Ugh. Ok so it's lunch hour and I'm actually not in the mood to draw for once so I might as well write this now. Like I said, I recently watched this episode again and I made some mistakes about it when I mentioned it the first time. Don't think you can blame me that much though since I was recalling the episode after having seen it at age 11 or something. However, because I'm a bit of a stickler for being accurate, especially with cartoons for some reason, I thought I'd write a follow up and just talk about things I forgot happened in this episode as well.
(Oh, this is the Pinky and the Brain episode "Inherit the Wheeze" btw. In case you didn't read the other journals I made on this)
First of all, my big mistake was that I remembered the episode as starting out with Brain wanting to use a cigarette company to take over the world by marketing it to the entire population of everywhere. It seems I didn't give Brain enough credit here. He's not THAT coldhearted. (although he does have a tendency to rationalise his actions to himself until he believes his own bullshit. Which is why Pinky is an important character.) So, I got this wrong but I can see why I got my facts mixed up.
I remembered very clearly as a child that Pinky is pretty much angry and/or upset throughout like 80% of this episode, and I probably just remembered this wrong in that he was upset with Brain's plans. Watching the episode again, it's quite a bit deeper than that. Which I actually like. I don't mind being wrong if the truth is more interesting than I thought it was. (I'll get back to this in a minute)
So the one BIG thing I forgot somehow is that Brain himself becomes a heavy smoker in this episode. I dunno WHY I forgot that but it's one of the driving forces of the episode's plot. I probably just took this fact for granted when I watched it as a kid and didn't think much more of it. What I CAN'T understand is why I forgot HOW Brain got hooked on cigarettes. Especially since, rewatching the episode, this actually sincerely bothered me probably more than the show or its writers intended. But then again I have a large sensitive streak when it comes to animal cruelty (and that apparently includes genetically mutated mice @__@ ). Anyway, so Brain gets hooked because ACME labs was doing addiction studies on cigarettes. Sooooo... yeah. This I found very interesting and clever from a writing stand point. You need to have Brain be a part of the problem for the episode's message to be stronger than it would've been without this detail, but you don't want to villainise one of the main character who we're suppose to sympathise with. So you use the "lab mouse" detail of your show's universe to your advantage. It makes perfect sense and keeps your main characters free of blame for getting involved in the first place. Buuuuttt.... being a dork and a bit of a wuss... animal experimentation, even when represented with cartoon rules and cartoon logic, is not a fun thing to watch. Especially in uncomfortable closeups.
So, to get back to Pinky, he spends most of this episode being kinda annoyed or upset, but not because of any of Brain's plans, but because he's upset that Brain, after the addiction experiment is over, doesn't seem to make any real moves to try and break the addiction and just keeps smoking. He's not upset that Brain started in the first place since that's kinda beyond their control, but he's upset that Brain doesn't take it seriously. As the episode goes on he's more upset than angry, but he starts out quite furious about the situation because Brain was trying to keep it a secret. Afterwards he keeps tugging at Brain's conscience to stop but is rather easily placated with promises of "I will
quit... ..eventually." And it's not until the end where Brain decides to just screw the original plan of exposing the tobacco company hiding the results of the addiction study and just make the best of a bad situation and get the world's population hooked and find a way to take over the world THAT way that Pinky puts his foot down and says "no".
Some real interesting character play in this episode which is probably one of the reasons I like it more than some of the others. As I said, It's one of the episodes we get to see multiple layers to Pinky (which happens more often than you'd think, actually. Seriously, watch the show again. It's surprising how much they allow his character to express for being a "comedic relief".) But yes, we get to see Pinky showing things like actual honest anger, dismay at Brain's refusal to grasp just how bad the situation is and probably the one action I don't think he'll do again in the later episodes) which is to eventually abandon the entire scheme and refuse to be involved. The show itself has stated itself quite clearly that Pinky is rather codependent. More than this though, he's loyal to a fault. There's numerous episodes where Pinky manages to either get extremely close or actually DOES by a freak accident manage to take over the world himself, and he ALWAYS gives it up because of Brain in some shape or form. There's a surprisingly touching episode where through a long plot point I'm too lazy to recount, Pinky finds out Brain's going to be crushed by an avalanche (and killed because cartoon logic only works when it's convenient.) He not only goes to warn him despite specifically being told to leave Brain alone (for plot reasons) but once it becomes clear the avalanche is going to happen and there's nothing they can do about it, he refuses to leave. And when the avalanche actually happens and Brain tells Pinky to turn tail and run, he still refuses to leave Brain behind. To spoil what happens, no-one ends up getting killed because eventually, Pinky's refusal to leave as well as his refusal for his best friend to get hurt has him physically picking Brain up and saving his life since the dork apparently couldn't do it himself.
