Two lab mice, one world to conquer. When the ACME Labs shut down each night, Pinky and the Brain set out for world domination, armed only with Brain’s genetically enhanced, um, brain, and Pinky’s good-natured insanity.
We have here 22 episodes of this high quality animated series, picking up near the end of season two – where the vol. 1 release left off – and continuing in broadcast order to about the mid-point of season three.
Back to the nefarious schemes to achieve ultimate dominion over all the Earth: each episode features a new plan, masterminded by the Brain. The stories are usually parodies of films or other pop culture references, and in the end the mice always fail in their mission and end up back in their cage, ready to start it all over again the next night. Individual episodes are fun to watch, and much of the humour is insightful and likely well over the head of most children, which makes it suitable for all ages. However, watch several episodes in succession and you’ll begin to realize that despite there being a new plot each time, the episodes get very repetitive. The easy is solution is to keep viewing casual, watching no more than one or two episodes at a time. After all, this sort of animated series was never intended for marathon viewing.
The main characters make the show. The Brain, voiced by award-winning voice actor Maurice LaMarche (Animaniacs), and Pinky, voiced by award-winning actor Rob Paulsen (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), are an interesting duo. The show’s opening credits include the line, “one is a genius, the other’s insane,” the meaning of which seems at first to be obvious; The Brain is the mastermind, and Pinky, with his proclivity for meaningless utterances like “narf!”, is just plain crazy. Watch the show for a while, though, and the labels begin to seem misplaced. After all, The Brain is the one repeatedly plotting world domination and failing every time – what’s the definition of insanity? Repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result. Meanwhile, Pinky exhibits many signs of intelligence, usually via unexpected insight that Brain fails to heed.
Whatever the truth is, the fact remains that Pinky and The Brain is an excellent example of animated entertainment for viewers young and old. Whether you watch it for the zany antics, amusing parodies, smart humour or all of the above, you won’t be disappointed. Just remember to avoid watching too many episodes at once – keep it casual and the series will reward you with a humorous diversion every time.
So, how’s the DVD set?
Pinky and The Brain – Vol. 2 is presented on four discs, with each episode in 1.33:1 full-screen format. The transfers are generally of acceptable quality, and definitely won’t get in the way of your enjoyment of the episodes. Colours are good but not vibrant, black levels are ok, and there are only minor instances of source artifacts. Unfortunately, a few episodes suffer from compression issues, which did – at least temporarily – detract from my own enjoyment.
Menus are static, scored and laid out in an easy-to-use manner.
The set offers Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and Dolby Digital 2.0. Either one is fine, though the 5.1 mix does fill things out better, as can be expected. Overall, the mix is of good quality, with clear dialogue and a solid presentation of the show’s orchestrated score. The show likely sounds better here on DVD than it did in its original broadcasts, which is about all we can ask for.
Audio is English-only, with subtitles offered in the French and Spanish.
Pink and The Brain – Vol. 2 offers up just one special feature, The Audition, which involves Mark Hamill (Star Wars) and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld) trying out for the roles of Pinky and The Brain. They get critiqued by the real actors, LaMarche and Paulsen, who also discuss how they approached their roles. At about five minutes, the featurette is short enough and amusing enough to watch once.
Fans of Pinky and The Brain already know they want to buy this Vol. 2 DVD set. Anyone else should start with Vol. 1, and see what they think. Either way, this set provides a good quality presentation of the show, and despite having only one special feature, it’s worth a purchase.