Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thoughts On The New Biker Mice From Mars

Way back in 2005, I wrote about the 1990's cartoon Biker Mice From Mars, which I enjoyed watching back in the day. In 2006, a new version of the show premiered in the UK. Recently, I was able to see the first two episodes of the new Biker Mice show. Overall, I have to say that it's a pretty good show.

The first thing that makes the 2006 Biker Mice show stand out from other reboots of 1980's and 1990's series like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers is the fact that it's not exactly a reboot. It's a continuation of the original series. The new show picks up 10 years after the old show ended (the old show ended in 1996, so the 10 year gap is in real time too).

The Biker Mice are on Mars and are fighting new aliens called Catatonians. I don't want to give too much away since the show hasn't yet aired in America but needless to say, circumstances happen that end up with the Biker Mice returning to Earth. The mice reunite with friend/gear jockey Charley in Chicago, which is more or less ruled by the real-estate mogul Ronaldo Rump. Rump and the Catatonians (who are led by the brawny Cataclysm and his nutty brother Hairball) join forces to stop the mice and capture General Stoker, the mice's mentor and key to their nefarious plans (and the survival of Mars).

The original show had a very good voice cast and featured a variety of talented actors including a pre-Everybody Loves Raymond Brad Garrett and a pre-King Of Queens Leah Remini. The voices of the three Biker Mice, Rob Paulsen (Throttle), Ian Ziering (Vinnie), and Dorian Harewood (Modo) all return for the new show. Peter Strauss, who played Stoker in the original show, also reprises his role. All of them slip back into their characters like they never left. With the new characters, we also get some more great voice talent. Clancy Brown does a nice job with Cataclysm and Jess Harnell (aka Wakko from Animaniacs) is hilarious as Ronaldo Rump.

The animation for the new show is very nice and takes advantage of the advances in technology in the 10 years between shows. The show is mostly 2D but uses 3D for bikes and vehicles. The 2D and 3D meld pretty well and the show doesn't look awkward. The character designs are quite different than the original show and take a little getting used to. However, the overall design of the show is nice. The show has a somewhat futuristic look to it now. The animation is pretty good and the show is animated in widescreen. I'm betting that it was done in HD, so it will probably look great on DVD.

The writing in the episodes I watched was good as well. The dialogue takes full advantage of the chemistry between the voice actors. Some of the jokes were a bit lame but for the most part, none of it made me cringe. It seems a little less violent than the original show but the story is better. The original show did a lot of multi-part storytelling (it had two three-part episodes) and this time around, the writers have created an overarching story.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of this show when it eventually comes to the U.S. It's a fun action show that doesn't take itself too seriously. Also, it's not anime. Don't get me wrong, I love anime but I really miss the days of good, American action shows. The new version of Biker Mice From Mars is sort of a throwback to those days and that's why I hope it finds a home whether it's on Jetix, Cartoon Network, or 4Kids TV.

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