British animated series by Cosgrove Hall, running on ITV from 1981 to 1992, starring (now Sir) David Jason as the voice of Danger Mouse, a mouse who is the world's greatest secret agent. Accompanied by his somewhat more timid (and bumbling) partner, Penfold, Danger Mouse saves the world each week from a variety of menaces ranging from fiends and monsters to their own narrator. Although an entertaining and original series in its own right, Danger Mouse actually began as a parody of Danger Man (which is better known in the United States as Secret Agent, and as the forerunner of The Prisoner).Not to be confused with the music producer of the same name (aka Brian Burton). David Morgan-Mar of Irregular Webcomic! has also taken Danger Mouse as a nickname.
Accent Adaptation: Odd example in Stiletto Mafiosa. In the original broadcast he had an Italian accent, but when the show was handed over to Nickelodeon in America, he was redubbed with a Cockney accent. The recent DVD set by A&E gives him back the Italian accent, which is quite a surprise to people who grew up on the Nickelodeon cartoons.
A few of Stiletto's lines were changed as well. In "Public Enemy No. 1" after DM suffers his amnesia-inducing bump to the head, this exchange:
Stiletto: All right...I am surrendered!
DM: Hmmm? Oh...how do you do, Mr. Surrendered.
Stiletto: Eh? Is this a British joke, signor? (in America with Stiletto's accent change, the line was changed to "Don't you know who I am, guv?")
"London, a city shrouded in shadows. From Shoreditch to Shooters hill, from Shaftesbury Street to Shepherds Bush, shoppers shrink as shady shapes shuffle shiftely. Who can shatter the sinister shutters? Shout for the nation's shield! Shend for Dangermoushe!"
The main characters are usually given descriptive titles, with DM as "the White Wonder," Penfold "the Hopeless Hamster" and Greenback "the Terrible Toad."
Averted in "The Statue of Liberty Caper": The White House Secret Service Men all wear sunglasses and talk in government-ese, and the crowd viewing DM and Penfold's ticker tape parade at the end are regular folk.
Big Bad: Baron Silas Greenback. In the 1979 pilot "The Mystery Of The Lost Chord," he was named Greenteeth.
Big Bad Wannabe and Cartoonish Supervillainy: Dr. Crumhorn, a wolfish creature introduced in series 10, has Penfold imprisoned ("Penfold Transformed") and calls Greenback a "fat and feckless fool." Of course, Greenback takes umbrage and sends in Stiletto in a Penfold outfit to pair up against Crumhorn's Penfold robot in a bid to see who can destroy Danger Mouse first.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: In "The Duel", Greenback claims to have hit all targets in a shooting gallery. He hands DM a shotgun with the muzzle bent almost entirely back on itself. DM then one-ups him by aiming the bent shotgun just right that the shot Pinball Projectiles off the edges of the gallery, hitting every target, including one last ricochet that takes a long pause to arrive.
Similarly in "Afternoon Off With The Fangboner," DM can shoot a golf ball in all eighteen holes in one shot. (He actually hits it in seventeen holes, but the ball rolls in the eighteenth after he and Penfold leave).
DM: I sometimes wonder if that round-in-one at Gleneagles was just a fluke.
Bizarro Universe: The Tower of Terror. Also, "Rhyme And Punishment" and the "potty part of the Universe" in "Custard."
Clip Show: "Demons Aren't Dull" uses scenes from previous episodes in the segment where DM is being humiliated on a testimonial show. "The Return Of Count Duckula" uses a slightly altered segment from "The Four Tasks Of Danger Mouse."
Comic Book Adaptation: Danger Mouse regularly appeared in ITV-Thames' "Look-In" series of books and was generally very faithful (adding a new character—Greenback's "white sheep" nephew Hopalong Casually). Displaced in Marvel Comics' editions (seen in issues of the Count Duckula book)—no pillar box, Off Model art (an eyebrow over DM's eyepatch), and continuity issues (Miss Boathook seen as a sexpot who in one story flirts with DM).
Cool Car: DM's wheels, officially named "The Hero's Car" (or the Mk. III).
Everything's Better With Hamsters: In "Tiptoe Through the Penfolds," Greenback's duplicating machine goes haywire on a test run and creates non-stop clones of Penfold until they virtually flood London. (The real Penfold is doing a dissertation of "Cowardice Without Guilt" at the annual congress of Cowards Anonymous.)
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Grovel, the robot servant of the alien Quark. Every time his name is called, he drops to the ground, grovels and apologizes.
Freeze Frame Bonus: In "Danger Mouse On The Orient Express," a number of signs indicating cities the train is going through are passed by rapidly. The last one is the sign for the Willesden Green tube station.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Extremely rare, but one instance has the fog monster of old London Town in The Four Tasks Of Danger Mouse disguising himself as a bath house where DM is taking a shower. The fog monster dissipates leaving DM in front of us, bare-bottomed. Another has DM with this couplet in Penfold B.F. as Penfold (as rhyming superhero The Blue Flash) continues to mess up his attempts to capture a Patagonian pygmy pigeon:
DM: Penfold, you're being quite absurd,
And you deserve to get the bird!
