The Mad Doctor (1933)

Other Names: Doctor XXX, the Mad Doc, Doc, Dr. Valentino

From: The Mad Doctor debuted in 1933 in the eponymous black-and-white Mickey Mouse short. Even though he was only conceived as a one-shot, the cartoon he starred in was so memorable that he kept popping up for unclear reasons in later media. The earliest was a 1962 Mickey comic, The X, Y and Z Case, where he works as a hypnotizer for Foreign Spies. After that, he appeared in the video game Mickey Mania as a boss, and then in Epic Mickey, both the game and the graphic novel; this was undoubtedly his big break-through, earning him a place of choice in the short-lived spin-off comic Tales of Wasteland and as a major character in the sequel, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

Description: Like the Big Bad Wolf, with whom he actually shares a voice actor (Bill Bletcher), the Doctor was a completely different character in his debut compared to his more well-known role in later media. 

The original Mad Doctor in his debut cartoon.

In The Mad Doctor, he is a sadistic psychopath who lives in a foreboding castle on top of a mountain, and goes by the moniker of "Doctor XXX". The Doctor is completely nuts, but not power-hungry like your common mad scientist, no no no no no. He does his horrible crimes in the name of Science and Discovery. A good exemple of his usual research topic is what he is trying to achieve in the cartoon. He intends to saw both Pluto's and a chicken's heads off, and then switch them around, with the purpose being to get the chicken to lay an egg; you see, the Doc wants to see whether the chick born of the egg will bark or crow. Yes, we do mean the "mad" in "Mad Doctor". But wait, there's more! The Doc has a goddamn skeleton army at his command, who hide throughout the castle in the most unlikely places. Not only that, but as soon as he catches a trespasser (Mickey Mouse), his reaction is to tie him up to an operation table and saw him in half, for no apparent reason. The worst thing is, he is never actually defeated: the cartoon ends by a classic "It was all a dream" just as Mickey is about to be cut in half.

The Mad Doctor in Epic Mickey.

Now, skipping the 1962 comic where he is more of a funny cameo than anything else, to his personality in Epic Mickey. He is now totally different (although he still has the same accent and the same habit of singing instead of speaking): he is cartoonishly villainous and proud of it, but never does he do anything quite as mind-bogglingly lunatic as the 1933 short's experiment. More importantly, he has lost the skeleton minions, the castle, and now works on an entirely different scientific topic entirely: instead of wacky biology, now it's scary robotics. In the first game/comic, the Doctor isn't so much a character as he is a plot device: he is responsible for the evil robots swarming Wasteland. Towards the end, he is defeated in Lonesome Manor by Mickey Mouse and Gremlin Gus, and we find out that, what a twist, he is a robot himself. Then his rocket explodes and the Doc is sent flying into the cloudy sky like Bill out of the chimney in Alice in Wonderland.

The Mad Doctor in Epic Mickey 2 - The Power of Two.

In the sequel, The Power of Two, the Doc is now the main antagonist. More than ever, he is used as a comedy relief: his constant and unexplained singing, his overcomplicated, over-the-top evil plan (whose end goal, just so you know, is not even "world domination" or anything like that — he just wants to be the greatest villain of all times) and his endless and confusing switching sides (quick sum up: in 1933 he was evil, then he moved to Wasteland and became good, then the Shadow Blot arrived and he betrayed everyone and became evil again, but then he was defeated by Mickey, only to come back pretending to have reformed, but it was a decoy, but then he truly reformed — our sanity hopes it's for good). The reasons for his turning himself into a cyborg are also finally explained (he claims he turned himself robotic to be able to resist the Shadow Blot's attacks and therefore safely ally with him without having to worry about backstabbing).

Review: What to say? I like him, in either version. However, it's no guarantee that you will. The 1933 version is laughably crazy when you stop and think about it, but the dark tone of the whole short is so uncomfortable to some that it made it into the Top 8 Most Horrifying Moments from Kids' Cartoons on www.cracked.com. Besides, let's admit it, the whole character's concept is just so weird and so little is explained about him. Why does he live in a castle? Why is there a medieval castle near Mouseton? What's a Russian mad scientist doing in Mouseton anyway? Why does a mad scientist have a skeleton army at his disposal? Why hasn't he taken over the world using it by now, for that matter?

As for the Epic Mickey version… I think he's just hilarious. However, some people might find him a betrayal of the 1933 original. There are also those who think he is a major mood-breaker, and one of the major reasons Epic Mickey 2 didn't have as much of a dark atmosphere as the first game.  Which is a valid observation, mind you; it's just that I don't think it's a bad thing for EM2 to have been lighter than the first game. Relatedly, some people find the Doctor's singing annoying, which is purely a matter of taste.

Overall, I think he's a great cartoon villain, but he undoubtedly has his flaws in either incarnation. Take your pick.

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