Animation Trails
October 23, 2019 posted by Charles Gardner

Let Me Pick Your Brain! (Part 3)

Back for more batty brain-bashing, as evil scientists have their way with out favorite heroes – including the world’s most famous mouse.

Advance and Be Mechanized (Chuck Jones/MGM, Tom and Jerry, 8/25/67 – Ben Washam, dir.) – one of three episodes conceived by Jones’ studio to milk every possible chuckle out of the odd concept of Tom and Jerry in a space station, has Tom and Jerry taking it easy in the command chairs of respective computer control stations, where each one has a robotic minion to do his dirty work – a robot guard cat for Tom, and a missile-shaped robot mouse to do Jerry’s pilfering of the food supply. The two robots battle it out all through the picture, and each takes a considerable beating. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. Tom returns to his console only to find the robot cat sitting in his chair. The robot insists he bend down, and applies to Tom’s head a traditional metal brain transfer cap. Pushing a button and turning on the juice, the robot converts Tom into a mindless automaton. While Jerry watches helpless Tom with laughter from his mousehole, his robot counterpart appears with another mind-control cap, and insists Jerry bend down too. Another zap – and our two heroes become the victims – remotely controlled by their robot dopplegangers into doing what they should have been doing all along – whomping and bopping each other in their never-ending fight.

Transylvania Mania (DePatie-Freleng/UA, The Inspector, 3/26/68 – Gerry Chiniquy, dir.). Similar to “Water, Water, Every Hare”, this episode is motivated by a vampire and his Igor-style assistant’s desire to implant a human brain into a yet inactive monster – but never quite gets to any such transfer, due to the elusive actions of the Inspector to avoid becoming the subject guinea pig. The film borrows inspiration liberally from past Warner Brothers successes, including magic words for shrinking and growing from “Transylvania 6-5000″ (Freleng for once stealing from Chuck Jones!), the gunpowder trail gag from “Bunker Hill Bunny”, and the explosion of a gunpowder-filled tower room from “Knighty Knight Bugs”, but with a new curtain line as the tower blasts into space. Inspector: “Who’d ever have thought Transylvania would be the first country to get to the moon?”

Tail Tale (6/18/68), a stop-motion claymation episode of “Gumby” during the second batch of episodes sponsored by Lakeside Toys, has scientist Gumby working on a sub-atomic teleporter – the predecessor of Star Trek’s “Beam me up, Scotty” model. Only one problem: while things go through the machine from one transporter station to another (a vase of flowers is used for the demonstration), they materialize inordinately slow in their transit. Pokey remarks that he’s no race horse, but he could have walked across the room faster. Gumby asks Pokey for a favor – to go through the machine himself and see what’s slowing things up. Pokey reluctantly obliges – he in one transporter cell, the flowers in the other. Pokey and the flowers dissolve and swap respective cells – but as Pokey reappears, a force tugs at his tail, disconnecting it. It appears in the other cell – inside the flower vase – while the flowers appear on Pokey’s rear end in place of his tail. To see what went wrong, Gumby gets inside the cell with the vase, pushing the vase out of the machine’s range and holding onto Pokey’s tail in hopes it will reattach during the retransmission. The machine transports again – This time Gumby comes through with his own top half, and Pokey’s torso and legs, looking like a centaur!. Pokey, in the other cell, is standing erect atop Gumby’s body, and wearing Gumby’s professor’s hat, with the bouquet of flowers now in his hand. Looking on the bright side, Gumby looks at his horse’s rear, and says, “At least we got your tail back in place”. Pokey looks closer: “That’s not my tail. That’s my mane!” His tail is nowhere to be found, and didn’t come through. Gumby suggests they try to both teleport through from the same cell. But before they press the button, something materializes in the opposite cell – a weird little spaceman, with Pokey’s tail stuck to his head. “He did it!”, Pokey responds, laying the blame upon Gumby. Gumby explains he was just trying to travel at the speed of light. The spaceman goes over to a blackboard upon which Gumby has written his equations, replacing the equation “E = MC3″, correcting it to “E = MC2″. Recalibrating the controls, the three reenter the transporter cells, and activate the machine again. The spaceman disappears – but Gumby and Pokey are restored to their old selves. Observing that they just traveled at the speed of light, Gumby tells Pokey, “You may not be a race horse, but you’re still the fastest horse that ever lived.”

Tiny Toon Adventures, Steven Speilberg’s breakthrough inaugural TV series for WB, gives us two instances of scientific part swapping. In “Hare-Raising Night” (10/1/90), Bugs Bunny secretly assigns Buster Bunny to a dangerous mission to thwart mad doctor Gene Splicer in his looney lab experiments crossing animals. Bugs announces that if Buster is captured, WB will disavow all knowledge of the episode – and blame it on the writers. Knowing that his pals are unlikely to voluntarily assist in walking into danger, Buster tells a “little white lie” – that they’re all heading for the Emmy Awards ceremony. Babs Bunny, Plucky Duck and Hamton Pig accompany Buster – dressed to the nines. Upon arrival at Splicer’s hideout, Plucky falls through a trap door. Splicer is in the middle of a phone call, complaining how can he be expected to perform his “bird brained” experiments without delivery of a bird brain. Plucky’s arrival fills the need nicely. Discovering the egotistical duck’s belief that he’s nominee at an awards ceremony, Splicer takes him to “make-up” – strapping him to a lab table in his operating room. As he draws a dotted line in chalk on Plucky’s skull, Plucky asks him to “take a little off the top”. Splicer nearly obliges, producing a chainsaw – but the plug pulls out of the wall, and he can’t find an extension cord. Oh, well – an old fashioned hand saw will do. But Plucky thinks they want him to play a musical saw solo, and grabs the “instrument,” playing jarring notes that bring a large lighting fixture down on Splicer’s head.

