I found it difficult to sit down and review the second volumes of Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain and in-between the second volume and the third I tried to think of a way to start the reviews off to make them more interesting. However, after watching the shows again on DVD, it’s evident that you can’t really do much more than simply say that in the end it’s Animaniacs and doing anything short of endorsing a third volume would be nothing else but blasphemous.
With this third volume of Animaniacs twenty-five more episodes are making their debut on DVD. Ranging from more adventures from Chicken Boo to Rita and Runt, Animaniacs maintains the delicate balance between superb animation, storytelling and the music that remains some of the best examples of the beautiful marriage that Animaniacs kept together through the audio and visual elements of the show. It’s truly remarkable to watch this show, one after another, without ever glancing to the clock to wonder if it will ever end.
Highlight episodes on this set is Ups and Downs, based on a true story that happened to a few of the Animaniacs staff that were stuck in an elevator for hours. The dialogue between Wakko and Dr. Scratchnsniff is hilarious and the animation doesn’t miss a beat in keeping the scene funny. “Take My Siblings Please” is another remarkable show that is nothing short of a treat to watch. It’s hard to pick out your favorite stories from these episodes when there’s a volume of twenty-five to choose from—there isn’t a single episode on this set that I didn’t laugh at at some point. The volumes retain their hilarity even while watching the episodes in a non-stop manner.
As with previous volumes, fans shouldn’t hesitate to pick put his volume. Without even thinking about the special features on this volume, the set is worth every bit of its price with the episodes themselves. Fans of the show and fans of animation in general want this show on DVD—as evidenced by the sales of the previous volumes and the frequent releases the show has gotten since originally arriving on DVD less than a year ago.
The packaging for this release matches the previous volumes perfectly. Spines line up in sync on the shelf and the embossed lettering and characters on the slipcase remains. The only difference in the packaging I noticed is the coloring is a bit more vibrant—the spine lettering on both Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brains lettering stands out more than the previous volumes. Inside is more colorful art in a foldout case that looks great and the menus on the discs match what we get on the outside as well. Together it all looks great and I’m glad these sets aren’t simply thrown together to get them on shelves as fast as possible.
As with all animation, the newer it is, the better it looks. Animaniacs takes this rule and runs with it and showcases the cleanest and brightest colors yet on an Animaniacs release. While there is still some cel dirt and grain on the episodes, they look outstanding. Transfer errors are low as well, I didn’t notice nearly as much interlacing/ghosting as I did on the previous sets and the 5.1 Dolby Surround mix remains one of the best extras on these sets. While the dialogue is always front channel focused, the rear channels create some nice atmospheric moments with the shows terrific music and sound effects whizzing around the back of your head.
Moving onto the special features, we get two featurettes. The first focuses on the music of the show and runs a little over twenty minutes in length. While there are no exclusive audio clips from the show, it is still a treat to watch the composers reminisce about their time on the show. Rob Paulsen even stops by to sing some of the songs over again and clips from the show are interspersed with comments from the actors and composers of the show.
The second featurette, entitled “They Can’t Help It If They’re Crazy, They’re Just Drawn That Way”, delves into the character designs, storyboarding and art behind the show. While it sounds like a merely technical featurette, the artists and production crew also give some brief history on the pitching of the show to Spielberg as well as characters that were created but never used. It’s a great look into the series and I’m glad we got it before the volumes run their course.
One major issue with the special features on this set is they aren’t in 16×9 like previous releases. Rather, they’re 16×9 in a 4:3 frame…very odd, as they’re obviously shot in 16×9 (very weird video artifacts on top of that). In addition, the audio is very low—I had to up the audio on my system another fifteen levels past what I usually have it at in order to hear everything (and everyone) clearly.
Overall the set is a worthy addition to your collection. With over twelve and a half hours of content, this five-disc set is a must-own for anyone who loves animation. Not only is the show a shining example of Warner Bros. Animation but the special features give a nice view into the inner workings of the show. This set comes Highly Recommended.
Animaniacs: Volume 3 arrives on DVD on June 19th.