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.
"The Girl with Nothing Extra"
After watching a video for Hanson-parodying boy group Jansen, Pinky (Rob Paulsen) and Brain (Maurice LaMarche) are put to another round of Elmyra's (Cree Summer) torturous games. In a quest to stop it, Brain decides to try and make her the coolest girl in her school. Simultaneously, Elmyra is obsessed with opening her mouth and revealing chewed food, or as she calls it "see food." It is a juvenile joke that creeps Brain out to the point that he wants her to leave just so that he can have the room to himself.
He tries to popularize Elmyra's obsession with making mud dolls, but that doesn't catch on. When all else fails, he decides to make "see food" popular with a parody of a Jansen song that celebrates the habit. It works, but it causes everyone to want to meet up at Elmyra's house, which causes Brain to try and consider an alternative plan as to get his freedom back.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
"Narfily Ever After"
When Brain is put in charge of telling Elmyra a bedtime story, he constructs a story from familiar nursery rhyme characters. He comes to the conclusion that everyone is reluctant to function as members of society because of their shoes. They are of a shoddy nature and Brain considers it his duty to try and get everyone to accept his model. With the help of Elmyra, currently dubbed Cinderelymra, he gets to go to the ball where he will be able to present his idea to Prince Rudy (Nancy Cartwright).
This doesn't go well as Pinky ends up selling them for magic beans. This backfires and leads to a giant beanstalk that grows to the skies. When it stops, a giant falls onto Brain and causes the entire ball to be cancelled. However, Brain thinks that Prince Rudy will stop by with the shoe. He does, but Brain doesn't get his patent through while Cinderelymra gets to fall in love with Prince Rudy.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5
I will admit with the thankful guidance of the previous episode, the series isn't nearly as insufferable as I predicted upon my launch. In fact, the show's downfall seems to be its obsession with dated humor. For starters, the Jansen reference in the first episode may have lead to a fulfilling integration in the final act, but it also feels like something only people who grew up in the 90's and are familiar with Hanson will know. The songs that they parody barely pass as satire, as their "Ooom Bop" caricatures have practically the same rhythmic structure. Even the shout out to Nine Inch Nails, who have fared better in history, only reflects who this audience was going for: 90's kids who were into cool things.
That is the problem with the spin-off in general. It feels too much like it is going for flavor of the week. The MTTV thing wasn't so much dated as the format of being popular because of a music video on the channel. The overall premise was itself annoying, though it felt like the right move for Elmyra, who continues to feel like one of the Kids' WB most inessential characters ever created. She has stopped being overtly abusive, but she still is loud and oblivious. If you were grossed out by the second picture, I apologize. I just wanted to display how annoying that particular gag got when every character began doing it.
I am not opposed to them doing satirical takes on pop culture or nursery rhymes. As seen last week, a My Fair Lady parody goes far. There just needs to be a bit more constructive originality to it. Neither segment this week really felt like it had it. Maybe it is because Cinderella has been overdone in general, but I don't feel like the story worked because it continued the show's trend of being anticlimactic. In this case, the anticlimactic aspects don't work because they are all fabrications of a story that Brain is telling, and it doesn't necessarily have to stick to grounded rules. It plays to Elmyra, which is the show's biggest downfall.
These segments aren't bad, but they are rather unmemorable. They exist to try and play off of hip trends that aren't necessarily a longevity goal. Cinderella may be more rooted in culture, but what exactly made the segment work? It wasn't the bizarre choice to reference Spike Lee. In fact, by basically playing all of the notes of the familiar story but having other nursery rhyme characters in the gallery, the show felt lazy. It also didn't need to be the longer of the two, as the resolution took forever to build to and eventually landed with a familiar thud.
I am glad that the show has moved beyond Elmyra being the abusive pet owner. She still is, but there is so much more to her in these episodes now. She is used like a subject for experiments, which has mixed results, but nonetheless exciting. The satire manages to feel all over the place notably because there is no grounded logistics to it nor is there focus or continuity with them. In Pinky & The Brain, it had the pop culture references, but they weren't so explicit. They were more implicit. That may be one of the bigger differences between these shows.
Also, the scripts are just dull sometimes. We have to hit all of the familiar beats and have Elmyra be the hero despite not having much reason to be. Brain is the genius whose success is becoming malnourished and Pinky just exists. With all of the cutesy talk and animal bashing, it feels like a delusional girl who will never have friends for reasonable examples. It is all kind of sad and while I doubt that this show will attempt to get sympathetic, I enjoy that this episode at least addressed Elmyra's loner tendencies and tries to play it up, even if it didn't go in a fruitful way.