Monday, February 1, 2010

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures-Show Review

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures is the best cartoon series of the 1980’s (it also happens to be the only, because it is actually cartoony and brought that back to tv animation). You could argue that as far as importance goes, it stands abreast Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (for proving animation can start as multi-media franchise) and Ducktales (an entertaining action animated show that lead to bigger budgets via syndication). But in terms of flat out entertainment it beats them all.

Actually, it is probably the best-animated show of the last quarter of a decade. Even better than Ren and Stimpy, it’s kindred spirit and the reason most of you know about this show (myself included)? Well, in terms of preferences, I would say yes. I like the sheer outlandishness, the caricature/parody of superheroes that Mighty Mouse operates under much more so than the sitcom character studies of Ren and Stimpy (though Mighty has some of that as well, along with comic book madness, vintage animation homage, and more). Also, Ren and Stimpy ran for five seasons, only two of which are worth watching really, while Mighty Mouse was on fire for the entire two seasons it was on.

There are some episodes here that are worthy of being in league with Loony Tunes and the Flesichers in terms of ideas, execution, designs and overall enjoyment. Don’t touch that dial [which really nails down how much better the show was than the 80’s glut], Mighty's benefit plan, the littlest tramp, still oily after all these year and others are phenomenal and I was laughing and grinning at every moment.

This show is so good that every episode of original material is fun, if not funny (the former is not quite as good as the latter, but more than acceptable). At the absolute worse of non -recycled material the episode is an extremely good execution of what tiny toons tried. Little wonder since the members of team ultimately responsible for this show went on to that show as well (and animaniacs, Batman the animated series, Wall-E, etc).

You may have noticed I was very careful to note the terms non-recycled and original. Yes, there are some episodes that not only reused footage from the show itself, but the old terrytoons. One particularly good use is Ice Goose Cometh (another great episode) to show the relationship between Gandy and Sourpuss, and how abusive it was. The others are not quite that clever, although some of new adventures segments have totally different dialogue and voices that made laugh out loud in spots once I accepted it was a clip show.

It’s hard to describe the general mood and presentation of this show. John k, involved in only the first season, once said the Hanna-Barbera characters were harder to draw than the loony tunes, because it was the same principles but more specific. A similar evolution treads through this show, there is a strong base line of animation traditions but through trial and error and long wanted freedom there is anarchy, a healthy vulgarity that runs through this show. It’s the outlandishness—sort of—of independent comics but the professionalism assocaited with 1960's marvel comics. It’s like Jim Tyer madness, but he is the rule not the exception.

Sometimes this show is so inventive and crazy it barely slows down for us to take it in. Multiple repeats are rewarded with this show. Even freeze framing, which is insane considering nobody had any idea to tape Saturday shows, and there was no syndication to re-catch it. There were so many talented artists in this show—maybe the most per production levels—all trying to get in their jokes and idea they have suppressed for so long, that it is impossible to get them all in one viewing.

I don’t want to delve into too much detail because half the fun was the sheer surprises I saw every few episodes; people I didn’t expect, a particular drawing, an off hand verbal joke. All amazing. While I saw a few episodes before on the Internet I was not expecting the level of creativity to last through the entire run of the show. Simply put, this show is great. Even its flaws are illuminating. This is the kind of grandiose madness that I have been waiting for in my childhood for Saturday morning cartoons but never really got. This is one of the best things I have ever seen in any medium.

1 comment:

Eric Noble said...

I haven't seen the DVD yet, but your glowing review is definitely making me want to get it. This was a very funny show. Don't Touch That Dial was one of my favorites, as it made fun of people like me, who watched endless cartoons and would get easily bored with whatever was on TV. It's still funny.

However, I must respectfully disagree with you on one point. You said only two seasons of Ren and Stimpy were any good. I happen to think that the Games Animation episodes done by Bob Camp were very funny cartoons. They may not have had the same intense character studies as when John K. was making them, but they were just as funny. You can disagree with me, as this is just my opinion.

Anyway, great post and very good review. I always like coming to your site. There's always something new and exciting. Keep it going.