It s not an easy thing to be the lowest-scoring Game of Thrones episode of the series history, but Episode 5: "The Bells" 49% has done it.Five seasons had passed before an episode of the series got a Rotten score, and then another two passed before it got another with season 8 s The Last of the Starks, which, critics complained, was anticlimactic and a huge letdown. And now another.The series eighth and final season is struggling relative to its predecessors. With its latest episode at 49% on 68 reviews (updated) following the previous week s 57% score, season 8 dropped to 73% on Monday — every other season is Certified Fresh at 91% or higher on the Tomatometer. The final episode will have to score an 89% or higher for the season overall to qualify for Certified Fresh status. It is now mathematically impossible for the season to be anything but the lowest-scoring season of the series.There were no dancing Starbucks cups derailing Sunday s episode, but plenty more to complain about, according to reviews.But, first, some good news or not(Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)UPDATED: Absurd, author George R.R. Martin wrote in a vehement denial of a statement actor Ian McElhinney made to a Saint Peteresburg, Russia, fan convention that books six and seven were written but shelved until after the series concluded. (See the video here, starting around the 32-minute mark.)McElhinney who played Ser Barristan Selmy in the series dropped that bomb at Epic Con in April, revealing/purporting that Martin has already finished writing the final two books of the Song of Ice and Fire novel series that the hit TV show is based on. He struck an agreement with David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], the showrunners of the series, that he would not publish his final two books until the series has completed, McElhinney said at the con. So [if] all goes well, another month or two, we might get books six and seven. Martin responded to the video: No, THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING are not finished. DREAM is not even begun; I am not going to start writing volume seven until I finish volume six … HBO did not ask me to delay them. Nor did David Dan. There is no “deal” to hold back on the books. I assure you, HBO and David Dan would both have been thrilled and delighted if THE WINDS OF WINTER had been delivered and published four or five years ago… and NO ONE would have been more delighted than me. Still, if you don t like the way the show ends, there s always the option to read the author s take on it — whenever the books arrive. (And those people who have been dragging on Martin online about finishing the books still seriously need to apologize — that s still bad form.)Armed with that information and before you set your expectations about the finale, read on to find out what critics had to say about The Bells. No, After Eight Seasons, Critics Aren t Buying This For viewers who have stuck around for eight seasons of the HBO fantasy series, all that s left after the penultimate episode is ash and a bad taste. — Kelly Lawler, USA Today For a battle that s been years in the making, that was more than a little disappointing. — Paul Dailly, TV Fanatic The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, The Bells, has too much to do and too little time for people to stop and explain how they re feeling. As a result, everything is big. — Dave Gonzales, Thrillist Sorry. But no. I just didn t buy that. Any of it. — Michael Deacon, Daily Telegraph (UK)Read more: Game of Thrones’ Penultimate Episode: Hell Hath No Fury Like a Dragon Queen Scorned Whither the Daenerys We Know and Love? Dany got a raw deal. — Glen Weldon, NPR It s understandable that she would act rashly as a response. But the show doesn t actually set that up. Instead, it presents us with mounting evidence that she s suddenly inherited her father and brother s mental illness, with no prior symptoms. — Anne Cohen, Refinery29 I don t want to spend too much time second-guessing the show runners here, but I saw a bunch of people carping on Twitter as soon as the episode ended that this turn of Daenerys s is unearned, and I have to say it felt that way to me too. — Mike Hogan, Vanity Fair The Thrones series finale will have to do a LOT of repair work to make me understand what the hell happened to Dany, the woman who once locked up her dragons for months because one of them accidentally killed ONE child. — Huw Fullerton, Radio TimesWe Need to Talk About the WritingThe show s perverse desire to dumb down its characters just to fill out inorganic plot beats is maybe the biggest overall problem with this final season. — Clint Worthington, The Spool Drawing out aspects of the character which have been there in more than just her gene pool but hidden in the gestalt complicates a picture that is much more fun to leave a little less novelistic. — Daniel D Addario, Variety In doing so, the thing that GoT is actually pushing is a debate about Dany s morality, bringing that question into the foreground of the show after letting it sit quietly in the background for so long. — James Hibberd, Entertainment Weekly It s like Jamie Lannister stabbed the Mad King in the back, and the writers of the show stabbed Jamie Lannister in the back! — Jeremy Jahns, JeremyJahns.com I still greatly enjoyed The Bells, the penultimate episode of this last-minute-bungled series, because anytime there s a lot of killing, it translates to minimal dialogue, a blessing at this point. — Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, The Muse/Jezebel Game Of Thrones has always been a show to cast a realistic eye (magic and dragons not withstanding) on how people treat each other when power is in play, and there were multiple examples here. Just not all of them worth our