The rest of the gang catch up, but can’t convince the duck he’s in mortal danger – until they bump into one of the doctor’s other experiments – a hairy-backed giant lizard with bat’s wings, horns, and a bulldog’s head (the bulldog is Marc Anthony from Chuck Jones’s Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot mini-series). While appearing fierce, the creature (named Melvin) develops a crush on Babs, though Babs claims he’s not her type. But Splicer eventually applies a brainwashing device to Melvin, captures our friends with his aid, and chains them together to be dipped into a “gene pool” of chemicals which will merge them together into a new species. Before they can be dipped, Babs pleads to Melvin, reminding him what they’ve “meant to each other”, and claims she loves him. Melvin puts the brakes on the decent of their supporting chain, just one bubble short of making contact with the dip. Splicer tries to regain control of Melvin (who between Splicer’s commands and Babs’ pleas utters his only line of dialog – “I feel so torn”). He advances – but on Splicer instead of the toons. Splicer is knocked into his own gene pool. While Hamton says he loves happy endings, Plucky declares there’s only one way this story can have one. Yes, the toons finally make it to the Emmys. But with an unexpected finale. As Best Supporting Actor award is announced, Plucky walks forward expecting to make an acceptance speech – but the award goes to Melvin the Monster! Plucky screams that there’s no justice. Beside the toons in the next seat stands what’s left of Dr. Splicer – mutated into a cross between himself and a chicken, who concurs with “You said a beakful!”

Dapper Diz (12/4/90), from the “Ask Mr. Popular” installment of “Tiny Toon Adventures”, has Buster Bunny (in the guise of “Mr. Popular”), Plucky Duck and Hamton Pig attempt to reshape the life of their crude, destructive and slobbering friend Dizzy Devil by use of a personality transfer device Buster’s built in his shop class. Dizzy is locked in a booth, while the others take turns wearing the usual metal brain-beanie. Buster attempts to transfer his confidence and charm. Plucky tries to give him “humility” (the last thing in Plucky’s personality vocabulary). And Hampton tries to make Dizzy a little neater. Dizzy nearly fries from the voltage blasts, but emerges a tuxedoed moustached gentleman. The gang gape in amazement, while Dizzy tells them, “Close your mouths. It’s unsanitary, and you look like the catch of the day at a sushi bar.” Hamton’s neatness is the first thing to emerge overdone in Dizzy, as Dizzy removes Hamton’s congratulatory hand from his person, telling Hamton not to spread his “little piggy germs”. Similar problems arise at a campus lunch table, where Dizzy, before being willing to join other students for lunch, blasts the table (and the students) with a high-pressure water hose while wearing a decontamination suit, uses an industrial buffer to resurface the table, then adds a candelabra before seating himself.

His charm and humility cause trouble too, as he refuses to follow instruction in the Tazmanian Devil’s “Search and Destroy 101″ class, and won’t tornado his way through the dummy mock-ups of animals set up in the classroom. Dizzy replies, “I rather had my heart st on violin lessons if its all the same to you.” And a group of extremely shapely girls (who Dizzy had pictures of in his cave but his friends didn’t believe he knew) appear and turn out to have been Dizzy’s real girlfriends, asking for him to go on a picnic – but are entirely turned off by Dizzy’s new persona, telling him, “In your dreams, pal”. Dizzy begs his friends to change him back to normal. Buster tells him that the real Dizzy is still deep inside him and to bring him out. Dizzy can’t remember how to do it alone, but his friends help – by stuffing him with his favorite food (pizza rolls) and playing rock music from Dizzy’s old “axe” electric guitar with the amplifier wire planted in Dizzy’s ear for another electric shock. Dizzy is blasted back to normal. Buster announces that the moral was that it was a good thing to have helped Dizzy (despite his being utterly miserable through the ordeal) – because at least it resulted in Buster getting a date with Dizzy’s girlfriends after they turned him down! Dizzy enters, calls Buster a two-timer, and whirlwinds after him in a destructive mood for the iris out.

The Idol of Id (11/2/91), an episode of “Garfield and Friends”, finds Jon attracted by a shapely female Gypsy (voiced by June Foray) and coaxed to spend $5.00 to enter her “Mystic Museum”. Garfield and Odie of course tag along. Inside are such baubles as an orb bearing a curse that will render the children of anyone who touches it encyclopedia salesmen. A stone idol resembling one of the giant stone faces of Easter Island attracts Odie. As he sniffs it, he is trapped in an electrical force from the statue. Garfield attempts to push Odie free from the force but gets caught in it himself. The Gypsy is at the same time telling Jon of the legend that the Idol exchanges a personalities if two people touch it. The tour is over. (Jon complins, “That’s it? You promised me great mysteries. What did I get for my money?” The Gypsy replies, “That’s one of the mysteries!”) But a decided change has come over Jon’s pets. Garfield drools incessantly and slurps his owner – while Odie does something the real Odie would never dare – eats Garfield’s food! Garfield dog leaves through the pet door for a hot date with a female alley cat. Meanwhile, Jon, seeing Odie cat’s behavior, puts two and two together, and remembers the Gypsy’s words. He and Odie cat set out to find Garfield dog. Meanwhile, Garfield dog is not getting the reception he expected in the alleys – either from his girlfriend, or from her rival boyfriend – three times Garfield’s size and with a hatred for all dogs. Garfield is pursued by the bully – until he passes a mirror and discovers he’s a dog, not a cat. Realizing this puts him in control of the situation. He turns on his best impression of a canine and chases off the bully. Jon and Odie cat finally catch up with him, and they all return to the Gypsy museum. The Gypsy is as surprised as they. “That piece of junk actually has the power to swap minds? I paid $11.00 for that.” Nevertheless, Garfield dog and Odie cat race to touch the idol together – and knock it over, as the electrical zap hits them again. The idol crumbles into pebbles – but managed to work before its destruction. Garfield and Odie are themselves again. Jon assists the Gypsy in gathering up the remains of the idol, and our heroes head for home. Only one problem: it’s the Gypsy who’s leading Garfield and Odie home, speaking in Jon’s voice, while Jon lingers behind at the museum, speaking as the Gypsy, remarking “ I hope this is the last I ever see of them.”

