Classic Disney Franchises That Need A Revival
Recently I learned that Duck Tales, the Disney platformer from my childhood, has been given a HD remaster and is coming to modern consoles this winter (summer for our readers in the northern hemisphere). This fills me with nothing short of ecstatic joy. I loved Duck Tales, it got far more play on my NES than any of the first party Nintendo games I had. Not to mention, it looks great – they’ve put a lot of effort into remaking the sprites in high def. Check out the trailer below:
Apparently the voice cast are returning too. I simply cannot wait.
This news, however, lead me down a nostalgic path where by I was singing the theme songs to this, and other 90s Disney properties and missing the days when Disney was all about the animation and less about Hannah Montana. I think the only good thing on Disney XD recently was Tron: Uprising and that’s probably been cancelled. Why, in light of this recent game, could we not revive other franchises not only on consoles but with new animated series?
Franchises such as:
Based on the popular Jungle Book characters, Tale Spin was the story of a delivery company run by Baloo the Bear and his friends, Rebecca Cunningham and Kit Cloudkicker as they take jobs and make deliveries. Most of the episodes centred around some sort of pickup or delivery, and were very reminiscent of 1930s adventure films, and movies like the Indiana Jones series.
Enemies included my favourite anthropomorphic tiger; businessman Shere Khan, now head of Khan Industries. This was a great series, with a charming 30’s vibe.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
Who do you turn to when you need help? If you’re a small, furry animal you call the Rescue Rangers, headed by chipmunk brothers Chip and Dale. This was a mainstay of my childhood afternoons. After setting up their own detective agency, Chip, Dale, Monterey Jack, Zipper and Gadget (three cohorts of the pair) go about the world taking on the jobs “too small for the police to handle”.
Mostly this meant solving crimes perpetrated by, or against, small woodland creatures. Extra points for calling their primary recurring villain, a tabby mafia boss, Fat Cat. Dale is a brilliant foil to Chip’s straight man persona.
Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears
Bouncing here and there and everywhere! Gummi Bears were anthropomorphic bears in a medieval England style locale. Along with their human friend Calvin, they battled Ogres and villainous human Duke Sigmund Igthorn, who all want the secret of Gummi Berry Juice – a concoction which allows the bears to bounce super high, and grants other species immense strength.
Obviously this is to be avoided.
Gummi Bears was incredibly popular in the 80’s and with My Little Pony having made such a brilliant return to form, it’s high time other 80s properties did too.
This one I came late to, not being in the target demographic when Recess was on TV and I think I may have benefited from an adult perspective when I watched it. Set in a fictional elementary school, Recess follows the lives of the students as they navigate their own small version of wider human society. Rules by King Bob, and constantly battling either one another or members of the teaching faculty, the series was actually a solid satire of the real world.
With so many children’s TV series these days going for cheap jokes, or mindless nonsense, it would be refreshing to see what is to me essentially an animated Lord of the Flies for the younger kids. By which I mean without all the death and nudity.
What was it with Disney and ducks? Considering their flagship character was Mickey Mouse, it’s amazing that none of these series even feature him as a side character.
Darkwing Duck was the story of Drake Mallard, who fights crime with his partner Launchpad McQuack. Yup. Those are names. One of the earliest Disney Afternoon series to feature actual fights, the Darkwing Duck focussed on the title character trying to balance his desire to save the city (and get fame in the process) with trying to be a good father to his adopted daughter Gosslyn.
Let’s. Get. Dangerous.
Goofy took a while to get his own series, but when he did it was pretty good. Goof and his son Max move back to their home town after the death of Goofy’s wife and I guess hilarity ensues. Most of the material was typical, of childish, situation comedy that pitted regular kid Max against his father’s oddball nature, and Goofy against neighbour Pete, an obnoxious used car salesman.
I always used to wonder as a kid why Goofy could speak while Pluto, also a dog, could not. Luckily they avoided this question here by not including Pluto in Goof Troop. Still.
We couldn’t, given the inspiration for this list, not include this title on the page. After billionaire Scrooge McDuck (a clear parody of Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge) adopts his three great-nephews Huey, Duey and Louie, the foursome get into all manner of mischief and adventure. Alongside them are often Mrs Beakley and her granddaughter Webby Vanderquack; because of course the grandmother of a character named after the Vanderbilts needs to work as a housekeeper and nanny.
The series was basically “Capitalism: A Disney How-to” with pretty much every episode revolving around Scrooge trying to either retain his title as World’s Richest Duck, or needlessly attempting to increase said wealth. In the opening credits, as well as often throughout the series, Scrooge could be seen swimming through his vast pit of money – although I suspect that diving into a warehouse sized space full of gold coins would hurt like a motherfucker.
Another question raised but, to me knowledge, never answered: who are the three boys parents? Donald is their uncle, and they come to live with Scrooge here who is their great-uncle (and presumably Donald’s own uncle) but at no point do we meet Donald’s parents or siblings. Who made these three boys and why do they live only with increasingly distant relatives?
There are of course other cartoons from the era, many not Disney, that deserve to return to our screens and perhaps that’s an article for another time. For not, we can dream of a world where Rescue Rangers is delivered weekly to out televisions after an MLP: Friendship is Magic style resurrection.
You can harass the author via Twitter: @CAricHanley
I’d just like to give an honourable mention to the other shows I was reminded of during my research for this article: Superted, Duckula, The Family Ness, SNORKS! I had forgotten all about Snorks. It was like the Smurfs but underwater and less lame. OMG TINY TOONS 😀
If you’re feeling nostalgic about the Golden Age of Saturday Morning Cartoons make sure you check out G-Funk’s 10 Forgotten Cartoons From My Childhood and remind yourself of some other classics!
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The Bells of Sait John
Thank you for the trip down memory lane – I was a little older when Disney Afternoon came out, but I still enjoyed them (I had an excuse since I had younger siblings, lol).
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