December 17, 2016

PINKY AND THE BRAIN

PINKY AND THE BRAIN
(WB, September 9, 1995-November 14, 1998)


Amblin Television, Warner Bros. Animation


MAIN CAST:
Maurice LaMarcheBrain, Queen Roach’s Aid, Baby Romy, Rhennis Brother, Squit, Al Gore, Rick Blaine
Rob PaulsenPinky, Yurkel, Egyptian Priest, TV Cop, Yakko Warner


            Pinky and the Brain was a spin-off of Animaniacs and the third series co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment. It was an extension of the popular shorts that were and continued to be featured there. It centered around two genetically altered lab mice—the hyper-intelligent Brain (Maurice LaMarche) and the hyper-dimwitted Pinky (Rob Paulsen)—and their attempts to conquer the world.

Caricatures of Tom Minton and Eddie Fitzgerald.

            The characters were inspired by the personalities of two producers of Warner Bros. Animation’s Tiny Toon Adventures, Eddie Fitzgerald and Tom Minton. Senior producer Tom Reugger often wondered what would happen if the two got together and tried to take over the world. Fitzgerald embodied Pinky, as he would always walk around the office saying “Narf” and “Egad”, and producer Peter Hastings described him by saying “He always greeted you like you were wearing a funny hat—and he liked it.” Paulsen, who was already playing Yakko Warner, was cast in the role and gave Pinky a “goofy whack job” of a British accent inspired by the likes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Goon Show and Peter Sellers.

Pinky and the Brain infiltrating Santa's workshop.

Brain’s characterization would receive a bit of tweaking from his voice actor. When coming in to audition for the role, LaMarche noted that the character bore a slight resemblance to actor/director Orson Welles, of whom LaMarche was a big fan. LaMarche used his impersonation of Welles (with a touch of Vincent Price) for the audition and was hired on the spot. Connections to Welles ended up being peppered throughout their Animaniacs run. In particular, the segment “Yes, Always” was a parody of the outtakes from one of Welles’ television commercials, known as Frozen Peas, where he ranted about the poor quality of his script. LaMarche frequently used Frozen Peas as sound check material before recording and Hastings took it to the next level.

The Brain who would be king.

Pinky and the Brain debuted as one of the launch titles of the fledgling WB Network’s Kids’ WB programming block on September 9, 1995. When Pinky and the Brain was spun off, Hastings, who served as the pair’s primary writer on Animaniacs, came on as supervising producer with Rusty Mills and Liz Holzman producing. WB Animation head Jean MacCurdy was the executive in charge of production. The writing staff was filled-out by Minton, John McCann, Paul Rugg, Gordon Bressack, Charles M. Howell IV, Rich Fogel, Norm McCabe, Wendell Morris, Tom Sheppard, and Alex Borstein, amongst others. The series’ animation was handled by Rough Draft Studios, Wang Film Productions, AKOM and a single episode by Tokyo Movie Shinsha (now TMS Entertainment). The series’ theme was a new recording of the one used throughout Animaniacs composed by Richard Stone and written by Ruegger. Stone also led the team of composers who worked on the series, which included Julie and Steven Bernstein, Ron Goldstein and Tim Kelly.

The usual outcome of Brain's plots.

            Like on Animaniacs, each episode would focus on Brain’s outlandish plots to accomplish his goal, and his ultimate and comical failure at doing so. The humor came from parodies of pop culture, celebrities, musical numbers set to familiar music with new lyrics and celebrity cameos. Amongst the show’s famous guest-stars were Nora Dunn, Ernest Borgnine, Eric Idle, Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Steve Allen, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Gavin MacLeod, John Tesh, Michael McKean, Garry Marshall, Mark Hamill, James Belushi and even Spielberg himself. The familiar Pinky and the Brain routines also followed, such as Brain asking Pinky “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?” and Pinky answering with a non-sequitur, and the episodes ending with Brain ensuring Pinky prepared to try again the next night. Also, like Animaniacs, Ruegger included a gag credit in the close credits that had an English word and its definition appropriate for the episode. Brain also gained an arch-rival in the form of Snowball (Roddy McDowall): a genetically modified hamster who also had aspirations for world domination and either coopted Brain’s plans for himself or was in direct opposition to the mice.

