In 1998, the stars of the Classic Disney Shorts returned to starring in regular cartoon shorts. But rather than being made to play right before selected movies in theaters (although a few of them actually premiered there anyway), these new cartoons were going to be shown alongside other Disney cartoons like Recess and Pepper Ann. Mickey Mouse and the gang's new show, titled Mickey MouseWorks, made its debut on ABC's One Saturday Morning programming block on May 1, 1999. It followed a Three Shorts format, with each five-minute short starring one of Mickey's gang, and even mixing characters who rarely, if ever, interacted in the older cartoons (i.e. Mickey taking care of Donald Duck's nephews or Mickey trying to impress Minnie Mouse when he thinks she's leaving him for José Carioca). Sometimes, the characters starred in newly-made installments of the Silly Symphonies, in which the stories were set entirely to music and without dialogue. Once per Episode, there would also be one or two 90-second gag shorts with the following umbrella titles:
Mickey to the Rescue: Mickey breaks into Pete's not-at-all-secret hideout to rescue Minnie from the traps within.
Maestro Minnie: Minnie conducts shortened musical pieces with a rather rebellious orchestra.
Donald's Dynamite: Someone apparently has it out for Donald Duck, because he keeps finding lit bombs in the middle of his activities.
Von Drake's House of Genius: Ludwig Von Drake shows off his latest invention, which then backfires in some way. Hilarity Ensues.
Pluto Gets the Paper: Pluto has humorous incidents while trying to fetch Mickey's newspaper.
In addition, MouseWorks also occasionally ran shorts that ran twice the usual length, dubbed Mouse Tales, in which the characters performed classic stories they hadn't already done adaptations for.Reception to Mickey MouseWorks was generally mixed among the fans of the characters. There were folks who believed the show was indeed a worthy Spiritual Successor to the theatrical shorts it was based on, but there were others who complained that maybe Mickey and friends' new adventures were trying too hard to be likethe competition, and that the good things that came up were just rehashed from the original shorts. It is generally agreed, though, that the series' finest episode was the double-length short "Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot", a loose adaptation of a Floyd Gottfredson storyline from the Mickey Mouse comic strip.Regardless of what everyone thought of MouseWorks, it received a major Retooling in the middle of its third season. On January 13, 2001, Mickey MouseWorks was replaced with a new series titled Disney's House of Mouse, and this time, the cartoon shorts were being presented with a framing device.The concept of House of Mouse was that Mickey and his friends were now running an eponymous nightclub, whose entertainment consisted of special musical guests and showing the cartoon shorts produced for MouseWorks (some of which had not aired previously) to an audience of Disney characters. The guests consisted almost entirely of characters from all of the Disney Animated Canon films up to 2001's Atlantis: The Lost Empire (and none of the Pixar films, for obvious reasons), and sometimes characters from the Silly Symphonies shorts (mostly "Three Little Pigs", though). The series did feature cameo appearances by characters from other Disney TV cartoons (Pepper Ann and her mom are seen outside the House in the first episode), the comic books (Scrooge McDuck bought the House in one episode), theme park attractions (the Hitchhiking Ghosts, also in the first episode), and even live-action movies (Herbie from The Love Bug, Benny the Cab from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the lightcycles from TRON in "Max's New Car"), but these were few and far between. Curiously, unlike the later Lilo & Stitch: The Series, House of Mouse also did not do any Crossovers with other currently-running Disney cartoons like Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Lloyd in Space.A recurring plot thread to House of Mouse was the threat of the nasty landlord, Pete. He intends to close and tear the House down (what he intends to construct in its place is never mentioned), but this is a goal he cannot obtain because his contract states that he cannot tear the House down so long as Mickey and the gang have an audience to perform for. Thus, in almost every episode he's in, Pete hatches some Evil Scheme to drive the audience away, ranging from sabotaging the entertainment to contaminating the air conditioning with Pumbaa's fart-gas.52 episodes of House of Mouse were produced, but only half of them were aired on One Saturday Morning before it was revamped and replaced with ABC Kids in September 2002. As a result, House of Mouse was taken off of ABC and moved to the Disney Channel and Toon Disney, where the remaining 26 episodes aired alongside the previously aired ones as well. During the show's run, a few MouseWorks shorts were packaged with some of the classic shorts onto video compilations, but had their title cards cut out and replaced with newly-made framing animation, and were advertised as two direct-to-video movies - Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse and Mickey's House of Villains.
An Aesop: This is made the subject of the song performed in "Thanks to Minnie".
