Have a lot of fondness for 'House of Mouse'. Love Disney and the concept was such an interesting and for Disney shows at the time a unique one. There are times where it could have done more with the concept, with showing more of some of the guests and not focusing all the featured cartoons on Mickey and the gang. It is however so much fun and how it makes an effort to retain the spirit of the classic old cartoons is to be lauded.
"Clarabelle's Big Secret" does nothing to change my mind on this. While not one of my favourites, it is very well done and entertaining. As has been said in my previous 'House of Mouse' episodes, really like that it and the rest of the show tries to and succeeds in making the personalities of Mickey and the rest of the gang true to those of their "golden age" ones when they first came out (1930s-1950s), especially Donald. Except that Mickey is far more interesting in personality in 'House of Mouse', feels like a lead character, is used well and isn't over-shadowed by the rest of the characters. Minnie is also more resourceful.
One of the things that 'House of Mouse' did well was resurrecting characters long neglected, and expanding their personalities by giving them larger supporting roles that they became more interesting. This is especially true with Clarabelle, who to me is an amusing character and her gossip shows some good comic timing. Some of it did show the dangers of gossip upsetting others (like in "Thanks to Minnie"), a good thing to teach younger viewers early on, and some may find her personality annoying, not me so much.
The "old gossip" stuff at the beginning was typical 'House of Mouse' fun, though some of it was intentionally very old (acknowledged in the episode, like the dangers of gossip was) and there is actually some good suspense in what the secret is. The revelation and its outcome gave the episode a nice twist.
'Double Date Don' is especially good of the two cartoons. Donald as ever is very funny and Daisy works well with him. The cartoon is very entertaining, while there is a surprisingly dark moment with Clara Cluck that was pretty deep for this show. 'How to Be a Spy' has all the trademarks of a classic Goofy cartoon, clever gags, Goofy's hilariously endearing ineptitude at certain skills related to the subject. Both are very true in spirit to the classic cartoons, in maintaining the characters' personalities and the humour.
The episode is yet another good example of the nostalgia one feels watching characters from various Disney classics. Mortimer is funny here, and of the guest little character moments the "older than Rafiki" and "fairest of them all" parts stand out (poor Timon!).
While not surprising as such on the most part, the story is lively and engaging, as well as rootable. The writing is clever and very funny, even with the deliberately corny moment and pun which made me grin rather than groan.
Furthermore, the animation is very colourful, smooth in movement and with some meticulous detail. The cheap recycling footage for the audience reactions at the end of the featured cartoons does jar and annoy though. The music is suitably groovy and cleverly used, while the theme song is one of the catchiest of any Disney show in the past twenty years.
Voice acting is very good throughout.
Overall, very enjoyable. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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