A&E // 1984 // 185 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Steve Evans (Retired) // June 14th, 2006
British cartoon humour produced by the dry wits at Thames Television.
My eight-year-old son Sanders had a seriously good time watching these old cartoons from Seasons Five and Six of the popular Danger Mouse television show. We'll get to Sanders's critical reactions in a moment. He provides proof positive that quality children's entertainment transcends generations, cultures, and continents. As my son is fond of observing, everyone smiles in the same language.
The program first appeared more than 20 years ago, later finding new life on American televisions by way of Nickelodeon, and is now an A&E property. A&E presents the episodes as they originally aired in England, with boxed sets featuring two DVDs (one for each season).
The world's greatest secret agent, Danger Mouse, gets into surreal and silly adventures with his cowardly and oft-incompetent sidekick, Penfold the hamster. Danger Mouse and Penfold heed the orders of their leader, Colonel K, who dispatches this crack, crime-fighting duo to all corners of the world. Whenever evil strikes, Danger Mouse will soon be on his way to save the daaaaay! Wait: that was Mighty Mouse. Danger Mouse eagerly battles all comers, although his primary amphibian nemesis, Baron Silas Greenback (along with nasty henchman Stiletto, a crow), is a recurring guest villain.
"It's pretty good and it's funny," Sanders says. "My favorite episode is 'The Aliens are Coming,' which is about an alien that is just a big, fat toy. It's different. I hadn't seen anything like that one. The more you watch them, the funnier they get. Each episode is fairly good. I think this is worth buying."
Full disclosure: Sanders is a super-cool kid who tends to downplay his reactions to a television program, after the fact. Truth be told, he repeatedly laughed out loud during this set of Danger Mouse, although when Season Five finished playing, the little guy declared he'd had enough for one evening. A similar response to Season Six would be forthcoming a few days later.
The 37 episodes in this two-disc package are fleeting, about five minutes each, so little ones can enjoy a few spontaneous cartoons without lobotomizing their brains on television or locking the family into a big time commitment. A quibble: as with all DVD sets of old television shows, we get to hear the opening and closing credits with every episode. What sounds catchy the first seven times becomes redundant to the point of inducing headaches by the time the second disc finds its way into the DVD player. Season 5 began in 1984 and consists of 10 episodes. Season 6 launched in December that year and ran for 27 episodes.
Anxious parents will also be relieved to learn that violence is virtually nonexistent in this animated series. The show relies instead on subtle satire, puns, pop-culture spoofs, and odd non-sequiturs.
Each episode was crafted with artistry and imagination by Cosgrove Hall Productions, which created the seminal animated film, The Wind in the Willows. Video and audio are a product of the era (early 1980s), but the sound comes across fine to undiscriminating ears. Images exhibit occasional graininess, although I couldn't tell if this was a limitation of the animation and choice of film stock, or a mediocre transfer. Episodes in this series appear to have been made cheaper and faster with each passing season.
At a suggested retail of $30, the set is overpriced, although Amazon.com at this writing is offering a half-price deal.
Hilarity in a box for those under 10 (or for those whose development stopped at the first decade of life).
Sanders says check it out.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 185 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "One Stormy Night" Episode of Count Duckula
* Character Descriptions
* DVD Verdict Review of Seasons One and Two
* DVD Verdict Review of Seasons Three and Four