Runaway Brain (Disney, Mickey Mouse, 8/11/95 – Chris Bailey, dir.), finds Mickey Mouse staying up-to-date – and up all night playing video games (of Dopey battling the wicked witch from Snow White). Minnie arrives, and realizes he’s forgotten the anniversary of their first date. As she storms off, telling him he can date his video games from now on, Mickey spots a newspaper ad for a miniature golf course. Attempting to save face, he pretends he was “saving the surprise” of them out in the fresh air and sunshine for a glorious 18… His words are interrupted, as Minnie’s eyes fall not on the golf ad, but the half-page ad below it – Hawaiian cruises – only $999.99. Minnie is overjoyed – and Mickey is in shock. As she leaves to prepare for the trip, Mickey frantically asks Pluto what to do. “It takes moola to hula!”

A want ad provides a possible answer – “Earn $999.99 for a mindless day’s work”. He answers the ad at 1313 Lobotomy Lane. A trap door opens below him, and he plunges down, landing in a laboratory chair, which automatically manacles his wrists and ankles. “Talk about your iron-clad contract”, notes Mickey. An ape named “Dr. Frankenollie” (reference to veteran animators from the “nine old men” Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston) introduces himself. Checking Mickey over with a sort of television x-ray, we see a cutaway view of Mickey’s skull – reveling brain matter not only in his head, but spread into both ears. The Doctor introduces Mickey’s “co-worker” – a twenty-foot tall giant version of Black Pete (in this film named “Julius” – reference to the cat in the Alice in Cartoonland silent shorts). A notable feature is that this was the first time since the 30’s that Pete was restored to having his signature feature of a peg leg – but what doctor in his right mind would give a peg leg to his monster? Guess the doctor isn’t in his right mind. As usual, object of experiment: brain transfer into Pete’s body. The classic zap – and Mickey finds his mind inside the giant. Meanwhile, his old body snarls like a monster, and sets itself for attack. Mickey looks for help from the doctor – but doc seems to have disintegrated into powder from the force of the electrical shock. In similar fashion to his encounter with a bear in 1939’s “The Pointer”. Mickey tries to ward off the attack by evoking recognition of himself as Mickey Mouse. The monster in his body doesn’t get it. “Look in my wallet” says Mickey, and the monster-mouse opens a fold-out wallet pouch of photographs . One is the classic pose from “Steamboat Willie”, which Mickey dismisses – “Aw, that’s old.” But below is a picture with Minnie. Pete in Mickey’s body instantly falls in love with Minnie, and escapes the building to set out to find her, with Mickey in the monster’s body calling after him, Stop thief!”

Minnie is located at a bikini shop, eyeing the latest in mini-spandex swimwear. The drooling Pete-Mickey enters the shop. Minnie coyly hides the bathing suit from his view, saying “Not till we’re on the boat!” But Mickey in the monster’s body crashes in and tries to warn Minnie that its not him. Minnie gets the wrong idea and runs for safety with Pete-Mickey along in her grip. Mickey the monster catches up by riding piggy-back on a cross-town bus, grabs up Minnie, and explains. Pete-Mickey is gaining again, so Mickey grabs a construction crane, and swings himself and Minnie to the top of a tall building. Leaving Minnie in temporary safety, he swings back down on the crane, catching Pete-Mickey in one hand. On the upward swing, the crane bucket gives way, causing both of them to fall atop a set of high voltage wires. The zap restores their original personalities. But all is not over yet, as the crazed Pete, still wanting Minnie, is now in control of his huge body again. He and Mickey are slingshot by the wires up to the roof of the building where Minnie waits, below an animated billboard with a three-dimensional hula girl with arm outstretced. Pete grabs Minnie, and almost tosses Mickey off the building. But Mickey is saved by a rising scaffolding, and locates a coil of rope on it to boot. Using the rope, he ties one end to the hula girl’s arm. Then, reprising his “flying loops” trick from “The Brave Little Tailor”, he winds spirals around Pete until he is firmly tied – and balancing only on his peg leg. Minnie gives Mickey a kiss – and accidentally knocks Pete’s peg leg off the roof. Pete plummets, but the hula girl saves his neck, as her animated arm raises and lowers Pete on the rope like a yo-yo. The final scene has Mickey and Minnie on their cruise to Hawaii – but not for $999.99. Mickey’s found a cheaper way – a raft, with Pete tied to the front of it, and Mickey’s wallet pictures extended like a carrot in front of Pete’s nose, causing him to provide propulsion by swimming in quest of the Minnie pictures wherever the mice choose to go. This short played with the live action feature A Kid In King Arthur’s Court, celebrating yet another of Mickey’s anniversaries – but was not seen again for years until Volume 2 of the Walt Disney Treasures “Mickey Mouse In Living Color” DVD’s. A scarce and pleasantly surprising treat.

