"What do you want to do tonight, Brain?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!"
And so each episode began with those fateful words. The pair of the title are two genetically enhanced lab mice with outlandish plots to take over the world, working from a formula that lasted the series through 65 episodes, in addition to their original incarnation on Animaniacs. The duo began their life as members of the Animaniacs ensemble cast; this is where we were first introduced to the pair's comedic antics in pursuit of their single-minded goal.
This four-disk set delivers the last 22 episodes of the Steven Spielberg-produced series, and I think they probably could have gone on longer. The series adhered pretty strictly to the formula established in their Animaniacs days. Each night Brain would lay out his scheme for taking over the world, while executing the plan Pinky would find some way to inadvertently screw it up, the plan would fail, and they would return to the lab to plan for the next night. Sure, every so often they give us a little treat, like "The Tailor and the Mice" or "Hickory Dickory Bonk," but these episodes are the exception rather than the rule.
Even though this was the last season for the dynamic twosome, there was no degradation in quality. Each episode offered up laughs in both slapstick and verbal styles, the trademarks of the show. The Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) with his Orson Welles by way of Vincent Price straight man delivery, dealing with the zany schtick of Pinky (voiced by Rob Paulsen) and his incessant punctuation words "Narf!" and "Poit!" come across as a classic comedy duo, the likes of which we do not see any more.
Watching the episodes one after the other, it is easy to fall into the lyrical manner in which they play out; I never get bored or tired of seeing them. Yes, they follow a formula, but that is not a criticism because it is a formula that works so well. Any deviation and we would have been crying bloody murder; it would not have been within the confines of the characters. The writing works so well, they are able to work the gags around the ever-present conceptual framework. Something that is very special about the writing is the mixture of humor for kids and adults. Unlike much of what passes for after-school cartoons, Pinky and The Brain does not have an age limit. It does not matter how old you are, or from what walk of life you are, there are plenty of jokes for everyone. The animation is crisp, and it is an all-around fun show.