Who's behind these nefarious deeds but none other than that prince of pandemonium, Baron Von Greenback? I toad you so. That's not a real bit from the show, but if that sort of humor evinces a wince and a groan, you'll probably like Danger Mouse. For at last on DVD, here are 17 episodes (seasons one and two) of Britain's intrepid rodent, Danger Mouse, and his sidekick hamster, Penfold. This surrealistic serial, for the deprived who haven't seen it, combines one part Monty Python, one part James Bond, one part Dr. Who and many more random bits in an entirely original, animated cartoon that gets it right, using its limited animation budget to design unforgettable characters, with minimalist, cut-out paper backgrounds.
But we must backtrack, because 17 episodes is a misnomer. The first season consisted of eleven long, single episode stories, sometimes shown with another Brit toon, "Bananaman." Launching in the UK in 1981, DM appeared three years later stateside on Nickelodeon. But the second season moved to the cliff-hanger format, with six shows consisting of five five minute segments per show (here called an "episode"). Each segment recaps all the other segments so far, which works well on the show but on the DVD is slightly annoying. Nevertheless, it's a brilliant limited animation move, allowing the producers to reuse bits over and over, and landing the show securely in the long, distinguished line of episodic, cliff-hanger cartoons from Crusader Rabbit and Ruff and Reddy to The King and Odie and the kings of the cliff-hanger (which even showed them falling off a cliff), Rocky and Bullwinkle.
But as the daffy, depraved fans who have seen it know, DM's other great draw is narrator David Jason who, starting off small in season one, really gets going in season two. Once again, this puts DM in a great lineage of limited animation 'toons driven by great narrators, from Gary Owens of "Laugh In" in Roger Ramjet to William Conrad reporting the saga of Moose and Squirrel. The last episode of season two also introduces Count Duckula, who had his own spinoff cartoon on Nick. A bar in New York had a sign urging silence during the Huckleberry Hound Show. What must it be like in a UK pub during Danger Mouse?