Animation Bump: While all the episodes are well animated, some are animated somewhat more intricately than the others - particularly in the fluidity of the characters' motions and more detailed coloring (most noticeable in Mickey's scenes on stage, where the light from the spotlight is much better incorporated in his coloring in some episodes than others). Good examples of these are "Pete's House Of Villains," and "Timon and Pumbaa."
Animated Actors: Implied; the characters don't exactly act the same way in the House of Mouse as they do in their films, especially the villains. (The worst thing Jafar does is turn Donald into a literalLarge Ham). For the shorts, it's zig-zagged: some are presented as things the characters acted in, others are presented as things that actually happened.
Invoked in one episode, where all the cartoons are stolen. The next cartoon is presented as one Mickey and Goofy went and made on the spot.
Come Back My Pet: In "Pluto vs. The Watchdog", Mickey, thinking Pluto is too idiotic to be a watchdog, buys a new dog named Muncy. However, the watchdog is really working with Pete so he can rob Mickey. Pluto saves the day at the end.
Couch Gag: Before the show's opening starts, Mike the Microphone usually says something that may relate to the episode about to be shown. For example, he said "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Disney's House of Mouse!" before the episode that featured Super Goof.
Flanderization: Quite a bit for several of the movie characters (the most obvious one being Gaston, who's basically turned into a living Running Gag), mostly thanks to the many Shout Outs to their original movies.
Furry Reminder: Two gags involve Mickey acquiring more mouse-like traits such as drinking out of giant water bottle and being asked if he needs a run on his exercise wheel. Another involves Donald wading through a flooded House of Mouse, quacking indiscriminately and tripping face first into the water as if he were a wild duck looking for food.
Go Karting with Bowser: Both the heroes and villains from the various Disney movies wine and dine at the House of Mouse. Hades even single-handedly prevents it from going under at one point by staying during a heatwave, ensuring they have an audience.
Jafar also gets a chance to save it. When Daisy fails epically at magic and makes it disappear, Jafar shows up (he was late, which is why Daisy tried to do magic in the first place to replace his act) and sings a cover of Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.
There's actually a main reason why she had to be shown in her queen dress at the end of the film: her princess outfit is actually too "adult" to be shown in a child-friendly show by Disney. Too bad Cree Summer's not there to voice her.
Jail Bake: One cartoon has Mickey ask Goofy to do this after Mickey is locked in jail. The guard notices; and he and Goofy end up having a long discussion on how this wouldn't really work and what tools should have been used, ending with the guard concluding that the easiest way to escape would be to knock him out. The guard then proceeds to do so to himself.
Several of the guests and/or episode centric characters, particularly the ones related to Donald Duck (Baby Shelby, Humphrey, the Aracuan Took a Level in Jerkass for this show, etc). Pain and Panic have an episode to themselves that specifically plays up how jerkish they are.
Most of the villains, though they're generally willing to be amiable. Sometimes. Just make sure you don't tick them off.
Musical Nod: A surprisingly large amount of them hidden in the background music - a great example: in the episode "Ladies Night" Minnie is the host instead of Mickey. When she comes out, the band plays an instrumental of "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo" that is easy to miss under the dialogue and sound effects. Plus, nearly every musical number in the show is a redone version of an older Disney song.
My Hair Came Out Green: In one short, Minnie Mouse accidentally dyes Pluto's fur purple after mistaking a bottle of purple dye for shampoo. She then tries to find ways to get the purple dye off, including painting the dog with a can of "Pluto-colored Paint" (which is the same shade of orange as Pluto's fur).
Mythology Gag: Many jokes with the guests are references to their respective movies. There are also several jokes that reference the past works of Mickey and the rest of the staff, and there are a ton of gags hidden in the music.
Seriously. Just try and count the number of Steamboat Willie jokes throughout the series. Or the number of sailor suit gags about Donald. Or the times Pete is either related to piracy or called "Peg-Leg."
In Pete's House of Villains Ariel holds up a sign that reads: "Someone stole my voice again".
Negative Continuity: Guests at the House of Mouse aren't restricted to one specific form. Simba regularly flip-flops between his cub and adult forms, and Ariel makes appearances in both human and mermaid form. Plus all the many villain guests that died in their movies.
And Jafar can drive the Cave of Wonders, in spite of the original Cave of Wonders neither moving nor letting Jafar in.
Plus, for any Beauty and the Beast characters, they all appear as their enchanted selves — for example, the Beast is still a beast and Lumiere and Cogsworth are still a candelabra and a clock, respectively.
In the first episode after Minnie said "The crowd is turning ugly.", Beast in his human form turns back into a beast.
In one episode, Figaro is shown as Minnie's pet in the same show where his usual owner Geppetto is a regular.
