June 2011

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Leave Your Brain at the Door

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Before I unload on the sweet, beloved image that is Mickey Mouse, let me establish my background as regards Disney: I'm a big honkin' Disney fan. I especially love Walt Disney World, and have visited more times than I can count, including many trips as an adult without any children in tow, but I also love much of the classic animation from the studio. On top of that, I met my wife while we both worked at the local Disney store. Sixteen years of loving marriage and a wonderful daughter later, you can be sure that I look upon the name "Disney" with a big grin on my face.

This is why it pains me that so much of the programming on the Disney Channel (the corporate types would have me say "Disney Channel," without the "the," but I'm not on the payroll any more) is awful. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a prime offender.

Other than seeing recognizable characters that have built up enormous goodwill through decades of appearances in far better entertainment, the show has absolutely nothing to recommend it, besides some pretty catchy music over the opening and closing titles, courtesy of They Might Be Giants. No character ever does or says anything interesting, and indeed, they all seem rather drained of personality.

The show is also mind-numbingly boring, but the real problem is that the show is anti-educational. While the show ostensibly teaches children how to solve problems, it actually does the opposite. It teaches children to be stupid. It's one of the few shows that could actually lower the intelligence of the child watching it.

Let me provide a few examples as evidence:

  • Minnie Mouse is organizing a picnic for the clubhouse members and assorted friends. At the park site, the juice for the picnic is spilled on the ground. The characters wonder how they're going to clean up the juice. Just so we're clear here, the juice has been spilled on the ground. Cleanup will be automatically provided by God. But this doesn't occur to our cartoon friends, so they undertake to somehow remove the juice from the sod. You might think this is impossible, and you would be right, but Goofy and Pete manage to extract the juice through the use of an enormous sponge. If only we'd had these two geniuses working on the Deepwater Horizon spill!
  • Mickey and pals are helping Santa Claus -- never mind why. At some point they need to attach a harness full of reindeer to a sleigh. So you've got these bridle reins, which are, of course, nothing more than leather ropes. How in the world could we attach this to a sleigh? Could we tie them? No, in the wonderful world of Mickey, this is apparently impossible. Instead, they have to call upon "Toodles," who provides a giant ribbon bow. They tie the reins to the sleigh using the bow!
  • The gang goes camping. But they're having some trouble putting up their tents. One of the tents is inflatable, and they're having trouble inflating it. Okay, let's put aside how they inflate the tent, that's not important. But why are we teaching children about inflatable tents? I have to be clear about this. We're not talking about a tent with inflatable sides, like a Bounce House--or for our friends across the pond, a Bouncy Castle. I'm talking about a tent which is essentially one giant balloon. After you inflate such a tent, how exactly do you get inside without letting the air out? And once you're inside, how do you refrain from dying?

I could go on, but each new paragraph saddens me. This is the worst sort of children's programming. It purports to be educational, in a way, but the connection of cause to effect in this fantasy world is so arbitrary that a child watches this to his or her detriment. If the show was also funny, or engaging, perhaps I could overlook this fault, but this show is only slightly more interesting than what the television looks like when the power is off.

Rating: 1/4.



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