HTF DVD REVIEW: Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures - The Complete Series

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures – The Complete Series

    Direction supervised by Ralph Bakshi

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 1987-88
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    Running Time: 455 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English
    Subtitles: CC

    MSRP: $ 46.99

    Release Date: January 5, 2010

    Review Date: December 26, 2009


    The Series
    4/5

    Baby boomers with memories of the old Mighty Mouse-Terrytoons from Saturday morning television are in for major surprises with the revisionist Ralph Bakshi-inspired superhero mouse in the fresh tales of derring-do found in Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures – The Complete Series. These nineteen episodes spanning two television seasons of cartoons are much more centered in satirical comedy than in adventure or operetta as were the theatrical cartoons which were adapted for Saturday morning television. The new tales feature some familiar characters from the old days (Oil Can Harry makes two appearances), but there are new chums for the main character (superhero Bat-Bat), and definitely new perils and villains (Petey Pate, The Cow, The Glove, Big Murray) to face. For generations of viewers who are more cynical and eager for a tongue-in-cheek take on a superhero creature as well as satirical comment on any number of topics apart from the mighty rodent, this is the Mighty Mouse of one’s dreams.

    As in the earlier cartoon series, Mighty Mouse is actually a peripheral character on his own show. The stories of the bad guys harming innocent victims almost always take center stage with Mighty Mouse (Patrick Pinney voicing both facets of the mouse man) coming in to “save the day” (as he warbles rather tonelessly in each episode) as usual. The new series, however, has given him a secret identity, factory worker Mike Mouse, and one episode furnishes us with his backstory (eerily similar to Superman including being launched in a rocket by his parents away from certain destruction and his costume being made from the blankets from his rocket ship as well having a single weakness, in Mighty’s case to limburgerite). Pearl Pureheart (Lisa Raggio) is still the girl friend, but a young, pitiful orphan mouse named Scrappy (Dana Hill) takes part in many adventures and often finds himself in need of rescue.

    Each episode contains two adventures, unusually unconnected with one another. The show’s writers use these opportunities to poke often hilarious fun at other superheroes such as Batman or at films like 2001, the Road movies, the Brando-Mutiny on the Bounty, Fantastic Voyage, and TV shows like The Honeymooners, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Jetsons and The Flintstones, and Scooby-Doo. But the writers poke fun at Mighty Mouse himself. There are on more than one occasion snide allusions to his former singing incarnation from the character’s film years. In many of the episodes including most of the second season, there really isn’t any danger to be dealt with. The stories are set up instead to dwell on aspects of show business that the producers want to poke some fun at (in many ways reminding me of George of the Jungle from the Jay Ward studios). Thus, lots of show biz personalities come in for some ribbing (sometimes scathing). Among them are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre, Pee-Wee Herman, James Stewart, Jackie Gleason, Raymond Burr, Walter Brennan, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Jackson, and Siskel and Ebert.

    Though much of the series is very, very funny, there were some obvious production problems going on behind the scenes which must have prevented the studio from delivering completely fresh episodes by deadline. Three times during the first season, an episode is completely or mostly drawn from the library of old Terrytoon theatrical shorts with clips assembled rather willy-nilly with either a character doing sarcastic voiceover narration or in “Mighty’s Musical Classics,” the original versions of “Do the Locomotion” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” on the soundtrack. During the second season, the producers several times resort to rehashing previously seen animation from earlier episodes as either home movies or as some nefarious character recalls earlier encounters with Mighty.

    Here are the nineteen episodes contained on this three-disc set. The names in parentheses are the participants on that episode’s audio commentary.

    1 – Night on Bald Pate/Mouse from Another House
    2 – Me-Yowww!/Witch Tricks
    3 – Night of the Bat-Bat/Scrap-Happy (John Kricfalusi, Tom Minton, Mike Kazaleh, Kent Butterworth)
    4 – Catastrophe Cat/Scrappy’s Field-Day
    5 – The Bag Mouse/The First Deadly Cheese
    6 – This Island Mouseville/Mighty’s Musical Classics
    7 – The Littlest Tramp/Puffy Goes Berserk
    8 – The League of Super-Rodents/Scrappy’s Playhouse
    9 – All You Need Is Glove/It’s Scrappy’s Birthday
    10 – Aqua-Guppy/Animation Concerto
    11 – The Ice Goose Cometh/Pirates with Dirty Faces
    12 – Mighty’s Benefit Plan/See You in the Funny Papers (John Kricfalusi, Tom Minton, Mike Kazaleh, Kent Butterworth)
    13 – Heroes and Zeroes/Stress for Success
    14 – Day of the Mice/Still Oily After All These Years
    15 – Mighty’s Wedlock Whimsy/Anatomy of a Milquetoast
    16 – Bat with a Golden Tongue/Mundane Voyage
    17 – Snow White and the Motor City Dwarfs/Don’t Touch That Dial
    18 – Mouse and Supermouse/The Bride of Mighty Mouse
    19 – A Star Is Milked/Mighty’s Tone Poem


    Video Quality
    3.5/5

    The program’s television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is delivered faithfully in these bright and colorful transfers. Color saturation is rich, and sharpness is well defined with only occasional aliasing and some banding seen in some of the backgrounds. Certain shades of red are often noisy, but other colors are more adeptly handled. The picture is clear enough to spot continual oil spots on the plates used in filming (animation was done in Taiwan), but while those are part of the picture, the occasional scratch and some dirt specks do crop up from time to time. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters without teasers or 7 chapters with teasers.


