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Case Number 10220: Small Claims Court

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Danger Mouse: The Final Seasons

A&E // 1986 // 458 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // October 25th, 2006

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Rob Lineberger thought the British were above hamster jokes.

The Charge

"He's the greatest
He's fantastic
Wherever there is danger he'll be there."

The Case

If you're read the three previous DVD Verdict reviews of the three previous boxed sets by three different judges, you'll learn the following three generalizations:
1) Danger Mouse is a droll, effective parody of the cold-war era spy genre.
2) The humor in Danger Mouse spans generations, entertaining adults with witty wordplay and entertaining kids with amusing pratfalls.
3) Due to mediocre transfer quality, scant extras, and the uneven quality of the episodes themselves, the judgment score of these boxed sets careens wildly between 76 and 78.

As the fourth judge reviewing A&E's fourth and final boxed set of Danger Mouse, I'm here to tow the party line and support all three of my fellow judges and their previous assertions.

As I watched this flashback from my childhood with my son, a curious pattern emerged. We would both enthusiastically sing the catchy theme song (but watch out for that explosion in the root menu—if your sub is turned up, it will knock pictures off the wall). That burst of energy would fade as we watched a panorama of London with an absurd voiceover to set the tone. This voiceover sets up the banter that would follow, to my great amusement. For example, the narrator might talk about London as the home of the inflatable iron. We cut to Danger Mouse, who is working out feverishly on a step master. "Seven-oh-eight, seven-oh-nine, seven-oh-ten…whew! {camera pans down to an inflatable iron} This inflatable iron is devilishly hard to inflate." I mean, there is some really clever writing in Danger Mouse that channels the best aspects of Abbott and Costello. Veteran voice actors David Jason, Terry Scott, and Edward Kelsey have the banter down pat.

I look over, and my son is slightly bored. He isn't clawing the wallpaper for amusement, but he doesn't get the inflatable iron gag, either. Never fear. Soon enough, my attention starts to wane as Danger Mouse and his bumbling assistant Penfold get mired in some slapstick chase or another. My son bolts upright, laughing out loud at some time-worn sight gag.

In other words, Danger Mouse is alternately amusing and boring for adults, while alternately boring and amusing for kids. Unlike successful cross-generational animated hits that amuse kids and their parents simultaneously, Danger Mouse specializes. The key is timing: will the zany chase sequences overstay their welcome in the adult side of the living room? Will the highbrow, multi-layered banter go on so long as to alienate the little spies? The answer varies with each episode. Both my son and I were bored with "I Spy with my Little Eye," which essentially depicts DM and Penfold wandering aimlessly across the polar ice cap. But the mixed identity caper "There's a Penfold in my Suit," which on the surface isn't much better, kept us both enthralled.

The episodes in this set span Seasons 7, 8, 9, and 10. Season 8 aired in 1987, followed by a three-year sabbatical before Season 9 aired in 1991. You might think there would be a dramatic difference in episode quality—be it voice acting, drawing, or video—during that time. But no. The Season 10 episodes on the third disc are essentially the same as the six-year older episodes on Disc One. For the curious, the episodes are:

• "Danger Mouse on the Orient Express"
• "The Ultra Secret Secret"
• "Duckula Meets Frankenstoat"
• "Where There's a Well There's a Way"
• "All Fall Down"
• "Turn of the Tide"
• "Gremlin Alert"
• "Cor! What a Picture"
• "I Spy With My Little Eye"
• "Bigfoot Falls"
• "The Statue of Liberty Caper"
• "Penfold Transformed"
• "A Dune With a View"
• "Don Coyote and Sancho Penfold"
• "Crumhorn Strikes Back!"
• "Ants, Trees and…Whoops-A-Daisy"
• "There's a Penfold in My Suit"
• "Rhyme and Punishment"
• "Pillow Fright!"
• "Heavy Duty"
• "The Intergalactic 147"

The video quality seems in line with previous boxed sets, which is to say slightly dirty and flecked with grain, but otherwise fine. Aside from the dramatic menu explosion, the audio is clear, if lacking in dynamic range. There are more extras this time around. Along with the recycled Character Biographies, A&E has included a comparison between four alternate musical numbers that might have been the theme song. The songs are catchy and distinct, so the comparison of what might have been is fun. There is also Karaoke (which never raises my pulse much) and an episode from the sibling series Count Duckula.

Danger Mouse is dry, droll, and repetitive. The bumbling bad guys, the mumbling Colonel K, and the stumbling Penfold never change. Yet Danger Mouse is more witty than your average toon, with gags that appeal to kids and wordplay that will delight the most discriminating anglophile. It isn't flashy, but it might be just the ticket to entertain you and your kids on a rainy afternoon.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 78

Perp Profile

Studio: A&E
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 458 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Animation
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "Town Hall Terrors" episode of Count Duckula
• Alternative Danger Mouse theme song options
• Danger Mouse theme song karaoke
• Character descriptions

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