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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on DVD:Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt Mickey's Treat
Mickey's Storybook Surprises Mickey's Big Splash Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland Choo-Choo Express

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Big Splash DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Executive Producers: Rob LaDuca, Bobs Gannaway / Directors: Donovan Cook, Broni Likomanov, Rob LaDuca / Writers: Ashley Mendoza, Kevin D. Campbell, Don Gillies, Leslie Valdes / Producers/Story Editors: Mark Seidenberg, Leslie Valdes / Line Producer: Bradley Bowlen

Voice Cast: Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Dee Bradley Baker (Various), Bill Farmer (Goofy, Pluto), Russi Taylor (Minnie Mouse), Jim Cummings (Pete), Tress MacNeille (Daisy Duck), Corey Burton (Professor Ludwig von Drake), Frank Welker (Mr. Pettibone), April Winchell (Clarabelle Cow)

Running Time: 96 Minutes (4 episodes) / Rating: TV-Y
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: May 5, 2009 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Two Episodes Originally Aired May 2006 - September 2008; Two Unaired
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9); White Keepcase

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In the retail world, February rings in the pastels of Easter, July prompts Back to School sales, September 1st announces Halloween's arrival, and November 1st launches the Christmas season. By that same system, the beginning of May means that summer is here! Never mind that your calendar says that we're only six weeks into spring; Wolverine's theatrical opening last Friday marked the start of the summer movie season and home video is more or less on the same page.
Thus it's time for Mickey's Big Splash, Disney's fifth "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" DVD and the first to be loosely based around the Northern Hemisphere's warmest season.

By now, the only way "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" could surprise you is if you haven't already seen it. Since debuting three years ago this week, little has changed about this Disney Channel series, which airs every weekday morning and four times a weekend as the highest-rated component of the company's much-tended Playhouse Disney block. Each 24-minute episode opens with the appearance of the Clubhouse, a residence that physically resembles its owner. In between the opening and closing themes (both performed by They Might Be Giants), problems are systematically resolved with viewer participation and Toodles-summoned Mouseketools.

The first news of three-dimensional computer-animated versions of Mickey and his fellow time-tested cartoon short subjects starring in a show for preschoolers probably gave some pause. (Particularly, with the news coming on the heels of the not very good CGI DTV Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas while Disney's Feature Animation department was disavowing traditional methods.) But fan concerns have practically been nonexistent since "Clubhouse" took to the air, wearing on its sleeve an awareness of the visual and personal histories of Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy, Minnie, Pete, Professor von Drake, Clarabelle Cow, Figaro, and so on.

The "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" title logo was too exciting for us to share with you right away. So, we waited until the show's 5th DVD review. Hopefully, you are now mature enough to handle the awesomeness of this graphic. Mickey Mouse smiles at the sight of Toodles, the series' most prominent (and didactic) original character.

The series speaks directly to young children and takes deliberate efforts to instill classroom skills like math and logic. That gives Disney and parents a comfortable educational value to cite in response to couch potatoship claims. It also ensures that though this ranks among the most adult-friendly preschools programs in production today, you essentially need a kid on hand (or a DVD reviewing occupation) to watch it without feeling ridiculous.

On the one hand, some may lament that this series comes so close to providing a general entertaining experience. Were the format less rigid and kid-oriented, this could easily join the leagues of child-friendly yesteryear TV shows that are still celebrated for their all-viewers-welcome approach. (For Disney, that class can be traced back to the original "Mickey Mouse Club" and Walt's oft-renamed weekly anthology series. Admittedly, reruns of either aren't likely to do much for today's kids.)

On the other hand, we can recognize that Disney's most recent attempts to create general-audience television starring their most popular animated personalities haven't prospered. (How else can we explain why the clever "House of Mouse" isn't available on DVD?) Following that train of thought, if a less childish Mickey-and-friends series isn't viable, then we may as well be pleased that the beloved Disney troupe is being well-employed in an aesthetically and technically sound program. The added bonus is that kids of today might now care about things like Fantasia, Donald's Nephews, Fun and Fancy Free, "Goof Troop" and so on. It's a worthwhile tradition to be exposed to and this is no doubt preferable to many alternatives aiming for the same young audience, including every other current Playhouse Disney show I've seen.

Donald feeds eight of his fellow ducks who aren't fortunate enough to use dining ware, dress like sailors, or speak English. Mickey and Pluto learn that floating around in bubble bath bubbles can truly be an out of this world experience.

There is no real reason to expect the unexpected in terms of Mickey's Big Splash as a DVD. Like the series' previous disc released in September, this compilation holds four episodes. One is designated as a bonus, but from online episode guides, it appears that two of them have yet to air.

