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Pinky and the Brain (V1)
DVD disk
08.01.2006 By: Jason Adams
Pinky and the Brain (V1) order
Director:
Various

Actors:
Maurice LaMarche
Rob Paulsen
Roddy McDowall

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
They’re Pinky and the Brain. Yes, Pinky and the Brain. One is a genius, the other’s insane. They’re laboratory mice; their genes have been spliced. They’re…heck, if you don’t know the rest of the theme song then I feel sorry for you.

(But in case you weren’t an impressionable child in the early nineties: A smart mouse and a dumb mouse repeatedly try to take over the world. Poit! Zort! Narf!)
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Back in the early 90’s, Steven Spielberg did for children’s television what he had done for cinema…make magic. Both Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, the latter of which gave birth to the two-headed love child that is PINKY AND THE BRAIN, represented a kind of animation that evolved effortlessly from the classic era of WB cartoons, complete with a tongue-in-cheek wit and a timeless charm missing from today’s Saturday morning lineup. (Suck that, Spongebob.)

Hey, don’t hit the Back button… this review isn’t just unbridled nostalgia taking over. PINKY AND THE BRAIN was great when you were a kid because it was entertaining and silly, but watching it now makes me appreciate the inspired writing a lot more. Each episode is peppered with little in-jokes or subtle nuances a younger audience wouldn’t notice—everything from the hilarious absurdity of Brain’s ultrasyllabic vocabulary to saucy jabs at politicians and celebrities (“Isn’t that Michael Douglas?” “No Pinky, that’s a load of saggy baggage.”) There’s even some self-referential lampooning of that “megalomaniac” Spielberg himself. Oh, and a lawyer whose voice and mannerisms resemble a certain Christopher Walken. Who doesn’t want to see a cartoon Walken?

Aside from the brilliant writing, the other key to PINKY AND THE BRAIN’S success is the voice talent. Maurice LaMarche’s Orson Welles-infused Brain is so insanely perfect that I can’t watch CITZEN KANE now without giggling whenever he says “Yes!” And just ask Matt LeBlanc how easy it is to make a stupid character repetitive and, well, stupid. (Sorry, Joey.) But Rob Paulsen, in an Emmy-winning role, manages to keep Pinky’s dim-witted demeanor fresh, endearing and consistently funny. In a similar manner, you’d expect the one-note plot of two mice trying to take over the world to get very old very fast, but the creators aren’t stupid. After the first couple episodes the characters’ quest becomes more of a self-aware plot device used to launch the show into any adventure you could possibly imagine. Just be glad you're along for the ride.
THE EXTRAS
The set contains 22 episodes spread over four discs. There’s only one extra, yet every single disc has a Special Features section, three of which just say “See other discs for Bonus Material.” Whose smart idea was that?

AreYou Pondering What I’m Pondering (25:30): This was a joy to watch. For one it was amazing to see the titular two voice actors sitting in the same room, interrupting the interview to break into character and act out some of the show’s best lines. You really get a sense of why their chemistry worked so well (and how much adlibbing was done). Besides that there’s an interesting history of the show and its evolution and impact on the culture. I was surprised at how involved Spielberg remained through the entire run. (At one point the Beard was making SCHINDLER’S LIST, doing post on JURASSIC PARK, and watching his cartoons every night.)

A great extra. It’s just a shame there wasn’t more.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Let me sum up the power of PINKY AND THE BRAIN. I got the DVD in the mail and thought to myself, “Oh I remember this show. I’ll just watch a few select episodes to refresh myself before writing the review.” Well, a week and 22 episodes later, I hadn’t written a word yet. If you remember even vaguely enjoying this show at any point, buy this set. (And get the ANIMANIACS one too.)
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