Michael Lyons reviews the latest incarnation of Mickeyand friends in Disney's Mickey MouseWorks.
Anyone who thinks that this half-hour compilation of new Disney shorts is sacrilege and that Disney is "selling out" their most beloved icons and personalities to the small screen, take heart. Mickey MouseWorks is an innovative surprise; a show with moments of true brilliance that deserves to join Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain and yes, even The Simpsons, as one of the most comically creative ventures currently on television. Taking a winking, self-deprecating style and merging it with the whiz-bang pace of Tex Avery, MouseWorks executive producers (and writing/animation team) Roberts Ganaway and Tony Craig have given Mickey, Donald, Goofy and the rest of the Disney canon a new sensibility, while not sacrificing the characters, likable traits, and personalities. Best of all, the animated shorts within each half-hour are a lot of fun. The debut episode, Goofy's "How to be a Waiter," featured a hysterical send-up of "Steamboat Willie." Episode number two, "Mickey's New Car," throws out clever sight gags with a gleeful, fast pace. (When Mickey's car smashes through a series of "Road Closed" barricades, they, almost subliminally, read "Hey! These signs are expensive! Stop running into them!"). Thankfully, MouseWorks pulls this all together with animation that is both graphically distinct and stunningly fluid. This isn't the static world of Duck Tales. There's actual squash and stretch at work here, along with stylish backgrounds and, at times, theatrical quality animation. Mickey MouseWorks deserves to be a big hit and hopefully will gain a following among kids, animation buffs, Disney fans and beyond. After all, this is a show that treats Donald's temper tantrums as if they're a force of nature.
Mickey MouseWorks airs Saturdays at noon EST /11 am, PST on ABC in the US. Mike Lyons is a Long Island-based freelance writer who has written over 100 articles on film and animation. His work has appeared in Cinefantastique, Animato! and The Disney Magazine.