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SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : 'Animaniacs' get on the peace train; Disney's 'Red' gets a court trial

August 14, 1994|N.F. MENDOZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, Steven Spielberg's Animaniacs offer their own historical take on the musical love fest.

A toon "newsreel" introduces the tumultuous time by showing soldiers marching to war and activists in the peace movement; Skippy is an eager participant in the latter.

Eager to get away from New York, the hippies and their relentless anti-war sentiments, that crabby squirrel, Slappy, takes nephew Skippy for a little R&R in the country. Unfortunately, his little treehouse just happens to reside smack in the middle of Max Yasgur's farm.

When the strains of Janis Joplin singing wake her up, Slappy finds her treehouse surrounded by flower children and asks Skippy what's happening. In the first of many parodies of Woodstock, Skippy replies: "There's something happening here/ what it is ain't exactly clear," a lyric from Buffalo Springfield's famous song "For What It's Worth."

Other irreverent bits include one on Jimi Hendrix and a takeoff of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine--when The Who takes stage.

"The Animaniacs are often visiting historical moments and this episode is basically a generation-gap comedy, with Slappy representing the old and Skippy the new," says Tom Ruegger, senior producer. "That's what a lot of Woodstock represented to a lot of people. No other event probably capsulized the generation gap like Woodstock did. We also saw the opportunity to parody bands and songs."

Caught in the spirit, Slappy gets a little dose of the left wing, and Skippy is in squirrel heaven. "It's nice to have some vents in our show that say something to the parents in our audience," Ruegger says. "Even if they can't relate directly to Woodstock, they can recognize the 'Who's On First?' parody." But if there \o7 is\f7 a message, he says, "It's about tolerance. Tolerance for the needs and wishes of each generation."

A black-and-white cartoon short, reminiscent of a toon from 1929, featuring the Warners--Yakko, Wakko and Dot--in a bakery, precedes the Woodstock episode.

\o7 The Woodstock episode of "Steven Spielberg Presents Animaniacs" airs Monday at 4 p.m. on Fox. For ages 2 to 8.\f7

Another Family Show

The Disney Channel combines the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood with ice skating to present The Trial of Red Riding Hood.

This version is updated with an Olympic silver medalist, Elizabeth Manley, playing a not-quite-so-little Red. Set in a Yukon town in 1900, Red is on trial for the crime of wolfslaughter. Her story is told through witness reports.

Off to visit her grandmother (Andrea Martin), she runs into The Boy Who Cried Wolf, Three Rappin' Little Pigs, con artist Phineas T. Wolf (Alan Thicke), Wolf's son (Domenic Zambronga), and a handsome woodsman (Paul Martini). The appearance of a surprise witness throws the verdict out.

\o7 "The Trial of Red Riding Hood" premieres Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the Disney Channel. For ages 4 and up\f7 .

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