After a 42-year wait, the long-promised Mel Brooks sequel History Of The World Part II continues a strange trend. Sometimes follow-ups to popular films can come in the most unexpected and unlikely places. When waiting for classic movies to continue on the big screen, it can be easy to miss a sequel since they can appear as video games, novels, or even television shows that go unnoticed. However, storytelling is a medium that takes many forms, and in a franchise, it doesn’t always begin or end in cinemas.
Originally premiering in 1981, History of the World Part I was Mel Brooks’ parody of Hollywood’s historical movie trends. As part of the original film’s finale, a trailer played for History of the World Part II, teasing spectacles such as “Hitler on ice,” “a Viking funeral,” and “Jews in space.” Although initially filmed as a gag with no intention of making it, in 2021, streaming service Hulu announced Mel Brooks’ comedy would finally receive a sequel in the form of a television series that’d continue a humorous insight into history.
History of the World Part I wasn’t the only Mel Brooks film that promised a sequel that it never planned on debuting. What’s weirder is that History of the World Part II isn’t the only Mel Brooks follow-up to wind up on television. Mel Brooks’ Star Wars parody Spaceballs jokingly name-dropped a sequel entitled Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money that became one of the movie’s beloved gags. However, as people pondered if Spaceballs 2 could ever get made, many didn’t realize a quasi-sequel aired as Spaceballs: The Animated Series.
As part of a 2005 collaboration between Mel Brooks and G4, Spaceballs: The Animated Series was produced for television. Reuniting much of the original film’s cast, including performances from Dom Deluise, Joan Rivers, and Daphne Zuniga, it’d continue the adventures of Lone Starr after retconning the events of the original Spaceballs. Parodying films like Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, and the Star Wars prequels, Spaceballs: The Animated Series brought on Brooks as both a voice actor and consultant but not a full-time writer. Criticized for its seemingly Family Guy-inspired humor and lacking Brooks’ wit, Spaceballs: The Animated Series only made 14 episodes, leaving a forgotten legacy as the long-awaited sequel that didn’t quite live up to expectations.
After Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank failed to be a family-friendly remake of Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part II could be an adult-oriented return to form for Mel Brooks. With films like The Producers and Young Frankenstein still considered brilliant, another Brooks classic is long overdue. Already harboring years of hype and suggesting Mel was lovingly involved, not only can History of the World Part II continue the strange tradition of Spaceballs: The Animated Series, but redeem its shortcomings by being a TV sequel well worth the wait.
Sequels like History of the World Part II and Spaceballs: The Animated Series may not always be how audiences imagined them. No matter how they continue their story, sequels often face big expectations and a hard act to follow, especially when they come decades later. Many could argue that it’s too late for History of the World Part II or that times have changed so much that it’d be impossible to recreate the previous film’s humor. However, the fact that Hulu saved a movie franchise like History of the World over 40 years after its debut proves that Mel Brooks felt that there was another story worth telling and that his comedy is truly timeless.
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