This is why I get very upset when I hear people say things like "Why does Brain hang out with Pinky? Pinky always destroys his plans to take over the world." It makes me wonder if they've ever actually watched the show because, not only has Pinky gotten closer to succeeding than Brain has, but most of the time Brain ends up destroying his own plans. On top of this, Brain's actions usually ends up with the two of them getting into serious trouble, and it's usually Pinky who ends up pulling them out of it again, or ends up messing things up to prevent a terrible outcome inadvertently. It makes me question if anyone actually watches cartoons and switch their brains on long enough to see beyond stereotypes or if they just label things as "smart guy. Dumb guy" and then stare blankly without actually paying attention to what's happening in a story.
Anyway, I'm going off topic here. In the smoking episode, Pinky DOES eventually put his foot down and say 'no' to being involved. Taking the codependency and heartbreaking loyalty he has, I think this is very important to expressing just HOW strongly Pinky can object to something. And as I said, I always love when a show makes a character break his or her mold and show they DO have depth beyond their stereotype. Same goes for Brain in this episode actually. Brain is a tougher nut to crack than Pinky because he's got such a strong ego. (Going by the mindset of ego being our external mask to protect our true selves here. Too long to explain. Read anything on Jung's approach to psychology.) Anyway, being a megalomaniac, arrogant, hyper intelligent and more than a little self-righteous, Pinky's inner workings are much easier to read than Brain's. But I like that the show DOES give him more than his stereotype as well, just like Pinky. Brain is his usual cranky but stubborn self through most of the episode, but when Pinky refuses to be involved in the scheme any longer he actually looks pretty devastated at the abandonment. Brain is very much a "I don't need anyone else" kind of character, so again, without saying a word and just through cartoony expressions, we get a rather telling look into the deeper workings of a friendship beyond just "He's the smart guy who is cranky and he's the dumb guy who is always happy".
Pinky doesn't get angry at Brain often, and usually when he does an argument breaks out and burns out fast. But when Pinky reaches his limit in this episode and gets so angry he refuses to even say anything to Brain, we get to see the telling evidence that Brain DOES actually put at least some kind of value in Pinky's approval of things, even if not in a way he would admit. (Brain kinda sucks at expressing or handling emotions).
This is also the only episode I've seen so far where Pinky bobs Brain (sort of). Brain smacks Pinky a lot (Pinky doesn't seem to mind though. He's even said so much.) But this is probably the only episode where Pinky gets so angry he physically lashes out... ...against Brain anyway.
Oh, also, this happens;
Which is a very brief moment but also something I could write an entire essay about because I overthink things. To make it short, again we see emotions being displayed which would normally be used as a punchline to a joke or something. In cartoons, I myself (although you could probably disagree with me) usually see the comedy relief character use it either as a joke, or to emphasise the danger of a threat or danger, or it's to get a laugh. However, there's nothing really funny in the way this was animated or drawn, and the thing Pinky's afraid of here is nothing but an old man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank. Not exactly dangerous or even really threatening. But Pinky's scared of him, and it's not treated as a joke. Also interestingly, Pinky is not a character who gets scared of things really. He's an idiot. He's not that great at understand that something might be dangerous. He was scared of Satan but... ..that's because it was Satan. I think we can give him THAT one. And even then he wasn't as scared as he is here. Even detaching from a character dissection, it makes me curious from a writing perspective how this was used as a tool to illustrated something. I'm not sure what... but I can feel it, even if I can't fully explain it.
Also, back from a character perspective, Pinky's first response at something he finds scary is to hide behind Brain. I think that speaks for itself.
And last thing I'll really commend this episode on is that, SOMEHOW, it's not really that preachy. It's not Ferngully (which is a movie I like) pointing at the audience and going "PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT YOU BASTARDS!!" or a 'very special episode' telling kids "drugs are baaaaaad. The people selling them are secretly monsters who will eat you alive and cause you to become the worst person in the world and then you DIE." I think, mostly because the writers of this show weren't idiots, but I think it also had a lot to do with NOT talking down to your audience. The show handles the subject matter as if it was aimed at adults. Yes they paint tobacco companies as being the scum of the earth, but in the late 90s there WERE things like companies using cartoon mascots to try and get smokers started early, and hiding test results of how harmful and addictive smoking is WERE hidden at the time or pushes under the carpet, or not spoken about. Remember, this is before they really started putting warning labels on anything. The episode exaggerates things, but it never blames the audience, or even the adults. It blames the companies in charge of these things, because at the time, there was a lot of reasons to put blame on them.
Also, just on a personal note, this is a cartoon which taught me WHY smoking was bad, which is something these kinds of episodes always seem to forget to do. "Smoking is bad because it makes you sick and if you do it too much you'll be very unhealthy when you get older and once you start it's very very hard to stop."
Why do so many other shows have such difficulty with this???
Anyway there you go. I don't even know if anyone's gonna read let alone comment on this, but I really wanted to discuss this stuff a little. Because cartoons.
Pinky also has some great expressions in this episode. I really wanna sit down and study this show's posing because it's ridiculously strong.