Grade: B-/C+
Entire family: No (pre-school only)
2017, 72 min. (7 cartoons), Color
TV Animation
Rated TV-Y (for young viewers)
Disney
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
“Goof Luck Charm” clip
Amazon link

Mickey and the Roadster Racers: Start Your Engines includes seven episodes from the CGI-animated Disney Junior TV series that replaced Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in January 2017. Parents who watch this new show with their toddlers will probably lament that it seems less educational than Clubhouse—at least on the surface. Yes, there are all sorts of primary colors and simple syntaxes that tiny ones can pick up, but the show panders to children’s shrinking attention spans by featuring two 11-minute episodes every half-hour series instead of one 22-minute story that tried for more interactivity.

Every half-hour show features one “Roadsters” cartoon featuring a race, mostly, and one “Happy Helpers” cartoon, where Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Cuckoo-Loca (a new character) do various things to help the residents of Hot Dog Hills.

The Roadster Racers cartoons are all plot-driven action that really demand very little from little viewers except that they cheer for their favorite drivers and their distinct vehicles: Mickey and his Hot Rod, Minnie and Pink Thunder (shaped like a hair bow), Goofy and his Turbo Tubster (a modern-day jalopy), Donald and his Cabin Cruiser, and Daisy and her vehicle “Snapdragon.”

Included on this disc are seven episodes (one is being called a “bonus episode”) that were initially broadcast from January 16 through March 24 2017:

“Agent Double-0-Goof”—Goofy meets his doppelganger when he’s mistaken for a secret agent on a day when the Queen of England visits the garage to have tea.

“It’s Wiki Wiki Time”—Donald takes a Hawaiian vacation and the Roadster Racers enter a big relay race.

“Ye Old Royal Heist”—More hijinks in London, as Mickey and Minnie celebrate their “raceversary” and help the Queen recover the stolen Royal Ruby.

“Abra-Ka-Goof!”—Goofy mistakenly thinks his magic trick turned Gordon Gear into a rabbit.

“Guru Goofy”—Goofy tries to teach Donald relaxation techniques to calm him before the Roadster Games.

“Going Upppppp!”—The Roadster Racers take to the air in the first Hot Dog Hills hot air balloon race.

“Goof Luck Charm”—When Goofy finds himself suddenly lucky, Daisy wants to borrow his lucky rubber ducky.

Of course Pete turns up as a villainous driver, and Chip ‘n’ Dale appear as mechanics, sometimes afar afield. Other familiar characters that pop up in some of these episodes are Clarabelle Cow and a pig named Pearl.

It’s not a bad show, by any means, but as I said, it strikes me as being less educational than Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, with stories that don’t seem to have the same degree of lessons to be learned. It’s more of a diversion and entertainment. Yes, tiny tots love cars and races, but the cynic in me wonders if the marketing of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse product tie-ins had flatlined, giving Disney a reason to scrap the show and go with something new. They’re already marketing the vehicles and play sets, so it was a coordinated effort.

I’m not alone in thinking Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was better. This more generic replacement show debuted on January 15, when more than 2 million tiny viewers and their parents tuned in, but by February the audience share was under a million. It spiked back up to 1.5 million in April, but right now the numbers say it’s just not as popular a show as the one it replaced.

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