|A PINKY AND THE BRAIN CHRISTMAS (the wb, 1995)|
|Why was it such a
Because there's no justice, that's why. If the world were fair, A Pinky and the Brain Christmas would be sitting on the same pedestal as Rudolph and the Grinch, forever beloved by children and adults alike. Yes. It's that good.
Here's why it worked: it successfully pulled off what every other special has tried to do and failed, even the more revered ones. It has a bittersweet ending that will make you cry. Not depressingly sad, but bittersweet--the perfect Christmas ending. The kind of ending most amateurs making holiday specials today would kill for.
Pinky is writing a letter to Santa, while Brain is constructing the prototype for what will be the hottest toy of the holiday season--the Noodle Noggin doll! The reasons for its guaranteed popularity are twofold: one, Brain's going to go to Santa's workshop and alter the wishlist database so that every kid will appear to have asked for one. Two, after the dolls are opened on Christmas Day they'll shoot out a hypnotic beam from their eyes, putting every non-Jewish family in the country under Brain's control! (Note: if you haven't seen this special yet, skip the rest of this page and go buy Vol. 1 of the series on DVD. You don't want this spoiled....)
Part of the Pinky and the Brain viewer's experience is trying to guess how their latest plan will fail before the story gets to the part where they do. And a big clue to how it'll go down is peppered throughout the special, as Pinky repeatedly brings out his list to finish writing it, and keeps begging to be given the chance to deliver it to Santa in person while they're at his HQ. Brain keeps ignoring that request....and on Christmas Day as Brain prepares to send his hypnotic message, Pinky discovers in horror that his letter never made it.
Brain snatches the letter away from a sobbing, nearly hysterical Pinky and tells him to man the main power switch. While he's waiting, Brain decides to read Pinky's goofy letter aloud. Here's where most viewers guess how it'll end -- Pinky will hit the power too early and his list will be broadcast instead of Brain's message, creating chaotic results.
But that's not what happens.
"This year I ask for nothing, but I want to tell you about my friend The Brain...."
"He's honest and hard-working, and he only wants what's best for the world, but he gets no reward. He's only greeted with defeat. But he never gives up. And I know it must be very hard. So please take anything you have for me and give it to my best friend in the whole world......The Brain........"
"PS. Might you have in that big sack of yours.........the world......."
It's all in the delivery. LaMarche's reading of this letter is heartwrenching, and the emotion captured in the TMS animation is incredible. We know how blindly devoted Pinky is to Brain, but for the first time it hits him--and us as well--just how sweetly innocent he truly is. And as Brain stands there trembling amongst the crackling radio equipment, he realizes he doesn't deserve someone like Pinky. None of this is said, but from the brilliant direction this cartoon got, it's felt. Boy, is it felt.
That's how the plan fails. Instead of addressing the audience to call him their leader, Brain breaks down and cries.
And on Christmas Day,
Brain opens a messily-wrapped package with a "4
bRAiN" label on it.
Why didn't it fit in?
Enough said there. Barely anyone made a habit of watching The WB and many states didn't even receive it at the time. This didn't deserve to be shoved in the same landfill as "Nick Freno" and "Savannah."