At least two episodes of Dexter’s Laboratory deal with brain transfers. In “Dexter’s Assistant” (5/5/96, Bob Renzetti/Gendy Tartakovsky, dir.), our junior mad genius sees fit to submit his meddlesome big sister Dee Dee to such process, all to satisfy the simple need to push a button which Dexter has neglectfully placed at the base of a monster mechanical device, but which needs to be pressed to activate the machine while he is in the control seat above. (Geniuses can’t be bothered with the menial tasks of installing remote controls or button-extenders – or am I the real genius for noticing?) Dee Dee, whose lack of smarts can’t even coordinate her finger to push the button normally, gets a brain transplant from a supply of spare cranial lobes Dexter keeps in a cold storage chamber. (Boy, this kid has everything!) The transplant is handled in nearly sadistic fashion, as Dexter literally saws off the top of Dee Dee’s head, with no anaesthesia (she seems to be awake and impervious to pain). Inside, he finds a nearly empty skull with a cerebrum the size of a peanut, which he unceremoniously yanks out and replaces with a new massive specimen. Dee Dee now possesses super intelligence, and something of a distinguished English accent. She helps Dexter push the button, but not before attempting a warning, which Dexter of course ignores. The machine blows up, which Dee Dee states was expected according to her calculations. Dexter’s remaining efforts to come up with something for the Science Fair (which he prides himself on winning every year) meet similar mishaps, with Dee Dee always one brainy step ahead of Dexter in sensing disaster. Finally, Dee Dee announces that she can no longer tolerate Dexter’s incompetence, and resigns as his assistant, leaving him with what she deems an appropriate replacement – a wind-up toy monkey. And she goes on to win the Science Fair trophy herself, leaving Dexter to vent his wrath at his new toy sidekick.

Here’s a excerpt from that cartoon:

In “Mom and Jerry”, another episode of “Dexter’s Laboratory” (11/1/98 – Robert Alvarez, dir.), the titles open with backgrounds themed in reddish circles, and a double headshot of Dexter’s Mom and a little white mouse – so we know from the start we’re in for something of a homage to MGM. Dexter has built a brain transfer machine this time, instead of resorting to frontal lobotomies. He intends to switch the brains of a white laboratory mouse and his pet lab monkey. But Dee Dee (now recovered), beckons the monkey away from the experiment to engage in some dancing of “the monkey”. The monk, before leaving the chair, carefully slips the brain transfer cap on Dexter just as he prepares to activate the controls. Liquified cranial matter seeps through tubes between Dexter’s cap and the rodent’s – with the result that Dexter’s body goes scampering through the lab squeaking like a mouse, while Dexter, inside the mouse’s body, tries to catch him to reverse the experiment. Dexter mouse accidentally falls into a drainage pipe, and follows the pipe through some salad residue in the garbage disposal and up into the sink in Mom’s kitchen. Here, the game of “cat and mouse” begins, as neat freak Mom, horrified at having such a pest in her tidy kitchen, does her best to do the furry intruder in.

Dexter reprises the old push-china-plates off-the-upper-shelf trick from Tom and Jerry’s premiere episode “Puss Gets the Boot”, with Mom not only catching two stacks of same in her respective hands, but a third one on her derriere. Another homage to “Boot” varies Jerry’s poke-in-th-eye scene by having Dexter Mouse stop Mom’s nosy staring in the pot he is hiding in by plucking off one of Mom’s eyelashes. Dexter pulls out another of Jerry’s old tricks by throwing light bulbs from a ceiling fan/lamp. But Mom uses one of her rubber gloves like a slingshot, and scores a direct hit on the fan, knocking it from its moorings. The loose fan acts like a helicopter, and flies Dexter through the house, up the stairs, and to his room. He manages to get his laboratory door open, plus comes prepared for such emergency with a secret weapon – a rocket-powered robot mouse, which he shoots past the approaching Mom, who mistakes it for her intended target and chases instead of Dexter. Dexter finds his mouse-brained body conveniently lounging in one of the brain transfer chairs. He fires up the machine, jumps into the other chair, and waits for the zap. But Dee Dee appears (who apparently saw the whole mishap at the beginning of the cartoon), announcing that she’s brought help to catch the mouse – in the form of an angry cat. The Dexter-bodied mouse instinctively runs. Dexter, still a mouse himself, also runs. The cat gives chase, and Dee Dee chases them, for one of those typical Tom and Jerry endless pursuits – while Dexter’s monkey watches coolly, shrugs off the whole affair, and busies himself reading a copy of “Of Mice and Men.”

Pinky Suavo (10/4/97), a prime time episode of Pinky and the Brain, has Brain attempting to develop a winning personality to entrance the world to make him their leader, by means of his new invention – the Personalitron. Just feed in photos and bios of any famous person, and his character traits and charisma are synthesized into the subject inside. While Brain feeds in info on the machismo of John Wayne, the sensuality of Rudolph Valentino, and the sensitivity of Tony Randall, Pinky suggests adding the comedy genius of The Unknown Comic, but Brain of course throws his picture aside. Brain enters the machine, but as the door shuts, Pinky hears agonized screams from inside the machine’s chamber. To rescue his friend, Pinky rips out wiring from the door control – releasing Brain, but causing Pinky to fall in instead. Pinky emerges a suave sophisticate, with trendy clothes, a European accent, and an attractive moustache. He refuses to answer to “Pinky”, but only to his new chosen name – Pinky Suavo. Brain himself is hypnotized by his charm, so that he can’t even bring himself to give Pinky a traditional bop on the head. Realizing Suavo’s potential, Brain sets upon a campaign to make Suavo the world’s most influential spokesperson – with intent for him to ultimately convince the populace that Brain is the best choice to be their leader.

