Pinky and the Brain
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (September 2013)|
|Pinky and the Brain|
|Created by||Tom Ruegger|
|Voices of||Maurice LaMarche
|Theme music composer||Richard Stone|
|Opening theme||“Pinky and the Brain” performed by
Jim Cummings and
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||65 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Steven Spielberg|
Barbara J. Gerard
Charles M. Howell IV.
|Running time||7, 11, or 22 min
(depending on the episode)
|Production company(s)||Amblin Television
Warner Bros. Television Animation
|Original network||The WB|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital|
|Original release||September 9, 1995 (1995-09-09) – November 14, 1998 (1998-11-14)|
|Preceded by||Tiny Toon Adventures
The Plucky Duck Show
|Followed by||Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain|
Pinky & the Brain is an American animated television series. It was the first animated television series to be presented in Dolby Surround and the fourth collaboration of Steven Spielberg with his production company, Amblin Television, and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The characters first appeared in 1993 as a recurring segment on Animaniacs. It was later picked up as a series due to its popularity, with 65 episodes produced. Later, they appeared in the series, Steven Spielberg Presents Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.
Pinky and Brain are genetically enhanced laboratory mice who reside in a cage in the Acme Labs research facility. Brain is self-centered and scheming; Pinky is good-natured but feebleminded. In each episode, Brain devises a new plan to take over the world which ultimately ends in failure: usually due to Pinky’s idiocy, the impossibility of Brain’s plan, Brain’s own arrogance, or just circumstances beyond their control. In common with many other Animaniacs shorts, many episodes are in some way a parody of something else, usually a film or novel. The spin off of this show is Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.
- 1 Background
- 2 Characters
- 3 Creation and inspiration
- 4 Production
- 5 Response
- 6 History
- 7 Merchandise
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Many of the Pinky and the Brain episodes occur in the 1990s at Acme Labs, located in some large American city underneath a suspension bridge. Several episodes take place in historical times, with Pinky and the Brain in the laboratory of some scientifically-minded person, including Merlin, H.G. Wells, and Ivan Pavlov. There is very little continuity between episodes outside of the common fixtures of the mice, though some plans for world domination from early episodes are subsequently referred to in later seasons (for example, Brain’s “human suit” used in “Win Big” reappears when Brain faces his rival Snowball in “Snowball”).
The bulk of every episode involves one of Brain’s plans for world domination with Pinky’s assistance and the ultimate failure of that plan, with some exceptions. One centers on Snowball’s plan to take over the world using Microsponge (a parody of Microsoft). Another episode features Brain’s single day where he tries to do anything but take over the world: in the end, a group of people vote that he should take over the world on the one day he does not want to.
Both Pinky and the Brain, white mice kept as part of Acme Labs’ experimentation, have undergone significant genetic alteration; per the show’s title lyrics, “their genes have been spliced” which gives the two mice amplified intelligence over that of a typical mouse, the ability to talk to humans, and anthropomorphism. “Project B.R.A.I.N.” suggests that the gene splicing occurred on September 9, 1995, which is coincident to the first full episode of Pinky and the Brain. The episode “Brainwashed” states that the gene splicing was done by Dr. Mordough, along with Snowball the hamster and Precious the cat, using the Acme “Gene Splicer, Bagel Warmer, and Hot Dog Steamer.”
The Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) looks and sounds a little like Orson Welles. In “What Ever Happened to Baby Brain”, Brain actually crosses paths with Welles, who is working as a busboy in a Hollywood restaurant; they find themselves inadvertently yelling in unison, “Things will be different when I take over the world!” In “Project B.R.A.I.N.” Brain’s name is the backronym for the eponymous project: “Biological Recombinant Algorithmic Intelligence Nexus”. His tail is bent like a staircase—he often uses it to pick the lock of the cage—and his head is large and wide, housing his abnormally large brain. He is highly intelligent and develops complex plans for global domination using politics, cultural references, and his own inventions toward his goal. He seems coldly unemotional, speaking in a snarky deadpan. Nevertheless, Brain has a subtle sense of humor and has even fallen in love; with Trudie in the episode “The Third Mouse” and with Billie in “The World Can Wait”. Due to his stature and megalomania, Brain has been compared to Don Quixote and (inaccurate) pop culture depictions of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Brain sees his inevitable rise to power as good for the world, and not mere megalomania. In Wakko’s Wish, he said to Pinky “We’re on our way to fame, fortune and a world that’s a better place for all.” Many of the Brain’s plots had the endgame of winning over the people’s hearts and having them make him their ruler. However, his motives are not pure. In one episode, Brain finds himself hypnotized by a psychologist he had planned to manipulate for one of his schemes, who turns out to be none other than Sigmund Freud. There Brain reveals that he originally lived with his parents in a tin can at the base of a tree in a large field. When he was young, ACME researchers captured Brain and took him from his home, and the last he saw of it was a picture of the world on the side of the can. Dr. Freud speculates that Brain’s hunger to take over the world is misplaced, and that all he really wants is to go back home to his parents. According to the creators, Brain wants to take over the world not for the sake of being a dictator, like his rival Snowball, but because he believes that he could do a much better job of it than the people currently in charge. Brain has even helped save the world by doing everything in his power to prevent Snowball’s evil schemes, knowing that a world under Snowball’s rule would be the worst case scenario.
