4 January 2007 | BrotherReed
One of the best, smartest, and most underrated cartoon shows
When I discovered that Pinky and the Brain had spun off from Animaniacs and received their own show (the first step towards world domination, no doubt), I was thrilled. The show quickly became a favorite of mine. Now that I have it on DVD many years later, I realize just what a spectacular piece of work it really is.
Children can watch this show, sure. They'll think Pinky's ridiculous remarks, physical humor, and nonsensical catch phrases like "poit!" and "narf" are hilarious. Sometimes they are. Yet I am amazed that so much of the humor is for adults. There are multiple references in every episode to pop culture (I just watched an episode with a sly Pulp Fiction allusion), politics (the same episode included caricatures of Bill and Hilary Clinton), and general observations about the world that will definitely go over kids' heads. It just makes the show all that much funnier to me now. It's definitely an experience with multiple layers. Not to mention the people writing Brain's dialog have done some research. His vocabulary is years beyond what grade school children comprehend, let alone use. Sure, there's lots of fuzzy science just for the sake of making him sound smart, but many times there are legitimate uses of math, physics, chemistry, astronomy, anatomy, etc. Heck, there's even a song that tells you the parts of the human brain. The show's downright educational.
Don't let that scare you, though. It's also consistently zany. There's plenty of the comic falling and maiming that comes standard in most cartoons. Of course a good portion of the humor comes from the concept of Pinky's stupidity as a foil for Brain's genius, and Pinky's unwittingly stumbling on the best ideas. Yet, for me, the comedy in this show comes mostly from Brain. I love the way he vents his frustration with his dense but loyal accomplice, and the way he flatly tells people his mission knowing they will never believe him. "Actually I am lab mouse involved in an elaborate scheme to take over the world" is usually greeted with laughter from the unsuspecting buffoons that populate his universe.
Well animated and superbly voiced, Pinky and The Brain entertains with the fearless abandon of the classic toons and the sharp wit of a modern satire. I highly recommend this for kids, but even more so for older teens and young adults.