Welcome to another Halloween cartoon episode recap! We’re just a week away from the big day and I can’t wait to move on to something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.
Something like that.
After checking out Animaniacs last week, it’s only right that we take a look at its spin-off: Pinky & The Brain. Pinky and the Brain had recurring skits on Animaniacs and were eventually given their own series due to their popularity. The premise is simple: two genetically-altered mice decide to break free of Acme Labs each day in an attempt to take over the world. Easy, right? And productive since having an established goal always makes it feel as if it’s within reach.
I always got a kick out of Pinky and the Brain, but by the time they got their show I was starting high school and spending much less time on watching the new cartoon series on Fox Kids. Was this even on Fox Kids? I mean, I just assume it was, but – as with Animaniacs – it was written for a bit of an older audience.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an episode of this show (probably since it was actually airing in the first place) so I’m looking forward to a rollicking half-hour of fun with this. Fire up those Hulu machines and let’s get it!
Season 3, Episode 17: A Pinky and the Brain Halloween
Original Air Date: October 19, 1997
Kids are out trick-or-treating and, suddenly, a message begins being broadcast through the jack-o-lanterns on the stoops of every house on every block. The Brain (whose voice is a total homage to Orson Welles) begins delivering a message through these pumpkins that will give him total control over the children of the world to aid in his plot of taking over the world.
Within about 16 seconds, Pinky gets chocolate on the Brain’s transmitter which causes his fancy, schmanzy gizmo to blow up and puts an end to that idea. Welp. That was quick. I guess we just go back to the lab and run the credits now.
But wait! There’s more!
We’re introduced to Mr. Itch who – by the title on his business card – is a proprietor of wayward souls. He’s a small part dracula, a big part magician and also probably the devil. I like him. He’s got pizzazz.
Mr. Itch offers the Brain an outstanding deal where he’ll help him take over the world if he’ll only sign a contract where he gives up his soul. Brain was all for it until Mr. Itch called the Brain a failure for all his old plans. Nah, dude. You can have the soul, but don’t you dare call Brain a failure.
Luckily – or unluckily depending on your worldview – Pinky signs the contract on behalf of Brain who is now the king of the world complete with throne and Harley Race crown.
Pinky is a helluva friend. I have friends and that’s a fact. Like Agnes, Agatha, Jermaine and Jack. Wait…sorry…got lost for a second. I have friends *pause* and I wouldn’t sell my soul for any of them. I don’t even know what the going rate of a soul is nowadays. It’s not like you can just look it up in a Beckett price guide and then send it in to have graded. Does age matter? Condition? What if I’ve already splintered my soul into multiple pieces through the creation of Horcruxes? Can I sell all of those at a premium?
Just some things I think about every so often. Where were we? Oh!
A massive crowd has gathered outside Acme Labs chanting, “Hail, Brain,” but he doesn’t feel quite so fulfilled as Pinky has now had to go with Mr. Itch and Brain is left without his buddy. Snowball the hamster is now acting as his court jester, but it’s just not the same. Brain decides that he’s got to get Pinky back and Snowball is all too willing to give Brain a map to Hades to get him out of the picture. How do you get to Hades, one may ask? Easy: go stand in line at the DMV.
Eventually, Brain gets to the front of the line, but “The Brain” isn’t on the guest list so he gives a fake name surely to give him access: “Rush Limbaugh”. Twenty-three years later and nothing’s changed. Rush Limbaugh is still a piece of shit. Good to know we all thought so back that too. Meanwhile, also in hell, Pinky is having the time of his life being tortured and Mr. Itch cannot comprehend why Pinky just won’t stop laughing.
Brain eventually shows up in Mr. Itch’s room and tries to play off how much he misses Pinky, but we do get a challenge between Brain and Mr. Itch for the rights to Pinky: rhythmic gymnastics. This must have been a callback to a prior episode since it was something Mr. Itch referenced earlier, but it didn’t seem like anything overly important. Yet…here we are. Rhythmic gymnastics it is. The contract does include a very important no-compete clause, however. Should Brain win, yes, he gets Pinky back, but not only will he lose current control of the world, he will also forfeit any future attempt to take over the world. What a chum!
Brain starts us off with one of those floor routines that involve the stick with the streamer on the end and scores a perfect 10. Unfortunately for him, Mr. Itch turns it up to 11 by simply burning away his streamer because he’s the devil and he can do that. It’s devil stuff. Pinky and the Brain say their goodbyes, each with tears in their eyes as Mr. Itch stomps off to begin another round of torture on Pinky who takes solace in the fact that he’s at least entitled to a “raddish-rose whatchamahoosit” which is just some kitchen tool that makes beautiful raddish garnishes for a fancy dinner party that Pinky had promised to him in his original contract. Mr. Itch conjures up a couple of different kitchen items, but none actually satisfy the terms and lead to a breach of the original contract.
As such, the entire episode becomes null and void and Pinky and the Brain are reunited and return to Acme Labs where they can continue their mission of trying to take over the world.
The premise is a tale as old as time. A song as old as rhyme. I have to stop typing stuff that triggers song lyrics.
Yeah, but we’ve seen this “contract with the devil” plot in a billion different things over the years, but it still works in a setting like this. Whereas each day Pinky seems like a continuing drain on Brain’s psyche, it turns out that finally having control of the world is useless if you don’t have your best friend to share it with. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but for those of you that value interpersonal relationships, maybe you can relate more than I. I’m a loner, Dottie…a rebel.
Pretty standard fare for a P&B episode with the Halloween twist of actually having the world provided by the devil, but a nice, easy watch that’s enjoyable and would probably still hold up with kids today I’d think. Nothing about it comes off as overly 90s or anything that feels incredibly outdated. I’d actually love to know what kids today think of a show like this because here I am thinking it holds up pretty well, but I’m the same guy who thinks Tom & Jerry is absolute dogshit and just doesn’t get why anyone ever gave a shit about it. I may have to do a focus group. Sign your kids up now!
Regardless, I had a good time with it and will probably have to dive deeper down the Pinky & The Brain rabbit hole in the future to revisit more of this.
Until next time.