After breaking into the social circle at a swanky disco, and an intensive PR campaign, Pinky is hot news, cover boy on fashionable magazines, and scheduled for a mass media interview. While waiting in the wings, Brain reminds Pinky to promote him for leader in the interview, but egotistical Pinky belittles him. Frustrated Brain resolves, “I don’t care how magnetic you are”, and finally bops Pinky on the head. The blow not only snaps the “Suavo” out of Pinky, but renders him out of control, with a non-stop babbling of his nonsense words like “narf” and “zort”. With only ten minutes to air time, Brain rushes Pinky back to the lab for another dose of the Personalitron. He increases the voltage to ensure the effects won’t wear off so quickly, and frantically loads photos into the machine. The increased power blows the machine up – but still what appears to be Suavo emerges out of the rubble. Back at the TV studio, the interview commences – but Pinky is not what he was. Instead, he places a paper bag over his head, and introduces himself as “The Unknown Suavo”. Brain realizes, too late, that he accidentally mixed Pinky’s photo of The Unknown Comic into the last run through his machine. Well, so much for influencing the public. Better just plan for tomorrow night – and another scheme to take over the world!

“Los Dos Mojos” (10/8/99), an episode of The Powerpuff Girls, finds the intrepid sisters again in pursuit of evil monkey genius Mojo Jojo, who flies in a compact space saucer through the skies of Townsville. He encounters a tall skyscraper under construction, and runs out of flying room. The girls focus their eyes of Mojo’s saucer and shoot heat beams at it from their eyeballs – but Mojo’s ship is impervious to such attack. Mojo suggests they try his “I-beam”, and uses a laser to cut the cable suspending a large steel beam above the girls’ heads. Blossom and Buttercup duck out, but Bubbles doesn’t see in time – and gets flattened on the pavement below by the falling girder. The last thing she sees before passing out is Mojo in one of his endlessly-repeating victory rants, celebrating his pride that “I am Mojo Jojo!” When she awakens from the blow back in her own bedroom, she mysteriously disappears.

At Mojo Jojo’s lair, while he is in the middle of toweling off from a shower, Mojo discovers his clothes are gone. A shadow approaches, and he is booted out of his own home, still clad only in his towels. Soon a call from the mayor goes out to the Powerpuff Girls, that Mojo is believed to be on the rampage with a giant destruction machine. Blossom and Buttercup can’t find Bubbles, but know they have to answer the distress call anyway. They arrive in town to find a behemoth machine snapping buildings in half, crushing cars under tank treads, and committing various mayhem. As Blossom tells Buttercup to hold their ground, a familiar voice is heard, remarking at how fearsome this attack would be if he himself were actually at the controls of the machine. It’s Mojo, still dripping wet in his towels. Buttercup immediately starts beating up on him, until Blossom points out that he’s not the one in the driver’s seat, so probably innocent. Mojo scoffs at the obviousness of this observation, noting that he is not in the habit of conquering the world in his birthday suit. “Then who is in there”, inquire the girls. “Why don’t you see for yourself”, replies Mojo. Emerging from a door in the machine, amidst a cloud of dramatic smoke, is a silhouette bearing Mojo’s outfit – who in fact turns out to be Bubbles, with amnesia. She goes through her best impression of a Mojo tirade, repeating in five different ways from Sunday that she is not to be called Bubbles, but is the one and only Mojo Jojo. “I do not talk like that,” protests Mojo. “The way I communicate is much different. I do not reiterate, repeat, reinstate the same thing over and over. I am clear, concise…” Enough. Bubbles socks Blossom into a wall. Blossom is about to retaliate, but Buttercup reminds her that she’s their sister, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Bubbles taunts, “What’s the matter, Buttercup. Afraid I’ll whip the skirt off ‘ya?” Buttercup reverts to form: “All right. Let’s kick her butt!” But Blossom unleashes everything she’s got on her sisters, sending them crashing through the pavement into craters in the ground. Mojo shouts Hooray, that the Powerpuff girls have finally been defeated, and proposes that he and Bubbles team up, as with their combined might, they can rule the world. Bubbles again launches into an endless tirade that she will not answer to the name “Bubbles”, and further that there will only be one leader, and that is her, Mojo Jojo, and that there cannot be more than one Mojo Jojo…and on and on. “Aw, shut up!” shouts a completely disgusted Mojo, and hits her with an I-beam again, – restoring Bubbles memory.

“Trading Faces” (10/14/02), an episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, results in yet another transfer of personalities, between Jimmy and rival braniac Cindy, when Jimmy tries to use a portable brain-wave reader on Cindy during a telephone call to attempt to find out in advance her next prank to be played on him. The device works – until a bolt of lightning strikes a telephone pole – resulting in the two exchanging personalities through the telephone wire. Having no immediate ideas how to reverse the process, the two make the most of the opportunity by attempting to ruin each other’s reputation as they impersonate each other in class. “Jimmy” wars a dress to school. “Cindy” acts anything but ladylike, and donates her entire wardrobe to charity. Both choose all the wrong answers on a pop quiz and score their first “F”s, plus chalk up a month of detention for sassing the teacher. Finally calling a sort of truce, Jimmy figures a high-tech way to dump the combined memory contents of their brains into a virtual computer bowl, and have their friends sort out whose memories are whose. They are restored to normal – but both recall a memory while mixed in the computer together of imagining themselves together on a country lane kissing – which neither of them wants to take responsibility for thinking up.

