Voices: Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Jeff Bennett, Corey Burtoin, Jim Cummings, Bill Farmer, Clyde Kusatsu, Diane Michelle, Russi Taylor, April Winchell.
At age 71, Mickey Mouse makes his animated series debut, sharing shorts with the Disney stable: Minnie, Pluto, Donald Duck and the splendid Goofy. These are the first Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts to be produced since the 1950s, the themes and animation only slightly updated. By not kowtowing to 1990’s PC standards, Disney is displaying a feisty and combative stable of characters, as they were in their prime, which may raise some eyebrows over the violence quotient, but should impress in the Saturday ayem ratings.
Animation in the first two weeks is strong throughout, a surprise considering that the mostly computer-generated title is a cold entry to the series. Show is broken into several shorts of varying lengths (12, 7 1/2, six and 1 1/2 minutes) and the variations give it its lively pace.
Most importantly, length restrictions allow animators and writers to focus on either character or storyline in each seg. Minnie conducting an orchestra, for example, is perfect for 90 seconds.
Episode One’s centerpiece chronicles Goofy’s experience as a waiter and actor with all of his traditional slapstick intact. The Disney dog remains its most endearing character, and exec producers Roberts Gannaway and Tony Craig wisely keep his antics in line with his history. It’s no secret Mickey can’t carry a show on his own.
In the second-longest tale, Mickey, Donald and Goofy are painting a roller coaster for the opportunity to win a pass to an amusement park. Donald and Mickey resort to an assortment of fiendish plots to stave off their competitors, so much so that the cartoon starts to take the tone of Road Runner vs. Wily E. Coyote. Moral of the story — that diligence pays off — is heard as loudly as the paintball gunfire.
With wild and varying forms of animation ruling the primetime roost, it’s refreshing to see the classic Disney style done with what appears to be few shortcuts. Most voices have been associated with their characters for more than a dozen years.
Series also promises to extend Disney’s traditions of using classical music and setting characters in sporting events.