Pinky (voiced by Rob Paulsen) is another genetically modified mouse who shares the same cage as Brain at Acme Labs. Although intelligent in his own right, Pinky is an extremely unstable and hyperactive mouse. He has several verbal tics, such as “narf”, “zort”, “poit”, and “troz” (the last of which he started saying after noticing it was “zort in the mirror”). Pinky’s appearance is the complete opposite of Brain’s—while Brain is short, has a crooked tail and pink eyes, and speaks in a deeper, more eloquent manner, Pinky has a straight tail, blue eyes, and a severe overbite, is taller than the Brain, and speaks in a higher pitched voice with a Cockney accent. Pinky’s name was inadvertently given to him by Brain himself: when insulting the two scientists responsible for their gene splicing while talking to himself, Brain claimed the scientists had “less knowledge in both their heads than I do in my… pinky!” Pinky then responded with “Yes?”, believing Brain was referring to him.
Pinky is more open-minded, kinder, and happier than the Brain. Troubles never ruin his day, arguably because he is too scatter-brained to notice them. He steadfastly helps Brain toward world domination, even though Brain usually berates, belittles, and abuses him. Pinky actually seems to enjoy this, laughing after he is hit. He is obsessed with trivia, spending a lot of time watching television in the lab and following popular culture fads. Sometimes Pinky even finds non-rational solutions to problems. An entire episode (entitled “The Pinky P.O.V.”) even shows a typical night of attempted world domination from his point of view, showing his thought process and how he comes to the strange, seemingly nonsensical responses to the Brain’s famous question, “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” Pinky often points out flaws in the Brain’s plans, which the Brain consistently ignores. The issues Pinky brings up can ironically lead to the downfall of the given night’s plot.
He is also arguably Brain’s moral compass and only real friend. When Pinky sold his soul to get Brain the world in “A Pinky and the Brain Halloween”, Brain saved him because he missed him and the world was not worth ruling without him. Pinky also has shown signs of intelligence despite his supposed childish stupidity. In “Welcome to the Jungle”, Pinky was able to survive using his instincts and become a leader to Brain, who, despite his intelligence, could not survive in the wild on his own. And in “The Pink Candidate”, when Pinky became President, he later began citing various constitutional amendments and legal problems that would bar Brain from his latest plot to take over the world. When Brain attempted to pressure him into helping, Pinky refused, claiming that the plan “goes against everything I’ve come to stand for.”
Other recurring characters
- Snowball the hamster (voiced by Roddy McDowall) is Brain’s former friend who was also made intelligent by gene splicing and has a similar desire for world conquest (though far more malevolent than Brain’s) which Pinky and the Brain are sometimes forced to stop.
- Billie (voiced by Tress MacNeille) is a female mouse and another result of gene splicing. She is smarter than Brain and also has the goal of world domination. Though Brain loves her, she fancies Pinky. In the episode “You’ll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town Again”, it is revealed that Brain is married to Billie (who in real life is Sheila, and hates playing Billie), who pretty much only agreed because he’s famous, and eventually kicks him out and makes Brain live in his restaurant. It is later revealed that the events were just a dream.
- Pharfignewton (voiced by Frank Welker) is a racing mare, with whom Pinky falls in love.
