Chief Counsel Michael Stailey still waits up each Christmas Eve to catch a glimpse of Santa, but can never seem to escape the lure of those cookies and milk and the resulting food coma.
Our reviews of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express (published December 7th, 2009), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Adventures In Wonderland (published October 7th, 2009), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Big Splash (published May 13th, 2009), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt (published March 20th, 2007), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Storybook Surprises (published September 22nd, 2008), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Bow-Tique (published May 8th, 2010), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Road Rally (published September 11th, 2010) are also available.
Hot dog! It's Christmas!
Hi kids and welcome to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!
Wait, you can't see it?
Oh, I almost forgot. We need to say the magic words…
Meeska, Mouska, Mickey Mouse!!!
There it is, all decorated for the holidays.
What? You've never heard of the Clubhouse?!? Well, dust off those mouse ears, pull up a comfy chair, and I'll tell you a story.
In the early days of cable television there was The Disney Channel—a full day of programming featuring classic Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto (the Big Five) short films, Disney feature animation, live action films, vintage Walt-hosted television series, theme park specials, and new shows featuring Winnie the Pooh (in Muppet form), and the late, great DTV (music television, the Disney way). The branding of the Big Five was everywhere.
And then came the Dark Age—Lizzie Maguire, Even Stevens, Kim Possible, and That's So Raven. Mickey and the gang were unceremoniously dumped and sent into exile under the tidal wave of tween-ager programming. In fact, if it weren't for the ever-present translucent logo, you wouldn't even know you were watching the Disney Channel. Kids around the world were identifying Disney more with The Wiggles and Rolly Polly Ollie than the mouse the company was built upon.
When Bob Iger took over for Michael Eisner, programming and marketing executives wised up and began to re-leverage its classic properties, bringing the Big Five out of mothballs and updating them for a new generation. Welcome to Playhouse Disney, a parent's favorite babysitter for ages 3 to 8. Little Einsteins, Higgle Town Heroes, The Doodlebops, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. All of these shows engage the kids to sing, dance, think, and respond utilizing their adventure specific Mousketools, courtesy of the clubhouse's electronic brain Mouskedoer and their virtual friend Tootles. Every time the gang runs into trouble, the kids have to help Mickey and friends decide which of their Mouseketools to use. If my 3-and-half-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew are any indication, the kids love it!
Just in time for the holidays, Disney has released the first Clubhouse DVD—Mickey Saves Santa and other Mouseketales. In the first of three adventures, Mrs. Claus and Prancer call on Mickey and Donald to help save Santa, whose sleigh has broken down on top of Mistletoe Mountain. The only hitch is that Donald has to keep his infamous temper in check or there will be no Christmas for anyone. Next, Goofy shows up with a new hat he found in the woods. Only it's not a hat at all. It's a bird's nest…with a baby bird still inside (nobody ever said Goofy was very bright). Now Mickey and the gang have to get Baby Red Bird back to his family. And finally, we join forces with Mickey to take on champion hider Donald in a game of Hide and Seek. Are you up to challenge? Well then start counting!
Presented in 1.33:1 full screen format, the transfer is pixel perfect. I challenge anyone to find any digital flaws. While the 3D animation has been a point of contention among many older Disney purists, it's not as distractiing as some would have you believe. In fact, it's quite appropriate for the format of the show, playing out more like a slick computer game. Had it been done in traditional 2D animation, the magic of these tales would be lost. The Dolby 2.0 audio is available in both English and French, with surprisingly consistent characterizations in each. English subtitles are also included.
Two minor bonus features have been tacked on for good measure. A song and dance along video for the show's big musical finale "Hot Dog," by indie favorites They Might Be Giants, who have a whole new career for themselves in children's music. There's also a set-top Picture Puzzle game, where kids can help Mickey unscramble a series of familiar images.
This court commends Disney execs for bringing back the Big Five for kids of all ages. My only contention is with the home video packaging. Parents expecting this to be a Christmas themed release will be disappointed, as only the first of the three tales are holiday related. Aside from that, don't hesitate to bring this DVD home for your little Disney-fanatics. You'll be singing right along with them.
And now it's time to say goodbye to our virtual jury…M-I-C…K-E-Y…M-O-U-S-E.
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