In the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse - there's more than meets the eye

Join me if you will as we take a trip to a land where it’s always sunny and the flowers are always in bloom.  There are no leaves on the ground nor garbage or waste of any kinds.  You’re always within walking distance of multiple oddly shaped ponds & lakes, a snow covered mountain, a jungle, and a desert.  It’s essentially southern California but less animated.  The place I am taking you is the land of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

If you are a parent with children under the age of ten and have anything more than basic cable, you’ve inevitably had to endure hours on end of Mickey and his friends in their rapscallion adventures.  For the uninitiated the show basically follows a predictable twenty-two minute formula where Mickey makes a the clubhouse appear out of nowhere using an apparently not-too-secret password, then various iterations of his associates show up and bring with them the problem or conflict of the day, and using four tools of ambiguous value at first glance they resolve the day’s dilemma and dance in celebration of hotdogs.  It’s all rather logical if you think about it.

Having seen just about every episode they’ve made at this point – being two years into parenthood – I like to think of myself as a bit of a connoisseur of this Disn-ified world.  The following are my thoughts on each of the main players on the mouse-ka-stage:

Mickey – The namesake of the show and frankly the foundation of the Disney empire, it’s Mickey’s job to be eminently likeable to all parties. In doing so he comes off like cafeteria issued white bread.  As in real life, anyone who tries to be liked by all really can’t be loved by any.  It’s his gift and his curse.  The only thing somewhat controversial Mickey has ever said was when he admitted that he was tired of tap dancing in the Donald the Genie episode.  Crazy I know.  Otherwise Mickey is always positive and willing to look the other way and forgive the foibles and obstacles of his opponents at every turn.  The show would be 1000% more entertaining if they made Mickey dynamic by actually giving him a backbone.  Oh well.  I will give him credit for choosing his dog Pluto over the rest of them in most any scenario where the characters need to pair off for tasks or sleeping arrangements.  That’s a stand-up move on his part.

Minnie – The quintessential domestic goddess.  Per The Wife, “she does too much for Mickey – why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?”  So there’s that.  My personal take is that Minnie is just not memorable.  I’m a firm believer that in this game we call life the end game is to collect as many stories as you can and live life to its fullest.  Don’t be a spectator.  Minnie embodies the opposition to that philosophy. No one has ever told a story that begins, “Remember that one time Minnie did something awesome…”

Goofy – The quintessential just happy to be there guy. While kind hearted at his core, at some point the group needs to disassociate themselves with Goofy for their own well being.  If you read enough of the @LifeHacks tweets you learn that you need to be aware of those you surround yourself with as in reality they define you.  It’s time for the crew to cut bait on Goofy.  His heart is in the right place but far too often he forgets important tasks assigned to him, his mistakes (which are numerous) always come back to haunt the collective friends, and he can be counted on for very little.  Goofy is a liability where at this point his negatives outweigh the positive aspects he brings to the table.

Donald – Perhaps my favorite character, Donald is in on the joke.  He gets frustrated with the incompetence of others, he tries and fails, he gets jealous, and he’s drawn to the most sexual female.  Essentially Donald is real.  He’s the closest embodiment to how I would envision myself if immersed in this world.

Daisy – She’s the town bicycle.  Put some pants or a skirt on you filthy trollop.  Daisy is able to get by on looks alone and in many ways is the antithesis of what we should be teaching the youth of our nation.  Because Daisy is a cartoon her looks will never leave her and thus she will forever be able to float through life getting everything she desires with the batting of her eyes.  Remind your daughters that she is not a role model as there needs to be substance to succeed in a three-dimensional world.

