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"Pinky & the Brain," "Animaniacs" : Nine More Discs of Maniacal Goodness

Well, this is it—the final volume of Pinky and the Brain. While this series has nowhere near the disc count of Animaniacs—more about which below—the content is just as good. Pinky and the Brain Vol. 3 rounds out their adventures with a set of four discs and a bonus featurette.

Naturally, this last volume has Pinky and Brain continuing their efforts to take over the world, but it also wraps up the series with an episode describing how they came to be in Acme Labs. It’s full of great episodes, many of which I’d never seen. There’s no greater treat than watching an old series you love and discovering shows that are new to you—it is quite possibly better than getting a new batch of episodes. While the release schedule started off slow, Warner Bros. is to be commended for the speed with which they put them out once production got rolling. Now let’s just hope that they’ll bring out Freakazoid and Tiny Toons.

Meanwhile, twenty-five more episodes of Animaniacs are also making their debut on DVD. Animaniacs Vol. 3 continues to feature superb animation, storytelling and music, making it one of the best marriages of the visual and audio excellences out there. It’s truly remarkable to be able to watch a show without ever glancing at the clock and wondering if it will ever end. It’s hard for me to pick out a favorite story on this disc, and there isn’t a single episode that didn’t make me laugh at some point. But highlights have to include “Ups and Downs,” based on a true story that happened to a few of the Animaniacs staff that were stuck in an elevator for hours. The dialogue between Wakko and Dr. Scratchnsniff is hilarious, and the animation doesn’t miss a beat in keeping the scene funny. “Take My Siblings Please” is another remarkable show that is nothing short of a treat to watch. Fans shouldn’t hesitate to add this volume to the others they’ve picked up.

The DVDs
The packaging for these releases matches previous volumes perfectly. The only difference I noticed is the coloring on the spines is a bit more vibrant—the lettering on both stands out more than the previous volumes. Inside is more colorful art in a foldout case that looks great, and the menus on the discs match what we get on the outside as well. It all looks great, and I’m glad these sets aren’t simply thrown together to get them on shelves as fast as possible.

Visually, Animaniacs Vol. 3 showcases the cleanest and brightest colors yet on an Animaniacs release. While there is still some cel dirt and grain on the episodes, they look outstanding. Transfer errors are low as well, and I didn’t notice nearly as much interlacing/ghosting as I did on the previous sets; and the 5.1 Dolby Surround mix remains one of the best extras on these sets. While the dialogue is always front channel focused, the rear channels create some nice atmospheric moments with the show’s terrific music and sound effects whizzing around the back of your head. The video on Pinky and the Brain Vol. 3 is a bit grainy and dirty at times but is clean enough for a show of its age, and the audio once again comes in a strong 5.1 transfer. The video has a bit of interlacing/ghosting in it and can get a bit ugly at times, but for the most part the episode transfers are satisfactory.

Animaniacs Vol. 3 comes with two bonus featurettes. The first focuses on the show’s music, interspersing clips with comments from the actors and composers. It’s treat to listen to the composers reminisce about their time on the show, and Rob Paulsen even sings some of the songs over again. The second featurette delves into the character designs, storyboarding and art; it also gives some brief history on how the show was pitched to Spielberg and describes characters that were created for the show but never used. Pinky and the Brain has always been treated as Animaniacs’ younger sibling, and that continues here. Vol. 3 only gives us a fifteen-minute fan appreciation discussion with Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen. It’s worth watching, but it seems kind of weak as a conclusion.

Both sets come Highly Recommended.

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