Top 11 Best Animaniacs Episodes
April 21, 2015
The Nostalgia Critic is not shown in his chair. Suddenly, the NC leans quickly into the frame
NC: He-hey! (jump cut to the NC in his chair) Come on in, put up a chair, sit down, say hi to Christopher Walken!
The screen slides to show a cartoon Christopher Walken
Cartoon Walken: (waving) Hello.
Audience: (monotone) It's Animaniacs, isn't it?
NC: So what if it is?!
NC (vo): (as clips from the show play) I know I've talked about it several times on this show, but I can't help it; it's just so damn good not to. But this time, we're counting down the absolute best of the best. We're looking at the Top 11 Best episodes of one of the greatest TV shows ever. Which ones had the best animation, the cleverest writing, and the most laughs.
NC: Now there are only two exceptions to keep in mind: One, I'm not including the songs.
NC (vo): It just wouldn't be fair. The songs are so good they deserve a list of their own. It wouldn't make sense to have half the countdown taken up with them.
NC: Number two, I'm not including the Star Warners episode because that was technically Pinky and the Brain.
NC (vo): It was their final episode, and, as great as it was, it technically doesn't count as an Animaniacs one.
NC: But aside from that, everything else is totally fair game! And we're gonna look at the Top 11 Best of them here today! Why Top 11?
Brain: (through clenched teeth) Guess!
NC: Eh... Well, you get the idea. This is the Top 11 Best Animaniacs Episodes!
(Cut to a scene of Wakko burping "Dance of the Hours" as the "Top 11 Funniest Animaniacs Episodes" title appears)
NC (vo): Karaoke-Dokie. Its premise is just as funny as its execution. William Shatner [Willie Slackner] has taken over a karaoke for kids event, and it's up to the Warners to get him to stop. That's about it, but, honestly, that's about all you need.
WS: I'm trying to fill their lives with joy.
Yakko: (mocking Slackner) Then you should stop singing right now.
NC (vo): This is mocking Shatner's infamously horrible singing of Rocket Man...
Shatner (singing): Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine...
NC (vo): As well as playing off his equally infamous ego.
Yakko: Looks like an election ballet from Chilli.
NC (vo): The impersonation is great as well as the Warners' always on-beat mockery and manipulation.
WS: (as he speaks Yakko is mouthing the words) I'm not angry. I am calm, and cool. It's my turn to-- (suddenly realizes what Yakko is doing) Stop it!
Yakko: Your turn to stop it?
The Warners: (jumping for joy) Yay!
WS: That's not what I said.
(Wakko plays back a recording of WS saying "It's my turn to stop it!")
NC (vo): The sharp speed animation of Shatner's over the top performance also manages to hit a bullseye.
WS: Ba-ba, black sheep. Have you any wool?
NC (vo): Top it off with a wink to Bilbo Baggins, and you have one hell of a funny episode.
Dot: Oh, I get it, it's a whole Star Trek gag thing. (unamused) Ha, ha, ha.
NC (vo): Yes, Always. Most kids who watched this episode were just kind of confused. On the surface, it doesn't seem especially funny, but when you know the background for it, it's absolutely hilarious. The Brain is called in to do voiceover work for an episode of Animaniacs. This seems to consist of commercials and narrations, with the Brain getting frustrated at the mediocre writing.
Brain: You can't emphasize "beef", that's like wanting me to emphasize "in" before "July". Come on, fellas, you're losing your heads.
NC (vo): And again, that's about it. Well, how on Earth is that supposed to be funny? Well, the whole episode is satirizing the outtakes of world-famous director and actor Orson Wells, the inspiration behind the Brain's voice.
Orson Wells (recording): But you can't emphasize "beef", that's like he's wanting me to emphasize "in" before "July". Come on, fellas, you're losing your heads!
NC (vo): Over the years, the recording of this narration has gotten more popular; notably for Orson Wells being amazingly impossible to work with. This episode is a homage to his temper tantrum, saying almost line for line the exact same complaints.
Brain: Get me a jury, and show me how you can say "in July", and I'll make cheese for you.
Orson Wells (recording): Get me a jury, and show me how you can say "in July", and I'll go down on you.
NC: Well, I said almost.
NC (vo): The actor for the Brain, Maurice LaMarche, was said to warm up using Wells' words from this recording. So, the writers decided to make one giant in-joke and have the whole episode dedicated to it. In fact, the writers and the directors even put themselves in the episode.
