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Television Reviews : 'Disney's Totally Minnie': Live Action, Animation

March 25, 1988|CHARLES SOLOMON

NBC tonight is airing the live action/animation special "Disney's — much the way a junior high student would air his gym socks at the end of a semester. Produced by Joie Albrecht and Scot Garen, this Mickey Mouse effort would need reworking to qualify as even a disaster.

Showcasing Minnie Mouse is a bit like saluting the flavor of water: She never had much personality and existed only as a foil for Mickey. Instead of celebrating her cartoon career--or examining why female animated characters have so often been ciphers--writers Albrecht, Garen and Jack Weinstein offer an unblushing paean to contemporary bad taste.

The audience doesn't see that much of the show's ostensible star. Robert Carradine and Suzanne Somers play a klutzy student and a long-suffering instructor at "Minnie Mouse's Center for the Totally Unhip," and most of the program is devoted to their remarkably unsuccessful attempts at singing, dancing and telling jokes.

Elton John, Philip Michael Thomas and Vanna White appear in cameos: Apparently Minnie's concept of hip is about 10 years out of date.

Their excruciating skits alternate with ersatz MTV production numbers and montages of old cartoons, cut to bargain-basement rock songs. The new animation of Minnie done by FilmFair Studio is crude at best, and the clips from the great cartoons and features only highlight its inadequacies. The Saturday morning shows Disney produces overseas look better than this stuff.

When the new management team took control of the Disney studio, they reassured millions of concerned fans that they intended to preserve the classic characters and the company's tradition of quality entertainment. If "Totally Minnie" is an example, they're preserving those traditions as carefully as the Visigoths preserved Rome.

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