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A&E Home Video presents
Danger Mouse: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 (1981-82)

Danger Mouse: Now, to come up with a plan.
Penfold: Well, I could start knitting a white flag.
Danger Mouse: You can keep a lookout!

- David Jason, Terry Scott

Review By: Jeff Wilson  
Published: June 02, 2005

Stars: David Jason, Terry Scott, Edward Kelsey, Brian Trueman
Director: Brian Cosgrove

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for cartoon violence
Run Time: 04h:37m:31s
Release Date: May 31, 2005
UPC: 733961718706
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+B-B C

DVD Review

This really brings back some memories. I remember back in the mid-'80s, when my father finally relented and got cable hooked up, my younger brother and I gravitated toward Nickelodeon, where I discovered Danger Mouse. The show was a highly enjoyable one, but I never imagined it would receive a North American DVD release, given its very British nature. There have been several single-disc releases in the UK, but thanks to A&E Home Video, which has been bringing a variety of British programming to these shores in multidisc collections, we have a Danger Mouse collection to catch up with.

Danger Mouse ran for 10 seasons and 89 episodes, lasting from 1981 to 1992. This set, as the packaging makes clear, collects the first two seasons, which spans 17 episodes. The typical show features Danger Mouse (voiced by David Jason), a miniature British super agent, battling with his cowardly assistant Penfold (a hamster, voiced by Terry Scott) against the machinations of supervillain frog Baron Silas Greenback (voiced by Edward Kelsey). Greenback is always cooking up another scheme with the help of his pet caterpillar Nero and henchcrow Stiletto (voiced by series writer Brian Trueman). The show used touched-up photos of London for several backgrounds, which gave the show a Python-esque look at times. It does have some fairly witty scripts and oddball stories (kidnapped bagpipes, runaway washing machines, and so on). It's a show that is likely to amuse adults as much as children, who may miss some of the verbal gags.

The first season consists of 11 episodes, each running 11 minutes or so with credits. The second season saw the format change to five-minute episodes, with each story comprised of four or more individual episodes. The second season consequently saw longer stories, but in smaller chunks. For the sticklers, A&E has presented the episodes as they would have been seen originally, but it grows old to see an episode, and then watch end credits, the next episode's opening credits, and a re-cap of the story so far before continuing, especially when the episodes are so short. There is no chaptering within any given episode, so one's only option is to fast forward through the extraneous material each time if you don't wish to view it. I'm not quite sure what the point of making the episodes this way was; they are barely long enough to get any coherent story moving along before a cliffhanger has to be shoehorned in. The second season does see the introduction of Count Duckula, who received his own spin-off series, though I couldn't then and remain still unable to see why, as the character is completely lame.

I find it hard to believe that we'll see further sets released given the show's general obscurity in the US, but I do commend A&E for releasing this set by season instead of taking the easy way out and slapping a compilation release together.

One final note: A&E has presented the show with Stiletto's original vocal performance, which featured the character with an Italian accent (his last name is Mafioso, after all). This was changed for US broadcast to a Cockney accent, in an early example of political correctness.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: This is where the set is something of a letdown. Exhibiting PAL-to-NTSC ghosting and edge enhancement, the video doesn't look dreadful, but could have presumably looked better if transferred from proper materials. The episodes are fairly uniform in their quality, and look their nearly 25 years of age. Speckling and bits of dirt are present throughout. The colors look a bit faded as well on the first season shows, while the second season episodes look a bit dark on occasion. It's watchable, but nowhere near perfect.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 2.0 track is fine; the sound effects (lots of explosions) come through smoothly, and all the dialogue is clear. It does sound a tad dull, but again, considering the age and nature of the material, I'm not complaining.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Pilot Episode: "The Mystery of the Lost Chord"
  2. Character bios
Extras Review: The main extra of interest to the hardcore fan will be the unaired pilot, The Mystery of the Lost Chord, (15m:06s) which was slightly re-worked and broadcast as the second episode, Who Stole the Bagpipes?. The voices are different for Danger Mouse and Penfold, and the story is a little longer. Also included are single-screen biographies for the main characters, which give a few details about each of them. Nothing special.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

An amusing trip down memory lane for those who grew up with it, and different enough that the rest of the pack that kids will probably find it entertaining as well. The two-disc DVD set does have some video problems, but nothing bad enough to truly hinder enjoyment.

 


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