Never My Fault: When Daisy finds out that Donald paid Mickey to put her act on stage, she quits because that's not how she wants to get her break; Donald responds to this by blaming Mickey for getting her mad at him.
Parody Commercial: Almost every episode ended with Mic performing one of these, announcing the fake product which had sponsored that particular episode. For example, there was "Disney Magic", a spritz which was guaranteed to make even the grouchiest person smile; the product was then demonstrated, transforming Grumpy the dwarf into Happy the dwarf.
Punch Clock Villain: Most of the Disney baddies appear to be these, at least in this show. When they're at the club, they're off the clock and — for the most part — are just relaxing.
And even when they do do something bad, it doesn't even compare to the atrocities they committed in their respective films (for example, Jafar in the Mickey's House of Villains film merely uniting the other villains to take over the House of Mouse when in Aladdin, he tried to have the title character drowned.
Puppy-Dog Eyes: Max uses these in order to finally get a car from Goofy.
Read the Fine Print: It is repeatedly stated that as long as Mickey and company put on a show, they get to keep the club.
Real Person Cameo: At one point, during a song by Ludwig Von Drake about the guests in the club, Roy E. Disney gets mentioned and even appears as an animated character.
Reality Warper: Many characters can do this on a single gag basis as long it's funny, but none surpass the Aracuan for sheer physics and causality breakage.
Rebus Bubble: Mickey does this to figure out that Mortimer has played him for a sap.
"Gone Goofy," "Not-So Goofy" and "Dining Goofy" all have the basic premise of Goofy being too... well... goofy, and the rest of the staff deciding something needs to be done about his clumsiness, only for their plan to succeed too well and for them to want Goofy back (or in Donald's case, to tolerate him a bit more) by the end. Likewise, both "Clarabelle's Christmas List" and "Clarabelle's Big Secret" use the plot of Clarabelle having a secret gossip bombshell that she plans to unveil at the end of the show, which causes the rest of the cast - paranoid about being embarrassed - to go nuts trying to her from revealing it.
Running Gag: Thomas O'Malley and the Alley Cats from The Aristocats are constantly invited to perform at the House, but something always happens that results in their act being cancelled.
Also "nobody (does X) like Gaston."
Something happening to cause all the guests to leave in a rush, trampling Donald as he tries to stop them.
Aladdin stealing other peoples' bread. One episode combines this with the previous gag by having the audience rush to the exit, with Aladdin at the rear carrying armfuls of bread from the kitchen.
One that comes from a short in Mouseworks and continues into House Of Mouse: people, particularly machines, calling Donald "Duwald" thanks to (intentionally or accidentally) misunderstanding his speech - much to his chagrin.
Mr. Toad's insane driving, which often takes him crashing through the front doors and careening through the club. In one episode he gets in a high speed chase and arrested.
Scenery Censor: Goofy wrote the lyrics for a song he's singing on cards attached to various part of his body. He removes the clothes that hides these cards (including his Goofy Print Underwear) until the cards are the only thing hiding his dignity.
Chernabog is once seen sitting at a table inside the club, and he's just as nude as in his segment in the film. The table blocks the view, though.
Of all the films that were referenced in that show, Alice in Wonderland was referenced the most (33+ characters in all), while Tarzan was referenced the least (only one character, Tantor the elephant appeared).
One of the music numbers has the townspeople from "Beauty And The Beast" in a band as the "Angry Villager People" in a lengthy Village PeopleShout-Out.
Spanner in the Works: One plot of Pete's was to sabotage the thermostat so that it was unbearably hot, driving the customers out. As Pete goes to gloat and demand the house over, he and Mickey find one last customer: Hades.
Thememobile: Several characters who didn't have a vehicle in their movie are given a thematic car in House of Mouse. When Jafar isn't utterly breaking canon by the aforementioned driving-the-Cave-of-Wonders, he has a snake car.
Took a Level in Badass: Mickey in House Of Villains. When his usual cheerful diplomatic nature is laughed off by the roster of villains, the mouse finds his old Fantasia wizard hat, and starts throwing fireballs in a Tennis Boss match against Jafar.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Uncle Scrooge, compared to his more benevolent previous animated depiction in DuckTales. In general, his depiction here seems to borrow more from his meaner, more antagonistic depiction in his early comic appearances (or his comically exaggerated depiction in Italian comics), to the point that the show's adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days uses him as a full-blown villain.
The Trope Formerly Known as X: The Duck Formerly Known As Donald. The whole incident inspired Mickey to close out the episode as "The Mouse Currently Known As Mickey".
In another episode, Pete performs on stage and is referred to as "The Villain Formerly Known As Peg-Leg Pete."
