Slight confession: I never really grew up with the original Danger Mouse. I was aware that it had been on television before I was old enough to watch those kind of cartoons, but it had never been repeated on TV until the turn of the millennium, when Boomerang kept showing reruns of the same half a dozen episodes. They were very good episodes, but you can only watch DM on The Orient Express so many times…
Nevertheless, I still have fond memories of the show (and slightly fonder memories of Count Duckula, a show that was shown when I was a toddler) and was mildly optimistic when I heard they were rebooting the show with an all-new cast for CBBC. Having watched every single episode show thus far (CBBC decided to get the first 15 episodes out of the way, then put it on hiatus) I can say with some authority… yeah, it’s pretty good.
If it seems like I’m damning with faint praise, just remember this; the original Danger Mouse is considered by many to be the greatest cartoon of the 1980’s, so the new show was always going to have to fight an uphill battle to appease nostalgic fanboys who grew up with the show (I freely admit that I only sort of belong to this category). But while the show started off with plenty of in-jokes for the old fans – which undoubtedly puzzled any younger viewers tuning in – it’s quickly developed into its own thing… and thank goodness for that.
Let’s be honest, fandoms of rebooted shows/movies tend to have two reactions to the final product: “You changed too much!” or “Oh, same old formula! Can’t be bothered to try something new, eh?”. The occasional Easter egg aside, the new Danger Mouse isn’t much like the old show; episodes are only 15 minutes or so, so there’s not as much time for the delightfully absurd banter that typified the original, making it a more plot-driven affair. Fortunately for purists, the plots are often absurd – who doesn’t love a Welsh-speaking alien plant taking over the planet?
That said, there are a few little changes that chafe; most of the new voice actors are a good fit for the old ones -Stephen Fry and Kevin Eldon are practically indistinguishable from and Edward Kelsey and the late Terry Scott – but Dave Lamb as Stiletto just sounds… off. That, and turning Baron Greenback into Baron von Greenback. But these are just quibbles, and most of the changes are very enjoyable; DM is more cocky, Penfold is more of a mate than comic relief, and Shauna Macdonald is great as the gender-flipped Professor Squawkenkluck.
All in all, I’d rate the new DM as not quite as good as the original, but still worth watching.