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9 'Disney Afternoon' Cartoons to Rewatch

Updated on November 18, 2014
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The Wonderful World of The Disney Channel

The nostalgia of the 90's seems to be focused on the television produced by Nickelodeon during the decade. How about a little dip into the series' created by that other golden children's network, The Disney Channel. While it has many different forms and outputs between film, television, and radio, Disney has remained a focal point of childhood entertainment since its conception and execution at the beginning of film. Beginning with Walt Disney's now classic animated shorts featuring Mickey Mouse and the gang, his story driven feature film animations of popular fairy-tales like Snow White (1937) and Cinderella (1950), packaged collection of shorts for movie theater audiences in the 1940s, and the educational docu-films of the 1950s, the widespread knowledge to be found in these production is endless and entertaining. While nearly 100 years divides its origin with the current, they are timeless There is talk about the path the company is on as far as The Disney Channel goes, as of late, but there is no doubt that next to the original cartoon shorts of the 20's and 30's, the content produced in the late 80's and into the 90's was some of the best and often considered a rebirth of The Golden Age for Disney in both film and television.

These TV cartoons were often throwbacks to original Disney with twisted variables to originality to the "Disney Afternoon" programming block and interest the new generation of children who thought they had seen everything. Now the stories are being told by secondary Disney characters, new characters from the world of Disney, or reworked characters of popular culture and historic cultural relevance. Disney hit the nail on the head with their ideas as the interest among children was world wide and huge. They also generated a number of additional outputs for the content in comics, and computer and video games, in addition to the multiple feature films of some and many of the series can be purchased on DVD volumes.

Take a look and remember the favorite cartoons of your childhood you might have forgotten, or dare not to forget.

DuckTales

Sure, if we are really taking the original broadcast seriously then DuckTales is technically a series for the 80's crew as it premiered in 1987 and ended in 1990. But! Since it saw a resurgence in the mid-90's with reruns and the 'Disney Afternoon' block party

The memories of childhood spent in front of the television watching DuckTales are shared by many millenials, especially exciting is the theme song which has become a source of comradeship for the generation. Any whisper of "DuckTales!.." will surely be followed by an auspicious "Woo-oo!", it cannot be helped. DuckTales brought back original Disney themes re-imagined for a new generation of children. The series is led by Huey, Louie and Dewey (Donald Duck's nephews), who are now living with their great-uncle Scrooge McDuck after Donald joins the Navy. The young ducks are often tasked with fighting burglars who are after Scrooge's large fortune, particularly his very first money ever earned, his Number One Dime.

There are many themes and tropes taken from popular culture and historic tales. This adds to the adventure trope that is predominant throughout every episode of DuckTales and started a course for the following Disney cartoons, who were so inspired by it to add references of other stories including Indiana Jones, Shakespeare, and mythology.

The original running of the series was followed with a feature film in 1990, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, and multiple computer and video games to continue the adventures of the brothers and their uncle's fortune.

TaleSpin

This cartoon was created out of the success and popularity of DuckTales - another reason DuckTales was so important to The Disney Channel scene that came in the 1990s.

Taking inspiration from the classic Disney telling of The Jungle Book (1967) TaleSpin follows the private life of Baloo the bear. The plot sees Baloo as an unorganized entrepreneur cargo pilot, whose business, "Baloo's Air Service", is bought by Rebecca Cunningham, a cute bear with a tough business mind. He also finds a companion in a 12-year-old orphan cub, Kit Cloudkicker, who had previously lived with air pirates and as such is a bit of a rampant rogue - as if his name wasn't enough of a clue. A few other characters from the original story join Baloo in minor roles that are re-figured into a more modern role to fit the new setting of the series. Shere Khan is now a wealthy business magnate, and Louie provides ranting space as owner of the local bar. Under new management, Baloo, continues his flight career as a pilot under the renamed "Higher for Hire" with Kit as the navigator. The show is a slight illumination of the film serials from the 1930s and 1940s, and is thought to take place sometime in the late 30's. The characters are often put in "Indiana Jones" type situations full of mystery and adventure.

Most memorable from the show is likely the theme and introductory credits. The series ran for one season, from 1990-91, and with 65 episodes in total continued in syndication and as part of the 'Disney Afternoon' programming block throughout the 90's.

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers

Created out of the already popular chipmunk cartoon characters, Chip 'n Dale, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers reestablishes the duo in a new storyline far from their home with Mickey and Donald. As private detectives they go on adventures and solve mysteries normal detectives would consider insignificant, but at 8 inches tall no case is "too small" for Chip n' Dale. With two mice as their sidekicks, Gadget (a cute girl mouse the chipmunks fawn over) and Monterey Jack (a burly, man's-mouse), their adventures lead them all over the world meeting dangerous foe and fighting crime.