- Larry (voiced by Billy West) is a white mouse who was created as a response to demands from Kids WB executives to include additional characters on the show. His presence is sporadic as the writers of the show believed that including an additional character would ruin the chemistry between Pinky and The Brain, as they worked best as a comedy duo, and a third character would therefore be out of place and unnecessary to the plot. To further drive this point home, Larry’s first appearance was marked by a modified version of the theme song with the name “Larry!” shoehorned in between existing lyrics.
Other characters that have appeared on the show have included both of Brain’s and Pinky’s parents and the pair’s “child”, “Roman Numeral I” (Romy for short) who was a result of a cloning mistake. Episodes also include recurring caricatures of celebrities, including both Bill and Hillary Clinton, David Letterman, Dick Clark, Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Kathy Kinney, J. D. Wilkes, Paul Gilmartin, Annabelle Gurwitch, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton and Christopher Walken, as was common on other Animaniacs cartoons.
Creation and inspiration
Pinky and the Brain was inspired by the peculiar personalities of two producers of Tom Ruegger’s Tiny Toon Adventures colleagues, artist Eddie Fitzgerald and Tom Minton, respectively. Ruegger wondered what would happen if Minton and Fitzgerald tried to take over the world. Fitzgerald (who has also worked on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and The Ren and Stimpy Show) is said to have constantly said “Narf” and “Egad” around the Tiny Toons production office. The gag credit for the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “You Asked For It” credits Eddie Fitzgerald as “Guy Who Says ‘Narf'”. Series producer Peter Hastings described Eddie by saying, “He always greeted you like you were wearing a funny hat – and he liked it.” The Fitzgerald/Minton connection to Pinky and the Brain is shown in the episode “The Pinky and the Brain Reunion Special”. Two characters shown as writers for Pinky and the Brain cartoons within the short are caricatures of Fitzgerald and Minton.
While Ruegger initially based The Brain after Minton, the Welles connection came from Maurice LaMarche, a big fan of the actor/director, who had supplied the voice for Orson Welles in the 1994 movie Ed Wood. LaMarche describes Brain’s voice as “65% Orson Welles, 35% Vincent Price“. Brain’s similarity to Orson Welles was made explicit in the Animaniacs episode “Yes, Always”, which was based upon an outtake from one of Welles’ television commercials, colloquially known as Frozen Peas, in which he ranted about the poor quality of the script. This cartoon was described by writer Peter Hastings as “a $250,000 inside joke”: LaMarche used excerpts from it as sound check material before recording episodes, and Hastings took it to its logical conclusion. The series also alluded to Welles with an episode in which Brain took on the mind-clouding powers of a radio character called “The Fog”: a parody of The Shadow, a popular radio character for which Welles once provided the voice. Other Welles allusions included the episode “The Third Mouse”, a parody of The Third Man in which the Brain played the part of Welles’ character Harry Lime (with Pinky as Holly Martins), and “Battle for the Planet”, in which Brain, inspired by Welles’ infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast and the hysteria it provoked, stages an alien invasion on television. A caricature of Orson Welles appears in a late episode of the series (“What Ever Happened to Baby Brain”), echoing a rant of the Brain’s and introducing himself afterwards.
The episode “Win Big” was the very first Pinky and the Brain segment. It was developed for Animaniacs, written by Ruegger with a script by Peter Hastings, and directed by Rusty Mills. According to Ruegger, most of the elements that would become part of Pinky and the Brain can be found in Hastings’s original script. It held many dialog bits that became conventions of the entire series, including Brain’s “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”, Pinky’s “Oh…wait no” in response to a plan, and Pinky’s final question, “What are we doing tomorrow night?”
As with Animaniacs, Steven Spielberg was the executive producer during the entire run, Tom Ruegger was the senior producer, Jean MacCurdy was the executive in charge of production, and Andrea Romano was the voice director. Peter Hastings, Rusty Mills and Liz Holzman produced the show when it was spun off from Animaniacs, as well as the season it ran primetime on the WB. After the first season Hastings left the show and Mills took over as the supervising producer.
The original Pinky and the Brain shorts on Animaniacs were written primarily by Peter Hastings. Upon moving into its own show, the writing staff included Gordon Bressack, Charles M. Howell IV, Earl Kress, Wendell Morris, and Tom Sheppard. Comedienne Alex Borstein was also a staff writer, years before her fame on MADTV and Family Guy. Classic Warner Bros. cartoon director Norm McCabe also wrote for the show.
