In Appreciation - The Disney Afternoon - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

In Appreciation – The Disney Afternoon

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Ryan - Disney AfternoonRyan COMMENTARY w/o RatingWhile I watched many shows during my childhood, many of them have not stood up to the passing of time. As much as I loved it is a youngster, I don’t think anyone is going to call the '80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon a classic in 50 years. The same goes with GI Joe, Mask, C.O.P.S (although those toys are still cool) and so many more. The one block of cartoons that have stood relatively well against the years have been the shows that were on The Disney Afternoon. The Disney Afternoon was a syndicated 2 hour block of cartoons that took known Disney characters and gave them a new genre to play in. While the Afternoon went on through most of the 90’s, I am only going to talk about the heyday of the earlier years.DuckTalesTo talk of the Disney Afternoon you must start with the crown jewel, which was DuckTales. Here we had a show that took characters from the Donald Duck world and threw them into an Indiana Jones-esque world of tombs and treasure. Although Scrooge McDuck was the richest person on the planet and had a vault of money that towered over the town specifically made so he could swim in his riches, I still rooted for him to become richer. This is pretty impressive writing to make me care if the Beagle Boys stole his money or if he was able to get his lucky dime back but I did. The characters were so interesting in the show and the ability of the show to genre hop from day-to-day made it required viewing when I was young. DuckTales had all of this AND one hell of a theme song, which makes it probably the best show of the Disney Afternoon.Rescue RangersComing on the heels of DuckTales was Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers. For me this was not as big of a success. I loved Chip 'n' Dale cartoons and them bugging Donald Duck or Pluto made me laugh when I was young but I think the cartoon defanged them. Putting Chip in a leather jacket and fedora and Dale in a Magnum PI type Hawaiian Shirt and helping them solve crimes never interested me in a way that the other shows did. Yet I watched this show on a regular basis mainly because it was the show on between DuckTales and Darkwing Duck.Tale SpinTaleSpin is one of the craziest ideas ever to make it out of development. I would have loved to have been in these brainstorming sessions for the show. I don’t know how they decided to combine characters of The Jungle Book and a swashbuckling adventure cartoon together but the result had Baloo as a 1940s delivery pilot fighting air pirates, sky surfing and butting heads with Shere Khan who is now a businessman in a Lex Luthor mold. This show was crazy and didn’t make much sense when a person would stop to think but I just went with it and always had a good time. My appreciation of it went up when I stumbled upon it a few years ago and saw a lot of the influences from classic adventure movies that I didn’t know when I originally watched the show.Darkwing DuckI have already said that DuckTales was the best show created in the early years of the afternoon but by far my favorite show was Darkwing Duck. A loose spinoff of DuckTales, Darkwing Duck was the story of mild mannered Drake Mallard who at night became the Batman of St. Canard, Darkwing Duck. Taking inspiration from Batman but also lesser-known superheroes such as The Shadow, Darkwing Duck was a funny superhero show and my gateway drug into the superhero world. I loved his “The terror that flaps into the night…” catchphrase, the villains and their back-stories such as NegaDuck, Megavolt and Quacker Jack and I loved how it was zany but never really talked down to the audience. Just a few weeks ago I found a DVD set on sale while shopping and picked the show up for my kids to watch.

I was worried that the show would not be as fun as I remembered when I sat down to watch it with them. I was pleasantly surprised to see that while some things are dated (the soundtrack was very much a product of its time with a lot of dirty sax solos and the animation isn’t that crisp) the vibe of the show was still fun. Both my girls have watched the show repeatedly now and I am happy to see Darkwing Duck is alive and well for another generation of fans in my house.Goof TroopGoof Troop - I never really watched this show much but I happen to know a HUGE fan of this show. I am going to let Andrew take this one and explain why this show belongs with the best of the Disney Afternoon.

For a child of the late 80s/early 90s like me, The Disney Afternoon was a big part of your after-school routine. While the block went on for many years and added shows like Bonkers and Aladdin, I remember the days before when I would eat my after-school snack while watch Baloo fly a plane or Scrooge McDuck yell at Launchpad. The Disney Afternoon was my afternoon many of days and just hearing some of the theme songs again instantly transports me back to my childhood home. I might be looking at these shows with my nostalgia glasses on but The Disney Afternoon was one of the most memorable cultural parts of my youth.AndrewCommentaryBannerShortNow I'm searching back into our shared history to see where I may have given you the impression that I liked Goof Troop.  I really enjoyed all the shows that you talked about there, excepting TaleSpin because I wouldn't understand all the exploration and swashbuckling stuff until I started watching really old Hollywood movies.  But Goof Troop grated the hell out of me.  The setting was dull suburbia without the weird characters that inhabited the adventures on Darkwing Duck, some of the additions to the cast were just flat-out annoying (especially that little girl), and the slapstick humor never appealed to me.

That said, I understand why people have taken to the movie so rabidly.  It has an absurdly catchy soundtrack that I can still remember almost all the words to even though I haven't seen the film in eighteen years.  The visual gags are a lot less random slapstick and animation is nice and weird at some points.  I don't love it, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't watch it every day before school for a week after it came out on VHS.

The only show I'd add to the pile is this:GargoylesGargoyles got me reading a lot of Shakespeare when I was a kid.  I can't think of any other series before Gargoyles where the first act deals with the near-genocide of an entire race.  Avatar: The Last Airbender must have taken notes when that mace was coming down on the gargoyles during the day.  It was a dark show, both in terms of content, and because the gargoyles could only be active at night.  But the animators used that to their advantage very well, and the already dark-hued gargoyles sprang out against the light in their lumbering, surprisingly agile, fights.  The voice cast was tied with Batman: The Animated Series for best ever, with Jonathan Frakes giving David Xanatos a brutal upper-class cunning edge and Keith David setting the stage so perfectly with his growl.

So while I may not share the same love of The Disney Afternoon as you do, I'm happy that you get to spend that time with your daughters as they grow up.  Maybe when they get a bit older pop on an episode or two of Gargoyles as well, just to see if that growl is as enticing today as it was years ago.

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Posted by Ryan

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