Mr. Bean – The Animated
Series (Boxed Set)
Sound: B- Extras: C Episodes: B-
When news of this new DVD set kept creeping up, the
reaction was universal: “I didn’t know there was a Mr. Bean Cartoon?” “They did a cartoon?” “When was that on?” “When did I miss that?” “Really?
Is it any good?”
Well, yes, nearly a decade after the original live-action
series arrived, the popularity of the character has been so enduring,
co-creator/writer/star Rowan Atkinson has participated in the creation of this
hand-drawn show from 2002. It does not
seem to have been broadcast in the U.S., but this two-DVD set is now available
from A&E of what may turn out to be at least two boxed sets of the new show.
This time, Bean is staying with his Teddy at the old home
of a temperamental old lady. Now his
landlady, she has a yellow semi-stripped one-eyed cat who does not like Bean
and there is room for the occasional new tenant as well. Bean still has his older Mini Cooper too, so
there are many trips off of the premises, as was the case in the old show.
Each episode runs under a half-hour and features two
misadventures. The shows are amusing,
but not always as outright funny as the live-action series of feature film
before it. One of the reasons is that
the show is comparatively gentler, still aimed at kids of all ages, but also
courting a younger audience intentionally.
The result is something like the theatrical DePatie/Freling Pink
Panther cartoon shorts of the 1960s.
Both have limited dialogue, colorful (or colourful) but simple
animation, are sometimes otherworldly, and offer irritated conflicts between
characters with comic results. The
It’s Not Easy Being Bean set
1) In The
Been There, Done That set
They are entertaining and have some rewatchability. With stories so short, synopses are
pointless. The full screen, color
images are very clean and somewhat colorful.
The animation style recalls the early days of TV with its scrunched-down
characters, heavily outlined in black.
This actually works to the show’s benefit. Characters would be drawn like this because TVs were so small in
the beginning. There is a fullness is
the color that comes form A&E using higher bit rates for the picture and
sound. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
plays back in a Pro Logic surround that is not bad, but the surrounds are not
the strongest, they are more for ambiance.
Extras are few, but include trailers for this and Mr. Bean - The
Whole Bean boxed sets (also reviewed elsewhere on this site),
bio/filmography info on Atkinson, a photo gallery, and an interesting 20-minutes-long
featurette on the making of the show.
This shows the impressive efforts needed just to pull off
a musical sequence in the film, from discussion, to Atkinson being taped as a
guide to animators, to a song being especially written, to the stages of putting
the animation together, to the final product.
The sequence involved has Bean under that stage of a Shirley Bassey-like
star, as she comes out to sing a song.
He dances with a broom, but closes his eyes too long, and lands up
bumbling all over the place. Animators
will especially want to check this one out.
Obviously, there is going to be much curiosity interest in
this show based on the live action successes, which is justified. If you do not hold your hopes up too high,
you will enjoy this animated Bean more than you might expect. If you were not sure about what age to start
kids on the Bean character, then this is the set for you.
- Nicholas Sheffo