Brain's arch-nemesis, Snowball.

            After its debut, the show aired regularly on Sunday nights as The WB hoped it would provide competition for FOX’s The Simpsons, which had begun its 7th season, while reruns of episodes and occasionally new ones would air on Saturday mornings. The episodes were comprised of one or two segments each, with some of the segments repeated from Animaniacs. The show garnered poor ratings when it aired against CBS60 Minutes and it was moved to the Saturday morning timeslot for the rest of its run. New Pinky and the Brain shorts also aired subsequently on Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain were still prominently featured in that show’s intro.

Meet Larry.

            Around the time season 3 went into production, the command structure of The WB underwent significant changes when Jamie Kellner took over as head of Kids’ WB programming. While Pinky and the Brain was performing well in its Saturday timeslot, the new executives felt that the show needed to ease off on the world domination plot to become more of a sitcom and include more characters. In response to this, the episode “Pinky & the Brain…and Larry”, written by Bressack and Howell, introduced a new character, Larry (modeled after Larry Fine, voiced by Paulsen’s friend Billy West), who purposely spoiled the rhythm of the show and the dynamic of the characters in order to prove the mice worked best as a duo. Hastings, sick of the network pressure for changes, quit the show and turned in his final script for “You’ll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town, Again!”, which directly addressed the issue of networks retooling shows that already work. The point was made and the network begged off. For a time.

Elmyra becomes the mice's new roommate.

            When Disney’s One Saturday Morning programming block on ABC, which was helmed by Hastings, began overtaking Kids’ WB in the ratings, the network once again pushed for changes to be made to Pinky and the Brain as a way to combat this. WB development executive Christopher Keenan suggested taking Tiny Toon Adventures’ Elmyra Duff (Cree Summer) and adding her to the show as Pinky and Brain’s owner, despite Spielberg’s edict that the Tiny Toons and Animaniacs universes were separate entities. Pinky and the Brain ended its run with an abbreviated fourth season and was immediately followed-up with the new show Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain in 1998. The series finale wouldn’t air until November alongside Animaniacs’ finale as part of the Ultimate Animaniacs Super Special. “Star Warners” featured many of the Animaniacs, as well as Freakazoid! and Looney Tunes characters, in an elaborate Star Wars parody.


            The show continued to air in syndicated reruns across various channels and aired concurrently in Canada since 1996. When it aired on Nickelodeon, the network edited the opening sequence to have their logo appear in various places; however they left the rest of the episodes untouched. During the show’s run, it was nominated and won several Emmy and Annie Awards. The episode “A Pinky and the Brain Christmas” won the Emmy for “Outstanding Animated Program” while Paulsen and LaMarche won the Annie for voice acting in 1997 and 1998, respectively. The series won the Emmy for “Outstanding Special Class” animated program in 1999. The episode “Inherit the Wheeze” won a PRISM Award for its anti-smoking message.

Taking over comics.

            When the show was in production, the Warner Bros. Studio Store carried various merchandise with the characters’ likenesses on them; including plush dolls, mugs, apparel, animation cels and original artwork. This continued through 1998 when that merchandise was phased out in order to capitalize on the Hanna-Barbera library that Warner Bros. purchased. In 2016, Funko released both characters as POP! figures. The characters appeared regularly in the Animaniacs comic series published by DC Comics. In 1996, DC spun them off into a Christmas special followed by their own ongoing series. The Pinky and the Brain comic ran for 27 issues until it was cancelled. The characters returned to their parent title, which was renamed Animaniacs Featuring Pinky and the Brain with #43, and took up half of the book until its cancellation with #59. A Look and Find Book based on the show was published in 1995.

Video game box.

            While the characters made appearances in Animaniacs video games, Pinky and the Brain received two video games for itself. World Conquest was developed by Gigawatt Studios and published by SouthPeak Interactive, LLC for the PC. The game featured the player having to navigate through a series of mazes with three different play types. The second was The Master Plan developed by Warthog Plc and published by Swing! Entertainment Media AG for the Game Boy Advance in Europe. It was a puzzle platformer that allowed players to play as both mice, each with differing abilities to help get through a level. A third game was announced for the Sega Saturn in 1996 but ended up being cancelled.

