The folks at Disney Studios are putting a new — and by that we mean old — coat of paint on the one and only Mickey Mouse. Starting Friday, the company's 85-year-old mascot will star in a series of brand-new yet vintage-looking Disney Channel cartoon shorts (8:30pm/7:30c), appearing much as he did when he was created back in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks—except in dazzling color. Expect crazy, mind-blowing plots, slapstick gags and rubber-hose bodies, plus a surprisingly spunky rodent.
"These new cartoons may come as a shock to anyone who thinks of Mickey only as a corporate logo or the friendly greeter at the Disney theme parks," says the series' Emmy-winning exec producer—director Paul Rudish. "We're taking the character back to his roots, when he was not only a lot of fun but also very funny."
Aimed at kids 6 to 14 (and adults, too), some of the 19 shorts are downright radical: In "No Service," the usually benign Goofy is a grouchy cook at a Santa Monica beach burger shack who won't serve Mickey and Donald because they're not properly attired. (That duck never did wear pants!) In "Croissant de Triomphe," Mickey comes to the aid of frazzled gal pal Minnie in Gay Paree — with all the dialogue in French. In the all-Portuguese "O Futebol Clássico," set in Brazil, Mickey tries desperately to find the perfect view at the World Cup final.
Other toons are set in China, Japan, Italy, the Swiss Alps and New York City, and some feature cameos by Disney icons from across the decades, including Cinderella and her prince, as well as the Matterhorn's Abominable Snowman. Others are stylistic homages to great Disney artists of the past, such as Mary Blair (Peter Pan) and Walt Peregoy (101 Dalmatians).
"We're basking in the glow of the world Walt created," says Rudish. "Just like with his original Mickey cartoons, there are no rules."