Judge Dan Mancini wouldn't join any clubhouse that would have him for a member.
Our reviews of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express (published December 7th, 2009), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa And Other Mouseketales (published December 18th, 2006), 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: Minnie's Bow-Tique (published May 8th, 2010), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Road Rally (published September 11th, 2010) are also available.
Magical storybook adventures!
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has been a staple of the Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney lineup of shows for preschoolers since its debut in 2006. The computer animated show brings together Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Pluto, and Goofy in a series of adventures that challenge young children to solve problems involving shapes, colors, numbers, and creative thinking. In each episode, the Mickey Mouse-shaped clubhouse magically appears after Mickey and his young audience chant "Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!" The episode's challenge is presented, the Mousekadoer computer creates a quartet of Mousekatools (including the mystery tool) to be used in solving the episode's challenges, and we're off and running. At the end of each episode, Mickey and friends wrap things up by doing the Mousekadance to the "Hot Dog" song by They Might Be Giants.
Mickey's Storybook Surprises offers four fairy tale-based episodes of the show, three from its first season and one ("Minnie's Mystery") that has never been broadcast:
• "Minnie's Mystery"
• "Donald the Frog Prince"
• "Minnie Red Riding Hood"
• "Sleeping Minnie"
Like most shows for preschool audiences, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is comfortably predictable and repetitive. Factoring in the recycled animation during the show's opening and closing songs, plus Mickey's use of the Mouskadoer to introduce the Mouskatools, each 23-minute episode has maybe 15 minutes of original content. None of this is a bad thing. The show, after all, isn't made to entertain adults. Its colorful design, familiar Disney characters, age-appropriate puzzles, and predictable structure make Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a solidly entertaining and educational program for tykes.
The quality of the show's 3D computer animation is only so-so. Colors are vivid, but detail is lacking. In an attempt to remain faithful to the design of Disney's traditionally 2D hand-drawn characters, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse's animators make scant use of computer animation's capabilities for delivering depth and texture. This is probably by design, but the results are still somewhat disappointing. That said, the animation itself is strong, offering supple and fluid movement.
The show looks noticeably better on DVD than on television—lines are smoother, colors brighter. The full frame transfer, taken directly from the digital source, is rock solid. There isn't a jot of jaggies, macroblocking, or any other digital artifacts to be found. Despite the absence of textural detail, the image is beautiful.
English, French, and Spanish audio tracks are provided, all three in Dolby stereo surround. The tracks are clean and clear, but thinner and less dynamic than expected (I've heard two-channel stereo tracks with more oomph).
The only supplement is a game that kids can play using the DVD player's remote control.
It's no surprise that the House of Mouse—whose track record of entertaining kids of all ages is mostly exemplary—proves capable of making a top shelf show for preschoolers. They've done just that with The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Young children will be engrossed by the adventures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto. And while these iconic characters entertain them, they'll learn a few things, too.
The court finds Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Storybook Surprises not guilty.
Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog! We're adjourned.
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