Brain: Leave, go, out!
Andrea Romano: Brain, I am the director.
Brain: You were the director.
Andrea: I can't believe that guy. I Taft-Hartley'd him on his first job!
NC (vo): The joke goes especially meta when Brain says nobody can replace him only to find that there's a ton of impersonators waiting outside. This is especially fitting seeing as how LaMarche has dubbed for Wells on several occasions. So it's something of an impersonation of an impersonation of an impersonation.
Orson Wells (recording): That's just idiotic, if you'll forgive me for saying so. That's just stupid, impossible, meaningless.
Brain: That's just idiotic if you'll forgive me for saying so, that's just stupid, impossible, meaningless.
NC (vo): Yeah, most kids wouldn't get it, but when you're an adult, it brings on all the laughs.
Brain (dubbed over by Orson Wells recording): This is a lot of shit, you know that.
NC (vo): Sir Yaksalot. A pretty straightforward episode. A dragon is loose in Camelot, and when King Arthur's knights can't destroy it, Merlin magically conjures up the Warners to defeat it.
Yakko: You called for the bravest, most daring knight in all the land?
King Arthur: Oh, yes!
Yakko: Well, too bad, you got us.
Dot: What a silly mix-up.
NC (vo): Again, very basic, but the jokes and the references are so many and so quick, it's hard not to laugh your ass off. One of the many highlights is the references to the Camelot musical itself. Everything from Richard Harris' spastically changing voice--
King Arthur: Oh good knight, PLEASE PASS THE KETCHUP!!! (laughs)
NC (vo): To the total uselessness of some of the song sequences.
Peasant: We shall calm the beast by singing!
(A yak plays a note on a harmonica, but the dragon steps on him and the peasants)
Peasants: (dazed) Camelot!
NC (vo): But the references don't stop there. There's throwbacks to Dr. Strangelove, Doug Henning, and even Godzilla.
Soldier: And now, Perry Mason.
Perry Mason: I fear for all humanity!
NC (vo): The speed of this episode is also what makes it so much fun. Every second, something is appearing, exploding, screaming, or being smashed. There's a wonderful kinetic energy that flows throughout the entire thing. There's even a great twist on the dragon's identity that I won't ruin here, but trust me when I say it's yet another welcome cameo.
King Arthur: I can't thank you enough!
Yakko: Well, try anyway.
NC (vo): It's medieval zany-ness at it's best.
Warners: Thank you!
Warners: Animaniacs stew!
NC (vo): This is definitely one of the more clever ideas to come out of the show. For one whole episode, all the Animaniac characters switch roles. That's right: instead of Pinky and the Brain, it's Mindy and the Brain, instead of Rita and Runt, it's Pesto and Runt. The list goes on and on and on to make for some of the shows best interactions.
Sodarn Insane: She is ten thousand years older than sand, how can you be brothers and sister?
Yakko (whispering): Don't tell her, she's adopted.
Slappy: That's it, I'm out of here!
NC (vo): In many respects, this plays to the heart about why these characters are so strong and memorable. Their personalities are so big that all you need to do is switch them up and watch them work off each other.
Pesto: I know, I know, we're supposed to sing. Fine. La-la-la-la-la-la!
Runt: That was good, Pesto.
Pesto: You think it was great?
Runt: No, but it was good.
NC (vo): It doesn't need that many twists and turns, just one funny personality working off of another funny personality. Even the shorter ones get a laugh, my personal favourite is Rita and Pinky just for how bizarrely short and yet delightfully cruel it is.
Pinky: What do you want to do tonight, Rita?
Rita: I don't know, eat you for supper!
(Rita puts Pinky in her mouth)
Rita: So far, this is my favourite episode.
NC (vo): When you have characters this funny and likeable, all you have to do is put them in a simple situation and see how they react to it. And this, in many respects, is the simplest situation: just switching the roles for an episode. So basic, and yet, so effective.
Warners: (singing) We threw in all the characters, now they're all mixed up!
NC (vo): Meatballs or Consequences/Hot, Bothered, and Bedeviled. I'm cheating a little bit here because both of these have very similar setups: The Warners going up against an entity of the afterlife. In one episode, they're going up against the Grim Reaper to get their deceased brother back, and in another, they're going up against the Devil himself to dig their way out of Hell. Not only do they have similar funny setups, but they also had similar funny foils. Both the Devil and the Reaper are some of the funniest foes they've ever gone up against. The Reaper wields a thick Swedish accent, obviously paying homage to Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal, about a knight who fights for his life against Death.