Pinky and the Brain were voiced by Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, respectively. The series also used the work of many of the same voice actors for Animaniacs including Tress MacNeille, Jess Harnell, Frank Welker, Nancy Cartwright, and Jeff Bennett, as well as Paul Rugg, Billy West, Jim Cummings, Dan Castellaneta, Kevin Michael Richardson, Grey DeLisle, Dwight Schultz, Tara Strong, Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Phil LaMarr, Quinton Flynn, James Arnold Taylor, Charlie Adler, David Kaufman, Alanna Ubach, Tasia Valenza, April Winchell, Candi Milo, Nika Futterman, Jennifer Hale, Will Friedle, Jason Marsden, Pat Fraley, S. Scott Bullock, Jack Angel, Daran Norris, Susan Blakeslee, Corey Burton, Janice Kawaye, Patrick Warburton, Howie Mandel, John DiMaggio, Dana Snyder, Audrey Wasilewski, Fred Tatasciore, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Keone Young, Rodger Bumpass, Richard McGonagle, Bruce Campbell, Bill Fagerbakke, Brian Doyle-Murray, George Lowe, Chuck McCann, Roz Ryan, Kath Soucie, Don Messick, Susan Silo, Danny Cooksey, Chris Edgerly, Eddie Deezen, Pamela S. Adlon, Keith Ferguson, David Warner, Clancy Brown, Mindy Sterling, Joe Alaskey, Christine Cavanaugh, Roger L. Jackson, Sean Marquette, Bob Bergen, E.G. Daily, René Auberjonois, Tom Kane, Cathy Cavadini, and Charlie Schlatter. Celebrities such as Roddy McDowall, Nora Dunn, Townsend Coleman, Ernest Borgnine, Eric Idle, Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Steve Allen, Joyce Brothers, Gavin MacLeod, John Tesh, Michael McKean, Garry Marshall, Mark Hamill, James Belushi and Steven Spielberg have all performed guest voice work for the series as well. Cree Summer has also voiced characters in Pinky and the Brain and reprised her role as Elmyra during Pinky, Elmyra, and The Brain.
As with Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain was scored by a team of talented composers, led by Emmy-Award winning composer Richard Stone. This team included Steve and Julie Bernstein, who also orchestrated and sometimes conducted the 40-piece orchestra. The recordings were done on Stage A on the Warner Bros lot, the same stage (and with the same piano) where Carl Stalling recorded his Looney Tunes music. The theme music for Pinky and the Brain was composed by Richard Stone with lyrics by Tom Ruegger.
Two versions of the opening sequence and theme, with slightly different lyrics, were used during Animaniacs shorts. In the first version, Yakko, Wakko, and Dot (voiced respectively by Paulsen, Harnell, and MacNeille) popped up in the lab and sang the theme while letting the two mice out of their cage. The second, later version had the singers off-camera as the Brain picked the lock on the cage door with a small needle to free himself and Pinky. On the Pinky and the Brain show, the theme gained an additional two verses and was sung by Gene Paul, mind and others.
The score sometimes includes references to classical music. For example, in the episode where the Brain builds a new Papier-mâché Earth, the theme from the 2nd and 4th movements of Dvořák‘s ‘New World Symphony‘ can be heard throughout the episode. The episode Napoleon Brainaparte makes frequent reference to the French anthem, La Marseillaise, while in the episode in which Pinky becomes the artist “Pinkasso” Mussorgsky‘s Pictures at an Exhibition can be heard.
Like Animaniacs, most of the original Pinky and the Brain shorts used a variety of animation studios, including Tokyo Movie Shinsha, StarToons, Wang Film Productions, Freelance Animators New Zealand, and AKOM. The bulk of the episodes created outside of Animaniacs (seasons 2 and beyond) were produced by Rough Draft Studios, Wang Film Productions and AKOM. The only episode that was animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha on the spin-off was A Pinky and the Brain Christmas.
Like Animaniacs, much of the humor in Pinky and the Brain was aimed at adult audiences. Parodies of pop culture icons were quite common on the series, more so during the original episodes developed for the WB prime time slot. In addition to previously mentioned political and actor caricatures, some episodes included complete parodies like those in Animaniacs. The episode “The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo” parodies Winnie The Pooh. “Cameos” include Jagger instead of Tigger and Al Gore instead of Eeyore. Al Gore is “full of hot air”, floating like a balloon. Other parodic elements include Christopher Walken in place of Christopher Robin and the “Brainie the Poo” book appears to have been authored by “A.A. Meeting.” The three-part “Brainwashed” episode included several allusions to The Prisoner television show, though everyone in The Village was identified by the hat they wore, and not by number.
