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Monday, April 9, 2012

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures The Complete Series

Making his debut in the 1942 theatrical short The Mouse of Tomorrow, Super Mouse was based off of, you guessed it, Superman. Super Mouse was created by Paul Terry of Terrytoons and has many of the Man of Steel's powers such as flight and invulnerably. Even his costume was red and blue like DC Comics boy scout. After seven shorts, his name was changed to Mighty Mouse and eventually, he was given his traditonal yellow and red tights. Mighty Mouse shorts would be run through the '40s and early '50s.

The first revival of Might Mouse came from Filmation. In 1979, The New Adventures of Might Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle debuted on CBS, lasting for two seasons and 32 episodes. Mighty Mouse was far more talkative in this cartoon than he was in his theatrical shorts but thanks to the second revival, this series isn't remembered all that much.


When I think of Mighty Mouse, the Filmation series and early theatrical shorts aren't what spring to mind. True, the shorts are where Mighty Mouse began and the Filmation series will no doubt have a special place in the hearts of fans. But for me, my Mighty Mouse will always be the one from 1987, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was released on a 3 disc DVD collection on January 5, 2010. Yes, I'm super late to the party in securing my copy. Part of the lyrics from the opening song are "things won't be like they've been before." Man, they were not lying about that.

Mighty Mouse in his secret
identity, Mike Mouse.

Spearheaded by Ralph Bakshi, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was nothing like either of the two versions of Mighty Mouse that came before it and for that matter, a lot of cartoons that were out at the time. Bakshi's Mighty Mouse was laugh out loud, over the top, insane, gag-heavy, comedy gold that was delightful to kids and adults. On numerous occasions, the stars of the show would use visual puns, break the fourth wall and indulge in all manner of all the wall gags that other cartoons of the '80s weren't doing.

Fourth wall? At times, it's smashed with a
wrecking ball.

The crew under Bakshi was a powerhouse. The Ren & Stimpy Show is often credited for the style of writing and humor seen in a lot of cartoons today, but in truth, a great deal of that can be traced back to Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, which is fitting since John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy also worked on this show. He's not the only familiar name associated with this fine cartoon. Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond Justice League), Andrew Stanton (Monsters, Inc. WALL-E), Tom Minton and a slew of others got their start in animation here and are a testament to why Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures is the great cartoon that it is.

I can fondly remember sitting down on Saturday mornings to watch this cartoon. Part of my fascination with it was that Mighty Mouse was a super hero. I mean, what kid didn't like Superman, Batman or Spider-Man? To me, Mighty Mouse was just as cool as those guys. He flew through the air, he was super strong and incredibly tough. He was also quite a funny guy. As much as I laughed watching this show as a kid, I laugh even more now because the humor that's aimed at adults doesn't go over my head.

Mighty with fellow heroes Bat-Bat and
Tick, the Bug Wonder.

The cast of characters in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures are outrageous. To give the main star a bit more depth, he's given a secret identity in the form of Mike Mouse and he works for Peal Pureheart, another character from the old theatrical Mighty Mouse shorts. Mighty's old nemesis Oil Can Harry also shows up few times. There's plenty of new characters as well. Scrappy Mouse is Mighty's pal, Bat-Bat, one of the best new characters to come out of this series is a parody of Batman and probably could have had his own show. Petey Pate is a lunatic that just wants some respect and all the left shoes in the city. I kid you not on that last one. Old faces from Terrytoons cartoons also make appearances like Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose, Sourpuss and many others.

The Littlest Tramp is completely unedited
on this DVD release.

The writing, considering the names attached to this cartoon is very exceptional. All episodes are comprised of two cartoons per episode. Some of my personal favorite episodes are Night on Bald Pate / Mouse from Another House. In episode 1A we meet unhinged Petey Pate who's tired of being life's butt monkey. The later episode is the debut episode of Mighty's pal, Scrappy Mouse and gives us Mighty's origin story, which is a hilarious parody of Superman's origin. 3A, Night of the Bat-Bat is our first look at Batman spoof Bat-Bat, who cannot live without spouting bad puns. In a later episode Bat with a Golden Tongue, Mighty tries to get Bat-Bat to kick the habit of telling bad jokes, very similar to drug addiction. 17B, Don't Touch That Dial is a fan favorite, showing Mighty exploring different cartoons and shows in a very obvious Take That to shows from the 80s. The ending to this episode has got to be one of the funniest things I've seen in animation.

One of the show's most notable episodes is 7A, The Littlest Tramp. It contains a scene for which the series is infamous for. Polly Pineblossom, a flower girl can't seem to sell her flowers because Big Burray is making her life miserable because, well, he can and that's how he gets his kicks. Earlier in the episode, Big crushed her flower and she gave it to Mighty Mouse. Thinking of the Polly, Mighty Mouse sniffs the crushed power petals but it looked like he was inhaling cocaine. The first time this episode aired, it was left untouched but in 1988, Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, blew the whole thing out of proportion and the scene was cut it on reruns. On the DVD, its left uncut. This show had a knack for getting crap past the radar and John Kricfalusi fully admits that there's things parents could have gotten upset over that they didn't even notice. Sadly, it was this scene and sour relations with CBS and Bakshi that led to the show getting killed in the middle of it's second season.

Mighty with Pearl Pureheart.

Despite excellent animation and high quality writing, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures is not without it's flaws. Some episodes are comprised of entire footage from old theatrical shorts with cover songs. A few episodes use stock footage, the most notable example being 13B, Stress For Success, which barely contains any original animation. However, one of the best episodes to make use of animation from the theatrical shorts has got to be 10B, Animation Concerto, which plays a jazzy, boogie rendition of the awesome Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures theme song.

The Cow, one of Mighty's many rogues.

In case you haven't guessed, I have a pretty high opinion of this DVD set. All 19 episodes from the the series are contained here along with some sweet extras. There are some informative audio commentaries on episodes Night of the Bat-Bat / Scrap-Happy and Mighty's Benefit Plan /See You in the Funny Papers. Three Terry Toons Mighty Mouse shorts are also a part of this collection. The theatrical shorts are He Dood It Again (1943), Gypsy Life (1945), and The Mysterious Package (1960). I'm all about The New Adventures, but these shorts are a very cool bonus. Breaking the Mold: The Remaking of Mighty Mouse is a near 30 minute feature with gathers the crew behind The New Adventures including interviews with Ralph Bakshi, Bruce Timm, Andrew Stanton, John Kricfalusi, Libby Simmon and too many other names to list. The audio and visuals have also been remastered and look and sound almost crystal clear.

I loved Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures when I was a kid and I still love it as an adult. It sits right alongside Freakazoid! as one of my favorite super hero comedy shows. If you like Mighty Mouse, if you like to laugh, this DVD set is highly recommended. Buy this collection and let Mighty Mouse save your day.

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