There are many fans of Tiny Toons,
Animaniacs and the like, but there aren't many people who
remember "Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain" very fondly, or
even remember it at all. To refresh your memory, this isn't the
famous "Pinky and the Brain" show itself, this is the
followup "retooled" series, like
"AfterM*A*S*H" and "Joey," and had an even shorter lifespan than those two.
Five episodes of PE&B aired, then the show was pulled off and the remaining cartoons were chopped up and served one by one on the backup placeholder, "Big Cartoonie Show." PE&B hasn't been seen anywhere since then, and to archive it you had to deliberately set out to do so on the first day. I did exactly that, and apparently no one else did, so it's time for the Internet's most comprehensive information page on Kids WB's last and most infamous pre-anime entry. It's Pinky, ELMYRA and The Brain!
The story goes back to 1997. The WB Network had some new executives, who didn't like Pinky and the Brain. Oh, they liked the characters, and Pinky's stupidity, but they weren't fond of a show where the main character's desire was to rule the world. And despite the high ratings of the P&B series(for the WB in 1997, anyway), these complaints started making their way to the producers. One thing was made clear to them: "We'd like the attention to be shifted away from world domination, and we'd like a bigger cast of characters to help with that task. Maybe you could introduce a third mouse or something."
It's upon reading this that you realize what the short "Pinky and The Brain and Larry" was REALLY about. The random addition of an unnecessary third character was viciously lampooned in this cartoon, and it ended with lines like the following:
"Something was off tonight. Something in
the yin, and the yang--"
"No, there's just a Yin and a Yang! There shouldn't BE a Larry!!"
"Which one am I, Brain?"
"I don't know...but he is definately the LARRY."
Elmyra was definately the Larry. WB development executive Christopher Keenan suggested adding Elmyra to the show, so she could own Pinky and the Brain and abuse them. The other execs loved the idea and it was a go....the P&B staff, however, wasn't thrilled. Some had already left--like Peter Hastings, who had fled to Disney and created One Saturday Morning. OSM beat the snot out of Kids WB the following year, and they had to compete with him by using the very idea they reviled.
The final Hastings script was what you know as
"You'll Never Eat Food Pellets In This Town Again," a
storyline where dumb decisions by network executives drive down
the popularity of the two mice, forcing them to find work
elsewhere. At the time Hastings left, it was up in the air
whether the script would be cartoonified or not. It might have
been put into production as a tribute to him, but it's more
likely it was made because of the extreme order of 39 episodes
for the third season. They needed all the good scripts they could
Not that the hatred for the retooling idea wasn't shared by people other than Hastings. The fact that two scripts got on the air deriding the network proves that, and there was even a few lines of protest inserted into the PE&B theme song.
Now Pinky and The Brain
Share a new domain,
It's what the network wants,
Why bother to complain?
The Earth remains their goal,
Some things they can't control!
Indeed, the show was still about taking over the world when its final version appeared in the fall of 1998. But Elmyra was quite a distraction, and her room was quite a bit sunnier than the dark tones of Acme Labs (though the mice certainly took a lot more abuse now).
Once again Elmyra's world was revamped, just like in "Elmyra's Family." All hopes of seeing other Tiny Toons characters return were dashed--aside from an "Acme Acres Zoo" poster in her room, no other "furry aminals" appeared. Furrball and Byron Basset were gone from her house, replaced by a cat and one turtle she called "Mr. Shellbutt." She no longer went to Acme Looniversity, but to "Chuck Norris Grammar School." Her neighbor was the thickheaded Rudy Mookich, who acted and sounded like Nelson Muntz, only missing the "ha-ha." Nancy Cartwright did both Nelson AND Rudy.
Other characters included Vanity
White, Elmyra's "best friend" who was really only
interested in herself, as that name would subtly suggest. Elmyra
also had a crush on Rudy, but Rudy wanted nothing to do with
her--Rudy wanted Patty Ann!
Patty Ann was Brain in his robot suit, only this time it had been disguised as a small girl. "Excuse me, I have various girly matters to attend to," would be a typical Patty Ann remark. Brain didn't even change his voice for Patty Ann, but the robot suit had fooled everyone before.
The famed "Are you pondering
what I'm pondering" line was replaced with a fresher bit.
After Brain had explained his latest plan, he would turn to Pinky
and say, "Any questions?" Pinky would, of course,
unload a bizarre question that had nothing to do with it. After
the plan failed, Brain would stand there, sulk, and answer the
question Pinky had asked earlier.
The worst new idea this series brought to fruition was the notion that there should be one song per cartoon. That's right, Pinky, Brain or Elmyra--or all three at once--would get up and start singing during one point in each episode, and WOW did it sound awful.
The biggest question you might ask was why the two mice were living with Elmyra in the first place. The opening title told that story: the lab was demolished, and they had to search for another one. Unfortunately, they discovered someone was after them: Wally Faust of "The Circle," a secret underground conspiracy ring that wanted Brain. "Two mice....have come closer to taking over the world than WE have! They must be...crisply done away with!" Wally uttered in his first appearance. Speaking of his appearance, it was the vicious caricature of Christopher Walken that the WB cartoon department had been using since 1995. Wouldn't you flee if WALKEN was after you? Being hunted mice, they needed a place to hide--and Elmyra's place seemed innocent enough. Until they met Elmyra, and now they couldn't get out.
Only five whole episodes were shown before the rest were stuffed into the aforementioned clip show and burned off one cartoon at a time. So this said, you'll understand why I can't give you a complete list of the joke credits the show had. P&TB's joke credit was always a definition of a very long and obscure--but real--word. PE&B's joke credit was similar, only now Elmyra was defining the words. I can only give you three--a real pity, since these were often the funniest parts of the show.
A REALLY SMELLY TREE!
HOW MOUSIES LOOK WHEN THEY'RE ALL LIT UP!
NAUGHTY POTTY WORD!
However, these don't come close to THE most hilarious moment in the series....Ben Stein's part. There was one cartoon where Ben Stein did the voice of a character and I swear, this is the funniest thing I've ever seen out of him. Forget that game show, forget the "Bueller....." thing, THIS is the role Stein should be remembered for. See below for more.
|TITLE SEQUENCE! (1.8 mb)
You're actually getting the extended version, which was one minute and thirty seconds in length and shown with the first episode. It only appeared twice on Kids WB....the normal-length sequence cut the "Pressure Magnified" verse and Elmyra's solo.
ROCKIN' JOHNNY HOT! (959 kb)
You'll agree with me--Rockin' Johnny Hot is the greatest role Ben Stein will ever play in his entire career. He even screams at the end. You haven't lived until you've heard Ben Stein try to scream.
Despite all the flak this version of the show got, and continues to get, Pinky, Elmyra and The Brain won the Emmy for Best Animated Series that year. This was the final show made by the traditional team, before the age of easy Japanese translations and computer graphics. WB had just bought the rights to Pokemon, and it wouldn't be long now...so I see this short-lived show as coming full-circle by using a character from their first series in their last. C'mon, it's poetic when you think about it.
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FOR THOSE WHO JUST HAVE TO KNOW AS MUCH AS THEY CAN ABOUT "PINKY, ELMYRA AND THE BRAIN," YOU CAN READ ON FOR A SEMI-COMPREHENSIVE EPISODE GUIDE! WIFF PIKCHERS!