while. — James White, Empire Magazine Sure, there was something wonderful and terrible to behold as she and her Drogon rained terror down on King s Landing, but all those pyrotechnics and the resulting ash couldn t obscure how mechanical this drama has become. — Ellen Gray, Philadelphia InquirerRead more: Game of Thrones’ Final Season Is Officially Its Worst, According to the TomatometerBut What About Those Effects? There was so much that could have worked here, so many emotional pay-offs and beautifully shot scenes and it was all let down by how little work was put into earning those moments. — Sarah Hughes, Guardian The cinematic pyrotechnics to accompany this grim symphony were occasionally repetitious but overall extraordinary. — Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic The CGI was spectacular. — Neela Debnath, Daily Express (UK)The Acting? In general, this episode was beautifully executed and really well-acted, with a lot of clean action and intelligent cross-cutting between set pieces. But it felt so hollow to me, the narratives stakes entirely obliterated, once Daenerys made her move. — David Sims, The Atlantic The acting was spectacular. The effects were stunning. But that prowess was in service of a story that was extremely obvious in some ways (Dany becoming the Mad Queen, something fans have predicted for ages) and absolutely illogical in others. — Lenika Cruz, The AtlanticRead more: All Game of Thrones Episodes, Ranked by TomatometerFinal Verdict? I m going to err on the episode working in a vacuum and rate it as positive if middling, but just as this week has come to make last week s loathsome in hindsight, next week s final hour will provide the final details to really evaluate this ending. — David Crow, Den of Geek I wish I could go back to living in a world where Game of Thrones was still a great show, something I recommended to my friends, colleagues and my cab driver. But now, I feel like sinking into the ground, embarrassed for ever promoting or defending it. — Soumya Srivastava, Hindustan Times Just because the outcome wasn t surprising, that doesn t mean the result wasn t spectacular. — Jeremy Egner, New York Times Game of Thrones should end the same way it did its best work surprising us. Or perhaps surprising us about the way it s surprising us. — Hillary Kelly, New York Magazine/Vulture Whatever the thinking, the result is clear: Game of Thrones marches towards its final episode a lame duck. — Nick Hilton, Independent (UK) The only character I care about survives, so I m good. Beyond that, this episode is full on chaos. — Leona Laurie, Geek Girl Authority It is sufficed to say that the beautifully shot swarming of King s Landing and pitiful death of Cersei may stand as the pivotal and most recalled episode of Game of Thrones ever no matter how things shake down next week. — Dominic Patten, Deadline Hollywood Daily Maybe that s the core truth revealed by The Bells. There may just be too many arcs in this show for these final episodes to feel truly earned as an ending, too many threads that were just destined to never connect. — Myles McNutt, AV Club I loved it and hated it and I think it could have been the perfect culmination of everything this show ever set out to do, if only they d earned it. — Erik Kain, Forbes By the end of this 90 minutes, as the ash settled, it is difficult not to feel one was looking at the charred remains of an era-defining television show s integrity. — Hugh Montgomery, BBC.com The Bells stands as one of the most artful, poetic, and upsetting installments in Game of Thrones history, as the true cost of war hits home in a devastating and visceral way. — Laura Prudom, IGN MoviesDid you agree with the critics? Tell us in the comments!Game of Thrones season 8 finale airs Sunday, May 19 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
It s been 22 years since the series finale of Animaniacs hit the air. Much has changed in the world of cartoon entertainment. But nostalgia never goes out of style. Hulu execs understood this when they announced the highly-anticipated reboot, now considered a Hulu Original, back in 2018. As an added bonus, all 99 episodes of the original series, which premiered back in 1993, were added to Hulu s streaming library.The original Animaniacs had an anthology format, but the program was generally centered on three zany characters: The Warner brothers Yakko (Rob Paulsen), Wakko (Jess Harnell), and the Warner sister, Dot (Tress MacNeille). In each episode, these three troublemakers would escape their water tower prison on the Warner Bros. lot and wreak havoc as they went, interacting with celebrities and iconic characters from the big screen while delivering hilarious riffs on pop culture and some catchy songs along the way. And of course, there was Pinky (Paulsen) and The Brain (Maurice LaMarche) — the mouse duo hell-bent on world domination were so popular, they even got their own spinoff.And now, Hulu has gotten the band back together. Most of the original voice cast has returned, along with Steven Spielberg, who is once again the executive producer on the series. All 13 episodes are now streaming. But is the return of the animated classic as satisfying as fans are hoping? Here s what critics say about the now–Certified Fresh first season of Hulu s Animaniacs.How Does the Animation Compare to the Original?