In 2013 Disney commissioned 19 new Mickey Mouse shorts to run on the Disney Channel. They were so successful that two more seasons were ordered. Walt Disney Home Video has released a new DVD with all 19 shorts that were made for season 1 and a Making of Disney Mickey Mouse as a bonus. They have done a stealth exclusive release of the DVD that is currently exclusive to Wal-Mart and is scheduled for other retail outlet later this year (December 2nd). The press release from Disney synopsis is, With the slapstick feel of classic Mickey Mouse, the series of cartoon shorts presents Mickey in a broad range of humorous situations that showcase his pluck and rascality, along with his long-beloved charm and good heartedness. Each cartoon short finds Mickey in a different contemporary setting including Santa Monica, New York, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo, Venice and the Alps, facing a silly situation, a quick complication and an escalation of physical and visual gags. The stories also feature genuine heartfelt and heroic moments as Mickey explores and experiences life with his comical partners: Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and Pluto.
The shorts are all 3:48 in length and with a play all running time of approximately 74 minutes. There are no production numbers on the credits and they were aired in various order. The DVD has them in the following order:
- Croissant de Triomphe
- No Service
- New York Weenie
- Tokyo Go
- Stayin’ Cool
- Ghoul Friend
- Bad Ear Day
- Third Wheel
- Dog Show
- ‘O Sole Minnie
- O Futebol Classico
- The Adorable Couple
- Tapped Out
I am not the biggest fan of Mickey Mouse because most of the shorts over the years with him have very safe and very boring. Because he was the corporate mascot Disney did not let him venture far off. The only time that it happened was in the 1995 short Runaway Brain directed by Chris Bailey that was quite shocking that they did the short. The thing that make the shorts great is that they are done very outside the normal Disney box. They are very reminiscent of classic Warner Bros. cartoons and influences like Ren and Stimpy. Thankfully there are no real clunkers in the bunch and there are some that are real standouts. My favorite ones are Yodelberg, Tokyo Go, Stayin’ Cool, Ghoul Friend, Gasp!, Dog Show, and Potatoland. The thing that really make the show is the overall designs of the characters and the look of the show. Two of the designer should be familiar to comic readers. Stephen DeStefano of ‘Mazing Man and Ren & Stimpy fame and Andy Suriano of Samurai Jack who worked on the show and comic. The stories for each episode are simple gags but that is what makes them so wonderful. With the short running time the stories have to be tight and have perfect pacing. The animation is a throwback to the original shorts that used a lot of stretch and squish style of animation that has been missing from mainstream Disney for a long time. These shorts are a real breath of fresh air and hopefully will inspire Disney to take more risk like this in the future. The real treat is the visuals for the shorts and there are lots of fun little nods and winks to both Disney films and the Theme Parks. The short sports some of the best backgrounds that I have seen in a while. You can surely tell that the budgets of the short were quite large and they really do show it.
The DVD is a single disc with the option to play all of the shorts or select them individually. The video is nice with no noticeable edge enhancement or compression issues. The image is framed at 1:78 and the black levels are quite nice and the colors are strong for a standard definition disc. I must say for a standard definition disc that this is one of the better ones that I have seen in a while. The only video issue that was noticeable was the end credits look pretty bad, and while you can read them they stutter along as if they have an interlacing issue. Considering how good the shorts look I can’t believe that they let the credits look this bad.
The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and this is where the disc really shines. The audio mixes on the shorts are fantastic and make use of the visual cues to really give the audio a very nice sound design. There are quite a few times where there are a lot of use of the surround during the shorts action scenes. Most of the sound mixes consist of music and sound effects but the dialog is nice and sharp also. All of the shorts have very nice sound mixes and do a very nice job during the more subtle moments in the more quieter moments.
There is one bonus feature A Modern Mickey Mouse (on the package it’s listed as The Making of Disney Mickey Mouse) that runs 5:13 and interviews Mike Moon Vice President of Creative Disney Television Animation and Paul Rudish Executive Producer Mickey Mouse Short Series. Moon talks about how Rudish came up with a fresh new take on the characters and was excited about the influence of the original 1930’s shorts. While it’s a pretty straight forward EPK bonus it’s surprising that they included any special features on the disc. Rudish talks about how the short Plane Crazy (1929) is one of his favorite Mickey Mouse shorts and you can really see the influence of that period in these shorts. I just wish that they had included some of the promotional videos that were made when the show first aired, but at least they included something.
The only complaint that I have is that I really wish that Disney would have also released this on Blu-Ray with more special features. While I am super happy that they even released it in the first place they could have really done a great Blu-Ray with some awesome special features like commentaries and some real behind the scenes interviews with the directors and designers of the show. Unfortunately Disney Home Video has really dropped the ball with animation on Blu-Ray.
Overall this is a great disc to add to your collection. Wal-Mart is selling it for $9.96 and that is a steal for this great collection. While I am very disappointed that Disney has chosen to have an early release as a retailer exclusive because this is a disc that any animation fan should have in their collection. By not having it available to everyone limits the ability of fans of the shorts to own it. That being said that if you want the DVD now you are going to have to head over to a Wal-Mart to pick it up. I am not a fan of them but I sucked it up to get this title.
As an added bonus to this review Stephen DeStefano has posted some of his character designs and artwork that he has done for the show. Below are some of the amazing work that he has done on the show.