    Audio Quality
    3.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is typical for its era, and with Dolby Prologic decoding, the sound is properly placed in the center channel. There are no problems with the recording of the voice tracks or sound effects, and one never overwhelms the other making for a solid listening experience.


    Special Features
    3.5/5

    There is a network teaser at the beginning of each episode which the viewer may choose to play or skip. Each teaser for the forthcoming episode runs about ½ minute.

    There are two audio commentaries recorded in 2009 as John Kricfalusi, Tom Minton, Mike Kazaleh, and Kent Butterworth look back on their work and comment honestly on what they’re seeing as well as discussing some of their other favorite episodes made during the show’s two year run. Both commentaries are very interesting and for fans of the show will be treasured opinions of their work and their boss.

    Three vintage Mighty Mouse cartoons are included so today’s viewers who may be unfamiliar with the star may see him in action from some of his earliest days on film. “He Dood It Again” is a 1943 cartoon when the character was still known as Super Mouse (even down to the red and blue costume). It runs 6 ½ minutes. “Gypsy Life,” the 1945 Oscar-nominated cartoon with Mighty at his operatic best, runs 6 minutes. The more recent (and much weaker) “Mysterious Package” from 1960 runs 6 ¼ minutes. All are in decent to good shape and make a stunning contrast to the sardonic tone of the television cartoons contained in this package.

    “Breaking the Mold: The Re-making of Mighty Mouse” is an outstanding 30-minute documentary featuring interviews with Ralph Bakshi, Andrew Stanton, John Kricfalusi, Tom Minton, Mike Kazaleh, Kent Butterworth, Libby Simon, Bruce Timm, and others responsible for the series’ sharp, mocking tone. It’s presented in anamorphic widescreen.

    The package contains trailers for Charmed and Star Trek – Season One on Blu-ray.


    In Conclusion
    4/5 (not an average)

    The grandfather of such groundbreaking shows as Ren and Stimpy and South Park among many others, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures – The Complete Series will thrill fans of Ralph Bakshi’s skewed take on the character with irreverent humor and delightfully quirky animation reproduced on these DVDs with generally good picture and sound and a retrospective of the making of the series that fans will really treasure. Recommended!



    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
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  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Wow! Looks nothing like the Mighty Mouse I remember.
    Looks like the animators gave female hormone pills to
    the character.

    All kidding aside, this is also getting very favorable reviews
    on Amazon so it looks like a worthy purchase for MM fans.
     
  3. MattPeriolat

    MattPeriolat Supporting Actor

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    Well, either way, strong sales may convince the powers that be that there is a market for the TerryToons Mighty Mouse and perhaps even The Mighty Heroes.

    I've got some Christmas money, but priorities... really need to make a list of what I want and what I'm buying just to fill a hole.
     
  4. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    Holy wow! I was surprised to see this listed for sale, and even more so to find out about commentaries and that documentary. John K is always great to listen too, this set sounds great. I had to chuckle to hear about animation being reused. Anyone who bought "Spider-Man '67" will remember the same thing happening during the Bakshi years. Maybe it's a style thing with him. :P

    Great job on the review, and thanks so much for taking the time out over the holidays to give this a spin! I'll keep my pre-order ordered!
     
  5. TM10

    TM10 Auditioning

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    Terrific, thoughtful review. But this statement begs clarification: "there were some obvious production problems going on behind the scenes which must have prevented the studio from delivering completely fresh episodes by deadline."

    The Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures cartoons in question were designated 're-use' episodes, made in order to enable the show to do full character layout in the U.S. on a very tight budget with no backup capital whatsoever, or even a business loan. There was the network license fee and nothing else to fund the production. That was insane but it worked because the crew was hungry in more ways than one. Every single episode, even the very few re-use ones, was delivered to CBS on schedule and on budget. This series defined a creative paradigm shift in television animation that others with a lot more money at their disposal are still trying to rip off, twenty-two years later. They may appropriate elements of the graphic style, but not the humor because Mighty Mouse remains genuine satire, not some safe, zany spoof. The late Chuck Jones, a consultant at the Bakshi studio on another project during the second season of the show, summed it up nicely with "The best thing that can be said about 'Mighty Mouse' is that it's a bite rather than a lick."

    Tom Minton
     
  6. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    Thank you, Tom, for this clarification. And congratulations to you and your compatriots for this nice package which celebrates your creativity and sense of fun.
     
  7. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Hi Tom, The new MM adventures was one of my favorite shows when it originally aired.
    I love this kind of stuff and can't wait to see it again in about a week.

    I wonder if Tom would be a candidate for HTF'S insider section.
     
  8. Tim Tucker

    Tim Tucker Screenwriter

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  9. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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  10. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    So this episode is now unedited to it's full length?
     
  11. David Deeb

    David Deeb Supporting Actor

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    Great review Matt & very nice to have Tom's insight added. Just ordered from the link too.
    It's great releases and finds like this that keep Blu-ray and DVD collecting fun.

    Hilarious series & can't wait to revisit, and I've probably only seen a handful, but they made such an impression, I've been wanting them on DVD for years! Thanks Paramount!!

    Quality, quality stuff!!
     

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