For Today’s Preschooler, A Slick New Mickey Mouse

The wondrous thing about the wonderful world of Disney is that at the moment it seems easier to see news shows featuring Michael D. Eisner on television than Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse’s most recent series, “House of Mouse,” ended in 2003. There is an entire generation of preschool viewers who know the Disney mascot as a decorative fillip on sports bottles, baby bibs and car floor mats. For them, the mouse is the thing that directs the cursor on their computers.

“Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” a new series for preschool children that begins tonight on the Disney Channel, seeks to restore the primacy of the network’s most famous character. In a sense, Mickey has been demoted: the cartoon creature, who in his heyday chatted with Leopold Stokowski in “Fantasia” and was a hero of World War II (the password for Allied troops on D-Day was “Mickey Mouse”), is now teaching toddlers to count and identify shapes in a Sesame Streetish half-hour program that the network describes as “learning-focused.”

For much of his television career, the mouse was more a master of ceremonies than a comic lead. Now he has been whittled down to a Mister Rogers role



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