Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Few Thoughts on The Mr. Men Show

So, you know the Mr. Men Show, that flash-animated cartoon currently airing its second season on Cartoon Network? (If you don't, check it out.) Basically, it takes the characters created by Roger Hargreaves (and a few made by his son, Adam) and puts them in a sketch comedy, using short interstitials, longer sketches, and even the occasional song or dance break, all focused around a theme (ranging from "farm" to "canned goods"). I enjoy the show both for its humor, but also for the superb voice acting. Which is why I'm not that crazy about the British version.
The show was released simultaneously in the US and UK, but since the different countries aimed for different demographics, the UK version has been redubbed and the dialogue dumbed down a little. Mostly these are little things, like making a line more explicit or adding a quick explanation where there was silence, but every now and then the joke is basically killed. For example, in one sketch, Mr. Grumpy is on a music-themed game show and has to name what song Miss Sunshine is playing. She plays an excessively fancy version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, but Mr. Grumpy loses a point because he can't help griping, "Does she have to play like such a looney bird?" In the British version, he just guesses a completely wrong song. The joke is lost. Still, there's at least one instance where the UK show has a better line than the US: Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Quiet visit Miss Naughty's restaurant, where the food is as bad as her tricks. Despite this, Mr. Grumpy tells her the food is delicious, commenting to Mr. Quiet, "Well, I'm not rude." In the British version, he instead stage-whispers, "That is not true." It could be just me, but the delivery of it just made me laugh out loud.
I had more gripes about the British voices back when I watched the episodes, but as that was a while ago, I've mellowed out, so the only one I'm going to single out is that Miss Daredevil just does not sound right with a posh accent. So wrong. But it is interesting to hear Miss Whoops, Miss Scary, and Miss Naughty with lighter, more feminine sounding voices. And one last thing about the British version: it usually cuts out one sketch per show, which I'm assuming is to cover the extended version of the theme song (which I'll admit is better than the US version), although I believe the cut sketches and songs were included as bonus features on the UK DVDs.

Originally I had a couple more things I wanted to say about the show, but I can't quite muster enough words to justify talking about it, which I blame on it simply being too long since I first saw the show and writing it up now. What I mean is that I've come to accept all the changes that were made in the adaptation process (renamed/redesigned characters), so I don't really feel like talking about that anymore. So I just want to close with one thing: Mr. Small is such an enabler. That is all.

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