Reaper: I haven't lost at checkers since time began.
Yakko: When was that?
Reaper: I think it was a Tuesday, very few people know that.
NC (vo): He also seems to be a stickler for rules and paperwork. The best part being when he thinks he's fooled the Warners with a loophole.
Reaper: I didn't tell you pesky little things that renders all previous clauses and amendments null and void.
NC (vo): But without missing a beat, the Warners don't even flinch, and know they're going to make his life a living hell.
Yakko: Take us for a pony ride!
(The Warners get on the Reaper's back)
Warners: (singing) Pony ride, pony ride!
NC (vo): Resulting in some great reactions from our antagonist.
Reaper (dizzy): I'll have the linguine with clams.
NC (vo): And speaking of living hell, the Devil also has some of the best voiceover delivery out of all the villains.
Satan: I am Satan!
(Dot grabs Satan's cheek)
Dot: We're trying to figure something out here. Would you be a doll and hold that thought?
NC (vo): His menacing tone, juggling with his monotone frustration, leads to some fantastic delivery.
Satan: I haven't had a day like this in sometime.
NC (vo): Plus, how cool is it to see the Warners square off against the Devil himself? It doesn't get any bigger than that.
Satan: You've frozen everything! Do you have any idea how long it takes to get the pilot lit?!
NC (vo): If the afterlife is full of this many laughs, then we might just die of laughter twice.
Reaper: Try and maintain the proper attitude of fear and respect due to me by regulations. At least tremble a little.
NC (vo): Bubba-Bo-Bob Brain. Who would have thought the country music scene would be this much fun to satirize? Well, Pinky and the Brain did, and they came up with some great moments. The Brain is looking to hypnotize the world by playing a song that can put anyone who hears it under his control. So, seeing as how this is during the Billy Ray Cyrus era, he chooses country music as he knows people will listen to it over and over and over.
Willy Rae Cyprus (singing on TV): Don't tell my head, my empty, hollow head!
Pinky: (singing along) You know I wouldn't understand!
NC (vo): But the commentary of country music doesn't stop there. They satirize everything from the culture, to the names, to their appearances.
Dolly Parton: I'm your biggest fan. What do you say to that?
Brain: I'd say puberty was inordinately kind to you.
Dolly: (laughs) Go on.
NC (vo): The design of the legs are great too, I love how they always find new surreal proportions for the Brain to take on whenever he pretends to be human. (Picture of The Brain in his human suit disguise is shown) This all leads to up the Brain's big moment, which is, of course, ruined by the simplest of mistakes as always, but it's how creatively that misunderstanding is going to take place, and it plays out great as usual. This is definitely a little diddy worth watching a few times.
Male Patron: He ain't half bad.
Female Patron: He ain't half good either.
NC: We're going to take a little break now, so relax, go to the fridge, grab a beer; don't forget to say hi to Christopher Walken.
(Cut back to cartoon Walken)
NC: Welcome back, did you have fun? I had lunch with Christopher Walken.
(Cut back to cartoon Walken eating a sandwich, and chewing slowly with his mouth open)
NC: Back to the countdown!
NC (vo): Woodstock Slappy. On top of educating kids about an event that probably wouldn't be taught about that much; this episode gives a great history as well as satire to the music of the 60s and 70s. Skippy has fallen into the hippie crowd, much to his aunt Slappy's dismay. Thinking a little time in the country will help him be a little less pretentious, she also happens to pick the one spot right in the middle of one of the biggest concerts of all time: Woodstock
Skippy: We're witnessing history. Woodstock, a single event pulling together a whole generation.
Slappy: A bowl full of prunes would have the same effect.
NC (vo): Slappy tries her best to stop the concert, resulting in some great comedic moments.
Singer: (singing) Would you still cheer if I had a tin ear? Or would you throw a tomato at me?
(He's promptly hit with a tomato by Slappy)
NC (vo): Not only is the mocking of the bands and their music a ton of fun, but it leads to one of the greatest homages to one of the greatest comic routines of all time.
Skippy: Who is on stage!
Slappy: That's what I'm asking you. Who is on stage?
Skippy: That's what I said!
Slappy: You said who?
Skippy: I sure did.
Slappy: So tell me the name.
Slappy: The name of the group.
Slappy: The group on stage.