The appearance of Chip was created with Indiana Jones in mind, while Dale is a reference to Magnum P.I. Like many of the Disney cartoons there are multiple references to catch for the keen to know viewer. Many of the episode titles are plays popular films or cultural history that hint at the case the episode will focus on, like "Kiwi's Big Adventure", "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", "Risky Beesness", and "Pound of the Baskervilles", all from season one.

The series was planned from the success of DuckTales to join three other programs in the 'Disney Afternoon' programming block. Those three programs were Talespin, Darkwing Duck and the 80's cartoon Adventures of the Gummi Bears. The idea paid off and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers was a successful series in its original run from 1989-1990, re-airings throughout the 90's, and plenty of computer and video games to add to the story.

Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck began as a spin-off of the series DuckTales and indeed took its start as DuckTales saw its end. The premise follows a superhero duck who fights crime and helps those in need all while maintaining the alter-ego of Drake Mallard, a father in suburbia. And the duck-goose puns are ripe throughout its entirety.

In his daily life Darkwing Duck provides a loving home of comfort for his adopted daughter Goselyn, who is the granddaughter of a murdered super-scientist and a bouncing ball of energy. In an air of confliction, Darkwing must balance this with his superficial desire for fame and glory as the crime-stopping superhero.

At the utterance of his catchphrase, "Let's get dangerous!" Drake Mallard becomes Darlwing Duck. He is joined on his fighting sprees by sidekck, Launchpad McQuack, who proclaims himself as Darkwing's biggest fan. While fighting for the good of the helpless Darkwing has an egotistical superiority when it comes to his superhero adventures, but in the end his need to do good overpowers to make him a successful crime-fighter. There are many allies and villains in the series to create a mass world of Duckdom to fulfill the satirical properties it tasks itself with.

"Darkwing" is in reference to the vigilante superhero of the 1930s, The Shadow and his alter ego, Kent Allerd. The series itself can be thought of as a parody of the entire pulp hero genre. Succeeding in three seasons from 1991-1992 the series produced 91 total episodes. After its original run Darkwing Duck continued airing simultaneously on The Disney Channel and ABC's One Saturday Morning, along with comics and video game content.

Adventures of Gummi Bears

Adventures of the Gummi Bears is a fantastic cartoon following the life and adventures of magical beings hidden to humans and can take credit for the production of many popular 90's cartoons. Taking insight from the popular candy, Michael Eisner is said to have thought of the Gummi Bear idea upon his sons desire for the treat. Because, of course, we all imagine those cute, squishy bears in the plastic packages are living an exciting life filled with magic and adventure.

When greedy humans started seeking their magic, the Gummi Bears spread themselves across the world, this show gazes on the life of the Gummi-Glen Gummis and their unexpected friendship with a few worthy humans. Living in a hollowed out tree and maintaining the Gummiberry harvest for their magical Gummiberry juice, they attempt a care-free life as residents of a secluded forest far from people. Not far enough, however, as they are easily found by a young squire, Cavin, who holds a Gummi treasure given to him by his grandfather. Along with the fire-cracker Princess Calla, they rally along with the Gummi Bears' adventures, learning their magical wisdom and trying to keep their existence unknown to human foes.

The series ran six seasons, from 1985 to 1991, and continued in reruns on the Disney Afternoon block until 1997. However, this was not an easy task for the Gummi Bears. They changed networks a total of three times, beginning on NBC from 1985 to 1989, then moving to ABC for only one season. In 1991 Adventures of the Gummi Bears started its final season on The Disney Channel during the 'Disney Afternoon' schedule.

Goof Troop

What happens when Goofy lands in suburbia with a teenaged kid and a life a part from Mickey? That would be Goof Troop. It finds Goofy in an all dog world without much acknowledgment to the other members of the Mickey gang. The plot follows Goofy as he returns to his hometown of Spoonerville with his 11 year old son, Max, who was a semi-character in Goofy's original Disney story. Max is best friends with P.J., who is the son of Pete (a character from Disney beginnings and now an adversary to Goofy's existence), the friends/foes live next door to each other. A majority of the plot follows Max as he tries his best to distance himself from his quirky dad. Basically, the exact feelings of every pre-teen/teen in any generation.

