If you’re younger than 50 and older than 15, there’s a very good chance that Mickey Mouse skipped your generation. In the ’80s and ’90s, he wasn’t much more than an icon on a watch or a theme park character who paled in comparison to “The Muppets,” Saturday morning cartoons and “Star Wars.” Aside from the occasional VHS tape of Disney’s “Golden Age,” you had to wonder what all the fuss was about.
This changed dramatically in 2006, however, as Disney launched “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” a brightly-colored, endlessly-cheery reboot featuring Minnie, Goofy, Donald and the whole gang. In the decade since, you’d be hard-pressed to find a child who didn’t grow up with it — or parents who haven’t developed a newfound appreciation for why the Baby Boomers clung so tightly to their “Mickey Mouse Club” memories.
So, is “Clubhouse” a show you can steer your kids towards — and even enjoy yourself if you don’t have any? Let’s examine the evidence.
Where you can find it
Plot, seriously? Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto (with frequent appearances by Pete, Clarabelle and Ludwig Von Drake) hang at a pimped-out playhouse that has slides, hot air balloons and more magical features than Webster’s house. Lots of episodes feature simple lessons about counting, colors or other such preschool topics. The show does a great job of laying out a simple problem, and then solving it in a fun way.
Why kids love it
The show couldn’t be less threatening if it were a kitten wearing a “hug me” t-shirt. Pete is the ostensible “bad guy,” but never creates any situation that he can’t learn a valuable lesson from by the end of the episode; Mickey is the amiable master of ceremonies, explaining things calmly to the viewers. Donald and Goofy are just the right amount of funny without getting crude — this is a show that gets kids, and they appreciate that.
Every episode concludes with Mickey and the gang doing “The Hot Dog Dance,” as sung by They Might Be Giants. And if you are anywhere near the TV and don’t join the kid in your life by standing up and dancing ridiculously in front of the TV, you have no soul.
Why grown ups will love it
Mickey and the gang are timeless and — aside from “A Goofy Movie” — unfortunately all too often irrelevant throughout the ’80s and ’90s. It’s downright heartwarming to see Walt’s classic characters entertaining a new generation of children — oh, and spoofs of things like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Indiana Jones” will delight you, even if they soar right over the head of your smiling toddler.
Will inebriation help?
To quote Homer Simpson: Alcohol is the cause and solution to all of life’s problems. Read this sentence twice if you must: Once the children in your life are safely tucked in bed and asleep, if you and the spouse choose to stay up late and do a shot every time that Mickey calls for Toodles, you’d probably end up having a very fun (and cheap) date night. Not that we’d ever condone such behavior.
Just be careful — if you are under the influence, when Mickey talks to the camera and waits for your response it can be a little freaky.
- In the early episodes, Toodles spoke; now, he is mute. Sometimes, he even has no face and exists as little more than a lobotomized floating bookbag toting Mouseketools. What is this disturbing abomination against nature? Is Mickey some sort of Dr. Frankenstein who created Toodles and then gave him the Deadpool-in-the-Wolverine-movie treatment after he kept stealing all his lines? We shudder to think what this might say about the fates of Quoodles, Woodles and of course, Boodles.
- The only sentient beings that seem to live a more miserable existence than Toodles are the “Handy Helpers.” They have long arms that seem to understand and interact with Mickey and the gang but are unable to speak or do anything beyond basic slave labor. Need a door opened or a boost to reach a high-up object? Just call the Handy Helpers, and they’ll emerge from the ground or walls, never asking for recognition or even a raise in pay. Stay tuned — in some upcoming episode, the Helpers seem destined to rise up against their anthropomorphized oppressors, and things are gonna get ugly.
- How does Goofy always get his hat to flip over and land on his head during the Hot Dog Dance? Seriously, once you notice it, you’ll never be able to un-see it.
- So, is Professor Von Drake different than Uncle Scrooge from “Duck Tales”? Because they seem to be doing the same schtick.
- Why does Martian Mickey speak perfectly normal English, yet call hot dogs “Yum Blatz”? Perhaps some questions are best left unanswered.
Although they just released a DVD and Season 5 is ongoing, “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” seems to be winding down, as Disney makes plans to re-establish the decade-old series as 2017’s “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.”
Nevertheless, in this age of streaming boxes and on-demand programming, all 122 episodes of “Clubhouse” are as omnipresent in a modern kid-friendly household as Goldfish crackers in the pantry. And deservedly so — the show is a delight to watch with your kids, and it’s even better if you do it while cuddling on the couch and singing along.