Three songs resemble the musical skits in Animaniacs, matching existing music with new lyrics. Pinky sings “Cheese Roll Call” to John Philip Sousa‘s march “Semper Fidelis” praising his love for all cheeses from around the world. To the music of “Camptown Races“, Brain lists the major parts of the human brain, with Pinky jumping in at the chorus to shout “Brainstem! Brainstem!”. “A Meticulous Analysis of History” is set to “When I Was a Lad” from Gilbert and Sullivan‘s H.M.S. Pinafore, and sung by both Brain and Pinky, with Brain reciting the rise to power of such historical leaders as Napoleon and Cleopatra, while Pinky mentions how they all fell. In addition, “Brainwashed” featured a song called the Schmëerskåhøvên, a parody of the Macarena, which would brainwash you if done correctly. The song include such odd lyrics as “Put your fingers in your ears then stick them in your belly” and “Bop yourself on the head and cross your eyes.”
Like Animaniacs, there was a gag credit in the closing credits: each show featured an English word appropriate for the episode with its definition. For example, “Around the World in 80 Narfs”, where the mice are foiled by trying to speak “cabbie” and end up going in circles, the gag credit word was “anophelosis” defined as “morbid state due to extreme frustration.”
Another common element in nearly each episode is the following exchange (often referred to by the acronym “AYPWIP”):
Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but…
Pinky’s response ends with a non-sequitur such as, “we’re already naked”, “isn’t a cucumber that small called a gherkin?” or “if they called them sad meals, kids wouldn’t buy them.” Brain would then become furious, often bashing Pinky over the head. A few times in the series Pinky and Brain indeed pondered the same thing, though in one of these Pinky dismissed his idea as being too stupid. Just one time the answer was “Yes!”, when Pinky’s intelligence is elevated to match Brain’s. In another episode, it turns out that what Pinky was pondering was that he and Brain never ponder the same thing, which turned out to be part of what Brain was pondering as well. In a short episode (Pinky’s POV) the spectator sees everything Pinky sees (including his imaginations) and hears his thoughts.
Pinky and the Brain were popular on Animaniacs, and the popularity continued into their own series. It attracted many of the same fans as Animaniacs and Internet outreach attracted more. Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen appeared on voice actor tours around the Warner Bros. Studio Stores.
In an interview on the third DVD volume, LaMarche and Paulsen noted that Roy Langbord (vice-president of Showtime), Al Franken, and Barenaked Ladies are fans of the shows. Jason Rubin, the co-founder of Naughty Dog, was also fond of the series; the character of the Brain served as an influence in the creation of Doctor Neo Cortex, the main antagonist of the Crash Bandicoot series of video games.
Nominations and awards
Pinky and the Brain won several Emmy and Annie Awards. In 1996, the series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program for the episode “A Pinky and the Brain Christmas”. Paulsen won the Annie Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement for “Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Program Production” in 1996 and 1997, while LaMarche won the same in 1998. Paulsen also won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for his role as Pinky subsequently in 1999. The series itself won the 1999 Daytime Emmy for “Outstanding Special Class Animated Program”.
References in other media
- The Rice University Neologism dictionary includes not only “narf” as a random sound or nonce word, but also “narfed” as a verb to mean “to be struck completely” with some embarrassment or folly, much as Pinky would be hit on the head by Brain after his follies ruined Brain’s plan. The International Dictionary of Neologisms includes the word “narfistic” as “an idea or concept that works fine when you think about it – but is very difficult to express to someone else”, as a result of Pinky only saying “Narf!” after Brain elaborates on one of his extensive plans.
- In the post-apocalyptic role-playing game Fallout 2 by Interplay, a couple of mutant albino mole rats appear. One creature is utterly insane, muttering intentions of taking rulership. The other is a highly intelligent cult leader who has intricate plans to claim domination of the post-apocalyptic world; he also has a taste for cheezy poofs.
- Pinky and the Brain were alluded to in The Incredible Hulk #438 as two white mice, kept by Omnibus. One of the realistically drawn mice had an enlarged cranium, and when their cage was destroyed the sound “narf” is indicated. Also when Jailbait asked what they would do during the night Hotshot replied “The same thing they do every night… whatever that is”.