NC (vo): The great thing about it is even if you don't know what the routine is based off of, it still holds up on it's own; making fun of all the pretentious names that came out during that time period.
Slappy: Do you see the band on stage?
Skippy: No, I don't see the band; that's a different group entirely.
Slappy: There's the band!
Skippy: No, that's not the band; the band is performing later on!
NC (vo): The episode also has a great pay off. As all the violence, explosions, and rebelling only makes the teens more interested in the concert. It looks like the only thing that can scare them away is being associated with something unpopular.
Slappy: Hey, everybody, let's polka!
(Slappy pulls out an accordion and starts playing it while singing. The teens scream and clear out)
NC (vo): It's a groovy episode with some groovy laughs.
Slappy: (singing to the tune of "The Star Sprangled Banner") In the land of the free. Now-that's-co-me-dy.
(Slappy winks at the audience)
NC (vo): Potty Emergency. Everyone's had a run in like this. You have to go to the bathroom more than you ever have in your entire life; and of course, there is no bathroom in sight. Well this short pushes it to the nth degree when Wakko somehow can find nowhere to go, and the whole episode is simply him trying to find a place to take a piss. As you'd expect, absolutely everything is tempting him only to make things worse.
(Shows a man watering his garden, a girl taking a drink from a fountain, and a girl pouring lemonade. Wakko is sweating as it shows a close up of the yellow lemonade being poured into the glass)
NC (vo): This might be some of the most graphic imagery on the show without actually being graphic at all; it's so freaking clever.
Wakko: Oooohhh I have to potty!
NC (vo): Wakko's already a funny character, but to see him in such pain for such a long time is pretty rare; resulting in some great over the top reactions as only Wakko can do.
Wakko: I'M GOING TO EXPLODE!
NC (vo): Also, how many times can you just hear him say "Potty emergency " without cracking up?
(Montage of Wakko saying "Potty emergency")
NC (vo): So simple, yet so funny; you'll piss your pants with laughter.
Wakko: I HAVE TO POTTY!!!!
(the fat women, that Wakko yelled at, moves her flab; so Wakko can get by.)
Wakko: Thank you.
NC (vo): Bumbie's Mom. Most of us have gone through the trauma of watching Bambi's mom bite the dust, but we've all known that one kid who took it just a little too hard. In this case, it's Skippy, who watches a similar film called Bumbie with a similar take on disposable parenthood.
(Skippy starts to look worried as Slappy relaxes)
Bumbie: Mommy? Mommy? Where are you?
(Skippy is shocked to hear a gun shot)
(Skippy starts crying)
NC (vo): Slappy tries to convince him that it was just a movie, but Skippy is still so heartbroken. So, she decides to take him to see the real actress, who played the part, restoring his faith, only to have it dashed, yet again, by another Disney classic.
Boy: Old Yellow, Old Yellow!
(Skippy goes from relaxed to worried, and Slappy is worried as well as a gun shot goes off)
NC (vo): The animation on Skippy's childhood constantly being assassinated might be some of the funniest on the show.
(Skippy starts crying loudly, waking up Slappy)
Slappy: Pat, I'd like to buy a vowel.
NC (vo): Plus the running joke that Skippy is so destroyed that he can't even mouth the words of what happened to her.
(Montage of Skippy trying to say what happened to Bumbi's mom, but he starts crying before he can finish the sentence)
NC (vo): It's also kind of a touching episode. We know Slappy's a curmudgeon, but it's actually heartwarming when you see her go to such lengths to try and make Skippy feel better...even if it doesn't last very long. Funny, touching, with just the right amount of mean spiritedness; Bumbie's mom knows how to bring on the tears.
Slappy: Fade out already, we got the joke!
NC (vo): Spell-Bound. This is the only episode to star Pinky and the Brain throughout the entire running time. There's some cameos here and there, but this is the first one to see if Pinky and the Brain were popular enough to hold an episode on their own. It was even rumoured that it was an unofficial pilot for the spin off series. Thankfully, not only could they hold an episode on their own, but they made it one of the best. In a time of wizards, knights, and magic, Pinky and the Brain look to conjure up a brew to grant them world domination. There's only one missing ingredient: the toenail of a dragon. They set out to find it only to come across a bunch of monstrous entities, which the Brain uses his magic wand to thwart.
Brain: Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, shrink to the size of a Lima bean!
NC (vo): Uh, sometimes.
