Pinky and the Brain
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, as cartoon series go, Pinky and the Brain has plenty of substance to entertain both kids and adults. The show's physical humor and absurd characters (the main characters are mice bent on world domination) will appeal to grade-schoolers, and its clever, sophisticated parodies of literature, politics, and culture will be applauded by astute adults. There's some recurring fantasy violence of the over-the-top cartoon kind, but most kids won't be upset by the pratfalls and unlikely scenarios (long-distance falls, explosions, collisions) that never leave a lasting effect.
What's the story?
Genetic research at ACME labs home has given Brain (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) an impressive IQ (and an oversized cranium to match), which he uses to devise plans for world domination. Brain's happy-go-lucky but significantly less-intelligent sidekick, Pinky (Rob Paulsen), is always an energetic partner in his devious friend's lofty endeavors, but Pinky's contributions are typically limited to comedic pratfalls and frequent off-the-wall observations that grate on Brain's patience. Despite his carefully calculated planning, Brain's schemes always fall victim to his overly ambitious goals and his own unparalleled intelligence -- but regular failure does little to discourage his hunger for power. While Pinky carries on, blind to his buddy's growing frustration and glibly asking what they'll do the next night, Brain's reply sums up his single-minded goal: "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world."
Is it any good?
Despite its relatively brief run, this emmy-winning cartoon series' outrageously funny cast of characters, superb writing, and clever use of parody gained it a devoted fan base of both kids and adults. PINKY AND THE BRAIN offers plenty of humor for the 7- to 10-year-old set, who will enjoy the show's physical comedy, as well as some of its subtle satirical tones and tongue-in-cheek writing style. But it's teens and adults who will fully appreciate the series for the gem that it is: a clever combination of character-based humor (Pinky and Brain are mousy versions of the quintessential odd couple), witty writing, and underlying parodies of everything from politics to classic literature to pop culture.
The show does contain a fair amount of cartoon violence (explosions, exaggerated collisions, that sort of thing), but it's all so rooted in fantasy and absurdity that there's not much chance that grade-schoolers will be upset by it. So if you're looking for a show you can enjoy with your kids, this is a great pick.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what makes some TV characters more frightening than others. Are any of this show's characters scary? How do their actions change your impression of them?
Do Brain's plans to "take over the world" ever seem really frightening or threatening? Why or why not? How does his physical appearance affect how you feel about his scheming ways?
What characters in other shows or movies have less-than-noble intentions but come across as likable anyway?