- The Virgin New Adventures Doctor Who novel, Death and Diplomacy by Dave Stone includes two characters repeating the “Are you pondering…” lines, and near the end, two of the fallen villains in the story recover, one telling his comrade that they must prepare for tomorrow night when they will take over the universe.
- This is Not a Game, a novel by Walter Jon Williams begins “Plush dolls of Pinky and the Brain overhung Charlie’s Monitor…” and the theme of world domination is central to the plot.
- In the game Destroy All Humans, during the final boss battle against Silhouette when you read her mind one of the things she says is “What do I do? The same thing I do every night. Try and take over the world!”
- In the Robot Chicken episode “Kramer Vs. Showgirls”, a segment has Michael Moore interviewing cartoon characters from the 1990s including Pinky and the Brain. Pinky had an ear growing on his back and Brain was moved to another cage, as it turned out his large head was a result of Paget’s disease, and he had been rendered blind and had arthritis as a result of the disease. Alan Tudyk voiced Pinky and Seth Green voiced Brain.
- In another Robot Chicken episode, LaMarche reprises his role of Brain in “Eviscerated Post-Coital by a Six Foot Mantis” where Pinky and the Brain get sent on a psychedelic trip after being injected with phencyclidine.
- In the MAD episode “Spy vs. Spy Kids / The Superhero Millionaire Matchmaker,” Mickey Mouse captures Pinky and the Brain in a cage.
- The opening conversation between Pinky and Brain (“Gee Brain…”) that is shown in every episode is sampled in “Joey Bada$$“‘s “World Domination.”
- In The New Batman Adventures episode “Torch Song”, Batman asks Batgirl “So, what are you doing tonight?” to which Batgirl answers “Same thing we do every night Pinky!”.
- In 2014, at the end of Nostalgia Critic’s review of The Purge, Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche reprised their roles as Pinky and The Brain respectively, in animated form, at the very end of the episode. The segment involves Brain spewing profanity-laced insults toward Pinky, which then cuts to live-action footage of LaMarche and Paulsen recording their lines with The Critic behind them. LaMarche asks if this is for a kid’s show to which Critic says, “Just say it, people have been wanting to hear this for years.”
On Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain
Pinky and the Brain first appeared as a recurring segment on the animated series Animaniacs, another show produced by Steven Spielberg. On September 3, 1993, Pinky and the Brain premiered on television in the episode Win Big, which aired on the ABC network.
On September 9, 1995, Pinky and the Brain were spun off onto their own half-hour series on Kids’ WB!, with each episode consisting of one or more segments, including some of the segments from Animaniacs. The first season of the show was scheduled in a prime-time slot from September 10, 1995 through July 21, 1996 as part of the new WB network lineup, and as a result, tended to have more jokes and humor aimed to adults rather than children. Due to poor ratings following the first season, subsequent seasons were moved to Saturday mornings as part of the Kids’ WB! programming block.
Even though they had their own show, they still had several shorts in Animaniacs after they got the show, they still appeared in the shows intro, and often appeared in cameo appearances.
On Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain
Around 1997, the overall structure within the WB Network changed, including the placement of Jamie Kellner as head of the Kids WB programming. Along with this came pressure on the writers of the show to back off on the idea of world domination and to include more characters on the show. The episode “Pinky & the Brain … and Larry” was a response to this pressure, attempting to show the heads that the show was fine as it was and that Pinky and the Brain worked together as a comedy duo– each balancing each other out with their flaws and personalities- and a third character (or any extra characters at all) would be out of place and unnecessary to the plot. At this point, Peter Hastings, a key writer for the series, decided to quit the show out of anger and protest, with his last script being, “You’ll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town, Again!” directly addressing the issue of networks trying to retool shows that otherwise work already.
With increased pressure from the WB network, the series was retooled on September 19, 1998 into Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, in which Pinky and the Brain were owned by Tiny Toon Adventures character Elmyra Duff; the unusual change in format was even sarcastically noted in the altered title song, with lyrics such as “It’s what the network wants, why bother to complain?”. The show lasted for 13 episodes, 6 of which were shown whole and 7 of which were chopped into segments and aired as part of The Cat&Birdy Warneroonie PinkyBrainy Big Cartoonie Show.
The characters’ final appearance was in Wakko’s Wish.
