When we reviewed the pilot for the revived Danger Mouse back in September, it seemed like a promising start to the new series, albeit not one without issues: it was a bit too self-aware and the voices would take some getting used to. Fifteen episodes later, the team are unleashing Danger Mouse’s first-ever Christmas special upon the world, and we’re pleased to report that it’s set to go down in the grand pantheon of TV Christmas specials as a classic.
Running at twice the length of a regular episode, The Snowman Cometh features guest star Richard Ayoade as the titular Snowman, one of Danger Mouse’s least fearsome nemeses, whose initial attack on London is met with derision from rodent superspies and members of the public alike. However, things turn decidedly frosty when Danger Mouse’s complacency grants the Snowman a victory over Santa Claus (voiced by the booming legend that is Brian Blessed), and it’s up to DM and Penfold to team up with Santa and his elves and save Christmas.
Danger Mouse isn’t a show that’s light on voice talent – its regular cast already boasts Alexander Armstrong, Stephen Fry and Kevin Eldon, among others – and guest stars Blessed and Ayoade, with their larger-than-life characterisations, are perfect for the show. Ayoade is at once pathetic and sympathetic as the nasal, inept Snowman, while Santa Claus is the role that Brian Blessed was born to play – it seems almost criminal that this is only his fourth time playing Jolly Old Saint Nick. And both actors are clearly relishing the opportunity to let rip – not that Blessed has often done anything but (there’s a brilliant nod to one of his previous roles that Den of Geek readers won’t want to miss).
What really makes The Snowman Cometh sparkle like the star on the proverbial tree, though, is the writing. Writers Nick Ostler and Mark Huckerby have put together a joyous romp of a script, filled with gags and memorable lines. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that this episode may be one of the funniest pieces of television this year. There’s still a self-aware edge to the humour – as there always was in the original show – but unlike with the opening episode it doesn’t overwhelm proceedings – in fact, the sequence explaining why we’re stuck with a D-list villain like the Snowman is an early highlight of the episode, featuring at least one fan-pleasing cameo.
The Snowman Cometh is being repeated on BBC One on Christmas morning at 9:35, and we can think of no better time for it. As well as being achingly funny, it’s also got that heartwarming, magical quality that you only get from a good Christmas episode; Penfold’s wide-eyed innocence acts a conduit through which the audience gets to see just how special it all is, whether he’s opening his presents or riding in Santa’s sleigh. This is one to watch with the kids (of all ages), and it’ll leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling – especially if you’ve already cracked open the buck’s fizz.
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