A rather mild instance: In "Turn Of The Tide," Penfold makes a malapropism of the name of the moon crater Copernicus, calling it "copper knickers."
In the same episode he also refers to Lars Bosom (large busom).
Heel Face Turn: "The Ultra Secret Secret" has Greenback presumably wanting to join forces with Danger Mouse in staving off an alien attack. Subverted in that the alien attack is Greenback's ruse to lure DM and Penfold to their doom.
Murphy: The M-4 is a motorway that runs from London to South Wales, ask me another Magnus!
Penfold: This is definitely getting worse.
From What a Three-Point Turn-Up for the Book, as DM and Penfold look for their bicycles:
Narrator: Has Danger Mouse taken to handlebars because he must dash? (Moustache? Must dash? Get it?)
In "Turn Of The Tide," Professor Squawkencluck gets frustrated with an explanation of what's caused the ocean to submerge London and started screaming some amount of "Nein, nein, nein!" Whenever he did, Penfold would be nearby with a calculator, reading off the total of the "nines".
In "Mechanized Mayhem", when the machines reveal their plans for world domination, the telephone proclaims "From now on, we are the true rulers," and a 12-inch wooden ruler quips "Especially me." (Never mind that a ruler is not a machine.)
To be fair, the ruler is drawn as if it were metal so it could one of those types with the calculator on them.
Really bad puns are duly lampshaded, like this one from "Tut Tut, It's Not Pharaoh":
DM: (to mummy parking lot attendant) We're looking for the amulet of Eggonophus.
Mummy: Have you tried the Pyramids of Cheops?
Mummy: Better step on it, then.
DM: Why's that?
Mummy: The Cheops shut at half past five. Ha, ha...ha ha ha ha.
DM: (long suffering) Good grief. That joke's worse than one of yours, Penfold.
Hypocritical Humour: Several times throughout the series. The Penfold robot in "Penfold Transformed" for example, after DM wonders aloud if he's all right because he's smart, helpful and not cracking stupid jokes:
Penfold robot: (Turns to the camera) He's talking to a crowd of invisible people and he's asking if I'm alright?
In "The Spy Who Stayed In With A Cold," Danger Mouse claims he's the most modest secret agent.
From "Where There's A Well, There's A Way":
DM: Come on, Penfold. You'll have people laughing at you.
Penfold: (to us) So what does he think this is? "King Lear"?
Ink Suit Actor: Tennis star John McEnroe is caricatured as a robot in "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat."
Kneel Before Zod: Baron Greenback's purpose in "Viva Danger Mouse" is to plant cactus needles in the seat cushions of the world's dignitaries so "I can bring them to their feet before bringing them to their knees!"
In "Danger Mouse On The Orient Express," DM exclaims that Greenback's plans to eliminate all of Europe's tourist sites and force tourists to visit his museum of Barry Manilow record sleeves will "bring the world to its knees!"
Lazy Artist: Lampshaded in "Quark! Quark!" When Penfold asks why he and DM are disguised as a camel, DM explains it's because the animators couldn't draw horses.
And in "The Good, the Bad and the Motionless." DM's evil alter ego has Penfold in suspended animation, which DM chalks up to the animators being on their tea break.
All the animation in "Danger Mouse Saves The World...Again," except for that of Greenback's congress of evil doers and DM waking up from the episode-long dream, is either repeat animation from previous episodes or stock animation.
Apparently an unusual number of episodes were set in the Arctic or other snowbound scenes because they required less colouring in.
Left the Background Music On: "Play It Again, Wufgang" centres on the destruction of the world's music, which cripples our heroes since they're physically incapable of doing anything without accompanying BGM. They finish the episode via blatantly-lampshadedDiegetic Music provided by a cassette player (which has been kept in safe storage for just such an occasion). Difficulties with cueing the right music leads to a hilarious climactic series of Soundtrack Dissonance, which actually causes the scene to go wrong until the right music is played.
Leitmotif: One episode has a mole who speaks with a "Yorkshire miner" stereotype accent; whenever he's on screen, Dvorak's "New World Symphony" (inextricably associated with Yorkshire poverty through Hovis adverts) plays in the background.
Seasons 2 through 4 were serialized as weekly story arcs. There were six arcs per season, each consisting of five 5-minute installments.
These 5-minute installments were sometimes spliced together to make full-length episodes on home video releases. Some fans actually lament this, as these versions are consequently missing the really terrible puns that would invariably smother the ending narration, and sometimes cast dialogue addressing the cliffhanger as well. Nickelodeon aired these stories as same-day two-parters.
No Fourth Wall: Every episode has at least one instance, and there are a lot where it's the basis of the whole plot.
At one point, while Penfold is talking to the audience...
Danger Mouse: Penfold, who are you talking to?
Penfold: No one, chief. Well, I hope it's not no one, chief, but, um, no one, chief.