After Pinky and the Brain were canceled from Kids’ WB!, Then the show aired on Cartoon Network from January 1998 to December 2007 because Time Warner acquired Turner Broadcasting, and later the show returns to Kids’ WB! from January 6, 2001 to May 17, 2008. While the episodes’ content aired unchanged, Nickelodeon altered the opening sequence, masking various items such as beakers with the orange Nickelodeon logo in the same shape and the Acme Labs sign changing into a Nickelodeon logo (this garnered a lot of negative criticism from fans). It continued to air on Nicktoons Network until 2005 when it was taken off the channel. It was later aired on Toon Disney‘s Jetix block from October 2007 until September 2008. On February 15, 2009, Pinky and the Brain was returned on weekend late nights at 3:00AM ET/2:00AM CT on Disney XD, but was taken off the channel on June 15, 2009. Pinky and the Brain was returned on weekend late nights at 3:00AM ET/2:00AM CT on Boomerang.
During 2006, Pinky and the Brain, among other Kids’ WB! shows, was broadcast on the AOL broadband channel, In2TV. As of 2007, Pinky and the Brain is no longer a featured series on the site.
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Pinky and the Brain, along with Animaniacs, aired coincident with the formation of The Warner Bros. Studio Store chain across the United States, and, as a result, numerous t-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, animation cels, and original artwork from the show were available through these outlets. Other merchandise included comic books, computer games, and video tapes. When Warner Brothers acquired the Hanna-Barbera animation properties in 1998, there was a significant decrease with such merchandise through the store. By the time the series was canceled, very little merchandise was available.
Two VHS collections of Pinky and the Brain episodes were released from 1996: A Pinky and the Brain Christmas and World Domination Tour, each with approximately 2 episodes and 4 episodes that including both Pinky and the Brain shorts from Animaniacs and their own show. These collections are now out of print.
Warner Home Video has released all 65 episodes on DVD in Region 1 in 3 volume sets.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Volume 1||22||July 25, 2006 (2006-07-25)||This four-disk box set includes the first 22 episodes from the series. Contains “Pinky and the Brain: Are You Pondering What I’m Pondering?” — Featurette with Tom Ruegger, Peter Hastings, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, Andrea Romano as they discuss why they had so much fun working on the show.|
|Volume 2||22||December 5, 2006 (2006-12-05)||This four-disk box set contains the next 21 episodes from the series. Contains “The Return of World Dominating Extras” – Featurette with Mark Hamill and Wayne Knight as they answer a casting call to do the voices of Pinky and The Brain and get coached by Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen.|
|Volume 3||22||June 19, 2007 (2007-06-19)||This four-disk box set contains the last 22 episodes of the series. Contains the featurette, “It’s All About the Fans” – Rob Paulsen (Voice of Pinky) and Maurice LaMarche (Voice of the Brain) pay tribute to their fans.|
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Pinky and the Brain were also regulars in the Animaniacs comic book published by DC Comics. From July 1996 through November 1998, they starred in their own comic book also published by DC Comics, which ran for 27 issues before cancellation. Following the cancellation of the Pinky and the Brain comic, the mice later starred in stories that took up half of the later Animaniacs issues, which, starting at issue #43, was retitled Animaniacs featuring Pinky and the Brain, and ran for another 16 issues before cancellation.
|This section does not cite any sources. (January 2009)|
There are a couple of computer games dedicated to Pinky and the Brain, called Pinky and the Brain: World Conquest for the PC, produced by SouthPeak Interactive and distributed by Warner Bros. The characters have also appeared in several of the Animaniacs games, such as Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt.
Pinky and the Brain also star in their own Game Boy Advance game, Pinky and the Brain: The Master Plan. The game was produced by Warthog, and distributed by SWING! Entertainment in 2002.
In the computer game Fallout 2 the character may encounter an albino mole-rat that calls himself “The Brain”. “The Brain” created a cult that attempts to restore the humanity of the ghoul characters (humans that were badly damaged by radiation), by a process referred to as “Renewal”. By doing so “The Brain” hopes to take over the world. The player can engage in dialogue with “The Brain”, with one of the dialogue possibilities being, “Big plans for an oversized rat”.
|This section does not cite any sources. (January 2009)|
While Pinky and the Brain does not feature as many songs as Animaniacs, some of the music from the show can be found across the three Animaniacs CDs. An expanded version of the episode “Bubba Bo Bob Brain” presented in a radio drama or audiobook fashion was released as a CD in 1997 by Rhino Entertainment.