Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent

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Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent

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Category: Entertainment
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Be prepared to be nostalgic, and be prepared to have to absorb copious tiny micro-tales, in-jokes and 80s references, and you might well be set up to love this book. Otherwise, you're stuffed, I'm afraid.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: October 2016
Publisher: Virgin Books
ISBN: 9780753545225

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There is nothing else for it but to declare my love for Danger Mouse (and no, I don't mean the musician/producer, or the remake, which I've not sampled). What I didn't know at the time to call 'breaking the fourth wall', the chutzpah and energy of the storytelling, and primarily the simple and simply brilliant character design made it one of my go-to sources for entertainment, and about the only thing that would get the TV switched to ITV, apart from Blockbusters. The dates on the front of this volume prove we're referring to the genius original series, but these contents seem to me fully new. Taking it that they are, has the idea stood the test of time, and will people be on board for what is surely a much-belated tribute gift book?

Describing the contents won't take long. We have 14 'case files', all beginning with the notes and voice recordings with which Colonel K would summons Danger Mouse and Penfold (the latter with more reluctance, of course). The pages of the files sometimes break into pictures, but otherwise are DM's typed responses to and recollections of the adventures, forming a conversation at times (again, often reluctantly) with Penfold's scribbles. In between those we get spoof adverts (both tried to launch a perfume, apparently, and there's an old-fashioned fan club invite), DM's car insurance claim, and more. More is, however, necessary at times – several times these tales were far too short, ending to my surprise in a suddenly incomplete manner.

So will anyone be interested in such? Well I think they will if they know to come back to the fold with those who love the original Danger Mouse. If they're here because it was remade in 2015, they might well be on a hiding to nothing, for the sensibility of the whole shebang is purely '80s. Here's a hole in the ozone layer, here's a criminal case involving everybody's shoulder pads being purloined, here's Baron Greenback using Live Aid for evil purposes, and our masters of sleuthing going about in disguise as Elton John's wigs. The quips are definitely of the original era, too – references are made to the birth of Channel 4, The Terminator, and so on.

The levity is sustained by borrowing some of the tropes of the series – innocent little me would not have realised quite how much was done against a cheapskate white, Arctic background, nor how the budget was cut by 'filming' in black, with only the eyes of the heroes showing. But that was a factor of the show, and indeed it is in these pages too. The programmes were self-spoofing spoofs, and so does this book try and sustain that. It's not a hugely hilarious volume, but it certainly is amusing, and must go down as a fan-aware tribute.

What the book is relying on, then, is the fact that there are enough geeks and geekesses who were plugged into ITV in their formative years (or perhaps have seen the whole thing since, for it has been reshown and put out for home purchase), and still want to engage. This is a volume that has a PG-friendly mien, but will through its nostalgic references disown a young audience. And I have to doubt to some extent that people will be eagerly waiting for a tie-in to a series that finished 25 years ago. It's down to the publishers to corral those people, then – and for the likes of me to suggest that it's well worth a trip down this particular stretch of Memory Lane. I was amused, I was entertained (albeit not for terribly long) – and I regretted the short form that meant we really couldn't open into the full DM world. OK, dammit, I missed Nero. Apart from that, this blast from the past was almost just that – a blast, and I'm glad I had the chance to read it.

Doctor Who: The Dangerous Book of Monsters by Justin Richards and Dan Green takes itself more seriously as true-to-life, and has the bonus of still being an extant series.

Buy Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Danger Mouse: Declassified by Bruno Vincent at Amazon.com.


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