Tomorrow night, Judge Jennifer Malkowski will do the same thing she does every night...try to write clever blurbs!
Brain: "Pinky, sometimes I feel as though I'm baring my soul to a tube
The existence of a cartoon as strange as Pinky and the Brain may seem about as improbable as two genetically altered lab mice taking over the world. Yet here it is, immortalized in this third and final DVD volume of episodes. Besides the zany world domination schemes that are perhaps aimed at a younger audience, for adult fans, the show also boasts enough '90s pop culture and political references to fill a warehouse. Plus, there's the dramatic romance about a sweet, sensitive, and carefree guy named Pinky forced to succumb to the brutal whims of his physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend, Brain. If you're not buying this last bit, please note that these little mouse chums share a bed:
Are you pondering what I'm pondering? I think so, Jen, but even though Pinky is bigger, I don't think Brain would let him be the outside spoon…
Facts of the Case
Pinky and the Brain has two characters and one theme. If you don't know it already, you'll catch on quickly from my descriptions of these 22 episodes in Pinky and the Brain Vol. 3:
• "Leggo My Ego" / "Big in Japan"
• "But, That's Not All Folks!"
• "Operation Sea Lion" / "You Said a
• "The Tailor and The Mice" / "Bah,
• "Pinky at the Bat" / "Schpiel-borg 2000"
• "Brainy the Poo" / "The Melancholy
• "Inherit the Wheeze"
• "Brain's Night Off" / "Beach Blanket
• "The Family that Poits Together, Narfs Together"
• "Pinky's Turn" / "Your Friend: Global
• "Dangerous Brains"
• "What Ever Happened to Baby Brain" / "Just Say
• "The Pinky POV" / "The Really Great
Dictator" / "Brain Food"
• "Brainwashed Pt 1: Brain, Brain, Go Away"
• "The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Special"
• "A Legendary Tail" / "Project Brain"
• "Star Warners"
Special Feature: "It's All About the Fans"
The first thing one has to realize to enjoy the semi-mature goofiness of Pinky and the Brain, Vol. 3 is that Brain will never take over the world. Even in the unlikely event that everything will go as planned, Brain's original schemes will never actually result in his installation as global dictator. If the plots were logic problems, in other words, one would pretty much always find flaws in the premises themselves. Can one imagine any successful world domination scheme, for example, that begins with a tiny mouse becoming a champion sumo wrestler in a large, robotic suit? The absurdity of the plans is a big part of the fun, and often just a plot device to get P&B into place in their outlandish roles of the week: they might be baseball players, secret agents, camp counselors, sweethearts of the sliver screen, or high school teachers.
By the end of the final season, you can see that the writers were scraping the bottom of the zany-schemes barrel, resulting in a few very unfortunate episodes. The worst offenders are the short-segment songs. Don't even bother watching "The Tailor and the Mice" or "Just Say Narf" if you're over the age of nine.
The parody episodes are hit or miss. Some, like "Star Warners" are lazy and overdone. Others are a lot funnier and more sophisticated. "Broadway Malady" has some great Abbott and Costello-type humor and the gloriously excruciating Brain-penned Angst, the Musical. "Brainy the Poo" is an unbelievable smorgasbord of some of the craziest pop-culture references the show has ever produced. It's hard to believe that a show that a "kids' show" can get away with cramming this many characters into an episode that kids will be completely baffled by. A giant-lipped Tigger recalls Mic Jagger, Algore the donkey mirrors the famously boring vice-president, a Christopher Walken rendering parodies his creepy monologue from Annie Hall as Christopher Robin, and then Brainy the Poo must face off against "the scariest, most intimidating bee of them all"—Bea Arthur! If this episode sounds like it's on crack, check out the first part of the three-part "Brainwashed," in which Brain has a hallucination of a town in which citizens lives in giant hats and are named after the hats they constantly wear. Thus, Brain is known as "Porkpie" for the rest of the episode and Pinky becomes "Fez."
But the best episodes of the season are actually the ones that willfully depart from the "same thing we do every night" formula. "Brain's Night Off" gives us a peek at the softer side of The Brain while "Pinky's Turn" is a delightful little portion of irony that proves one can take over the world by selling oysters and forcing citizens to wear shiny pants.
Part of what make the silly formula of Pinky and the Brain work is the enjoyable interplay between the voices of Rob Paulsen (Pinky) and Maurice LaMarche (The Brain). Pinky's boisterous quavering, ridiculous accent and trademark exclamations ("Narf! Poit!") are the perfect complement to the more subdued Orson Welles-type intonations of The Brain ("Yes!"). And who wouldn't have fun delivery Brainy lines like, "If I weren't so fatigued, I would lambaste you?" The animation quality doesn't quite live up to the vocal performances, though the sheer variety of locales and costumes gives the animators a lot to play with and some of the results are really fun, like the storybook world of "Brainy the Poo:"
Some scratches and flecks on the picture are the only major technical problems I noticed on this disc, though picture and sound quality are about what you'd expect for a '90s cartoon. The only extra is a 12-minute featurette that includes interviews with a few fans at a comics convention and a sit-down chat with Paulsen and LaMarche. The latter man dominates the conversation, which is mostly about the smart and famous people who watch Pinky and the Brain.
A very memorable premise (and theme song!) may convince nostalgic viewers to check out Pinky and the Brain, Vol. 3. Those who do will be treated to a tidal wave of now-obscure cultural references of the '90s and lots of antics involving mice on conveyor belts. It's a strange mix, to be sure, but the set is definitely worth some selective viewing.
Guilty of attempted world domination—multiple counts.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• "It's All About the Fans" featurette
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