DVD ad.

            Warner Home Video released the VHS collections A Pinky and the Brain Christmas and World Domination Tour in 1996, and Cosmic Attractions and  Mice of the Jungle in 1997. Between 2006 and 2007, the entire series was released to DVD across three volumes. While the series may not have had as many musical numbers as Animaniacs, some of the show’s songs were featured across three Animaniacs CD albums. An expanded version of “Bubba Bo Bob Brain” was released as a radio play by Rhino Entertainment in 1997.


EPISODE GUIDE:
Season 1:
“Das Mouse” (9/9/95) – Brain needs crab meat found only in the Titanic to make a hypnotic food additive.

“Of Mouse and Man” (9/10/95) – Brain uses his human suit to get a job and have an accident that would allow him to sue the company for a nice settlement.

“Tokyo Grows / That Smarts / Brainstem” (9/17/95) – Brian plans to dress Pinky as Gollyzilla so that he can “stop” him in exchange for world domination. / Brain uses a machine to make Pinky smart enough to realize he causes all their failures. / Pinky and Brain sing about the human brain.

“Pinky & the Frog / Where No Mouse Has Gone Before / Cheese Roll Call” (11/4/95) – Brain becomes a radio voice actor in order to use sound to hypnotize his listeners. / Brain changes a message sent into space declaring himself ruler of Earth. / Pinky sings about cheeses.

“Brainania” (11/12/95) – Brain creates a fictional island nation in order to bilk the US out of foreign aid money.

“TV or Not TV” (11/19/95) – Brain becomes a stand-up comic in order to utilize his hypnotic dentures.

“Napoleon Brainaparte” (11/26/95) – Exploding crepes cause Brain to be mistaken for Napoleon and he ascends into power.

“A Pinky and the Brain Christmas” (12/13/95) – Brain infiltrates Santa’s workshop in order to put his hypnotic doll on everyone’s Christmas list.

“Snowball” (1/20/96) – Brain’s chain letter scheme is put on hold when his nemesis, genetically altered hamster Snowball, tries to conquer the world first AND steal Pinky away.

“Around the World in 80 Narfs” (2/3/96) – Brain attempts to circumvent the globe in 79 days to become president of the Pompous Explorers Club, which usually leads to higher power.

“Fly” (2/11/96) – After buying up air rights, Pinky and the Brain head to the Hubble Telescope in order to melt the ice caps and flood the Earth.

“Ambulatory Abe / Mouse of La Mancha” (2/25/96) – Brain turns the Lincoln Memorial statue into a robot so that people will believe Lincoln is alive and restore him to power. / Brain tells the story of Don Cerebro, who also planned to take over the world.

“The Third Mouse / The Visit” (5/12/96) - Pinky searches for Brain in post-WWII Vienna. / Brain lures white mice into the lab for his plan and discovers two of them to be his parents.

Season 2:
“It’s Only a Paper World” (9/7/96) – Brain lures everyone to a Papier-mâché copy of Earth so that he can take over the real one.

“Collect ‘em All / Pinkasso” (9/14/96) – Brain creates trading cards that will put kids under his control when they get the whole set. / Brain uses Pinky’s fame as an abstract painter to finance his latest scheme.

“Plan Brain from Outer Space” (9/28/96) – Brain goes to Area 5.1 to befriend an alien in the hopes it will help him conquer the world.

“The Pink Candidate” (11/2/96) – A misinterpreted letter lands Pinky into the office of President and Brain attempts to make use of his position.

“Brain’s Song” (11/9/96) – Brain attempts to use tears to take over the world by making the most emotional movie ever.

“Welcome to the Jungle” (11/16/96) – Pinky and the Brain are mistaken for monkeys and released into the wild where they encounter Snowball.

“A Little off the Top / Megalomaniacs Anonymous” (11/23/96) – Brain attempts to use the hair of Samson. / Brain grows tired of his scheming and joins a support group for people like him.

