Rather than do separate pieces on the original Dennis the Menace Show, the cartoon, and the movie, I am going to fit them all into one. They’re all pretty much about the same thing, a blonde haired boy named Dennis who is a bit of an asshole.
(They had to say he was a menace instead of an asshole because there are no names that rhyme with asshole. Does Pascal? Pascal the Asshole?)
The original series premiered in 1959. It was in black and white which means hipsters watch it today to be ironic. It was also impossible to tell if anyone on the show had bad skin. In 4 seasons the show had 146 episodes. They had 32, 38, 38, and 38 episodes. Could you imagine if a show today got to be on that much? Most sitcoms are 22-25. Think of all the extra Sheldon jokes on the Big Bang Theory we’re missing out on.
This show was a replacement for Leave it to Beaver which means it isn’t as good as Leave it to Beaver. Is it just me or do more college guys need to start saying “Leave it to Beaver” when talking about how they need a woman in their life to solve their problems? I don’t know. I feel alone in this unneeded statement. I wanted you all to think I actually know what it’s like to go to college or that I am smart. Keep in mind, going to college does not make you smart. All it means is you know your band will probably never make it.
(1960s Dennis after taking some hair gel off of Ben Stiller’s ear)
In 1986 Dennis got his own animated series. This introduced Dennis to a whole new generation, the Generation X’ers. Armed with a slingshot and a cowlick in his hair, Dennis Mitchell set an example of troublemaking for future Nirvana fans everywhere. Look at me, I sound like I actually remember 1993.
Speaking of 1993, that is the year the live action film came out. Christopher Lloyd made an appearance as Switchblade Sam, a villain in the film. Christopher Lloyd plays a great villain because his hair is scary. Another notable actor appeared in the film as one of the main characters. Dead actor Walter Matthau played Dennis’s biggest hater, Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Wilson was Dennis’s neighbor. He is the token “get off my lawn kid” old man. Mr. Wilson is never accused of pedophilia in any version of Dennis the Menace because he hates kids so much. I think that was his strategy all along because by the end of the movie he sort of makes up with Dennis even after he lights Mr. Wilson’s head on fire at one point. Maybe not. I might be thinking about Home Alone which was a much better movie.
(Walter Matthau always played a guy great at hating children)
Dennis the Menace is a classic character. Still, that doesn’t justify him being a pretty lame one. Dennis does light troublemaking things like flooding Mr. Wilson’s lawn or using a needle to poke holes in his father’s condoms because he wants a new baby brother. Dennis simply doesn’t fit in with today’s society because kids are so much worse. They’re getting pregnant and suicide bombing. In today’s world Dennis would not be a menace, he would be a slight inconvenience.
Was Margaret in the movie? I think the way she treated Dennis inspired a lot of little girls to be annoying women when they grew up (not that he didn’t deserve it).
“Dennis simply doesn’t fit in with today’s society because kids are so much worse. They’re getting pregnant and suicide bombing. In today’s world Dennis would not be a menace, he would be a slight inconvenience.”
Yes, it was a major crime in Dennis’ early years to step on a neighbor’s peonies. Now? A kid’s just as likely to slice up the neighbor and bury him under his own peonies. Well, may be not that bad. But close.
I’m not even quite sure who Margaret is. I’m sure she was in the movie though. It’s been years since I saw it.
I think kids were always a little bit nasty, it’s just more acceptable now. Oh society…
She has a website. Quite a character.
A Ginger. I should have known.
OK, last comment, really.
The kid who played Dennis in the B&W TV show was a screenwriter for a while.
” His first script was about a 1984 prison break by six death row inmates from Virginia’s Mecklenburg Correctional Center”
(Got that from Wiki. I thought he was a stripper and died in a flaming video. Apparently not.)
Penis the Menace, that would be his stripper name. It doesn’t rhyme but it looks close enough.
Stevens the Inconvenience? Weenus the Inconvenience? Jesus the Inconvenience? I could go on but, you get it. The Mitchells were the exact opposite of helicopter parents. I always felt bad for Wilson. “Lousy old grump trying to enjoy his golden years without some punk kid ruining his garden. Jerkface.” Martha never defended him and always gave Dennis cookies. Can you say “irreconcilable differences”?
I like Jesus the Inconvenience the best. My 1st Century Roman friends agree.
Mr. Wilson probably felt crazy sometimes since he was the only one that really hated Dennis. I liked in the movie they actually settled their differences or something like that.
Good choice! Yeah, the stuff that Dennis and The Little Rascals kids got in trouble for wouldn’t even get a second glance in today’s world. Sad really.
Oh yeah, I remember 1993, I was pregnant that entire year.
The things those kids did were also a lot more fun. The Little Rascals would sneak into cigar clubs and stuff like that. Kids these days get caught with weed in their lockers.
I couldn’t tell you anything I did in 1993. I think I was in kindergarten?
I am going to start calling the show Dennis the Slight Inconvenience. Actually, we should ask Lily if that’s what the cheap Canadian version of it is called. I loved that movie growing up! The thing I remember most is Christopher Lloyd eating a whole pot of beans and then farting and flaring up his camp fire. I was going through my bathroom humor phase when I saw it.
You’re right. The Canadians probably call him something where he seems much less threatening and obvious. “The Slingshot Kid” maybe?
I vaguely remember the bean eating scene. Is it racist to call something bean eating? It feels wrong.
I hated Dennis the Menace – the original one from the 60’s. You’re right, he was an asshole, and I don’t say that lightly. (you know I don’t use that language so it must be true.) even as a kid I wanted to jump through the tv and smack him. He really got on my nerves. Now Beaver, he was totally different. I loved him and could relate to all of his travails. That’s one of my favorite shows from my youth.
Would Dennis have been old enough to get drafted into Nam in the later days? I think he may have been. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Wilson helped to forge documents making Dennis seem a little bit older. With Mr. Wilson’s luck Dennis would become a celebrated war hero. That poor old man never catches a break.
I didn’t watch the early version or the animated version, but man did I love that movie. I liked the villain–he scared me so much when he sliced up his apple with a knife and ate the slices out of his hand. Terrifying.
I also liked the scene where Dennis broke Mr. Wilson’s dentures and Mr. Wilson had to substitute chicklets for his front teeth for the flower show picture. So good.
Nice piece. I totally forgot about this gem.
I forgot about the chicklets scene. That was probably one of the first moments when we noticed product placement. Do people still chew chicklets other than in Mexico? They seem so unexciting.