Disney Afternoon - The Golden Era Of Cartoons

DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin and Gummi Bears… the pinnacle of cartoon shows. If you agree, you were probably born in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Take a stroll down memory lane with me and try NOT to smile or sing along with the themes!

DuckTales

Many of my fondest memories involve sitting in front of the television screen and singing along to the DuckTales theme song. Based on the characters by Carl Barks, the series ran from 1987 - 1990, but during the first two seasons of the Disney Afternoon programming block from 1990-1992 it was the cornerstone of the lineup.

DuckTales featured unforgettable characters like Scrooge McDuck, his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, his niece Webigail, his friend, the hapless inventor, Gyro Gearloose, and of course, Launchpad McQuack, the pilot who I would *not* trust with my life.

Scrooge and the boys had a tendency to get involved with zany adventures, travel around seeking treasures, and battling enemies like the Beagle Boys and Magica De Spell! loudandoffensive.tumblr.com

Magica enlisting the services of the Beagle Boys coldslitherpodcast.com

Duck Tales Theme

Via youtube.com

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Disney masterfully re-purposed the annoying chipmunks from classic Donald Duck cartoons, slapped some clothing on them (but like the ducks, they appear to be celebrating NO PANTS DAY everyday), and gives them the gumshoe occupation. I bet plenty of kids asked their parents or guardians what the heck gumshoes meant. (Detectives, in case you’re not sure.)

Basically, these little chippies were Sherlock Holmes. They were joined by Monterrey Jack, an Australian mouse with a love for cheese, Gadget Hackwrench, the inventive leader and love interest of Chip, and Zipper the fly who communicated through sounds and gestures. Enemies included Fat Cat, a casino owner who reminds me a bit of Kingpin from Marvel Comics and Professor Nimnul.

Rescue Rangers ran from 1989-1990.

The gang, off to save the day! tvtropes.org

Yes, somehow this happened on a children’s show. tumblr.com

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers Theme

youtube.com

Adventures Of The Gummi Bears

Gummiberry, Gummiberry juice. I don’t know what Disney was on when they came up with this idea. I’d love to hear the pitch! “Let’s make a cartoon about bears who fight trolls, like the Hobbits do! And, oh, wait, Care Bears have super powers? Let’s have our bears bounce really high… but the only way to activate this power is by drinking a special mixture. Excellent.”

The Gummi Bears in the show are one faction of a legendary species that once lived alongside the selfish humans who craved the magical and technological advances the Gummi Bears developed.

Gummi Bears ran from 1985 - 1991!

Gummiberry Juice Theme (Drinking Song)

Get crunked with dose GUMMI BEARZ youtube.com

Now, 25 years later college students are drinking their own Gummiberry Juice and, what a surprise, they’re discovering how high they can bounce too. Regardless, this show was heartfelt and showed me how cool fantasy could be!

Adventures of the Gummi Bears Theme

youtube.com

Darkwing Duck

Darkwing Duck is the most bad-ass of cartoon spin-offs ever. Not satisfied to let Carl Barks vision for anthropomorphic ducks die with DuckTales, Disney created the superhero, Darkwing Duck (secret identity, Drake Mallard). In order to tie it into the DuckTales universe, Launchpad McQuack crosses over and serves as Darkwing’s best friend and pilot!

Drake adopted a young, headstrong girl named Gosalyn, and while his alter-ego, Darkwing, battles St. Canard’s wrongdoers, he faces the trials of being a single parent. The show makes use of witty dialogue and puns and Darkwing’s rogue gallery are as varied and entertaining as those of Batman. Take Megavolt, for instance. He’s basically living electricity and resembles a plug. Negaduck is… naturally, an evil twin of Darkwing that wears a different colored suit. Quackerjack is a spoof on the Joker from Batman and is a crazed former toymaker who talks to a Banana puppet.

Darkwing’s weapon of choice? A gas gun! He can switch out canisters to have different effects on his enemies, which is pretty cool and decidedly non-violent.

New episodes aired from 1991-1995 and, along with Rescue Rangers and DuckTales, it was revived in comic book form from 2010-2011 before Marvel Comics bought the rights from Boom Studios and ended the series. Via sitbackndhavefun.tumblr.com

Darkwing Duck Theme

youtube.com

No fault of its own, TaleSpin is probably my least favorite of the Disney Afternoon shows. The main character is Baloo the bear, but unlike his Jungle Book counterpart he is a pilot. Also adapted from the Jungle Book is King Louie (now refined to just “Louie”) who runs Baloo’s favorite bar!

The premise of the show is that Baloo’s services are purchased by Rebecca Cunningham and they, along with a young, former air pirate named Kit travel around battling Don Karnage’s gang of Air Pirates and delivering things to those who can pay. Kit comes to see Baloo as a paternal figure, referring to him as “Papa Bear” while Baloo calls him “L’il Britches,” much like Baloo called Mowgli in the Jungle Book.

The other main villain, Shere Khan is yet another character from the Jungle Book, but in this incarnation he is a businessman who controls the economics in Baloo’s land of Cape Suzette. Looking back, there are some political and historical themes in this show that I never appreciated.

TaleSpin ran (or flew) from 1990 - 1991.

TaleSpin Theme

youtube.com

Further Reading


Buzzfeed staff member Brian Galindo has posted a couple great things about this:

10 Wonderful Archived Artworks from Disney Afternoon

The Amazing DuckTales Remastered Trailer Will Have You Singing

…and of course, our dear friend Wack-ipedia!

The Disney Afternoon on Wikipedia

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