, Freakazoid! and Superman; by appealing to all ages, they made it harder for advertisers to target the very young kids they wanted to sell toys to, and the WB actually had to return some of the advertisers' money because of the failure to pull in the tiny tots. So Jamie Kellner, head of the WB, eventually laid down a rule that shows for kids should be about kids.
And around the same time, 1996, the FCC announced that networks were required to carry several hours of "educational" programming -- not just kids' programming but shows that were meant to teach something. This ruling was an underrated factor in helping to kill off the new sophistication and intelligence that some (I said, some) animated programs had displayed in the '90s, and should be a warning to all about what happens when the government sets incredibly vague and confusing rules about what we should watch. So the WB had to find a spot on its Saturday morning lineup for an educational show -- they tried Mark Evanier's "Channel Umptee-3" first, but quickly canceled it -- and Tom Ruegger pitched the idea of filling the spot an Animaniacs-style comedy series that would teach children about history.
And finally, the failure of Batman and Robin meant that there was much less interest at Warner Brothers, and among children, in the big superhero franchises; the network brought the Batman cartoon to the network in 1997 but lost interest once it was clear that there wouldn't be any more Batman live-action movies for a while.
With the long lead time for animation, the changes were not fully implemented until fall of 1998, but the results were unmistakable: the most high-profile new shows were Batman Beyond, a younger-skewing version of Batman; Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain, a younger-skewing network-mandated re-tool, and Histeria!, which was essentially Animaniacs for younger children and with an FCC-approved educational bent.
Of these new shows, Batman Beyond was obviously the best and the worst was not Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain (which had its funny moments and was actually quite well-liked by some of the artists who worked on it) but Histeria! The show was well-intentioned, I think; the WB didn't want Animaniacs or Tiny Toons type shows any more and the producers saw a way to sneak that kind of humor back onto the network using the FCC guidelines as an excuse. The producers even followed the Animaniacs pattern by hiring a bunch of talented Groundlings comics to join the writing staff, among them Brian Palermo and Alex Borstein. But the show just wasn't funny. By comparison with the historical sketches on Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain the similar stuff on Histeria! didn't work at all, even when the jokes were all right. And this was due to a fundamentally flawed decision, to give the show a sketch-comedy feel by having a cast of characters who would play different roles in every skit. Since the characters had no real personalities of their own (well, there was the "Loud Kiddington" kid whose only feature was that he yelled a lot), there was no fun in seeing them get involved in historical situations. And the need to be historically accurate probably limited the extent to which the show could be funny, although the Canadian show History Bites took the same concept around the same time and made it work.
The other problem with the show is that it looked ugly, and I mean really, really ugly. This was a time when Warners was apparently experimenting with using less complicated designs than they'd been using on their previous comedy shows; there were so many details on The Brain or Wakko Warner that the animators could never draw them the same way twice, and the idea, I think, was to do simplified designs that would allow the storyboards and layouts to be more accurately reproduced overseas. But the Histeria! characters all had hideous bug eyes, weird bumps on their faces and scary-looking chins; I think it was a little based on Bruce Timm's angular style but it mostly looked bad. And the "Big Fat Baby" character, a design apparently based on a child's drawing, was really a pain to look at. Ruegger gave the producer-director spot on the show to Bob Doucette, who had also produced his last flop show, Road Rovers, and Jon McClenahan, who directed a few episodes, recalled that "Bob was a very talented layout artist but not much of an animation director."
The upshot was that Histeria! consisted almost entirely of the following: ugly characters trying to explain a historical event or person by analogizing it to something from pop-culture. I mean that was every sketch in every episode. If Animaniacs and Tiny Toons were unjustly accused of relying entirely on pop-culture references instead of humor, the accusation was right when it came to Histeria! Case in point (and this just happened to be the first clip I could find):
The things the show had going for it were few: some of the voice actors (though too many roles were played by Tom Ruegger's sons), some of the music (it was the last show Richard Stone worked on before his untimely death), a few song contributions by Randy Rogel and a few bits guest-written by Paul Rugg (who'd left WB by that time). Other than that, the show just didn't work, and it had no clear audience: the pop-culture refs made it unappealing to little kids, the educational stuff (and the general unfunniness) made it unappealing to older viewers, and looking at the show was no fun for almost anyone. It didn't have the popularity or prestige of the Spielberg productions and didn't pull in the WB's desired demographic, so the show was cut short before it had completed its original order of 65 episodes, and that was pretty much the end of the comedy unit of WB animation.
I should note that there are Histeria! fans -- the comments on YouTube seem pretty favorable -- but I don't agree with them. (Others will ask how I could like Animaniacs and dislike Histeria!, and all I can say is I find the former funny and the latter not so much.)