Danger Mouse

What I love about Manchester is that there is so much going on and at times you can just stumble over amazing events by accident.  I’m at HOME, planning to work with a pot of tea for the afternoon, and the place is full of people in yellow T-shirts, turns out this is the last day of the Manchester Animation Festival.  And in fifteen minutes there’s a session entitled ‘The Remaking of Danger Mouse’.  Work will have to wait.

It turns out that the remake of Danger Mouse on CBBC is the most popular kids’ show this year.  And I am sceptical about remakes of ‘classics’ in any genre – film, music, theatre, TV.  So the panel discussion is fascinating.  ‘We try to make the show we remember, not what actually happened’.  Clearly it’s the DNA of the original that matters.  A key element is that every idea must have both the big event (giant spider wants to eat the world) and the small, personal event (Danger Mouse is scared of spiders).  I’m liking this.

Ben Ward, Head Writer, talks about the writing process.  There are three key elements to the writing – jokes, story and characters.  Above all they are looking for funny writers; perhaps from a stand-up background, the priority is to write good comedy, and then remove anything inappropriate for children.  They want the writing to be ‘as strong as the Simpsons’, and they use a similar model, with collaboration between four or more writers.  The day of the sole writer seems to be gone.  Indeed, there is a global market for Danger Mouse and they will bring in American writers to ensure it works there.

So what has stayed the same and what has changed?  The key characters are the same, and actually they are visually immediately recognisable.  The painted backgrounds of the original remain, with the addition of photographic elements.  Differences?  There are more action scenes, the colour is more vibrant, and plot lines reflect technological changes.  There are new characters, in particular Jeopardy Mouse (where were the female characters in the original?).  New technology in animation has allowed the designers to do things that weren’t possible in the original.

So what do we end up with?  Actually, it’s brilliant.  The animation and the characters are very true to the original.  The writing is funny, clever and fast.  It truly feels how I remember the show from thirty years ago.  In a world of desperate remakes, this is an absolute success.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “Danger Mouse”

  1. Andrew Wild says:

    Giddy after drinking at lunchtime, no doubt.

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