Unholy Matrimony: There's a Hades/Maleficent episode. Hades wants to impress Maleficent and Mickey gives him advice that only makes the situation worse. But when Hades gets mad at Mickey and stops being nice, Maleficent likes him and the two of them leave together. It ends with Mickey giving the (rather broken) message "Even if you're a bad-tempered lord of the underworld, you should always be yourself!"
The same episode has a great Funny Moment, when Hades emerges from Mickey's dressing room dressed as Mickey, which comes down to a Mickey Mouse hat, a pair of big shoes, big while gloves, and Mickey's red pants. And nothing else!Here.Take a look◊.
Maleficent seems to be a bit of a Disney Villain Dude Magnet in the series; in "Max's Embarrassing Date", she can be seen on a date with Jafar (which doesn't go too well), and in "House of Villains" she flirts with Chernabog, who claims to "love her work".
The Unintelligible: Both Gus Goose and Clara Cluck only communicate via honking and clucking sounds respectively.
Jafar gets his own one, too, and it must be seen to be believed. 5:01 onwards
The House of Villains Halloween Special has one for all the Disney villains: It's our house now!
The Villain Sucks Song: "Mortimer, Mortimer, Mortimer Mouse" in House Of Mouse — was originally a song penned by Mortimer to sing his own praises, but Daisy, Clarabelle and Minnie reworked the lyrics because as they were, the audience was not buying it.
Visual Pun: Happens quite a lot. For example, "The crowd is turning ugly!" (cue cut to Prince Adam turning back into a beast) and two line sketches saying that Mickey is lucky to be "overdrawn" because "We're not done yet!"
What Happened to the Mouse?: Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed In at The House Of Mouse ends with everyone still snowed in at the House Of Mouse, but at least Donald has "Christmas spirit" now.
Witch with a Capital B: Daisy tries to move some villains to different seats and Hades says "Witch" in this tone. It doubles as Insult Friendly Fire since he's sitting with Jafar, Ursula, and the queen from Snow White.
World of Pun: Aside from being anthropomorphic, the technology in the house seems to run entirely on this. One time, the battery for the main power went dead, until being startled awake by the Minnie and co charging it. Another time, Pete's evil plan revolved around taking money the thermostat owed him until it was broke. Here's another example:
Geppetto: I didn't get a wink of sleep last night. Pinocchio: I slept like a log!
Artistic License - Geography: In "Mickey's Rival Returns", Mickey is flung into the sky where you can see a few states which are labeled... completely wrong. For example, Nevada has New York written on it and New Mexico is labeled as Florida.
Art Shift: Donald briefly turns into a CGI when getting sucked into his computer in "computer.don".
Author Guest Spot: The nasty fax Mickey intended to send to Mortimer ends up going to Roy Disney.
Badly Battered Babysitter: Happens to Donald (and in one House storyline, Mickey) when he has to babysit Shelby the Turtle. Then we have the Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoon "Babysitters"...
Bait and Switch: "How to Be a Waiter" is a perfect example of this trope. The cartoon starts out by showing the lowdown of being a waiter, but it becomes too much for Goofy, and so he shoots for a better career as a movie star, which is pretty much what the cartoon remains about. Ironically, the movie Goofy stars in casts him as... a waiter!
"How to Wash Dishes" does pretty much the same thing, right up to the Book Ends ending, except replace "waiter" with "dishwasher" and replace "being a movie star" with "Goofy going on vacation".
Canis Latinicus: Goofy, in a biking cartoon, is introduced as "Goofilious Bike-Pedalous".
Cant Get Away With Nothing: Often, especially when it comes to Donald - as usual, the fates punish him for every transgression, overblown or otherwise. A good singular example involves Mickey, however - he finds an envelope on the ground and instead of trying to find the owner he buys a bow for Minnie. Immediately after he finds out that the money was for orphans in order to keep them from being kicked out on the street. Ouch. Hijinks ensue.
Closer to Earth: Played straight with Minnie, played with with Daisy - both Donald and Daisy can play the more grounded in their relationship Depending on the Writer, as Donald is impulsive and temperamental while Daisy is childish and often oblivious to others.
Characterization Marches On: All of the characters have specific characterizations for their cartoons, which are consistent in show but somewhat different from what they've had previously. For example...
Episode Title Card: The main ensemble gets faceplates, followed by "A (character's name) cartoon", as in the classic era. Daisy and Minnie each get one for the first time. There's a separate one for episodes shared by the ¡Three Amigos!: Mickey, Donald, and Goofy. All of them have corresponding Leitmotifs.
