Mickey Mouse, created back in 1928, is now an enduring icon. Despite being 80 years old, the character remains as popular today as he has ever been. Recognizable the world over, the animated character has starred in a number of movies and television series, the most recent being Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The computer animated series starring Mickey and his friends recently released their latest DVD, Mickey's Storybook Surprises.
The DVD features four episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, all of which have their roots in the written word – three in fairy tales and one mystery (this last episode, “Minnie's Mystery,” is the only one not to have aired on TV). As with every episode in the series, these feature Mickey and the gang trying to accomplish a single main task over the course of an episode, with several different smaller tasks being required in order to complete the larger one. In addition to having the help of Donald, Daisy, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto, Mickey has a new helper in the series – Toodles. It is the job of Toodles (who is best described as a robotic entity which has the classic Mickey shape of one large circle with two smaller ones on top) to carry the various tools that Mickey will need to perform tasks during the episode.
Save for “Minnie's Mystery” which is more Sherlock Holmes-like, the episodes on the disc overtly play off of old fairytales, such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel.” Of course, while the original Grimm's fairytales often featured terribly serious, dark moment, there is nothing of the sort to be found here. Though the stakes are sometimes large — in “Sleeping Minnie” if Mickey and company are unable to successfully complete their goals Minnie will sleep for 100 years — there is never any real sense of danger. Mickey might momentarily be unsure of what his next step is, but such a moment is unfailingly followed by the answer being provided by one of his friends or a request for the viewer's help (which leads to a momentary pause and the show then assuming the viewer gave the correct response).
Though I find it shocking, there is a segment of our population who dislike Mickey and nothing in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will do anything to convince them they are wrong. However, anyone who can still sense the child inside of themselves (or who watches with a child) will be able to delight in the wonder and amazement of what takes place. Over the course of the 25 minute runtime of each episode there are songs, games, mirth, and a sense of accomplishment by the end.
It should be noted that the episodes on the disc either aired or were seemingly produced for the first season of the show. Consequently, longtime fans of the series will note that Mickey refers to the dance at the end of the show as the “Mouskedance” rather than the “Hot Dog!” and while he introduces Toodles in every episode he does not sing about Toodles in the “Mouskedoer” song.
The opening theme and “Hot Dog!” (which is still the name of the song even if not the dance) were written by They Might Be Giants, and enhance the experience tremendously. They fit perfectly with the overall jubilance of the series. They are, in short, just one more great aspect of the well-crafted series.
Watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Mickey's Storybook Surprises makes it quite clear why Mickey is so enduring, and even if somehow happen to miss it on the screen, you will see it on the face of any child who watches.