New Shoes (4/14/18 – Eddie Trigueros, dir.), a double-length episode of the new Mickey Mouse shorts made for the Disney Channel, is a bit of a spoof on the studio’s live-action success, “Freaky Friday”. Mickey, Donald and Goofy each mutually compliment each other on how interesting each other’s lives are. Goofy comments to Mickey, “To walk in your shoes, if only for seven minutes!” However, their lives are about to change. The trio accidentally bump into the rear end of Pete, splattering on him a pie Mickey has received as a token of someone’s appreciation. While the three grin apologetically, Pete’s fist morphs into a delivery truck, marked “Pain Express”, and in the least scientific means of brain transfer ever, Pete socks all three of them with a left hook. As they fly through the air, a transparency of their auras becomes visible – rotating their respective spirits onto the bodies of their pals. They collide with the side of a building, but leave unusually-shaped silhouette holes from the impact. Mickey’s hole is shaped like Donald. Donald’s is shaped like Goofy. And Goofy’s like Mickey. What appears to be Goofy speaks in Mickey’s falsetto – “Well, that wasn’t very nice.” Donald talks like Goofy: “Wow, Mick, I didn’t know you could throw your voice. I know I can’t.” Mickey panics in Donald’s voice and throws a classic temper tantrum. Realizing they’ve switched places, Mickey-Goof suggests they try it out and discover their whole new world of possibilities.

Mickey, in a full-fledged musical number, sings of his happiness at reaching new heights of helpfulness as the ultra-tall Goofy (whose helpful deeds even extend to stretching to take the place of a broken railroad trestle, while Casey Jr. and the cast of “Dumbo” safely ride over him in a surprise cameo – with Casey Jones at the throttle from “The Brave Engineer” yet!) Donald-Mickey meanwhile puts to the test whether he can round up free goodies and gifts of appreciation masquerading as Mickey. He receives the red carpet treatment, and his path is strewn with flower petals. He gets complimentary free meals at a reserved table in a swanky restaurant. Meanwhile Goofy-Donald hopes to make the most of Donald’s avian features by planning a vacation which he expects to reach by “winging” it – only to discover after jumping off a roof that Donald can’t fly. As he pulls himself up from the ground, another series of surprise cameos occurs. Chip ‘n’ Dale appear, and immediately start flinging acorns at him. Huey, Dewy, and Louie see “Unca Donald”, and start peppering him with peashooters. Spike the Bee menaces him with his stinger. And Uncle Scrooge (in one of Alan Young’s final voice-overs before his death) pounds Donald with an umbrella, shouting “Where’s that dollar I loaned ‘ya?” Goofy realizes that the lyrics of a certain theme song are true, and shouts them: “Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one but Donald Duck!!” Meanwhile, Mickey-Goof, exhausted from an endless day of good deeds, finds he can hardly enter his own house at his new height, and is miles too tall to even rest in his bed.

Trying to rise from the bed, his nose gets stuck in a ceiling fan. He spins around, knocking over furniture, and is thrown out the window, into the window of the next house. He finds himself in a situation Goofy has faced once before in 1935’s “Mickey’s Fire Brigade” – in the bathroom of an embarrassed and outraged Clarabelle Cow taking a bath. Clarabelle screams for the police, as Mickey-Goof stumble-runs his way down the street. Donald-Mickey is finding being Mickey Mouse rates too much attention – he can’t seem to get away from his adoring public – who clamor for a handshake with an endless line of outstretched hands. As he hides in an alley, he is tackled by the embrace of – Minnie, who announces he almost missed their “ten-minute anniversary”. She warbles him an off-key love song, tries to smother him with kisses, and even offers her heart – literally in her hand, with a smiling face and a clammy aortaic embrace. Donald-Mick has had enough, and runs screaming. All three of our heroes find each other at a street corner, and Mickey-Goof says they’ve got to find a way out of this. Their prayer is instantly answered, as they bump smack into Pete’s rear end again. Another wallop – and the trio’s auras rotate back into the proper bodies. Even their hole silhouettes in the wall they crash into finally match their bodies. For a brief instant, the three group-hug in celebration of being themselves again. But each of their pursuers choose this moment to catch up with them. Donald is again pelted by the chipmunks, the nephews, Spike and Scrooge. Mickey is drowned in Minnie’s kisses. And Clarabelle sics the police on Goofy. The last shot ends with triple irises closing on each of our respective heroes, the last reaction coming from Goofy, who, although he knows he’s headed for the slammer, gives the audience a “thumbs up” as the iris closes. An excellent and spectacular finale to this week’s cerebral musings.

NEXT WEEK: Spacey Invaders!


  • A few more late footnotes: Three episodes from The Disney Afternoon also feature more brain switching.

