Many of you know that I collect references to Moby-Dick. My latest comes from the animated television series Pinky and the Brain, which was produced by Steven Spielberg and ran on Kids WB! network from 1995-2001. It was a spin-off of Spielberg’s earlier series Animaniacs (1993-98), which was his second collaboration with Warner Brothers (the first was Tiny Toon Adventures [1990-95]). Although I was a fan of Spielberg’s first foray into television, the anthology series Amazing Stories (1985-87), I never watched Animaniacs back in the day and never even heard of Pinky and the Brain until a friend of ours put it on for our kids to watch last weekend.
The premise of the show is that in each episode, two genetically altered laboratory mice — one smart, the other not (guess which one is which) — hatch a plan to take over the world during the night. (Well, one hatches it, and the other attempts to help to execute. Guess which does what.) The series is wonderfully intertextual and also draws on the slapstick style of classic Warner cartoons.
My kids love it. And so does their dad, particularly after catching this Moby-Dick allusion in the very first episode of the series, “Das Mouse,” which involves — natch — a submarine. And the Titanic. And some white crabs. All in the service of a plan for world domination. Here’s the dialogue:
Brain: From now on Pinky, call me Captain Brain.
Pink [laughs]: Aye, aye, Brain, um, Captain Brain. Oh, oh, can I be be Queequeg?
Brain [in Pinky’s face]: Behave, Pinky, or you shall be jettisoned.
The scene takes place about 4 minutes and 20 seconds into the episode. The first season DVD, Pinky and the Brain, Vol. 1, is available from amazon.com. You can buy just the episode as a digital download. Sadly, no one has posted it to YouTube.