Exact Words: In one Pluto Gets the Paper short, Mortimer tricks Pluto to get into a taxi to which he tells the driver to take Pluto "to the other side of town and step on it." The taxi moves... just a few feet away and then Pluto gets oi. Mortimer soon realizes why; he sent Pluto to "The Other Side of Town" street and "Step on It" lane!
Gallows Humor: Surprisingly, an example is found in "Organ Donors" where Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are hired to bring an organ to a demented toymaker that wants Mickey's heart to bring his doll bride to life.
Mickey: He didn't want to donate an organ! He wanted me to donate my organs!
Goofy: And you're not even done with them.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of Von Drake's shorts features him having a device that lets you see into the future, which alludes to the existence of sexbots. The Professor is going to have "some fun" indeed.
Gilligan Cut: Donald says no to the idea of dressing up like Daisy in "Mickey's Big Break". One clockwise screen wipe later...
Goofy Print Underwear: Goofy tends to lose his pants quite a bit, and underneath it's always white boxers with red hearts.
I Lied: The narrator to a Nutcracker special goads Donald into playing the role of the mouse king by saying that he'll win in the end. When he doesn't, the narrator claims to have "made a mistake."
Jerkass: Donald, sometimes. Daisy, particularly in shorts starring Minnie.
Leitmotif: Everybody who had a cartoon starring them had a "title card" song that doubled as a leitmotif. That's Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Donald/Mickey/Goofy as a team, Minnie and Daisy. Each motif appeared in most cartoons in which they appeared, even if they were not actually starring in them. Other characters also had motifs as well, such as Mortimer and Huey, Dewey and Louie. The title card motifs eventually carried over into House of Mouse.
Musical Nod: The general theme to Mouseworks (which recurred in many of the shorts) is actually a rearrangement of the classic Disney song "Minnie's Yoo Hoo," making this one of the few songs used in Mouseworks itself that was a nod to a previous one.
Never Say "Die": Averted when Goofy asks a bunch of shadowy gangsters, "Please don't kill us."
Recycled Premise: A good number of shorts fall under the premise of "Mickey, Donald and Goofy are X. Hilarity Ensues", where X is a job such as being painters or car washers or whatnot, complete with almost identical opening scenes. Lampshaded when the jobs get ridiculous ("Organ Donors", anyone?), and subverted when their job goes Off the Rails.
Also, there's a fair amount of "How To X" starring Goofy, which were in turn recycled from even earlier goofy cartoons. And "Donald's Dynamite", where Donald Duck is threatened by Cartoon Bombs appearing out of nowhere at inopportune moments.
And "Pluto Gets The Paper", where Pluto always gets into some crazy adventure while trying to retrieve the newspaper for Mickey.
Shaped Like Itself: How Mickey often answers the phone in the business-themed shorts. "Roller Coaster Painters, we paint roller coasters!"
Sound Effect Bleep: Goofy shouting at an umpire uses his air horn to censor out (supposedly) foul language.
Split-Screen Phone Call: In "Mickey's Big Break", Mickey pushes the split screen off while Goofy shouts in surprise at being shoved off.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoons often boil down to Mickey getting the focus while Donald and Goofy are the sidekicks. Mickey Foils the Phantom Blot a good example as Mickey is really the only one who moves the plot along. This could be seen as a subversion from the Classic Disney Shorts, were the mouse was almost absent in favor of Donald and Goofy's antics.
The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Mickey tries to call Minnie, but the recording says that all the lines are busy. Mickey gets upset, but the recording not only tells him to not yell, but to not smash the phone.
Totem Pole Trench: Huey, Duey and Louie want to get on a ride in a theme park that Donald is guarding and says they're too small for. In one scene Donald sees a very tall woman wobbling about and approaching the ride. Donald stops the "woman" and rips off her dress to find she's just a really tall now naked unbalanced woman. Donald then gets punched in the face.
Visual Pun: In "Organ Donors", the toy maker explains to Mickey that he needs an organ (aka innards) after he explains this, Mickey exclaims that he has a screw loose. Then we see that the machine has a screw loose, which is then screwed tight.
Wholesome Crossdresser: In "Mickey's Big Break", Mickey and Donald use the fact that they're only a few Tertiary Sexual Characteristics away from being Minnie and Daisy's twins in order to replace a picture that they ruined. Donald doesn't get it right the first time, though, because his first attempt at looking like Daisy has hair and breasts larger than Daisy's! Mickey doesn't fare as well either, having a floppy ribbon bow and the wrong kind of shoes. Their second attempts hit much closer to home.
World of Pun: Almost every episode used puns, especially in the cartoon shorts but often in the main story as well. Like Mickey saying he had to stop at the bank because he was "overdrawn" and two sketches saying "He's lucky! We're not done yet!"