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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Children > Comedy > Animaniacs + Pinky & The Brain – Volume Three (Separate DVD-Video box releases)

Animaniacs + Pinky & The Brain – Volume Three (Separate DVD-Video box releases)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C     Episodes: C+/B-



Along with Tiny Toons, Steven Spielberg also produced some other hit Warner animated TV series with Warner Bros.: Animaniacs and Pinky & The Brain.  The premise of all the shows is that the subversions that made the original Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies so subversive have been absorbed by the culture at large, are no longer subversive, are still funny, are the equivalent to slight mental illness and makes for funny TV.  Unfortunately, the premise as commercially viable as it is, is not anything like those shorts because they were not just made for children like these shows.


I never totally understood why Animaniacs was so appealing to the extent it was, including winning over a revival of Schoolhouse Rock getting the Emmy one year (maybe these shows) for Best Animated Series!  Yes, the show is fun if you get caught up in its lunacy, but I found it limited and predictable.  That did not change with these final shows, all 25 episodes.  The classic character Bosko (who began at Warner in early black and white sound shorts, then switched to another studio) is one of the basis for these characters and it is faithful to the form and giddiness of those classics, though most viewers of this show hardly know Bosko.  For what they do know, they like the characters and at least the writing is consistently good.  However, for a hit, the show sure feels like an acquired taste.


Much more interesting and entertaining is Pinky & The Brain, in which the two talking mice of the title land up in misadventure after misadventure.  If you have not seen the show, Pinky is supposedly the goofy idiot who says “Narf!” often, while Brain is a genius with Orson Welles’ voice and plans to rule the world.  In the world of animation, Stewie Griffin on Family Guy has supplanted him as the one trying for world domination with a sophisticated accent, but Brain’s reason for failure is either his heartlessness, Pinky’s heart, Pinky’s awkwardness or the lack of moral center in Brain’s obsessions.


There is something cleverer about this show than most of the Spielberg/Warner series in a sense of wit sadly missing from most animated shows in general.  Though the show is not perfect, it is more hit than miss and the 22 shows here have their moments.  From the early shows, it is impressive how good this was and could have continued a little longer since the material and potential was there, but Spielberg/Warner quit while they were on top in both cases and now, the shows are completely available on DVD.


The 1.33 X 1 image on both have some detail limits, but look good, as does the color, which is consistent from episode to episode.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo in both cases is fine, simple and obviously recent recordings, but the 5.1 is not the epitome of multi-channel sound in either case.  The combination is at least as watchable as any TV broadcast.  The only extras on both are featurettes, with one on Brain and two on the other.  The boxes are nicely illustrated too.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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