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Warner Home Video presents
Pinky and The Brain: Vol. 2 (1997)

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what are we going to do tonight?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!

- (Rob Paulsen, Maurice LeMarche)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 08, 2006

Stars: Maurice LeMarche, Rob Paulsen
Other Stars: Tress MacNeille, Frank Welker, Cree Summer, Billy West, Roger Rose, Kevin Michael Richardson, Peter Jason, Jan Rabson, Townsend Coleman, Roddy McDowall, Jeff Bennett, John Mariano, Jeff Meskimem, Sam McMurray, Earl Boen, Paul Rugg, Jess Harnell, Dani Douthette, Gail Matthius, Michael McKean, Peter Scolari, John Astin, Dorian Harewood, Mark Hamill, Lauren Tom, Laraine Newman, Pamela Hayden, Scott Valentine, LeVar Burton, Garry Marshall, John Tesh, Darren E. Burrows
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 07h:58m:00s
Release Date: December 05, 2006
UPC: 012569824638
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-B-A- B+

DVD Review

This four-disc collection gathers up 22 random episodes from the animated show's season two and three run from 1997, and while I would have preferred straight season sets, I have to applaud Warner Brother's frequency in issuing these with what looks to be some regularity. Volume Two matches the look and feel of Volume One—all very substantial—so on the uniformity/packaging scale fans should be pleased.

And of course, the take-over-the-world antics of genetically-altered lab mice Pinky (voiced by "narfy" Rob Paulsen) and Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche, doing his best Orson Welles) is what the funny is all about, made all the more buoyant because of the well-heeled repartee and insults that get lobbed about. The content seems to clearly play toward older viewers, and that's why Pinky And The Brain probably has more grownup appeal than the slightly less cerebral/more cartoony Animaniacs (the show where they had their debut in 1993). Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of the Animaniacs, but a show like Pinky And The Brain taps more directly into the ol' noggin.

There are still the gamut of wildly diverse pop culture references here— from Chinatown to Shields and Yarnell—spread across the recurring attempts of Brain to concoct yet another high-tech plan for world domination. None of the plans ever really work out all that well, but that's naturally the fun part. Brain's high-brow exasperation and Pinky's klutzy exuberance is where the chemistry between LaMarche and Paulsen's outstanding voice work comes into play to make this so continually entertaining, as well as being the kind of "cartoon" an adult wouldn't be ashamed to admit liking, even if there wasn't a kid in sight.

Highlights for this block of episodes include a brief return visit from Brain's furry nemesis Snowball (voiced by Roddy McDowall), which in case you were just weren't really paying attention I said voiced by Roddy McDowall. If anyone can give life to a vengeful but intelligent lab hamster then tell me who, especially when he's playing against someone who sounds like Orson Welles. Or wander over to the ep Pinky And The Brain...And Larry, in which a new character (voiced by Billy West in full Larry Fine mode) gets hastily added into the show's theme song, giving a temporary Three Stooges dynamic to things. It's a blatant knock at shows that suddenly introduce a new character like they've been there forever, as Larry's name gets tacked on to the end of practically every sentence ("...and Larry"), with some terrific eye-rolling frustration from Brain.

Some of the references date the show a little—like an animated John Tesh popping up in a Halloween ep—though those just reinforce the whole "made for adults" feel the writing conveys; I don't think kids of any era were ever clued in to Tesh (who ironically at one time was so unhip he was hip in a weird way). Ditto for the vague innuendos that came as a result of Brain's trademark "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" which 99.9% of the time led to an out-of-left-field Pinky response like "I think so, Brain, but if we get Sam Spade, we'll never have any puppies" or "I think so, Larry, and uh, Brain, but how can we get seven dwarves to shave their legs?"

With roots that tie them to the wackiness of the Animaniacs franchise, wading through the episodes on Volume Two can see how the characters Pinky and The Brain continued to pull away from the clever and zany flash of Yakko, Wakko and Dot into something—dare I say—much more intelligent. Yes, it's still about two talking mice trying to take over the world, but the writers have amped up the smartypants references and innuendo to enjoyable levels. The charm of Pinky And The Brain is that it's kind of like a variation on the Irish Spring soap marketing campaign. It's safe enough for kids, but it's made for grownups.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: All 22 episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. Unfortunately, the prints carry a fair amount of dirt, though colors generally look bold and pleasant. The quality level seems to vary across the set, with the range of colors appearing brighter in one ep and then somewhat muted the next.

Not awful, just a bit disappointing.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio continues the high sound quality found on the previous Pinky and The Brain and Animaniacs sets, with the Carl Stalling-esque score enjoying the range of the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Nice movement and plenty of surround activity, all of which gives the antics a large, cinematic feel. A 2.0 English mix is also included.

Gone is the Portuguese dub found on volume one

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2007), Unaccompanied Minors, Animaniacs: Vol. 2, Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Vol. 4, Thundercats Season 2: Vol. 2, Justice League Unlimited: Vol. 2
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Scanavo 4-pack gatefold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
4-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The only bit of supplemental material shows up on disc four, and it's clearly for the adult fan base. Entitled The Audition (29m:47s), it begins with a funny bit with Wayne Knight and Mark Hamill auditioning for the Pinky and The Brain parts for a proposed feature film. Casting director Andrea Romano, along with voice talent Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche soon enter the mix, and they all spend the rest of the time discussing things like the nuances of voice work and working in animation, amidst clips from the series.

Each episode is one chapter, so do the math and that makes 22 stops across four discs. Subtitles are available in French or Spanish

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

One's a genius. The other's insane.

The clever patter is certainly meant for older viewers, and silliness factor is given some weird legitimacy from the spot-on voice work of Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen. Sure, I'd prefer true season sets, but I like the way Warner has packaged these "best of" volumes.

Recommended.

 


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