Today’s Halloween special entry is the “Animaniacs” Halloween episode short “Scare Happy Slappy.”
As longtime fans might recall, “Animaniacs” was an anthology series produced from the mid to late 90s, starring various characters. The most prominent characters were Pinky and the Brain (who got their own spinoff), the Warner siblings (Yakko, Wakko, and Dot), and Slappy Squirrel.
Slappy Squirrel‘s shtick is that she’s a retired former Looney Tunes star, who’s now quite elderly and cranky. (A retconned-in former star, as in real life, women usually weren’t the starring characters in comedic animated shorts until well into the television age. Betty Boop was among the few noteworthy exceptions.) Slappy tends to A) view modern cartoons with some cynicism, having seen and done everything a Golden Age cartoon character would’ve done, and B) solves most of her problems with some sort of violence (dynamite particularly). That said, she still cares for her nephew Skippy, an energetic child squirrel.
Some of Slappy’s cartoons involve Slappy facing her old enemies, who (still) can’t stand her—Sid the Squid, Beanie the Brain-Dead Bison, and Walter Wolf. Walter’s Slappy’s primary foe, an equally-aged wolf. Such villains formed the basis for “Scare Happy Slappy.”
The plot: It’s Halloween, as the cameo-making Warners helpfully remind us… until Slappy shoos them away. Slappy’s taking Skippy trick-or-treating… down the street her old villains live on. “Sounds like a standard cartoon plot to me,” notes Slappy. Her enemies, seeing her coming, all plan on clobbering her with various (violent) traps… none of which work, as Slappy sees through them all. Slappy singles out Sid’s jack o’lantern bomb trap as particularly lousy: “Sizzling pumpkins. This is truly pathetic.”
Walter’s trap, of course, is the most elaborate (and violent). After that one inevitably backfires, we get Slappy’s closing line, in response to Skippy noting the level of mayhem over the past six minutes: “Now that’s… family entertainment!”
Skippy’s Halloween costume is Buster Bunny, from “Tiny Toon Adventures” (“Animaniacs”’s predecessor series).
On TV/home video
Outside of a brief revival on Discovery Family/The Hub in the mid-2010s, “Animaniacs” has largely been off TV since the Clinton administration.
As of 2013, the entire series has been released to four DVD volume sets. “Scare Happy Slappy” is available on volume three. The entire series is (as of this writing) also available on Hulu.