While some may argue that the original Dennis the Menace cartoon was way too over-the-top and stereotypically cartoony for the down-to-earth humor of Hank Ketcham's long-running Sunday comic, I personally liked it. The voice acting was great. Dennis's voice was perfect and from Joey to whiny Margaret, the voices fit perfectly. Even Mr. Wilson's voice was right on the spot. The writing was just hilarious. From traveling in time to adventuring in the jungle, there were an entertaining bunch of shorts on that show.
The "All-New" Dennis the Menace is a radical departure from the far-fetched cartoon antics of the previous series. It aired on CBS's Saturday morning cartoon lineup for a little while... just one season I believe. Everything is all-new, from the voice actors to the storylines. Gone are Dennis's days of meeting dinosaurs and stopping international smuggling rings. Gone is Mr. Wilson's incredible ability to take any beating Dennis accidentally inflicts. The new cartoon features plot-lines that are more "realistic" and true to the comic's old era sensibility.
The format is all new, with one single episode taking up the entire half hour. The plots are incredibly mundane compared to the outlandishly fun plots of the original 'toon. I remember one episode being about either Dennis or Mr. Wilson being sick... it was incredibly boring.
The voice acting is pretty dismal. Dennis's voice, perfectly cast in the original toon sounds really raspy in the new one. The other voices, from Joey to Mr. Wilson are extremely pedestrian. Mr. Wilson sounds strangely subdued, much like Walter Matthau's Wilson in the major motion picture, but not as apt. Dennis's parents are also miscast; Mr. Mitchell is a far cry from Phil Hartman's excellent delivery.
The good news is that the animation is better. The colors are more vibrant, much like the newer intro to the old series and everything has a crisp detail that the original series lacks.
Cosmetic changes aside, tuning into the new cartoon on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, I still missed the crazy plots and superb writing of the original. The new series isn't funny at all; but instead tries to replicate the low-key humor of the comic, which is impossible in the cartoon medium. The creators of the original cartoon knew that task would be impossible and instead made a great cartoon with some crazy plots, loads of slapstick humor and funny dialogue. The "All-New" Dennis the Menace tries to be faithful to the comic, but in doing so forgets to be fun. And that's what Dennis is all about, right?
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