Funny Animal Pictures With Captions BiographyFrom there, the show was reworked as Pinky, Elmyra, & the Brain, borrowing a character from Tiny Toons to act as the duo's new owner. While 13 episodes were created, only six were shown under that title; the rest were dispersed as part of a clip show that featured many different segments from Warner Bros. cartoons, called The Cat & Birdy Warneroonie PinkyBrainy Big Cartoonie Show, which later became The Cat & Bunny Warnernoonie SuperLooney Big Cartoonie Show. That show lasted until 2000.
Pinky and the Brain are famous for their bevy of quotable catchphrases. One of Ruegger's favorites:
Brain: “Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?”
Pinky: “I think so, Brain, but if they called them sad meals, kids wouldn't buy them.”
One of the highlights of the show was the music. Almost every episode featured original songs, which kept a team of composers, led by Richard Stone, very busy. But their hard work paid off with five Daytime Emmys for various musical categories.
Perhaps the most famous song from the show, "Yakko's World," was written by Randy Rogel, a screenwriter working on Warner's Batman: The Animated Series at the time.
While helping his son with geography homework, Rogel started going over a globe and naming all the countries. When he noticed that “United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama” rhymed, he thought it sounded like the beginning of a song. So Rogel wrote out the lyrics set to the The Mexican Hat Dance Song, and gave it to Ruegger because he thought it might be a good fit for Animaniacs. Ruegger and Spielberg loved it, and shortly after, Rogel became a staff writer for the show.
Rob Paulsen, the voice of Yakko, can still sing "Yakko’s World" perfectly nearly 20 years later.
(While you’re at it, check out Paulsen’s weekly podcast where he often has some of his old friends from Animaniacs stop by for a visit.)In 1999, Warner Bros. released Wakko's Wish, a 90-minute film starring the Warner siblings and most of the cast from the show. The original title for the film was It's a Wakko, Wakko, Wakko, Wakko Wish, an homage to the classic road movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. However, the studio’s marketing team insisted the title be shorter, so Ruegger knocked it down to Wakko's Wacko Wish. The marketing team cut it even further.
The movie was considered for theatrical release after it was well received by test audiences, but Warner Bros. opted to release it unceremoniously on VHS instead. The movie has yet to be released on , though you can buy a digital copy through Amazon or iTunes.
Ruegger’s website features quite a few concept posters drawn by Bob Doucette for Animaniacs films that never were. For example, the World War II epic, This Means Warners, Revolutionary Warners set during 1776, a play on Oliver Twist called Little Orphan Warners, and Winter Warner Land, which would have seen the siblings go to the North Pole to harass Santa and his elves.
Some ideas from the unproduced film Hooray for Hollywood were used in Hooray for North Hollywood, a two-part episode of the show that aired in 1998. And The Road to Bohemia had many plot points that were integrated into Wakko's Wish.
Although Animaniacs has been released on three multi sets, the entire series has yet to be made available. The complete run from Fox (65 episodes) is on disc, as well as all four episodes of the shortened second season. But only six episodes from season three have been released. Maybe one day we'll see a proper release of the series for a whole new generation of fans.
A special thanks to Tom Ruegger for providing me with amazing information and access to the Animaniacs story. Go check out his website for even more great Warner Bros. Animation memories.