    Talespin’s “A Baloo Switcheroo” (10/5/90) involves an idol retrieved by an Indiana-Jones style monkey, similar to Garfield’s “The Idol of Id”, which can swap personalities if looked at during a thunderstorm. Of course, Baloo and Kit can’t resist the inevitable peek – and become switched. Each louses up the other’s life – Baloo by blowing Kit’s chance to make the school track team, and Kit by doubling for Baloo in an air race and chalking up the lowest scores in racing history. Meanwhile, Don Karnage attempts to steal the idol from Higher for Hire headquarters, but is intercepted by Becky. Karnage’s sword gets stuck in an electric socket – doubling for another lightning storm – and Becky and Karnage switch bodies too. An air battle and a boarding of Karnage’s Iron Vulture get our group close enough to the idol for another lightning bolt to zap them back to normal – but leave two of Karnage’s crew brain-swapped and hunting for the idol again.

    A Darkwing Duck episode uses the same title as the Jimmy Neutron episode reviewed above – “Trading Faces” (9/24/91) results in personality switches from Darkwing’s attempts to install a supercomputer to index his criminal files – which short circuits, causing Gosalyn to trade brains with Darkwing and Honker to trade with Launchpad. The four have to cooperate to thwart the sinister plans of Steelbeak and F.O.W.L. – hoping not to give Steelbeak the chance to laugh himself silly at their plight.

    A further Darkwing episode, “U.F. Foe” (5/3/92), will be discussed at greater length in a subsequent article, but involves an alien plan to insert a robot brain into Darkwing’s body to use him to interfere with a scheduled marriage between Launchpad and an alien princess. In a far stretch of plausibility, Darkwing’s brain has an extended out-of-body experience trying to get rejoined with the rest of his persona.

    Also, a second Powerpuff Girls episode has some major fun. “Criss Cross Crisis” (9/8/00) has Professor Utonium tinkering with a transformation device to turn apples into oranges and vice versa. Trouble is, it only exchanges their skins. The Professor tries increasing the voltage – but overloads the machinery and transmits waves throughout Townsville that randomly switch pairs of characters into each other. (A notable nod to Disney is included on the marquee of the local theater, which happens to be playing the film, “Freakin’ Friday”.) The Professor wakes up Buttercup – except Buttercup is in his unshaven-faced body and he’s in hers. Blossom has been swapped with the shapely Miss Bellum. And Bubbles has switched with the Mayor. While Utonium tries to figure how to reverse the process, a distress call comes in of a bank robbery. A very-different looking flying trio answers the call – but no one at the bank seems to be able to identify the culprit (witnesses having exchanged bodies with puppy dogs, crying babies, etc.) except a sweet little old lady (who conspicuously wears her hair bundled up like a turban). She fingers Fuzzy Lumpkins, who turns out to be innocent, as he has switched personalities with a dignified Englishman and was merely having tea. The Gangrene Gang is next implicated – but they’ve swapped personalities with fan-magazine mad female teenagers. One of them suggests a certain turban-headed monkey, leading the switched Powerpuffs to crash in on Mojo Jojo’s headquarters – only to find Mojo with the personality of the little old lady and offering milk and cookies! Everyone finally puts two and two together – that the real Mojo is in the old lady’s body. The usual battle ensues with unusual faces. But at a crucial moment, Utomium/Buttercup gets his machine working again. One loose end – he doesn’t know the correct frequency for rebroadcasting the transformation ray, so he tries numbers at random. The first beam inconveniently transforms the Powerpuffs into small animals – and Mojo into a sumo wrestler! As the Powerpuffs are about to be crushed, a second ray transforms Mojo into a fish, and the Powerpuffs into a chef, a fisherman, and an Eskimo. “Dang”, responds Mojo, as the Powerpuffs nearly get the upper hand. Still not right, the Professor keeps sending out new beams. Everyone becomes a monster from Monster Island. Then a rapid fire string of character changes occurs about every two seconds, with all kinds of species and occupations popping up for each character (one quick change even suggests an ersatz version of Popeye!) A zap finally returns Utonium, Bellum, and the Mayor to themselves – but pulling the switch has become so habit-forming that Bellum and the Mayor have to stop the Professor from pulling it one more time. The girls, now facing only the normal Mojo, quickly subdue him and lock him in jail. Reunited at the girls’ home, the good guys/girls thank goodness that everything’s back to normal. All except Bubbles, who finds she’s answering the Professor in the narrator’s voice. The usual “day is saved” ending narration is in turn read by the narrator in Bubbles’ voice, as the “The End” sign appears.

  • You’ve overlooked perhaps the most elegant example of the brain-switch scenario in animation, the Futurama episode “The Prisoner of Benda”. Professor Farnsworth’s mind-swapping machine has a flaw: it can switch minds only once between any given pair of bodies. Episode writer Ken Keeler worked out a theorem proving that, no matter how many mind-swaps had taken place between any number of persons, all minds can be restored to their original bodies by using no more than two individuals who had not previously switched minds with anyone. At least that’s what the DVD commentary says, and I’ll take their word for it. Bravo, Ken!

  • Also in the 1960s Gumby was in one wherew the Blockheads switched buddies (dinosaur) Prickle and Pokey., MAKIGN SQUARES. Glad to see the air date of Tail Tale..

  • “Frankenwoody” from the 1999 “Woody Woodpecker Show” had Wally Walrus as a mad scientist who switches Woody’s body to date a pizza delivery girl (a fox, not Winnie Woodpecker)

  • A couple other brain swaps from Nickelodeon:
    The Fairly OddParents: “Dog’s Day Afternoon” (2001). Angered by the affection his cruel babysitter lavishes on her dog Doidle Timmy has his brain magically swapped with the dog’s. However, Timmy finds out he’s going to the vet to be “fixed” tomorrow, while Doidle takes to being human and is reluctant to go back to his canine form.
    SpongeBob SquarePants: “Welcome to the Chum Bucket” (2002). In another effort to steal the secret Krabby Patty formula, Plankton wins SpongeBob’s employment contract in a (rigged) poker match and has him come work at his restaurant. SpongeBob hates his new position and resists Plankton’s efforts to have him recreate the Krabby Patty. Plankton resorts to drastic measures and removes SpongeBob’s brain and puts it in a robot. Unfortunately for him, doing this simply causes the robot to adopt the sponge’s personality, intransigence and all.

