This week, Disney is releasing the fifth title in their Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series. Entitled Mickey’s Big Splash, the DVD features four episodes of the series, three of which have aired previously on the Disney Channel. As with the earlier release Mickey’s Storybook Surprises, the disc contains episodes which can be vaguely categorized on a single theme, in this case, summer fun.
The three previously-aired episodes are “Pluto’s Bubble Bath,” “Mickey Goes Fishing,” and “Pete’s Bleach Blanket Luau.” The first of these is quite possibly the most fun. It features Pluto and Mickey each getting caught in soap bubbles as Mickey attempts to clean his friend in preparation for a “tea and biscuits and dog biscuits” party. The bubbles carry the famous pair around as they sing and avoid various obstacles. It’s just plain good fun, especially for the two- to five-year-olds the series is geared towards.
The new episode, “Donald’s Ducks” has sailor-suited duck guiding 10 ducklings to a beach. The rest of the Clubhouse gang appears as well, and though fun, the episode is slightly odd in the it is Goofy who knows the ducklings prior to their arrival at the Clubhouse, but Donald who becomes their leader. Clearly the show is acknowledging Donald, as a duck, getting to lead younglings from his species, but the reasons then for Goofy having a prior relationship with the ducks are murky.
Okay, that’s putting way too much thought into a series aimed at preschoolers. The series is a fun one and continually attempts to engage its audience and teach them numbers, shapes, colors, and all manner of basic — yet important — things.
All the episodes of the series have the same basic structure — a problem present itself, Mickey and his friends get Toodles and some Mouskatools to help them solve the problem, the tools are each used over the episode, and by the conclusion all is right with the world and the gang does the “Hot Dog Dance.” It is simple, but completely watchable by adults and rewatchable (over and over again) by younger audience members.
The biggest quibble one might find with the release would be one only HD television users would notice. In Mickey Mouse Clubhouse airings on Disney Channel HD, the show is presented in high definition and widescreen. The DVD releases of the series do not have 16:9 enhanced setting, and consequently any adult watching the series might end up feeling as though the framing is very claustrophobic (the widescreen version seems to simply adds more space on the sides). It’s something young children will not tend to pick up on, but is very disconcerting for elder audience members.
Mickey’s Big Splash also contains a “Fun in the Sun with Mickey and Gang” interactive game, which is no more enjoyable than any other interactive game ever put on a DVD. It feels slow and stilted and is nowhere near as engaging as the episodes on the disc.
With songs and dances and images known the world over, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse — Mickey’s Big Splash provides to young audience members another opportunity to see the iconic characters. Plus, it’s even enjoyable for adults if they’re willing to give it a chance. And there’s really not much more you can ask for from a preschool series than that.