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Internet Television

The Original ‘Animaniacs’ Showrunner Hasn’t Been Asked Back. Can The Revival Succeed Without Him?

Enthusiasm over the news of an Animaniacs revival on Hulu has turned to consternation among fans of the show after it has become evident that none of the show’s original writers and producers have yet been invited to participate in the production of the new episodes.

Nate Ruegger, the son of the show’s original senior producer/showrunner, Tom Ruegger, as well as the voice of Skippy Squirrel on the series, tweeted out a message asking how he could effectively campaign to get his father to work on the new series:

Ruegger, 63, himself hasn’t said anything publicly about not being asked back, but he made his feelings clear when he retweeted this message of support from a fan:

Tom Ruegger.
Tom Ruegger.

Ruegger, who most recently served as executive producer on Disney’s The 7D, had apparently been kept in the dark about the new episodes of Animaniacs.

Speaking to the Animaniacs-related podcast Animanicast last October, Ruegger said that he had not been able to find out news about the reboot. “Many of us who worked on Animaniacs in the past have tried to find out more and we have not found out a lot,” he told the podcast. “It looks like there are some discussions, but whether they are…coming to fruition, nobody seems to know. My hope is that Warner Bros. and Amblin basically do the right thing and get as many of the original creators, artists, writers and musicians involved.”

Following the announcement of the new episodes, Paul Rugg, a key writer and actor on the original Animaniacs, told a fan on Twitter that he was not working on the new episodes and it was “unknown” whether he would be asked to participate in the revival:

It is still not out of the question that Ruegger and Rugg could become involved in the new episodes. When Hulu announced the series a few days, they did not indicate who would be the showrunner or which talent would be involved besides Steven Spielberg, who will reprise his position as executive producer. Since then, the show’s original voice actors (at least those of them who have Twitter accounts) have all confirmed that they will return. Those actors are Jess Harnell (Wakko), Maurice LaMarche (The Brain), and Rob Paulsen (Yakko, Pinky).

The return of the original actors may provide some solace for Animaniacs fans, serving as a clue that the new version won’t be as extreme a reboot as Cartoon Network’s new Powerpuff Girls cartoons, which recast the voices of the iconic title characters.

Hulu, for its part, has not indicated whether the show will be a reboot or a revival, referring to the new Animaniacs episodes only as a “brand-new version,” albeit one that would bring “more sketches, catchphrases, songs and laughs,” and allow “parents who grew up with the cartoon now have new episodes to share with their own families.”

Still, hardcore fans of the original show have been vocal on Twitter about the lack of involvement from the original writers, and have vowed to resist the new episodes if Ruegger isn’t involved. Here’s what some of them are saying on Twitter:

Ruegger agrees with his fans. As he told the Animanicast a couple months ago, a show without the original writers and artists wouldn’t work out:

“I wouldn’t want to make the show without the brilliant writers and artists that came up with it. I think the fans will love a reboot if it really captures the essence and fun and anarchy and zaniness of the original. I truly believe that can be achieved with getting the band back together but I don’t think you can just find someone off the street and say, ‘Make more Animaniacs’ and expect it to work out. I would love to make new Animaniacs, but it would have to be under conditions that are guaranteed not to fail.”

  • My Name is Rio

    This should come out as good as CG Yoda obliterating the masterful puppetry work of Frank Oz and his crew.

  • Paul Walker

    Truly, the hard lesson of leaving the roots of a series behind could not be more easily demonstrated than by citing the completely inept Powerpuff Girls reboot.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Good idea: bringing back Animaniacs.
    Bad idea: leaving out the creative talent that made it success in the first place.

    • SaburoDaimando

      Some members of the original crew can’t be brought back on due to their deaths. Earl Kress, who I saw in person at San Diego Comic-Con for the Cartoon Voices panels, passed away in 2011 due to complications of Liver cancer.

  • JodyMorgan

    “under conditions that are guaranteed not to fail” – I hope that’s a mis-statement for “under conditions that are not guaranteed to fail”; if you set out to ensure you don’t fail, you’ll end up with something repetitive and safe, and ironically it’ll be about as big a gamble as taking risks and trying something new.

    Anyway, while The 7D wasn’t a classic, it was competent and entertaining enough to prove Ruegger, Stoner, Rugg, and Deanna Oliver haven’t lost it; as much as I think it would behoove Hulu to recruit new blood for the new series, I also think it’d be a mistake to not at least attempt to involve the previous writing crew in the process.

  • pix

    Would you be able to link to where Jess Harnell, Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen confirm that they’re involved in the new episodes? I follow Paulsen on Twitter and hadn’t seen any explicit confirmation of his involvement…

    • AmidAmidi

      The reason they’re not being explicit is likely due to legal reasons since Hulu itself has not announced them yet, but all three have made tweets indicating that they would return, such as this winking emoji by Paulsen or the LaMarche tweet we embedded in the initial story we did about the revival.

  • kekmeti

    Hey as long as they make it look like teen titans go I’m sure they’ll have no problem creating another failed reboot.

    • TherealRNO

      As long as the humor isn’t slap-in-the-face offensive to its viewers like TTG & PPG 2k16 are & the same spirit remains with the show, it could be the reboot to save Time-Warner’s reputation. But, it’s not going to feel right without Ruegger (creator), Rugg (Mr. Director; Froinlaven!), Sherri (Slappy), and even “Toaster”, Deanna Oliver, as some of her episodes were among the best compiled. The bigger problem is if they’re just focus on the Warners or give it the same variety show vibe the original had. Then, the problem comes in as to whether Bernadette Peters still has it in her to reprise singing cat Rita if Rita (Peters) & Runt (Frank Welker doing his “Rain Man” impression) are brought back. I doubt we’ll get Minerva Mink back for sure since she was a bone of contention with even the original show!

  • Michael

    It’s quite possible they just haven’t gotten to that part yet. They just Greenlit the series. They probably haven’t even decided on a show runner yet. All I know is, with Stephen Spielberg on the team, it’s in good hands. If the show doesn’t live up to what he thinks the show should be, he will pull the plug. Just like he did last time.

    • Mesterius

      Oh, you mean like how he should have pulled the plug when “Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain” was forced on the creative team behind P&tB?

  • Slim Cognito

    I hope he gets his wish granted and is involved with the reboot.

    Though this does bring up the question how Animaniacs would even work in today’s political environment.

  • Alec Dever

    Not only does Hulu keeping fans in the dark about the production staff leave me concerned, my other big concern is WHY Hulu? If it was on Netflix, I wouldn’t worry about if I can actually watch it to give a good idea of my thoughts but Hulu is US only. Since I’m Australian, I’m basically screwed. I’ll have to wait for DVDs if they actually bother releasing them for this reboot.

    Damn. I’m already disappointed so far. I can’t even watch the future reboot I’m so cautiously optimistic about.

  • DawgBarks

    Nathan Ruegger is actually supporting this Petition that started a bit
    ago
    https://www.change.org/p/sam-register-tom-ruegger-s-team-involved-in-hulu-s-animaniacs-revival