1. "Donald's Ducks" (Not yet aired)
A pack of eight non-anthropomorphic ducks show up at the Clubhouse, needing guidance to get to the beach for their winter migration.
In addition to teaching them how to fly, Mickey and Donald must feed them and keep track of them.

2. "Pluto's Bubble Bath" (Originally aired September 6, 2008)
Clarabelle Cow and her dog Bella are coming over to the Clubhouse for a tea, biscuits, and dog biscuits party. To get ready, Pluto gets a bubble bath, and he and Mickey wind up floating away in bubbles and requiring navigational help.

3. "Mickey Goes Fishing" (Originally aired May 13, 2006)
Goofy goes away on a safari vacation, leaving his cat Mr. Pettibone in the care of Mickey. When the cat runs out of food, Mickey and Pluto take him to Star Lake, where they rent a boat from Pete and go fishing for Big Red Gooey fish.

4. "Pete's Beach Blanket Luau" (Not yet aired)
It's the hottest day of the year and Pete invites everyone down to Star Lake for a cool beach blanket luau. There, they've got to clean up the beach, recycle, find sand that isn't too hot, mend their umbrella, and make waves for surfing. In other words, it's the perfect beach blast.

VIDEO and AUDIO

As usual, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" appears in 1.33:1 fullscreen. As an all-digital product, there is nary an imperfection to be found that isn't in the original animation files. The only way you won't appreciate the vibrant, clean, and colorful visuals is if you just don't like the show's stylings, which are a bit crude though pleasant. In the sound department, we return to the Dolby Surround format of the early DVD releases. It still seems like there's more 5.1-channel potential here than in most children's TV series, but the track does fine, with dialogue, music, and effects balanced, lively, discernible, and crisp.

Make your very own Tiki mask in the first of three "Fun in the Sun" activities. I made mine kind of California Raisiny. Three of these things are not like the others. Three of these things just don't belong. Help Donald decide what things he shouldn't have packed for the beach blanket luau. A polar bear and a camel. Who's hot and who's not?

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Though the disc makes it look like there's just one bonus feature, "Fun in the Sun with Mickey and the Gang" actually provides three short, simple set-top activities. In the first one, you customize a Tiki mask and backdrop out of four different variables.
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The second game asks you to identify three things that Donald needlessly packed for the beach party. The third quizzes you on what's cold and what's hot (not in the Paris Hilton sense, but meteorologically) with nonsensical thermometer readings supplying clues. For the latter two, the questions sometime differ on return visits, which you are invited to make.

The animated main menu gives us a summery view of the Clubhouse, as Mickey waves by luau supplies and other characters float by in bubbles. Submenus are static but scored.

Before loading the feature presentation, the FastPlay-enhanced disc plays promos for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland, The Tigger Movie: 10th Anniversary Special Edition, and Disney Movie Rewards. The second batch advertises the delayed Monsters, Inc. Blu-ray, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, The Princess and the Frog, and "Handy Manny."

While Disney has done away with standard table-of-contents inserts, we still find some paper inside the white keepcase. Your Disney Movie Rewards code is part of a booklet talking up an "Imagination Movers" sweepstakes. Another booklet promotes a variety of releases including a Goofy Movie Collection double feature that clearly hasn't materialized (yet).

Forgive me for this spoiler. Mickey, Pluto, and Mr. Pettibone do catch a big red gooey fish for the hungry cat in "Mickey Goes Fishing." Having sorted plastics from papers, patched their beach umbrella, and found a shady spot in the sand, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang can now enjoy the surfing part of "Pete's Beach Blanket Luau."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

By now, you probably already have decided if "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" DVDs are right for you and your children. Just as the show itself remains consistent in quality and design, so too have the DVDs. Mickey's Big Splash doesn't have a prominent holiday design and even its beach/summer theme isn't remotely enforced. It does have four episodes instead of three, which is nice. Still, you're basically getting a random sampling of the show in the best available quality.

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Summer Fun, Animated: Recess: School's Out A Goofy Movie Phineas and Ferb: The Daze of Summer He's a Bully, Charlie Brown
Summer Fun, Live-Action: Sing-Along Songs: Beach Party at Walt Disney World The Even Stevens Movie Last Day of Summer Summer Magic

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on DVD:Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales Mickey's Great Clubhouse Hunt Mickey's Treat
Mickey's Storybook Surprises Mickey's Big Splash Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland Choo-Choo Express

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Reviewed May 6, 2009.