Welcome to another installment of our weekly feature, “Saturday Morning Cartoons.” If you’re not familiar with the series, each Saturday morning, a writer will highlight an episode of a cartoon. It could be something they think highly of. Something that they loved as a kid. Or like last week’s entry, something so ridiculous, it just has to be shared. For this week’s episode, I’m highlighting the first episode of Danger Mouse, “Rogue Robots.” Now, Danger Mouse is a cartoon that I’m certain that I saw at some point growing up, but I don’t really remember anything about it. After a bit of research, I have discovered that this was a British show started in 1981. Well, guess that explains why I hear British accents in the opening.
The episode starts off well enough. There’s a catchy little jingle playing while a montage of Danger Mouse saving some hamster associate, who we later learn is named Penfold. A narrator then comes on to give quite the introduction to Danger Mouse, who is a secret agent so secret that even his code name has a code name. The scene opens with Danger Mouse sitting in his secret headquarters, reading the newspaper, when the doorbell rings. He asks Penfold to see who it is. Here, the narrator tells us Penfold’s code name is Jigsaw, because when he’s faced with a problem, he falls to pieces.
Penfold presses a button at the door, and we hear a deliveryman with a highly suspicious accent saying he has a delivery for Mr. Mouse. Penfold tells him to leave the packages in the lift, and the deliveryman has a laugh and leaves. Something tells me not to trust this deliveryman. I don’t know what it is, but just call it a hunch. Penfold opens the door, to find two robot, flying things, with sharp teeth. They start chasing him back and forth across the screen. Danger Mouse calmly gets up, and walks away. He proceeds to a door, all the while commenting on the status of Penfold’s library books, and questioning their nature. Eventually, Penfold runs over to Danger Mouse, who easily destroys the two robots. The narrator was being pretty honest when he said that Penfold falls to pieces.
Danger Mouse then receives a call from Colonel K, who is trying to inform him that several agents are getting strange deliveries. Well, at least that’s what he’s trying to say. The Colonel keeps getting interrupted by a knock at the door. When he gets up to check it out, you know what happens? He gets attacked, because of course he does. Well, it’s assumed he’s attack. Even though Colonel K is on a video call with Danger Mouse, all of that action happens off camera. But anyways, the Colonel gives them their instructions. As luck would have it, one of the robots from earlier got better, and flew out the door. It would seem that Penfold, as he was falling to pieces, had never closed the front door. So, Danger Mouse and Penfold go down a secret lift that had been doubling as the couch.
As Danger Mouse chases after this mechanical assassin, video of the the encounter is being sent to his arch nemesis, Baron Greenback. Greenback has the mechanical thing self-destruct, so that it cannot lead Danger Mouse back to his hideout. When it explodes, of course Penfold gets on the defensive about he did nothing wrong. Danger Mouse assumes that they are close to the device’s base, so he suggests that they split up and search for it. Penfold has the better idea that they split up, and he stays with Danger Mouse. Oh Penfold, you little coward. Danger Mouse vetoes that idea, and they split up. Sure hope Penfold doesn’t get captured, or anything.
Penfold is grumbling about how dangerous things are becoming for a super-spy, but he’s not finding anything. Danger Mouse isn’t finding anything either, so he decides to just wait until the villain reveals himself. It’s right at that time that he hears Penfold scream. A giant robot that is all shoes, legs, and a sphere appears before him. Danger Mouse, hearing the scream, runs to his car and drives off. Seriously, he just hops in, and drives off. Drives for a while. Eventually, he does get to Penfold, but it raises questions. How did they get so far apart? I had assumed that they both got out of the car and started searching. If that was the case, then Penfold had searched a far greater distance than Danger Mouse. The other option is that Danger Mouse just dropped Penfold off somewhere, and drove off. Either way, both options seem lazy.
Danger Mouse drives up kind of close to these robot legs, and then over a loudspeaker, starts giving them marching orders. It works I guess because of the boots. Maybe? It’s weird, and kind of funny. But anyways, Danger Mouse marches the boots and legs and sphere right off of the pier. Greenback, upset that Danger Mouse has gotten the best of him, orders Stiletto Mafiosa to activate Big Tom, the Mouse Masher. With a name like that, it sounds serious.
Danger Mouse and Penfold are driving away, when their path is blocked by a robotic axe, a couple maces, and some other apparent arms of a machine. Personally, with the way the arms were coming down, you’d think that they would have seen the machine in front of them. Anyways, Big Tom has found them. Also, Big Tom just happens to look like a cat, and has Greenback and Stiletto riding inside of him. Danger Mouse and Penfold get on Big Tom, but Penfold gets snatched up by one of Big Tom’s claws. Meanwhile, the music picks up, and Danger Mouse avoids Big Tom’s attacks with what could be a series of dance moves and recycled animation. Eventually, Big Tom hurts himself, and blows up.
Back at his base, Danger Mouse fills Colonel K in on what had happened with the robots. The Colonel suggests that they should take a vacation, and of course Penfold is already dressed for the occasion. In was seems reasonable and expected, the narrator ends the episode asking a series of questions that have nothing to do with anything.
I really had a lot of fun with this episode. The comedy and voice acting holds up fairly well. Although, if you’re not a fan of British humor, your experiences may vary. I encourage you to check it out. I found this episode on Netflix. See you next week.