There’s a lot of pop and geek culture stuff out there I’d really like to recommend, but sometimes the hardest part of trying to make a weekly recommendation is just picking one thing. This week, I really had a hard time narrowing things down.
But, even though I did sort of recommend it once before, I’ve been rewatching Danger Mouse on Netflix recently, and it has held up very well, so the World’s Greatest Secret Agent gets the nod again.
You know what can be really depressing? Revisiting stuff from your childhood and realizing it’s terrible. Childhood can give a person these rather rose-colored glasses when viewing old stuff, seeing quality that just plain isn’t there.
I’ve seen it happen to me. I was a huge Transformers fan in the 80s. So were a lot of other people. You know what’s basically an unwatchably bad show for me now? Transformers. It may be good for a meme here and there, but the plots are dumb, the animation is bad, and I’d rather not be reminded of that sort of thing with a lot of stuff I used to enjoy.
As it is, I have found Danger Mouse holds up very well. The series was never high in quality animation or anything along those lines, so the producers instead opted to go the Rocky and Bullwinkle route. That’s where in the absence of good animation, clever dialogue comes in instead. Bullwinkle looks like something my nephew could draw, but the joke rate and the absurdity of any given plot more than make up for that. Danger Mouse does employ horrible puns on a regular basis, but the humor is of a drier sort. DM and Penfold’s adventures may be wacky and ludicrous, but it’s never really exaggerated. Danger Mouse rarely has to raise his voice much. Penfold, as a coward, will make up for that, but the series’ title character tends to keep things calm and steady. Oh, he’s not above a frightened scream if something’s sneaking up on him, but he takes things seriously in a world where things shouldn’t be.
Take an episode I rewatched recently where Danger Mouse has to deal with his archenemy, Baron Greenback, turning the world’s elephants into sugar cubes. The elephants change back if they get wet, so the plot was to crush the world’s leaders whenever they added sugar to their tea. Danger Mouse treats this plot like it is something serious, not stupid and silly. There’s no camp either, like if the Superfriends learned of a similar plot from the Legion of Doom.
The series also shares with Bullwinkle the concept of the narrator also being used for humorous purposes. Puns and a small voice cast are also part of the formula.
Actually, watching the series on Netflix has its own rewards. Dialogue was clearly changed for the American audience. Greenback’s crow crony Stiletto has a thick, fake Italian accent in the British version, and Danger Mouse is more likely to refer to himself as a super spy instead of a superhero. As a result, even episodes I watched many times as a kid have something new to see (or, more accurately, hear).
I’m not really a binge watcher, so knowing the show is where it is, and I can revisit at any time, means this series will provide me with some gentle fun and humor for quite some time.
Seriously, I am not a binge watcher. I’m pretty sure that’s why I still haven’t finished Sense8.