The iconic British cartoon Danger Mouse is getting a 21st century reboot (whether you agree with it or not) and as production gets going, we're starting to see details emerge as to exactly what form the new show will take. First off, some of the guys will now be girls:
“Characters that might have been male in the past will now be female characters,” said CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor, speaking at the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield....”We felt that the redesign stayed truthful both to the essence of Danger Mouse as we knew and loved him, but also brought something new for the youth of today,”
Yes, you read that right, not only is the show getting an 'update' with all the dreaded anxiety that such actions entail (usually through the good ol' conversion to 3-D CGI), but it's also being dragged into the modern era of gender equality to boot.
On the face of it, that's a good thing, and indeed it is. Although the move has a slight whiff of revisionism about it, denying that cartoons deserve to be a bit more even on the gender front is crazy. Recent shows from America and elsewhere have made broad attempts to move more towards a balanced cast without appearing to pander to political correctness for the sake of it. Avatar: the Last Airbender (book two onwards) remains the best American example although subsequent shows like the Legend of Korra not only exemplify the idea of an ensemble cast but also embrace it too. Although modifying an existing property is a riskier move than a wholly new show, for a reboot like Danger Mouse, it may as well be considered as being the latter since it will expand the concept and universe so much.
So the move actually makes sense from that standpoint; girls need to enjoy and embrace it too. If the original did so, it was in spite of its use of James Bond as inspiration. The spy genre has long been a popular one for kids cartoons and although the shadow of Mr. Bond has long cast a shadow (sometimes blatantly), alternatives do exist. T.U.F.F Puppy comes to mind with its focus on comedy, as does Totally Spies! even if it parodies the genre in the extreme.
This version of Danger Mouse is also being launched into a commercial atmosphere that is radically different from the original. No longer able to simply create content for their own benefit, it would be shocking if the BBC did not want to reach the largest international audience possible. Given that girls make up 50% of the population and therefore the viewing audience, if makes for good common sense to ensure they can enjoy the show as well.
There are no details on exactly which characters will be getting a transformation at this stage, but it seems safe to say that Danger Mouse himself and his sidekick Penfold will remain the same. As for this writer, he silently weeps that The Modifyers seems destined to remain but a glorious footnote in the history of spy cartoons.