The iconic British cartoon Danger
Mouse is getting a 21st century reboot (whether you agree with it or
not) and as production gets going, we’re starting to see details emerge as to
exactly what form the new show will take. First off, some of the guys will now be girls:
“Characters that might have been
male in the past will now be female characters,” said CBBC controller Cheryl
Taylor, speaking at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield….”We felt
that the redesign stayed truthful both to the essence of Danger Mouse as we
knew and loved him, but also brought something new for the youth of today,”
Yes, you read that right, not
only is the show getting an ‘update’ with all the dreaded anxiety that such
actions entail (usually through the good ol’ conversion to 3-D CGI), but
it’s also being dragged into the modern era of gender equality to boot.
On the face of it, that’s a good
thing, and indeed it is. Although the move has a slight whiff of revisionism
about it, denying that cartoons deserve to be a bit more even on the gender
front is crazy. Recent shows from America and elsewhere have made broad
attempts to move more towards a balanced cast without appearing to pander to
political correctness for the sake of it. Avatar: the Last Airbender (book two
onwards) remains the best American example although subsequent shows like the
Legend of Korra not only exemplify the idea of an ensemble cast but also
embrace it too. Although modifying an existing property is a riskier move than
a wholly new show, for a reboot like Danger Mouse, it may as well be considered
as being the latter since it will expand the concept and universe so much.
So the move actually makes sense
from that standpoint; girls need to enjoy and embrace it too. If the original
did so, it was in spite of its use of James Bond as inspiration. The spy genre
has long been a popular one for kids cartoons and although the shadow of Mr.
Bond has long cast a shadow (sometimes blatantly),
alternatives do exist. T.U.F.F Puppy comes to mind with its focus on comedy, as
does Totally Spies! even if it parodies the genre in the extreme.
This version of Danger Mouse is
also being launched into a commercial atmosphere that is radically different
from the original. No longer able to simply create content for their own
benefit, it would be shocking if the BBC did not want to reach the largest
international audience possible. Given that girls make up 50% of the population
and therefore the viewing audience, if makes for good common sense to ensure
they can enjoy the show as well.
There are no details on exactly which
characters will be getting a transformation at this stage, but it seems safe to
say that Danger Mouse himself and his sidekick Penfold will remain the same. As
for this writer, he silently weeps that The
Modifyers seems destined to remain but a
glorious footnote in the history of spy cartoons.