Reviews: Danger Mouse

Danger Mouse (2015)

At the same time I was interested in hearing that CBBC (the children’s outlet of BBC) was rebooting Cosgrove Hall’s classic cartoon Danger Mouse, I did not raise my expectations about it as thirty-plus years of a gap would certainly portend some changes. Some for the better, some not so.

The original Danger Mouse was a dizzying funny display of derring-do, outrageous puns and references from James Bond to Monty Python. David Jason was the perfect voice for DM, and his gauntlet of villains were perfectly matched for him. The reboot (now by Boulder Media, makers of Cartoon Network’s The Amazing World Of Gumball) brings back DM’s arch-foe, Baron Silas Greenback (now Silas Von Greenback, still with the raspy, asthmatic voice but with a German lilt) along with his pet caterpillar Nero and stooge Stiletto Mafioso while it introduces new characters. The original was admittedly what some call a “sausage fest” as there were little or no female characters of significance, and here Professor Squawkencluck is a female. This Professor, a parakeet, is the niece of the original, a mole. That family tree should be interesting. And later the series will introduce Jeopardy Mouse, a female American agent who assists DM and Penfold.

Does the new series hold up? Split the difference. The situations and calamities are on a par with the original, and I accept the voice changes (Alex Armstrong and Kevin Eldon as DM and Penfold, respectively). Where it doesn’t hold up: the scripts do the breaking-the-fourth-wall in a been-there-done-that fashion, and the humor is rote. DM is portrayed as almost too smug for his own good while he’s still adept at his trade heroism. His interaction with Squawkencluck and Jeopardy Mouse is tenuous as the two females show him up with DM being presented as inept as Inspector Gadget or a conceited showoff. Graphically it’s more stylistic than the original, done in Boulder Media’s style of mixed media, but more detail cannot disguise weak scripts.

This is only after 10 episodes, mind; It could find its footing as it goes on, and while its use of bathroom humor has been blessedly spotty (apart from the crass "Planet Of The Toilets" episode), here’s hoping it doesn’t use it as a go-to gag. The original lasted 11 years without succumbing to that, so hopefully Robert Cullen and his Boulder Media crew will take that into account. My grade: C+