“The Mummy / Robin Brain” (12/28/96) – Pinky and the Brain get trapped in a pyramid with a mummy’s curse. / Brain forms a team to collect money from the rich to give to his next plan.

“Two Mice and a Baby / The Maze” (2/1/97) – Pinky and the Brain raise a super baby they found in an alien rocket. / Pinky and the Brain run a dangerous maze in order to claim a microchip Brain needs.

“Brain of the Future” (2/8/97) – Pinky and the Brain encounter their future selves who give them a kit to help them with their plans.

“Brinky” (2/22/97) – Brain attempts to clone himself but Pinky’s DNA gets mixed in, creating a new mouse Brain dubs “Roman Numeral One”, or “Romy”.

“Hoop Schemes” (5/17/97) – Pinky assembles a celebrity basketball team for Brain’s plan, but the plan goes awry when the fans are made to turn on the players.

Season 3:
“Leave it to Beavers / Cinebrainia” (9/8/97) – Brain tries to control the flow of a river through some beavers. / The mice’s movie career becomes troubled when they switch from comedy to drama.

“Brain Noir” (9/12/97) – Billie lures Brain into a trap for Snowball, but ends up betraying both of them for her own reasons.

“Pinky & the Brain…and Larry / Where the Deer and the Mousealopes Play” (9/13/97) – Brain determines the flaw in his latest plan is the presence of third mouse, Larry. / Brain and Pinky pose as Mousealopes in order to take over land near Pittsburgh.

“Brain’s Bogie / Say What, Earth” (9/15/97) – Brain disguises himself as Cher to steal a special golf club at a tournament. / Brain attempts to communicate with the Earth directly, but that only turns the planet against him.

“My Feldmans, My Friends” (9/16/97) – Pinky and the Brain pose as a married couple in order to get Brain’s part back from a packrat neighbor and save the world.

“All You Need is Narf / Pinky’s Plan” (9/17/97) – Brain tries to exploit Pinky becoming a guru in the 1960s. / Pinky manages to convince world leaders to turn over control of the world, but they take it back when Pinky gives it to Brain.

“This Old Mouse” (9/18/97) – When a future-seeing machine reveals Brain never takes over the world, he gives up his quest and becomes a ski instructor.

“Brain Storm” (9/19/97) – Brain’s next major plan involves: TOMATOES!

“A Meticulous Analysis of History / Funny, You Don’t Look Rhennish” (9/20/97) – Brain and Pinky sing about famous leaders and their downfalls. / To get a key mineral, Brain and Pinky pose as Rhennish farmers.

“The Pinky Protocol” (9/22/97) – Brain creates a conspiracy that a document declares he’s actually ruler of the world, and he ends up abducted by a nut who believes it.

“Mice Don’t Dance / Brain Drained” (9/26/97) – Brain uses mechanical legs to tap dance subliminal Morse code at the 1939 World’s Fair. / Brain hires screenwriters when he runs out of ideas for world conquest.

“Brain Acres” (9/27/97) – Brain grows an army of sentient vegetables.

“Pinky and the Brainmaker / Calvin Brain” (9/29/97) – Brain and Pinky create dancing clones of themselves that battle in a dance-off. / Brain becomes a famous fashion designer so everyone will wear his hypnotic perfume.

“Pinky Suavo / T.H.E.Y.” (10/4/97) – Pinky ends up bombarded with the world’s most attractive personas, turning him into an attention-grabbing suave version of himself. / Pinky and Brain pledge to a secret world-controlling organization, but only Pinky gets in.

“The Real Life” (10/10/97) – Pinky and Brain go undercover in a reality TV show in order for Brain to be able to put a radio tower near Cleveland.

“Brain’s Way” (10/11/97) – Brain opens a casino in 1962, but his poor game offerings cause it to fail and his loan shark takes possession of the lab.

“A Pinky and the Brain Halloween” (10/19/97) – Pinky sells his soul to the devil so that Brain can rule the world.

“Brainy Jack” (11/1/97) – Brain leads a group of hippies to form a human chain to form a subliminal message.