Brain: Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, shrink to the si--
(The Brain gets squashed by a falling giant)
NC (vo): What makes this one so good is not only that Pinky and the Brain are the stars, not only that they make fun of a bunch of fairytales and fantasies, but it also has a pretty large scale to it. The climax, in particular, is actually a pretty epic one: The dragon is chasing them down, the spell is almost cast, it's a race against the clock, and Pinky is singing the whole time. The ending, as well, might be one of the funniest: Brain puts all his wants and desires in jeopardy, simply because of a pet peeve inspired by Pinky. It's just sooo funny that he would risk all of this for a tiny, yet frustrating, annoyance. This results in not only a great pay off, but maybe one of my favourite out of context lines ever.
Brain: (after his head is turned into a block of cheese by the spell gone wrong) If I weren't a large cheese, I would make you pay for that remark.
NC (vo): Say that to your friend next time, see how they react. It's a world of chases and fantasy as only Pinky and the Brain can bring alive.
Warners: (singing) One's a genius; the other's insane, they're Pinky and the (burp) Brain!
NC (vo): And the #1 best Animaniacs episode is...Hooked On A Ceiling. Not only is this one educational, not only does it have some of the greatest writing, not only does it have some of the funniest animation, not only does it have some of the silliest deliveries, but practically every joke is hit right out of the park. It's a comedic gold mine. Michelangelo is trying to finish the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Yakko: If you're so great, what did you do with the other fifteen chapels, huh? Gotcha there.
NC (vo): But he gets so upset that he fires all of his painters, leaving only our wacky trio to save the day.
Yakko: We paint ceilings, ceilings, and only ceilings. We don't paint floors 'cause they're beneath us.
NC (vo): This portrayal of Michelangelo might seem strange seeing as how they are mocking Kirk Douglas, even though he played Van Gogh, but here, it really doesn't matter because it's just so damn funny. That screeching voice, mashed with his extreme expressions, make him a laugh riot.
Michelangelo: Out, out, you incompetent fools! You call yourselves artists?!
NC (vo): On top of that, it makes his reactions to the Warners constantly destroying his years of hard work all the more memorable.
Michelangelo: It is supposed to look like this!
(He takes out a scroll that has the Sistine Chapel printed on it)
Dot: Oh, more naked people!
Yakko: I wouldn't go flashing that around, if I were you, Mike. (whispers) This is a church.
NC (vo): The pacing, the delivery, the comedic timing, everything is just perfect for this one. From the references.....
Michelangelo: Let me in!
(Yakko pops out of the door, dressed as a guard from the Wizard of Oz)
Yakko: Nobody gets in to see the Wizard, not nobody, not no how!
Michelangelo: But I'm Michelangelo!
Yakko: Wa-hell, that's a ceiling of a different colour!
NC (vo): To the risqué humour.
Yakko: We're doing it because...we like painting naked people.
NC (vo): Even to the most subtle of touches. Like the real Michelangelo always said there was a sculpture in every rock looking to get out, all you had to do is free it. Well, here, he smashes a rock, literally to reveal one of the sculptures inside. How can you not love something so subtle? It also has the first use of one of the best visual jokes of all time.
Michelangelo: Out, out, how dare you?!
(Michelangelo goes to throw the Warners out, but somehow gets thrown out instead)
NC (vo): How did that work? What happened in between those cuts? We'll never know, and that's part of what makes it so freaking great! This joke is so popular that they used it a couple times since.
Don Pepperoni: (after being thrown outside) I am stupefied as to what has just occurred.
NC (vo): From replacing his masterpieces with kitsch, to painting by numbers, it all builds up to the finishing of his magnum opus "Birth of Man". Again, I won't reveal the punchline here, but let's just say it's one of the funniest in all of the show's history. You don't have to be an artist to appreciate the speed, animation, acting, and brilliant humour of easily the greatest episode.
Michelangelo: You just can't get good help these days.
NC: If you want to check out more of the Animaniacs and all their awesomeness, go check them out on DVD.
NC (vo): It's one of the greatest animated shows of all time, and trust me when I say it's definitely worth the money.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and...(blows a kiss) GOODNIGHT, EVERYBODY!!!
Walken: Why won't anyone say hello to me?
(Credits roll over an image of the Warner Bros tower like an Animaniacs episode.)
(WB tower door opens to reveal Kyle Hebert)
Kyle Hebert: I wasn't even on the show.
(The tower door closes)