Thursday, April 09, 2015

Disney's Journey to Oz, part 6

In my first entry of this series, I mentioned that one of Disney's first ideas for possible Oz projects was a cartoon in which Mickey Mouse would be blown to Oz. Well, an awfully similar concept was behind the September 20, 2013 episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: "The Wizard of Dizz."

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a preschool-oriented TV series focusing on problem solving, starring faithfully rendered 3D versions of the classic Disney cartoon characters.

This particular episode found Minnie Mouse and Pluto being blown away to the Land of Dizz in a shed during a tornado that interrupted a party at the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. After getting magic green shoes from Good Witch Clarabelle (Clarabelle Cow) and getting some advice from the Chipmunchkins (Chip and Dale), Minnie and Pluto head down the polka dot road to see the Wizard of Dizz in the City of Handy Helpers. Along the way, they meet Scarecrow Goofy who wants a brain, Tin Man Mickey who wants a heart to keep him running (he's a clockwork mouse, so he's part Tik-Tok), and Donald the Lion, who wants courage. Witch Pete tries to stop them so he can steal Minnie's shoes for their magic power. For Pete's part, they gave him a wig and a Witch's hat. So, they almost did full witch drag on Pete.

Arriving at the city, they're let in by the Guardian of the Gates (Daisy Duck), and let in to see the Wizard of Dizz, who appears as a mechanical eye and robotic arms and he asks them for Witch Pete's hat. They go to Witch Pete's castle, and he tells them that he's decided to become good, and asks to borrow Minnie's shoes. Minnie lets him, but he double crosses her. Using the Mystery Mouskatool of the day (a problem solving device on the show), Minnie is able to make Pete sneeze with feathers from a pillow, taking away his magic.

They return to the city, where they discover the Wizard is really a normal man (Ludwig Von Drake), who gives them all gifts to make them happy before offering to take Minnie and Pluto back to the clubhouse in his balloon. However, Clarabelle arrives at the last minute and makes the Wizard leave without Minnie. The forgetful Clarabelle tells Minnie how to use the shoes to get back to the Clubhouse. Minnie awakens at the Clubhouse, where the party continues, but not before Minnie realizes she still has the green shoes.

Given that this entertainment was aimed for very young children, it doesn't seem fair to give it a critical review. I'm not entirely sure of how beneficial it proves to young minds, but the colorful design and friendly characters are probably pleasing to children. Perhaps, however, this is more of a footnote in the shared history of Disney and Oz, though its similarity to an early Oz concept at the Disney studios does add some curiosity to it.

I didn't get to this earlier due to not wanting to pay much for it on DVD, which seems to have been released before the TV debut on the same day that Oz the Great and Powerful was released to home video. I eventually added it to my Disney Movie Club cart and bought it alongside the Return to Oz Blu-Ray.

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