Unpopular Opinions: Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Could’ve Worked!
By now, we all know the story: Kids’ WB! wanted their own prime-time animated hit a la The Simpsons, and for some bizarre reason they got the notion that Pinky & the Brain could be their Simpsons, so they gave the Animaniacs spinoff a less-than-spectacular run on prime time. When that didn’t hatch ratings gold, they began tooling with the show’s premise, to expand on P&B’s universe and show them doing other things besides just trying and failing to take over the world (in other words, try to make the show a clone of The Simpsons). Their brilliant idea was to stick the titular duo with one of THE most annoying characters in popular culture, Elmyra from Tiny Toon Adventures (whom my brother Jason once referred to as “the Tom Green of cartoon characters”). The result: The colossally unfunny Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain.
Yes, I’ve see this show, and no, it wasn’t good. At all. But I’ll tell you something that you may not believe, especially coming from me: Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain actually could have worked!
Hear me out. While PE&B was evey bit as lackluster as you’ve heard, the idea of transplanting Pinky & Brain from Acme Labs to suburbia and having them adopted by a kid was not a bad one; it just could’ve used some tweaking and rethinking. PE&B was like CN Real in that respect, in that the idea of the block itself wasn’t bad, but the shows they put on the block were.
First and foremost, for this idea to work, you’d have to GET RID OF ELMYRA. I get that the character was popular for who-knows-what reason, I know that Elmyra was one of Spielberg’s favorite characters, but let’s be real here: Elmyra just doesn’t have a lead character’s aura. In the two Duff Family episodes of Tiny Toons, the character was surrounded by co-stars who were far more interesting than she was. The character of Elmyra only has 2 shticks:
- She loves animals to death, and
- She’s dumb as a post.
Elmyra simply isn’t deep, layered or appealing enough to carry an entire show, plus the Brain already had one dufus to contend with, Pinky; he didn’t need Stupid in Stereo. Had it been me, I would’ve gone with an entirely new kid character for the role, and while we’re at it, why not make this new kid non-white, just for diversity points?
Sure, why not? Mary Melody was also a Tiny Toon, so there’s your name recognition, plus personality-wise she was basically a blank slate, so the producers could do whatever they wanted with her and not tick off any fans. Flesh the character out; give her some quirks, passions and goals to shoot for, give her a funny, quirky family and possibly some friends to play off of, add some wacky neighbors to populate Mary’s world and you’ve got your Simpsons knockoff right there.
What about Pinky and Brain themselves, you ask? They’d still be on the show of course, but they’d have more of a supporting role. Here’s another unpopular opinion: I never thought Pinky and the Brain deserved their own series in the first place. They were fine as a light segment among other light segments, but as soon as you place the duo in the limelight, the shortcomings of the characters and the basic premise become all too obvious. Like Elmyra, Pinky and the Brain just don’t have deep enough personalities to carry an entire series, and honestly, if we really had to get an A! spinoff, I’d have much rather gotten a Slappy Squirrel show.
Anyway, P&B would basically function like the Penguins from the Madagascar movies: they’d be seen in the background hatching their own schemes by Mary Melody and the other human character’s feet, occasionally getting their own subplots.
That’s how I’d personally handle the Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain premise. For anyone who thinks it’s kind of jerky to reduce Pinky and Brain to supporting roles in what’s supposed to be their own spinoff, I say…