The series features small references to the original Disney shorts featuring Goofy and his companions. Particularly where Goofy's neighbor Pete and his family are concerned. Pete's wife is named Peg which is a reference to "Peg-Leg Pete", and his daughter gets the best with Pistol - referencing "Pistol Pete". Both were alias' from the classic era of Disney's cartoons for modern Goofy's high school friend, Pete.

The show ran for one season but lived on in Disney Channel reruns schedule from the mid-90's and later on Toon Disney. Reruns stopped in 2008 and so far, 54 of the 79 episodes have been released on DVD. During all of the series twists and turns it also spawned a successful feature film, A Goofy Movie (1995), and a popular sequel, An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000), which was released directly to video.

Quack Pack

After the ending of DuckTales Disney was looking to profit from the success of its throwback character show, so again, creators took to brainstorming the backlogs of their animated content and came out with the idea that became Quack Pack. This series follows Donald Duck, his three nephews, Huey, Louie, and Dewey and Daisy Duck as they seek adventurous news stories for the program "What in the World". In this concept the nephews are teenaged ducks often pulling pranks or getting into troublesome situations. The duck brothers have more individuality in their behavior and for Donald, this only leads to frustration in his notoriously short tempered nature. However, Donald can show similar intentions of trickery and hijinks to get to the truth of circumstances.

Instead of the "Duckberg" location of completely anthropomorphic beings, the setting of Quack Pack is much closer to the Donald Duck shorts from early Disney animation where Donald lived among human characters. Donald is a cameraman affectionately linked to Daisy Duck who reports the news from wherever their location. The stories usually lead to dangerous situations with villains and bad guys that Huey, Louie and Dewey get tangled up in. Daisy gives the boys some slack for the trouble around them and thinks Donald exaggerates their sneaky behavior.

The show originally ran for one season on 'Disney Afternoon' in 1996 and produced 39 episodes. This series was less popular than the others featured in the programming block, but is still worth watching if you can find it. As of now the series has not been released on DVD. It did live on in reruns on The Disney Channel until 2004 when the network did a sweeping of their 90's programming began more original live action shows.

Bonkers

Bonkers is a series about the world of cartoons and particularly the life of Bonkers, a beloved cartoon actor for Wackytown Studios. When the studio cancels his contract over audiences preference for G.I. Joe, Bonkers is left to fend for himself in a city filled with toon-on-toon crime. After a run-in with a mugger, in which he saves Donald Duck's life, Bonkers is offered a detective position for the Hollywood PD, Toon Division. His wacky antics, tendency to mess up a crime scene and inexperience aren't appreciated by his companions, but it make for good old-fashioned cartoon enjoyment. Part of the fun in watching this series is the exaggerated use of irrational rules from the cartoon world that you would get from Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and the other Looney Toons.

If the premise of Bonkers seems familiar, that's because it is strikingly near the plot of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), but the storyline was not meant to be a spin-off or recreation of the film. Bonkers originally appeared in the short-lived anthology series Raw Toonage featured multiple segments of content and functioned as a toon version of Saturday Night Live with a different Disney character hosting each episode. The Bonkers series was an expansion of his part on Raw Toonage.

Disney makes use of its unlimited access to cartoons in its catalog as characters like Donald Duck, and the Mad-Hatter from Alice in Wonderland (1950) which are nice little surprises every so often in an episode. It's like seeing someone you haven't seen in a long time in a completely unexpected setting. With all of this effort the show only lasted one season (1993-94)and its 65 episodes were left in reruns until 2004.

Gargoyles

From Gargoyles comes a cartoon complete with backstory, depth and motive for its heroes. The gargoyles, are a clan of beings who only thrive in the night and are stone statues in the light of day. Their back story involves medieval Scotland and a lost war with humans. Many of the gargoyles perished in the fighting, but those who survived were forced to remain as stone. That is, until a rich American buys the castle they of which they top and transfers it to the roof of his skyscraper in New York City. Due to the prophecy of their freezing the six survivors are awakened when their home "rises above the clouds" and now live in the night protecting the city from danger.

This series lasted three seasons and ultimately produced 78 episodes. It began its run in 1995 as a part of the 'Disney Afternoon' block and continued there for two seasons. The third season took a turn into uncertain territory. Gargoyles left regular Disney Channel programming and was set up as part of One Saturday Morning on the Disney affiliate ABC. Because of the considerable changes to the animators and story line the series came off as unappealing to the young viewers and therefore met its end.

A fun note for the voice actors of the series, many were popular actors from the various Star Trek series inlcuding LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek:Voyager), Jonathan Frakes (also Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Nichell Nichols who famously portrayed Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series. There are also many character references to the works of Shakespeare throughout the themes of the series.

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