It’s the early 90’s and kids are playing outside, getting tons of fresh air and probably drinking from the hose. Except from the hours of 3pm to 4:30pm when we were all glued to the TV for the much awaited Disney Afternoon! Grab your snacks, your cheese and crackers, your gummy sharks and/or gummi unicorns and pull up a bean bag chair and get your butt settled, because you’re not moving till this thing ends. We can rewatch and re-examine some of these shows while delving into the history of the Disney Afternoon.
“Gummi Bears, Bouncing here and there and everywhere. High adventure that’s beyond compare, They are the Gummi Bears.” This show actually predates the Disney Afternoon by several years but it was enough of a hit to be lead in even years later (sorry The Wuzzles). Inspired loosely by the Gummy Bears candy these Gummi Bears lived in a forest near a kingdom and coveted their special “juice”. Most of the episodes consisted of Igthorn hatching some scheme to take over or get his hands on that juice. I assume the juice is similar to 5 hour energy. In a way, it was many children’s introduction to the wonderful world of illicit substances.
While the reboot of this show is pretty good, there is nothing better than the original. This was the crown jewel of the Disney Afternoon with animation that still holds up today. You put this up against most other shows of the time (I’m looking at you He-Man) and the quality is night and day. Uncle Scrooge would go on adventures with his niece and nephews to unearth all kinds of treasures. As much as the main cast was fine, I was all about Launchpad and Gizmo-Duck. It also led to the best video game though our next program is a very close second.
Chip and Dales Rescue Rangers
This show is probably responsible for a fair amount of furries out there with Gadget looking so cute all the time. The jumpsuit, the smarts, she was everything awkward nerds could want. I have to say Monty and Zipper were my personal favorites. Again what keeps this show so memorable was how good the animation was. There was no reason to make a show for 4-8 year olds to look so good but it made it stand out so much more.
Talespin took Baloo from the Jungle book and turned him into a plane flying badass. He helps out Rebecca, a single mom trying to run a business by helping out with her kids and being her go to pilot for jobs. The show could get a little crazy with ghosts, or, you know, potential death but all in all this one was great and kept our attention. Hey remember the episode about the Bearmuda Triangle? Get it? Bearmuda? I can’t even begin to understand the mental algebra that turned characters from 1800s south asia and transpose them to a 1940’s metropolis. Its like the writers got drunk one day and wandered into a theater playing the Jungle Book AND the Rocketeer.
This is all from the season one lineup. Throughout the history of the Disney Afternoon some shows changed slots or disappeared completely. It was in season two when everything would move up a time slot and Gummi Bears would fall off completely, making room for even more duck.
“Let’s get dangerous”. Cooler words have never been spoken. In fact if someone said that to me I would have to throw caution to the wind and go along with whatever crazy thing they suggested. Much like the plot of this show, where Darkwing did everything in his power to keep the city of St. Canard safe along with his sidekick Launchpad. What kid doesn’t love a good super spy fiction? Not to mention the best villains roster since Batman. The Liquidator is a goddamn water dog! How can you resist that?
If you loved the ducks you will love the dogs. Goof Troop is the story of Goofy and his son Max. His neighbor Pete is a dog in this version of the story which is why most people get confused when people say he is a cat (which he actually is). I heard a theory that Goofy got Max after a one night stand much like in the movie I Am Sam, which is dark but also kind of funny. I don’t remember them ever addressing his mom on the show. This was also the reason for the best movie and soundtrack in the history of the world, A Goofy Movie.
That is about it for the Golden Era of a Disney Afternoon, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin here. When the programming went downhill and took a turn for the worst.
Let me just start this off by saying Bonkers wasn’t really my jam. I have always been more of an Animaniacs fan. Which is funny because Animaniacs actually poked fun at Bonkers in an episode with Slappy. In “Slappy Goes Walnuts” Slappy (regarding cereal that was making Skippy hyper) says, “This stuff is pure sugar. No wonder you like that Bonkers show.” They actually poked fun at this show a number of times which makes me wonder if anyone really liked it. It was supposed to be a Roger Rabbit show which might have made this hold up better but as it stands it just feels dull.
The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show!
Hey remember that time when Disney tried to blatantly rip off Ren and Stimpy? Yeah They don’t like to remember it either. In an attempt to be more “edgy” they created Schnookums and Meat. This show was bad, and obviously a rip off down to the font style. I am actually surprised I never heard about a lawsuit from John Kricfalusi. Its literally all there from the poses to the vaguely gross out humor. This show was hailed as being one of two Ren and Stimpy rip offs, the other being Two Stupid Dogs but that show had class damn it..
Now let’s bring it back a little and remember a great one.
Just look at this! Look at it! Holy crap look at that intro. Monsters flying around New York. This ain’t no kiddie shit, this is a straight up mature storytelling. Well mostly…it still had jokes and slapstick but it still felt like a step up from everything else. Keith David as Goliath elevates everything and it also had freaking Commander Riker as the bad guy. Just…AHH! This was soooo cool! I think I still have my brother’s Goliath wings in the attic.. This show was dark and broody and just freaking perfect.
There were of course other shows that aired in the last days of Disney Afternoon from 1994-1997. Shows like Aladdin, Timon and Pumba and Quack Pack. It really seems like they took a turn in 93. Kids that were watching started changing the channel to other competing networks like Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. Why must it be that all good things come to an end? Thank you for hanging out with me for this Virtual Disney Afternoon.
What were your favorite shows in a Disney Afternoon? Did you like the later seasons? Tweet at me or tell Nerdbot in the comments and let’s talk about it!
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