I'll admit I was really skeptical when I first saw these figures at The Disney Store. Up until seeing the display, I had no idea about this series, but in true "market merchandise to drive viewership" fashion, I was able to catch the first few episodes of Disney's latest series featuring Mickey and Friends, "Mickey and the Roadster Racers", and was pleasantly surprised.
Each show is divided into two segments: one (usually the first) featuring the Fab Five in some type of storyline relating to a race or event they are participating in, and the second featuring Minnie and Daisy in their "Happy Helpers" business, in a locale around the race.
A smart move on Disney's part was to break away from the slow, educational Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and make a fast-paced show more easily accessible for all ages. Comedically, it's not quite "House of Mouse" humor that works on two levels, but the action and comedic bits do keep my attention.
The other benefit to the Racers' storyline is that it's tailor-made for guest stars. Although Jay Leno's Billy Beagle character is a regular, Jimmie Johnson had a guest spot in the first episode, Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon have signed on for a guest spot, and it wouldn't be too hard to see other racers pop in for a race or two.
The animation is on par with Clubhouse, give or take a few "8-bit" moments, and the only real negative I have is with the pacing change in the "Happy Helpers" segment. While I like that it gives balance to the show for girls who are more interested in Minnie and Daisy, it seems out-of-place to be so far away from the garage. I could see a few segments in which M&D help the others in some way related to the operations or day-to-day activities of the garage, as opposed to random characters, in what is basically a Chore Monkey type business.
After watching a few episodes, I have to say I'm pleased with this latest Mickey and Friends-centric show. While it doesn't have the same accessibility of "House of Mouse", the action and comedy are entertaining enough for parents to enjoy watching it with their kids, especially dads who will enjoy hearing Jay Leno, who is clearly in his element. "Mickey and the Roadster Racers" should be around for a while, as the product tie-ins, opportunity for guest stars, and potential for in-park entertainment make for an entertaining, all-ages ride.