“Leggo My Ego / Big in Japan” (11/7/97) – Brain tries to hypnotize Sigmund Freud, but Pinky left Brain’s reflective glasses home. / Brain becomes a sumo wrestler so that he could obtain a rare Japanese fish.

“But That’s Not All, Folks!” (11/8/97) – Pinky and Brain run a series of phony infomercials in order to obtain an address database.

“Operation: Sea Lion / You Said a Mouseful” (11/14/97) – Brain learns to communicate with sea lions in order to create an aquatic army. / Brain seeks to put helium in hacky-sack sack-kicker shoes in a Hackensack factory.

“The Tailor and the Mice / Bah, Wilderness” (11/15/97) – Pinky and the Brain become the mice in “The Tailor and the Mouse”. / Brain attempts to take over the summer camp where the world’s leaders’ children attend.

“Pinky at the Bat / Schpiel-borg 2000” (11/22/97) – Pinky and Brain become baseball player so Brain can unleash a hypnotic perfume on the pitcher’s mound. / Brain creates a robot duplicate of Steven Spielberg.

“Broadway Malady” (1/3/98) – Brain tries to get a musical on Broadway, but Pinky’s ends up being more popular.

“Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo / The Melancholy Brain” (2/7/98) – Brainie and Pinklet attempt to steal honey and use it to make the world’s population fat, slow and toothless. / Brain attempts to conquer the royal family of Denmark.

“Inherit the Wheeze” (2/14/98) – Pinky convinces Brain to give up his plan of getting children to smoke and to turn on the tobacco company.

“Brain’s Night Off / Beach Blanket Brain” (2/21/98) – Brain’s night off leads to people wanting him to lead them, but he fails to notice this desire. / Brain becomes a famous surfer to get the other surfers to use his hypnotic suntan lotion.

“The Family That Poits Together, Narfs Together” (2/21/98) – Brain seeks to reunite Pinky’s family to win a TV show’s cash prize and uses the intelligence machine on them.

“Pinky’s Turn / Your Friend: Global Domination” (2/28/98) – Brain lets Pinky try to take over the world—and he does. / Brain creates an educational video to use on school kids.

“You’ll Never Eat Food Pellets in This Town Again” (4/25/98) – After the network mucks around with the show, Pinky and Brain quit and get other jobs.

“Dangerous Brains” (5/2/98) – Brain takes a teaching job at a troubled school while Pinky disguises himself as a student and convinces them to work on their studies.

“What Ever Happened to Baby Brain / Just Say Narf” (5/9/98) – Brain poses as a child actress. / Pinky sings a song to cheer Brain up.

“The Pinky POV / The Really Great Dictator / Brain Food” (5/16/98) – Brain’s latest plan is seen through Pinky’s eyes. / Pinky and Brain sing about world domination. / Brain attempts to increase the intelligence of the population so that they’ll see why he should lead them.

Season 4:
“Brainwashed Part 1 – Bain, Brain, Go Away” (9/14/98) – A new dance craze causes everyone to grow dumber when they dance it, and Pinky and Brain’s memories are taken away.

“Brainwashed Part 2 – I Am Not a Hat” (9/15/98) – Pinky and Brain escape their fate and are forced to team-up with Snowball to discover the mastermind behind the sinister dance.

“Brainwashed Part 3 – Wash Harder” (9/16/98) – Pinky, Brain and Snowball discover the mastermind is the cat of the scientist who experimented on them.

“To Russia With Lab Mice / Hickory Dickory Bonk” (9/21/98) – Pinky and Brain are sent to Russia and meet a mouse spy that has a part Brain needs. / Brain attempts to make every clock chime simultaneously.

“The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Special” (9/25/98) – Brain holds a fake reunion special in order to gain more viewers he can hypnotize.

“A Legendary Tail / Project BRAIN” (9/28/98) – Brain attempts to gain fame through a tall tale he concocts. / The origin of Pinky and the Brain.

“Star Warners” (11/14/98) – 3-PinkEO and Brain2-Me2 plan to capture the Mega Star and use it in their plans for world domination.

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