How do you not love Mickey Mouse?
The Disney Channel's revival of everyone's favorite mouse in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is first-rate children's programming aimed squarely at preschoolers. Mickey and his lovable entourage -- Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto -- embark on gentle, good-natured adventures that both educate and entertain the youngest viewers.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Storybook Surprises collects four episodes loosely linked by their allusions to classic fairytales, but the formula adheres to what the show, part of the Disney Playhouse block of preschooler-oriented television, does so well. In between the insanely catchy opening and closing songs of They Might Be Giants, Mickey and company help youngster learn how to count, employ logic, solve problems and understand the purpose of everyday items. As Mickey puts it, Hot dog!
Parents won't find much grownup-tickling humor here (this is no SpongeBob SquarePants), but they're likely to love seeing how the Clubhouse friends connect with small viewers to encourage interaction. The impressively high-tech clubhouse pops out from the ground only when the TV audience repeats the magic words, "Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse." The show boasts other fun rituals, too. Mickey consults a Mouse-ears' shaped computer called the Mousekadoer to find out what Mousekatools will be at his disposal to solve the task at hand. In turn, those Mousekatools are transferred to a flying thingamajig that responds to the entreaty, "Oh, Toodles!" Trust me, it's a blast to hear your 2 year old call out such catchphrases.
The computer animation is crisp and colorful, the images as happy and comforting as one would expect from the Disney juggernaut. In addition to Mickey's regular hangers-on, there are appearances by the likes of Chip 'n' Dale, Clarabelle the Cow, Professor Ludwig Von Drake and the resident bad guy, a somewhat endearing lout named Pete.
The 24-minute episodes are:
Minnie made a dozen muffins, but there are only five left. In trying to figure out who ate the treats, Mickey and Minnie discover a mystery guest in the neighborhood.
Donald the Frog Prince
Donald Duck turns into a frog after he drinks a magic potion. Only a kiss from Princess Daisy will restore Donald to his feathery, duck-billed self.
Minnie Red Riding Hood
Minnie tries delivering her famous Minniestrone soup to a sick Goofy, but a hungry Pete is out to intercept it.
Mickey and his friend go searching for the Golden Harp, the only thing that can awaken Minnie after she accidentally picks a magical "sleeping rose."
The full-frame picture is spotless, with sharp lines and vibrant colors. No complaints.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 is crisp and clean, with no noticeable problems with distortion or drop-out. Audio is also available in French and Spanish.
Game Time: Tales from Toodles is an interactive game that allows viewers to create their own storylines. The only other bonus material are sneak peeks for Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Little Einsteins: The Christmas Wish, My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt, Handy Manny, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, Disney's The Secret of the Magic Gourd and Disney Movie Rewards.
In the arena of children's TV, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is top-shelf stuff, its colorful and friendly tales delighting and educating preschoolers. Hot dog!