You may not know this, but The New Mickey Mouse Club got its launch in one of the highest profile ways for any children's program ever: at Super Bowl XI's halftime show. The dozen new Mouseketeers made their debut, entering onto the field of the Rose Bowl and an apparent new era began for Disney, as they revived the famed Club made for you and me, only this time instead of cream colored sweaters and black beanies, the stars of this show wore colorful jump suits and ears to match.
Unlike the 1950s version, where the most ethnic member of the cast was Annette Funicello, this 1970s crew sought to represent the full spectrum of the country and had Asian, Latino and African American members. All attractive, talented and charming kids, this mouse crew was ready to roll, and worked at Disneyland, both for show tapings and guest appearances for fans at the theme park where they performed live.
This version of the Mickey Mouse Club was structured similarly to the original, with themes for each day of the week, sketches with various groupings of the Mouseketeers, doing song, dance and comedy routines, special guests appeared (including Annette Funicello herself), they mined Walt's cartoon catalog and showed some classic animated clips, and they even did a serial, a la 1955's "Spin And Marty." However, there were no adult role models as was the case in the original program. These kid mice were on their own.
Also, unlike the original series, which aired daily on the ABC television network, this version was syndicated. That meant it aired at different times on different local stations across the country, and in some cases did not get a favorable time slot on a schedule, or wasn't even seen in certain markets. And though the program got that big promotional boost to begin, viewership didn't catch on, since only some cities saw the program from its debut, eight days after the Super Bowl.
It was a charming enough program overall, and featured some entertaining material performed by the extremely likable cast. However, WGBH's "Zoom" was already in place on most PBS stations and featured a cast of kids in an even more active, crazy and fun setting, doing many of the things the polished Disney studios were offering, more directly engaging its viewers to participate and it had been airing for several years before this series began.
Despite having Disneyland and the Disney Burbank studios as settings for the action, and even getting an NBC network prime time filmed special ("The Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World"), this version of the club came and went in just over a year, and is all but forgotten in the wake of Disney Channel's supercharged "MMC" from the 1990s.
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