Tooncrap #43 - Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain

World Dumbination
Warner Brothers: 1998

Written by: Raymond Gallant

The 90's gave us a plethora of great cartoons. And while some of them haven't held up perfectly, the "Steven Spielberg Presents" cartoons are still hilarious to watch. Not just because they represent a great time capsule of 90's nostalgia, but the comedic writing is among some of the absolute best. Tiny Toon Adventures started the trend, but when Animaniacs came around, it was turned into an art form. The show gave us iconic characters like the Warner Brothers (and the Warner Sister), Slappy Squirrel, Rita and Runt, the Goodfeathers, and more. But the duo that really proved to be a massive hit of the show were two lab mice with aspirations to take over the world.

The comedic misadventures of the Orson Welles inspired super genius mouse Brain, and his lovable Narfing dimwit sidekick Pinky proved to be such a hit for Animaniacs that the shorts were spun off into its own series. It proved to be a successful move as the show would prove just as popular as Animaniacs, as well as award winning, as the show would win several Emmy Awards. With its popularity among fans and critics alike, it seemed impossible to screw this up.

Then along came this dickhead.

In 1997, massive changes in the programming of the WB were underway thanks to the placement of a new head of production in one Jamie Kellner. He wasn't quite a fan of the way shows like Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain were going, and actually was responsible for the cancellation of Animanics, Superman: The Animated Series, Freakazoid!, and so many others. Kellner would also have a hand in the death of World Championship Wrestling as well.

So to say this guy was a bit of a douche is an understatement.

Even though Animaniacs was cancelled, Pinky and the Brain lived on for another season. And despite the network execs undermining the writers and screwing with the show beforehand, they felt like finally dropping the turd in the gumbo. You see, just having a cartoon about two mice wanting to take over the world wasn't enough, this show needed to be more of a sitcom. Pinky and the Brain clearly weren't enough to keep this show afloat. They needed a third in this story. And clearly the only logical choice out of the plethora of established characters in the Tooniverse to go with was...

Elmyra Duff.

Because what the show needed more of was the annoying girl from Tiny Toons that abused animals with her hugging and squeezing and loving. Sadly, I wish I was joking about all this, but yep. And thus we get the fifth season of Pinky and the Brain in fall of 1998, titled "Pinky, Elmyra, and the Brain." So how bad was this abusive third wheel? Let's look at an episode as we review this thing.

Let's start with the opening, which beyond telling us the backstory that led to this union, but also gives a collective middle finger to the WB in general. Acme Labs ends up destroyed, so Pinky and the Brain end up alone and lost, while being chased by some shadowy figure. They end up hiding in a pet store, where they end up being bought by Elmyra, who thought she was just getting a discount turtle. So Pinky and the Brain share a new domain...

It's what the network wants. Why bother to compain? (when your own theme song disses you, you dun goofed, son)

So while Earth remains the goal of Pinky and the Brain, now they have to endure the loving animal abuse of Elmyra Duff. Fun ahoy.

Let's review the first episode "Patty Ann". It starts with Elmyra annoying some kid named Rudy (the show adds more characters, but since none of them really have anything interesting about them, you won't really remember they exist). He wants to feel Elmyra's talking mice to his pet snake, and she just hugs him, bothering him. So, if you thought the writers were going to make Elmyra a bit of a smarter character, or far less annoying, yeah, keep wishing. We then cut to the Brain saying "I hate this" (keep the meta writing coming), as both he and Pinky...

Are put in a toilet by Elmyra, as she's reenacting Titanic, and flushes the toilet with them inside. So yeah, I'm not even a minute into this ten minute episode, and I've pretty much reached the whole point of the series. Pinky and the Brain abused by a moron for an entire episode. Hell, I could end this review right now, but unfortunately I must torture myself for the enjoyment of others. I hope you appreciate it you shmucks.

With the duo flushed away, Elmyra has time to focus on the more important things in life like... pretty shower curtains... Oh god.

Brain tells Pinky that he is coming up with a plan to take over the world involving the sewer. But before Brain can execute it, the duo are then bathed violently by Elmyra. In fact, almost any attempt in Brain starting his plan for world domination is interrupted by the annoyance of Elmyra. Pinky, however, seems to be fine with "playing" with Elmyra. Poor lad, he's taken too many lumps to the noggin. Brain tells Elmyra he wants her to leave him alone to plan, he's met with more abuse. It's funny because I DON'T FRIGGING KNOW!

So later that night Pinky and the Brain manage to get Elmyra off their backs by, get this, shining a light on the wall, and telling her to walk into it. And the moron does it. This used to be an Emmy winning cartoon. EMMY WINNING!

Brain's world domination plan involves the construction site, as he plans to lure the media with a phony well rescue. And instead of dumping Elmyra into the sewer (why not just ditch her in the sewer and come up with a better plan? I know Brain isn't that evil, but no one would blame you!), he has a better idea. he creates a mechanized body of a little girl named Patty Ann, as he will haved rescued from a sewer.

This however begins to hit a snag as that Rudy kid somehow falls in love with the mouse in the really awful little girl suit. Despite his plans to either feed the mice to his snake, or make money off them, or some crap, he doesn't notice the mouse head on this body, and runs off with Brain, much to the jealousy of Elmyra. Because, screw the direction this was looking to go for a second.

Then we get a random song, because you know, that whole plot with the sewer, why bother? And even for a show from a series that could produce great songs, the lyrics are uninspired as all hell. But then again, so is most of this episode. When he finally manages to get rid of Rudy, the whole sewer thing can go underway, as Brain plans to call the media. But instead of that, we have Elmyra beat them up for "stealing her man". And the episode ends with "Patty Ann" all tied up, and the two mice abused yet again.

I could really do another episode, but it's really all the same formula. Elmyra abuse, Elmyra abuse, possible world dominaiton idea, more abuse, a glimmer of hope that we could get to a world domination plan, and in the end Elmyra screws it all up for them,ending in, you guessed it, more abuse.

And that's Pinky, Elmyra,and the Brain, AKA, how network meddling can cripple great television. For every funny line that Pinky and the Brain may say in the show, we still have to endure constant animal abuse humor, and the "hilarious" antics of a window licker by the name of Elmyra. It just doesn't work, and meddles with what was at one point one of the greatest cartoons of the 90's. And my general consensus speaks for pretty much everyone else, as the show was hated by critics and fans alike, only lasting on the WB for even of the thirteen episodes.

Then again, I guess it could have been worse. They could made a series teaming her up with the Warners. Yeah, try to get that nightmare out of your head now :)