  • I don’t want to leave out a body swapping scenario (albeit briefly) that our own Jerry Beck was involved with: During the second season of Kids WB’s “Big Cartoonie Show” (which consist of segments from other Warner Television cartoons such as “Animaniacs” and occasionally a Looney Tune), certain episodes had new host plot interstitials featuring two flat CGI kids that Jerry created named Karan (Cheryl Chase) and Kirby (Richard Horvitz). In one storyline, the two kids play with the features of some powerful remote controls. During the third segment, they fight over the changing the channel buttons on the remote when they both want to turn an object into something else (Kirby wants pancakes and Karan want a pony). After fighting back and forth, they end up both changing into each others’ bodies! In the final segment, they decided to use the channel changing buttons on themselves in hopes turning back into one’s self. They go through switching into other different forms (including their original concept art) before finally getting back into their normal selves and telling the viewers to never play around with a powerful remote. While I can’t find the segments on YouTube, I did find a 20 second show promo which uses clips from that episode:

  • There’s some good others:
    Powerpuff Girls Z:
    41b. “Trading Faces” (4/14/07)
    One day, the Girls are despondent with their boring normal lives, and thinking about what it’d be like to have what the others have. Blossom thinks having an older sibling would be cute, (just like Buttercup’s older brother Dave) Bubbles would be satisfied if she had a younger sibling (like Blossom’s kid sister Kasey), and Buttercup would rather live with a grandmother. Suddenly, Fuzzy Lumpkins arrives on the scene, wrecking the forest. The Powerpuff Girls arrive and begin battling, until Fuzzy shoots the three into space and they bump into each other’s heads really hard. After a rough landing, Buttercup begins talking in Blossom’s voice, Blossom with Bubbles’, and Bubbles with Buttercup’s. It turns out that the girls were knocked into each other’s bodies! Quite soon, as they walk home, they rethink that what they mentioned earlier will be even easier now that they’ve swapped bodies.
    Later on, they realize that being each other has some downsides, too. The three decide to change back to their old selves, and the only way to do that is to have another battle with Fuzzy Lumpkins, which they do. And after that second crash-landing, now, Blossom ends up in Bubbles’ body, Bubbles in Buttercup’s, and Buttercup in Blossom’s.

  • I saw “Runaway Brain” before “A Kid In King Arthur’s Court” in 1995, and ALSO before the first “George Of The Jungle” with Brendan Fraser in 1997!

  • Also Lantz “Crazy Mixed Up Pup” with Dog/Human Plasma that gets pumped into the worng types (dog plasma, into owner, human plasma into dog), so they change to each other, a Jack Kinney 1960 Popeye, I AM WHAT I YAM YAMNESIA where Popeye and Sweetpea are playing, kncok themselves out, and act like each other, Trans-Lux/Oriolo/Felix the Cat Productions LURING THE MAGIC BAG OF TRICKS (whose title is often wrongly applied to FELIX THE HANDYMAN, aka LIQUID LITE) where the Professor tricks Felix into his lab, and switches brains with him so the bang can be the Professor’s (Felix now i the Professor’s body.)

    Being a baby boomer, Power Puff, Animax TIny Toons, Dexter’s Lab are all out of my interest, so I’ll just stick to the older ones. Thanks!

  • The most disturbing use of this trope its also from Tiny Toons, the penultime episode where Buster sabotages Yosemite Sam for getting a better job as a principal in a more expensive school by making him look bad to the eyes of the headmistress. It all leads to Buster using a machine to swap the rich lady’s brain with the innards of a potato,
    Maybe I was a weird, macabre kid, but all I could think off was of the poor woman being reduced to a eyeless, legless bouncing potato when her body stares brainless at the roof as a vegetal. Sam was more that justified to blow the fleas of that varmint Buster with his Six-Shooter beacuse of that!

    I might add that this kind of plots work much better in cartoons that in live action, just like that one about the characters shrinking or becoming giants, or the evil/rich or evil and rich twin that nobody remembered before the episode where he/she appears, even though the mother of the character logically should knew. Most of the time when such a plot is used in live action its just unbelievable stupid. But, then again, people watches anything.

    I through the idea was about episodes that were science based, not magic based, even if the so called “science” was far for hard science. It seems that in more recent cartoons there’s a preference for using some “new agey” nonsense as explanation that the electric chair-like contraption of yore that looks way cooler and deadlier. Maybe the Jodie Foster movie its to blame. I suppose its easier to teach those “new age” morals that way.

    I think the censors don’t like these type of plots too much, specially if the subjects are male and female, because the cartoonists would make them full of innuendos (and they sure did it), but they argue it teaches “empathy, putting in each other shoes, yada yada”, and all that tripe.

    There some new, weird variation, I think first used with Garfield and Nermal, where the characters swap roles and/or body shapes or clothes but everyone acts like its normal, the names and voices stay the same too. and sometimes some of the personality. I don’t know how to call it, other that “the derivative plot to milk the swapping junk dry”

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