In "Tower of Terror", DM even falls off the edge of the film.
Omniglot: DM can speak every language ever invented.
DM: ...but gibberish isn't one of them. (From "Close Encounters Of The Absurd Kind")
On Second Thought: ..."here's the weather forecast." (The narrator at the end of 100 Million Years Lost when Henry V goes too far into his "Once more into the breach" speech at the Battle of Agincourt.)
"Custard" has DM, Penfold, and the Custard Mite of Glutt stranded in a pink hole, and they emerge on Earth through a time traveler's potting shed.
Also in evidence a lot in the licensed game Danger Mouse in the Black Forest Chateau, starting with the title. One scene has our hero falling into a moat, and attracting the attention of a shark — "unfortunately he's a lone shark, and takes a great deal of interest".
Precision F-Strike: An extremely mild case, from "The Wild Wild Goose Chase" with DM and Penfold traversing a desert.
Narrator: On they trod through the hot sands of a noonday sun and the merciless hell of a waterless desert.
DM: You know, Penfold, after trodding through the hot sands of a noonday sun and the merciless hell of a waterless desert, I don't feel quite so lucky anymore.
Similarly in "The Strange Case Of The Ghost Bus," the narrator describes the Himalayas (up where DM and Penfold are hiking) as a "white hell."
Rhymes on a Dime: Penfold in Penfold B.F. after he takes an untested super vitamin pill and turns into superhero The Blue Flash:
Penfold: A superhero's how I'm feeling,
Hope the chief's not cross about his ceiling!
But now, the real me has been unfurled,
And I'm the greatest in the world!
In "I Spy With My Little Eye," Penfold wishes upon a star:
Penfold: Oh, little star that shines so bright,
I'd like a wish if that's all right.
Oh, little star in the ink-black heaven...
D.M.: Forget it, Penfold. It's a 747!
The narrator in "Once Upon A Timeslip."
Right-Hand Cat: Nero's a... furry caterpillar-thing, but it's obvious what trope he's invoking.
Running Gag: In the final series, Greenback activates a "Hit Box", which conks Stiletto on the head three times whenever he says or does something stupid.
Stiletto: (each time he gets hit) Ow...ow....and OW!!
"Turn Of The Tide" has the running gag of Penfold squawking about his missing toy clockwork paddleboat.
"Duckula Meets Frankenstoat" cracks a spoonerism of "a block of flats" instead of "a flock of bats" (which Dr. Frankenstoat's machine is to create). The cast repeats and lampshades it twice.
"One Of Our Stately Homes Is Missing": Penfold's "I knew I shouldn't have asked!"
Scotland: The setting of one story, in which the villain was attempted to build a bagpipe-powered sonic cannon. This was series 1 episode Who Stole the Bagpipes?, which was a reworked edition of the original 1979 pilot, The Mystery of the Lost Chord.
Sdrawkcab Alias: Dlofnep the Magnificent in The Hickory Dickory Dock Dilemma is a future Penfold ("Dlofnep" backwards for) who rules London!!
Shout Out: To Danger Man. Also, "Custard" has a scene that calls out to the final Death Star battle scene in Star Wars.
"The Intergalactic 147" is most likely taken from the ending of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (primary phase), where Ford Prefect relates a tale of a planet in the seventh dimension getting potted into a black hole in a game of intergalactic billiards (only worth 30 points). The Danger Mouse episode has Earth in line to be potted into the black hole Alpha Omega in a game of intergalactic snooker, which would give the player (whatever it is) the maximum score of 147.
The scene from "Pillow Fright" of DM giving the pillow army their marching orders not only apes "The Sorceror's Apprentice" (from Fantasia) but also uses the music from it.
"'Cor! What A Picture:" Penfold has been turned into a kung fu assassin by Greenback (through a machine which has manipulated a photo of Penfold). As he tries to attack DM, our hero quips, "Penfold...you've been watching The Pink Panther again, haven't you?"
"Custard" has them get lost in a pink hole and find "a time-traveler's potting shed." The same episode also spoofs Alien—a Facehugger attaches itself to Penfold, but only to give him a big, sloppy kiss.
DM: Because if you don't, this story will come to a grinding stop and our viewers will never forgive us.
Mac The Spoon: Oh, jenks! We canna' have that! Um...who are all these viewers?
Penfold: Well, there's a chap in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, two blokes from Wentworth, and a bod from Winkley Woods.
As an in-joke, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy is the city (suburb of Manchester) where the Cosgrove-Hall studio was located.
Your Size May Vary: Sometimes the animators were inconsistent with the size of DM and Penfold, even though the beginning of every episode shows them living in a pillar box. A lot of the time they were their normal rodent size, but sometimes they were the size of short humans.
It wasn't just DM and Penfold. The episode "Bandits, Beans and Ballyhoo" even had Mexican bandito El Loco smuggling himself into the country by hiding in their luggage, and he doesn't exactly have any trouble fitting inside the pillar box.