Mar 30, 2014

TV Recap: Pinky, Elmyra & The Brain - "Wag the Mouse/A Walk in the Park"

Welcome to TV Rewind with the doomed crossover series Pinky, Emlyra & The Brain in which two flagship series join forces for a short-lived, ill conceived show. Over the course of this series, we will look at all of the episodes as presented on the DVD set and analyze if the show was really that bad and if it does any justice for the beloved 90's output between Warner Brothers and Steven Spielberg, who parted ways afterwards. Check back every Saturday for a look at the latest and make sure to check out my other recaps as well.

"Wag the Mouse"

When Brain (Maurice LaMarche) discovers that Elmyra's (Cree Summer) school is having an election for president, he seeks the chance to turn her into a strong candidate. With her in power, he could go about his plans once and for all. Her competitors are Vanity White (Jane Wiedlin), Andrew (Pamela Segall), and Rudy (Nancy Cartwright). The biggest hurdle is convincing everyone to not see her as a lunatic. This situation is quickly fixed when he decides to hide in a novelty hat that Elmyra wears around campus to rally up support. With many flip flopping opinions, people get slandered and some are rumored to drop out. However, where things call apart is in the closing statements in which Elmyra reveals that two mice have been living in her hat. It flushes her credibility and she loses. Brain leaves defeated.

Rating: 3 out of 5

"A Walk in the Park"

Sitting around in Elmyra's room, Brain gets frustrated when he hears them playing a song that is insipid and meant to hype them up for a trip to Duckyland the following day. When he switches tapes, he puts on a tune by Baloney (Jeff Bennett), which only frustrates him more. He eventually figures out that the way to get control is to make a subliminal alteration to the sappy, happy theme song that plays on an accompanying water ride through various countries.
When they head out to the park, everything is going all right, for everyone except Brain. Elmyra and Pinky (Rob Paulsen) are obsessed with going on different rides. All of them are fast and not suitable for mice to ride along. This results in a lot of pain for Brain, who also gets trampled by a few street parades and a mother looking for her child. Even with the long lines to dissatisfying rides, he is eager to get to the ride.
Once he is on it, he escapes to find the tape deck and put in the subliminal tape. This proves to be problematic, as the animatronics have a set pattern that throw him into various stages of literally being kicked around. When he finally finds the tape deck, he puts it in only to discover that he has put in the Baloney tape instead of his altered tape. He leaves, frustrated with no desire to every go back to Duckyland.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Overall, this is what I would call one of the more standard episodes of what I would like from the show. Yes, it still ends with Elmyra essentially ruining any of Brain's plans, but there are high concepts in the lowbrow execution. I am notably fascinated with how the second second manages to work despite being a heavy mixture of ingenuity and the animal abuse that I have longed argued against on this show. If anything, I appreciate it as satire against what it is obviously making fun of: Disneyland. While the roller coaster gags don't quite add up, the idea of false amusement through banal songs do fit the satire rather effectively. In this regards I liked it.
I also enjoyed that Brain was his own victim when it came to the downfall in his plan. Considering that it is usually Elmyra, it was great to see him put so much effort into making a fun day antithetical by rushing through dumb rides. Yes, the jokes may seem a little unfair towards Brain, but at least there is continuity and a sense of fun with them. It was light on overall necessity to satire, but what it did tackle was pretty interesting. I especially liked the Baloney twist ending, if just because it undermines everything good in the Kids' WB landscape. Nobody likes Baloney. Now everyone is stuck listening to it, which is just as hellish as Brain's original plan.
The first segment wasn't quite as fun, but managed to tell a serviceable story. Thinking back to "Gee, Your Hair Spells Terrific," there is a sense of deja vu with Brain hiding out in Elmyra's hat to forward her career. However, I think it worked also as a light satire that challenged political debate through the eyes of grade schoolers. It also allowed us to get a better grasp on the characters at her school not named Rudy. Yes, there is still a sense that none of these characters are particularly interesting, but they serve their purpose on the show and fill out the necessary cliche to make their progress work.
It is true that anything could be better than last week's episode. However, this particular group of segments informs me about what the show manages to do right. When it isn't relying specifically on Elmyra to carry jokes and beat up mice, we get some sort of roundabout way for Brain to figure out his problems. Sometimes it involves satire that I doubt any kid would get (Wag the Dog parody? Do kids even get the titular reference?), but the episodes don't feel nearly as desperate for pop culture references and this sick desire to appeal to a generation who isn't quite in the Pinky & The Brain demographics. Nonetheless, the show manages to have some charm, even if it has failed to consistently be above average.

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