(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)One thing that’s clear from the start is that the production paid close attention to how the animation of the original worked when it was at its best. Yakko, Wakko, and Dot have been updated to 2020 without losing any of the zany stretching and wacky expressions that made them endearing in the first place. It’s by no means the same show (and the updated Acme Labs building and Pinky and the Brain intro should make that immediately apparent), but it pays all due respect to its delightfully disrespectful past. — Rollin Bishop, ComicBook.comIt has an updated digital, vectored look. Much like the original series, seven different animation studios across the globe worked on this, but it manages to stay consistent. For starters, all the character designs have thinner outlines. There’s no shadowing and it leans more towards flat designs. The backgrounds, updated to resemble something like a watercolor painting, and the art direction are gorgeous. — Rendy Jones, Rendy ReviewsIt copies the animation style of the original, though the now-digital format gives the human characters an uncanny valley feel. The clean lines and brighter tones clash with the show’s purposefully ugly moments—like watching a toddler scream or the new Warner Bros. CEO laugh maniacally at the idea she’d ever eat refined sugar. (It reminded me a bit of Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory, which is something I never want to say again.) — Beth Elderkin, io9.comWhat Other Characters Show Up?(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)It’s also worth noting that while several segments from the previous version didn’t make the jump — so long Slappy Squirrel and Rita and Runt — there do appear to be entirely new segments in the mix this time around.— Rollin Bishop, ComicBook.comWe don’t have all the secondary characters back — yet. I am really hoping to see the Goodfeathers and Buttons and… well… everyone! We did get Pinky and the Brain though and that is something I cannot complain about. It was so great to see them still trying to take over the world 22 years later. — Tessa Smith, Mama s GeekyOnly one of the new episodes included a brand-new short in a similar vein, called Starbox and Cindy, that featured an alien trying to escape a little girl’s house. It had the most interesting animation choices by far and I loved how it featured an actual child’s voice, but it wasn’t an instant classic. It did leave me hoping to see more original shorts, though, as the episodes felt kind of repetitive without them. — Beth Elderkin, io9.comYou can’t have “Animaniacs” without “Pinky and the Brain,” and the series returns the saga of the two mice seeking world domination despite their Of Mice and Men dynamic. Even more than the Warner siblings sketches, these segments certainly feel like unabashed continuations of the same series. And even with some peppering of jokes about memes, or references to the movie “Ex Machina,” it’s easy for the show to feel like it’s on autopilot. It s the same thing they do every night, but it s still a segment that pales compared to Dot, Wakko, and Yakko s antics. — Nick Allen, RogerEbert.comDo the Jokes Still Land?(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)The same kind of humour found within the 90s series can be found in the new Animaniacs. It was both brilliant and nostalgic. — Britany Murphy, Geeks of ColorThe series is as topical as things can get for writing the new episodes in 2018. Only five episodes were available for review and I quickly devoured all of them just before Election Day. There’s no shortage of material when it comes to jokes about Russia. The series even has an election special that is on the money–it’s a basic bit that satires what we see on cable news.— Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the MoviesThe series fails in part because it didn’t update its nostalgia to make sense for fans who were kids then but are adults now. Instead, it’s stuck in the ’90s. This presents itself in dated references to things like Seinfeld’s “The dingo ate your baby” and a Cold War-esque view of Russia. During times Animaniacs skews more modern, the satire is not “biting,”—as Dot herself claims in an early episode—it’s weak. — Beth Elderkin, io9.comInstead of going to the rich well of entertainment industry nonsense and historical larks that kept Ruegger’s “Animaniacs” afloat, Wild’s “Animaniacs,” relishes the opportunity to take shots at Politics Today in a way that has kept “Family Guy” running for years, but rarely fits the Animaniacs themselves. Yakko, Wakko and Dot are shrewd, sure, but they’ve always rather been agents of chaos accidentally on purpose upending the world than just snarky pundits commenting on its flaws. — Caroline Framke, VarietyAny Final Thoughts?(Photo by Amblin Television/Warner Bros. Animation)Some bits are far better than others, but thanks to the brief runtime for any given segment, nothing ever truly overstays its welcome. If the gang being extremely gross, then extremely cute, then extremely gross again doesn’t sit right with you, all you need to do is wait another eight minutes for something else to come along. — Rollin Bishop, ComicBook.comThe show’s spirit is still completely intact. It hits all the beats that captured what the original was all about: the self-aware meta-humor, catchy music, unapologetic bashing of modern celebrities and figures, and satirical commentary on the state of the world that will fly over kids’ heads but that adults will immediately comprehend, all while being targeted towards a general family audience. — Rendy Jones, Rendy ReviewsSo while the 1993 “Animaniacs” was aggressively self-aware, this 2020 version feels aggressively so, even defiant, as it constantly works to justify its existence. — Caroline Framke, VarietyFilled with hilarious songs, self aware main characters, and of course current event humor, the Animaniacs 2020 reboot is something that everyone can enjoy! If you like the original show, you are sure to love this one! — Tessa Smith, Mama s GeekyHulu’s Animaniacs is fun, outlandish, nostalgic, and manages to bring a fresh modern perspective. — Daniel Hart, Ready Steady CutAnimaniacs season 1 is now available on Hulu.