Standing, l-r: Brain, Pinky. Seated: World.

PINKY AND THE BRAIN

Original medium: TV animation
Produced by: Amblin Entertainment & Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1993
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As the theme song goes, "Pinky and the Brain … Pinky and the Brain … One is …

continued below

… a genius; the other's insane …" It's certainly true that one of them was insane — but Pinky, a genius? No way!

The Brain's particular form of insanity (not that he wasn't a genius as well) was that he was constantly trying to take over the world. This would qualify even a human being as a raving lunatic (unless he was a very successful politician), but in his case, it was exacerbated by the fact that he didn't even have the world-conquering potential of the average human. The Brain and his sideways-thinking sidekick, Pinky, were among the creatures least able to control even their own destinies, much less those of billions — experimental mice working at Acme Labs. Each night they would escape from their cages, each night they would carry out some lunatic scheme to seize control of everything, each night they would fail so miserably the world didn't even know it had been on the verge of conquest, and each night they would retire once more to their cages and begin hatching a new scheme for tomorrow night.

The "Pinky & the Brain" series was one of many rotating segments of Animaniacs, a half-hour animated TV show Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment co-produced with Warner Bros. The main stars of the show, The Warner Brothers (and Sister), occupied the entire first episode. Our mousey super-villains were first seen in the second, which aired Tuesday, September 14, 1993, on Fox TV.

Pinky & the Brain continued their nefarious activities in irregular but frequent Animaniacs segments, alternating with Rita & Runt, Buttons & Mindy, Katie Ka-Boom and other series, and quickly established themselves as the most popular of the show's stars with the possible exception of the Warners themselves.

They were also the only Animaniacs stars to be spun off into a show of their own. Starting September 9, 1995, they had a half-hour all to themselves on the WB Network. As in their original venue, Pinky's voice was done by Rob Paulsen (Mighty Max, Gusto Gummi) and The Brain's by Maurice LaMarche (Hugh Tasmanian Devil, Mr. Wilson in 1980s animated Dennis the Menace). It ran five days a week in the first season and six in the second — in addition to the weekday show, it was aired Saturday nights, in prime time. 105 episodes were made in all, plus a special, A Pinky & the Brain Christmas, which aired December 17, 1995.

They also had a comic book, which DC Comics published from July 1996 to November 1998, a total of 27 issues. Plus the usual merchandised products that accrue to a popular cartoon of the 1990s.

On September 19, 1998, they got a makeover. Acme Labs closed, and they became pets of Elmyra Duff, the Tiny Toon Adventures analog of Elmer Fudd, who hunted animals so she could love them to death. As before, Elmyra's voice was done by Cree Summer (Penny in Inspector Gadget, Susie in Rugrats). The show was retitled Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain. For 19 episodes, they had to endure Elmyra's smothering affection in addition to the usual indignities that accompanied repeated defeat. Mercifully, this horrifying situation lasted only one season.

By the time that shameful episode of their lives ended, the original Animaniacs show had gone into reruns. And that's where you'll find Pinky & the Brain today. They're not being rerun continuously, like the old Looney Tunes, but are seen often enough to where they're never out of the public eye for very long.

— DDM

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Text ©2003-04 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Warner Bros. and Amblin