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Warner Home Video presents

Pinky and The Brain: Vol. 1 (1995-1998)

"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."- theme song lyrics

Stars: Maurice LeMarche, Rob Paulsen
Other Stars: Tress MacNeille, Frank Welker, Roddy McDowall
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 07h:51m:00s
Release Date: 2006-07-25
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-BA- B


DVD Review

They began animated life as supporting characters on the Animaniacs series in 1993, but when Pinky and The Brain hit the spin-off world with their own series in 1995 I finally knew it wasn't just me—a guy well past his cartoon watching expiration date—that dug the neverending plethora of attempts to take over the world, in every single episode, by a mismatched duo of gene-spliced lab mice based out of Acme Labs. As the theme song says, "one is a genius, the other insane", which is essentially a time honored comedic recipe for catastrophic disaster time after time.

For this four-disc set of twenty-two random episodes from the show's 1995-1998 run there aren't any deep hidden meanings or things to learn (though the pair does occasionally cross paths with famous historical figures), just endless opportunities for the oversized cranium of Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche doing his best Orson Welles) to put together a brilliantly crazy scheme for world domination, only to be accidentally foiled in part by the hollow-headed ineptitude of his ditzy sidekick Pinky (voiced by Rob Paulsen). Brain's plans are often Rube Goldberg-ian in their convoluted weirdness, and no matter how well thought out in advance—at least as well as a lab mouse can—the show operated under the reassuring premise that it would always fail spectacularly.

As the voice of Pinky, Rob Paulsen took home a Daytime Emmy in 1998, and his spastically idiotic character takes simple pleasure asking dumb questions, randomly uttering "narf!" for no reason, and unknowingly causing great pain and strife in his smarter partner. Yet it's Maurice LaMarche who brings the vibe that draws in the older viewers, channeling the specter of Orson Welles, which for an animated series automatically brings this to its own weird level of unique strangeness. LaMarche more than nails the voice and/or the presence, and his slow burn asides to his dimwitted partner are often slathered in cleverly written jabs that the Welles-inspired characterization turn into tiny chunks of quotable goodness.

For as much as I enjoy Pinky and The Brain, I really have to question why this collection is a "best of", and not a true season set. It seems a bit backward to cobble together a four-disc set when it would seem the DVD faithful thrive on full, complete seasons. The packaging, however, is sharp looking, and it does compliment the look and feel of the Animaniacs set nicely.

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

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

Image Transfer Review: All episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio. The presentation is virtually identical to the Animaniacs set, and the transfers show a fair amount of dirt at times, especially during the opening title sequence. The same happens with the depth and richness of the colors, which occasionally appear bright in one ep and then slightly muted the next, with detail and edge clarity a bit soft throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio mix is big and loud, ratcheted through a surprisingly beefy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. The rich quality of the score comes through in all its frenetically orchestral glory, and voice quality is sharp and clear at all times; rear channel usage is frequent enough to really give this presentation the kind of larger-than-life soundstage that help sell all the gags. A somewhat less robust 2.0 surround mix is also provided.

A Portuguese 1.0 dub is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 4 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring A Superhero Like No Other - Superman, Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour, Flintstones Season 5, Justice League Season 2, Superman Vol. 3, Justice League/Batman Beyond Season 1, Thundercats: Season 1, Vol 2, Animaniacs: Vol. 1
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Cardboard Tri-Fold
Picture Disc
4 Discs
4-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Another example of attractive packaging from Warner Brothers, and anal-retentive completists (such as myself) will be pleased that it matches the Animaniacs: Vol. I set, as well. There's a thick cardboard slipcase with a raised edges for the character illustrations, and a tri-fold case holds the four discs.

As with the Animaniacs set, there's unfortunately really one extra here, this time found on disc two. It is enjoyable, however. Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering? (25m:39s), presented in anamorphic widescreen, is a nicely constructed look at the show, featuring input from writer, producers, voice directors and of course, Maurice (The Brain) LaMarche and Rob (Pinky) Paulsen. There's discussion of the show's development, the catchphrases, the theme song and how the team came together.

The only other extras are a handful of animated trailers that appears on disc four. Each 22-minute episode is cut into 4 chapters, with optional subtitles in French, Spanish or Portuguese.

Extras Grade: B

Final Comments

The chaotic diversity of the Animaniacs was shackled by some less than stellar secondary characters, and with this spin-off series of one its best creations, there's something wonderful about the futile consistency of the attempts at global domination that exists in the Pinky and The Brain universe.

Sure, purists (hey, is that me?) would deep down no doubt have rather had full season sets rather than a cherry-picked best of, but this is still a cleverly wild ride. And then there's Roddy McDowall showing up to voice Brain's arch enemy, the lab guinea pig Snowball. Nice.


Rich Rosell 2006-07-24