London's greatest cartoon secret agent returned to TV yesterday evening after a 23 year break. Danger Mouse (now played by Alexander Armstrong) and his cowardly but loyal sidekick Penfold are back to protect Londoners from the evil machinations of Baron von Greenback. That's if DM can stay on the right side of his boss Colonel K. (played by Stephen Fry) who seems set to give our hero a regular dressing down: "Bad show DM, you've destroyed the whole of London for a chair worth £12.99."
But there's nothing bad about this show.
Perhaps it's some trick of the memory but there's something about this reboot that curiously seems more familiar than the original series which first aired back in 1982.
As sacrilegious as it seems, while the eighties episodes were classics of their time, many simply don't live up to the impression they could make on a child's mind back then. That theme tune, "He's the greatest, he's fantastic, wherever there is danger he'll be there," of course, holds up well but its oomph only draws attention to the plodding pace of some of the scenes and stories when compared to today's standards.
In fact, anyone who has sat down in recent years and treated a young relative to a DVD box set may have sadly considered the announcement of this new series as a vanity project of naive nostalgia. Indeed, it was with some trepidation that we here at Londonist watched the new DM. Yet, here in its fresh incarnation is the speedy, irreverent and extremely funny show of memory.
How have folk at CBBC and Fremantle Media achieved this?
The cartoon London backdrop is a good place to start: the charm of the photo and hand drawn skyline has remained from the earlier series but it is now overlayed with modern day computer animation by Dublin's Boulder Media team. Similarly, though the jokes come thicker and faster now, it has the same strands of surrealist and slapstick humour remaining that made the show so distinctive. And then there's the famous theme tune which is again covered with respect for, but without reverence to, the original.
It is clearly being formed with a highly marketable blend of Britishness in mind in the hope to export to international audiences and, as with other famous revamps, it veers towards fan fiction and near self parody at times. However, if the double length pilot is anything to go by Danger Mouse will be sticking around London long enough to repeatedly foil von Greenback for a whole new generation.
Danger Mouse runs for 52 episodes on CBBC with the second episode tonight at 6pm.