Pete – This fat cat is everything I don’t like about capitalism.  The villain by default in a generally controversy free world, Pete is the source of 87% of drama in the show.  He’s obviously a fan of Warren Buffet as he is the one who will setup a toll booth in front of the bridge that everyone must cross.  While the group at large tends to operate in a socialist state of sharing and volunteering to help each other for the greater good, Pete is always looking out for numero uno.  While occasionally caught on the wrong side of the good-bad ledger by happenstance, more often than not his intentions are nefarious from the outset and then he begs and apologizes his way back into good graces before the music begins to play.  Frankly at this point I’ve seen enough.  I would actually gain respect for Mickey if he called in a favor of Willie the Giant and one morning everyone notes that they haven’t seen Pete around for a few weeks.  I’m just saying…

Pluto – There’s not much to say here as Pluto is the only of the main character that in any way embodies his natural phylum in the animal kingdom.  He’s a dog and does dog things (and has a weird fetish for monkeys apparently).  The one thing I would say is that I would hold no ill will towards Pluto if he begrudged Goofy for evolving and not paying homage to his canine roots.

Professor Von Drake – The Wife’s favorite character, it can be argued that he’s an under-utilized asset on the show.  He doesn’t get caught up in the drama with the rest of the crew and rather just keeps to himself and his wacky inventions.  A case could be made that they could take the program in a different direction by more regularly relying on the Professor and his gadgets to complete the days given mission and phase Toodles out nearly all together (more on him in a second).  They could use this platform to more strongly promote science and creativity rather than just giving the crew whatever tools they need without any ingenuity in play.

Clarabelle – I’m not quite sure why she exists short of some Title IX-type gender quota imposed by the suits at the top of the network.  She really don’t bring much to the table but for whatever reason she seems to have caught the fancy of booth Goofy and Pete which should bring more tension to the show than it actually does.

Chip & Dale – If not Donald, my next choice would be to hang with Chip & Dale in this imaginary world.  They always seem to be up to their own hijinks without the ceaseless craving of the attention from the camera as the rest of them.  When their story lines intersect with that of the rest of the cast every sixth episode or so I often find myself wishing the learn more about what they were up to on their own before Mickey & Co. intervened.  Chip & Dale will play their part as needed and then they go back to their normal lives.  I can respect that.

Toodles – I think I hate Toodles.  This pan-sexual flying disk with ears comes every time he/she is called – always arriving in some desperate for attention manner – and gives the group whatever tools they request to complete their task at hand.  Where these Mouse-Ka-Tools actually come from and where they go after they’ve served their purpose no one is quite sure.  If that’s all Toodles was – essentially the clubhouse bitch – then I could find peace with it in time.  Unfortunately there are about five rouge episodes where for some reason the creators decided to give Toodles a face and a personality which basically ruins the entire program for me.  When personified Toodles is a whiney pussy who’s voice is like helium on a chalkboard.  When he/she does speak it’s either to kiss Mickey’s ass or complain about how under-appreciated he/she feels.  Get over it.  You’re a flying disk that was probably invented by Professor Von Drake which means if he made you he can break you.  Know your role Toodles and may we never hear from you again.

Some additional thoughts and questions that I have about the show include:

  • Why do they sit essentially backwards when going on the Up Slide?
  • Why call it a Surprise Switch when you know what you’re going to get when you pull it?
  • I would like one final geographical map of the world in which this show exists – kind of like those nerds who watch Game of Thrones have.  How come sometimes you can walk to the jungle and other times you need to take a boat or the glove balloon?
  • Doesn’t it seem like the handy crane and baby elephant get an inordinate number of turns as Mouse-Ka-Tools?
  • Why has no one ever punched Pete?  It would be totally justified.
  • Is there an awkward conversation that we don’t get to see when Pete and Clarabelle are told they can’t come back to the clubhouse to dance the Hotdog Dance at the end of a given adventure?
  • How come sometimes the handy helper hands appear outside of the clubhouse but their main control room is in the basement?  Does their reach extend all over the planet in this world or is there a limit to how far they can go?  There must be some undefined limit to their reach as they’d come in handy (both puns intended) in just about every scenario in some capacity.
  • Why do they never address the 800 pound gorilla in the room of these humanized animals having other animals for pets?  Is Pete not offended that Minnie owns a cat?