Home > That '90s Show > That ’90s Show: Pinky And The Brain

That ’90s Show: Pinky And The Brain

Welcome  to THAT ’90s SHOW, a retrospective look at some of the shows you grew up watching (or at least saw) during the  greatest era of our time, the ’90s.  Here’s a reason why:

Tonight’s first entry is none other than the megalomaniacs themselves Pinky and The Brain.

Chances are some of you are singing the theme song already.

Pinky and The Brain

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

LYRICS

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 dinky
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain.

Before each night is done
Their plan will be unfurled
By the dawning of the sun
They’ll take over the world.

They’re Pinky and The Brain
Yes, Pinky and The Brain
Their twilight campaign
Is easy to explain.
To prove their mousey worth

They’ll overthrow the Earth
They’re dinky
They’re Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain
Narf!

For those who don’t know what the hell I’m typing about, Pinky and The Brain is a “fun, fun, silly-willy” animated series produced by Warner Bros and Steven Spielberg’s (Ye-e-ess!!!! THAT Steven Spielberg!) Amblin Entertainment. A spin-off from Animaniacs (another WB/Spielberg animated series and possibly a future That 90s’ Show article), Pinky and The Brain are two mutated lab mice who pretty much do the same thing they do every night…TRY AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

The Brain

The Brain

The Brain (voiced by future Futurama actor Maurice LaMarche in his  fitting Orsen Welles impersonation) is your would-be world leader whose ego is big as Napoleon (Both figuratively and literally). With his staircase-shaped tail and his unmistakably large head (hence the name), Brain constantly make plans for world domination ranging from the scientifically complex (Constructing a portable black hole) to the outrageously absurd (Making a parallel earth made out of paper mache-God Bless The Writers!). The most interesting trait about The Brain is although he is a scheming genius, he is not evil nor sinister.  Similar to your  local parking inspector (or a politician you wouldn’t vote for), Brain believes he will make Earth a better place even if he doesn’t mind ruffling society’s feathers a bit. In a way, Brain is a lot like Wile E. Coyote: Two human-like furballs chasing after an impossible dream (World Domination/A Road Runner breakfast).

However, just like Coyote, Brain has at least one proverbial anvil to the head….

Pinky

Pinky

Enter Pinky (voiced by Rob Paulsen who paid homage to Monty Python with his unique cockney accent) is the opposite of Brain: A complete idiot.  He’s the goofball sidekick, but he’s no Igor to Brain’s Dr. Frankenstein. In fact majorty of Brain’s plans were accidentally screwed-up by  Pinky. Throughout the series, Pinky was never really interested in world domination. He simply wants to have fun and looks at the bright side of life. Instead of hypnotising the human race by manufacturing frozen fishsticks, Pinky is a one mouse, pop culture referencing machine (“Oooh, I think so Brain, but I think I’d rather eat the Macarena”).Yep. Pinky and The Brain are your ultimate odd couple. Despite his happy-go-lucky nature, Pinky sometimes be the voice of reason for Brain and serves as a conscience figure. BUT FORGET THAT.  We love hearing him say “Poit”, “Egad” and “NARF!”

sigmund freud

"Sigmund Freud...analyse this!"

This may sound cliche, but when I was a kid, I would go straight home from school and immediately turn the TV on 4.30 PM to see Pinky and The Brain. During mid-nineties Australia, Pinky and The Brain was part of the Channel 9 What’s Up Doc line-up hosted by supermodel Kate Fischer (YOU READ RIGHT! A sexy supermodel, who in retrospect was attractive enough to turn boys into men, hosted a flippin’ kids show).  Anyway, the program block also included classic Looney Tunes shorts, Batman: The Animated Series and other WB/Spielberg cartoons (Animaniacs, Freakazoid and Histeria!).  I also recall getting the Pinky and The Brain toy from a McDonald’s happy meal when I was only 4 years old. Should have kept it though. It would have made a great collectible.

I grew up watching Pinky and The Brain and I LOVE THE SHOW EVEN MORE NOW after the series made its unexpected return on digital channel GO! early this year (It took 10 years for Pinky and The Brain to return to Australian free-to-air television). I never realised until now that Pinky and The Brain is adult satire disguised as a kids show. Throughout the four seasons, there were lot of jokes on then  US president Bill Clinton (during his pre-Monica Lewinsky days), rap star has-been Vanilla Ice,  comedian Pauly Shore (who was a big target in the three-part episode epic Brainwashed) and the always deadpan Christopher Walken. In fact, Clinton and Walken were the only recurring human characters (mind you they were voiced by impersonators Frank Welker of Scooby-Doo fame and Johnny Bravo’s Jeff Bennet respectively)  during the show’s run.

(From left to right) Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger

Another big shock was in the episode “Of Mouse and Man” where Brain, disguised as a human employee, sues a re-re-reinsurance company for a million dollars. I am not kidding, there were a  LOT of adult-oriented jokes in that episode ranging from a cross-dressing radiologist (who accepted a pink dress as a bribe to rig Brain’s chances in wining the million dollar lawsuit) to Pinky kissing himself in a mirror while wearing lipstick. Even Brain’s boss (voiced by Jeffery Tambour of Arrested Development fame) said “Sexual harassment” once when discussing company policies. Anyone who doesn’t believe this episode exists, I’ll be happy to post it on YouTube.  However I love this episode and its probably my favourite one. It proves cartoons in the ’90s, besides The Simpsons, are made for adults and kids. Unlike Ren & Stimpy, another iconic ’90s cartoon, Pinky and The Brain had sophistical humour for both age groups rather than relying too much on body function or gross-out jokes. Those jokes worked well for Ren and Stimpy, but Pinky and The Brain are their own thing.

It was also fun hearing the late, great Roddy McDowall (original Planet of The Apes and one of the best celebrity actors to appear in an animated series) as Brain’s rival Snowball.  I’m old enough to  realise Snowball happens to be a shot at Microsoft owner and the world’s richest nerd, Bill Gates in episodes “Snowball” and “Brainwashed.”  After all, he buys out competition and has a company named “Microsponge.” The celebrity parodies never end folks! Snowball. Now that’s a great name for pure evil.

Snowball

Snowball (Right): "Then I will frustrate users with Microsoft Office 2007 "

Finally, let us not forget the iconic catchphases.

Brain: “We must prepare for tomorrow night.”
Pinky: “Why? What are we going to do tomorrow night?”
Brain: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!”
OR OF COURSE…
Brain: “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”
Pinky: “I think so Brain but (Insert gag)”

If a show has a memorable theme song, fun-to-say catchphases and a creative plot that follows the Warner Bros tradition of cartoon anti-heroes failing their ambitious goals with hilarious results (i.e. Sylvester, Elmer Fudd and Yosamite Sam), its bound to have a place in pop culture history. Pinky and The Brain are truly ’90s icons.

I would love to see Pinky and The Brain in new adventures (or I should say “plans”) but I hope Hollywood does it right if they adapt this into a movie.

Russell Brand as Pinky and Seth Rogen as The Brain. Now that’s not worth pondering about.

-Anthony.

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  1. August 25, 2010 at 5:23 am

    Nice piece, nice appreciation, and so glad you enjoyed it.

    • August 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

      Thanks for reading, Mr. Ruegger and thank you for bringing Pinky and The Brain, Animaniacs and other WB shows to life.

      Should have added this to the blog, but I remember hearing my co-workers sing the Pinky and The Brain tune at work last year. Oddly enough, they were 40-something years old!

      Again, thanks for dropping by.

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