Sunday, August 11, 2013

Best of Walt Disney Television Animation

20. Aladdin (86 episodes, 1994-1995, Disney Afternoon and CBS)
The Aladdin spin-offs took on a life of their own as they are able to stand apart from the classic movie and remain entertaining despite the noticeable animation drop.  This series takes place in between the sequels Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (both animated by Walt Disney Television Animation as well).  This show had its own villains and sense of adventure and fantasy.  Also made a great use of Iago as comic relief and works towards making Jasmine a more independent character.

19. House of Mouse (52 episodes, 2001-2003, One Saturday Morning)
This was a very fun, creative idea.  It features shorts from the previous series Mickey Mouse Works, the shorts themselves are serviceable albeit unspectacular.  However the inside jokes and the unique pairings of Disney characters from all over the studios library are just perfect.  Any Disney fan will get a kick out of seeing these favorite characters in a casual nightclub setting.

18. Bonkers (65 episodes, 1993-1995, Disney Afternoon)
Clearly inspired by Who Framed Roger Rabbit but found its own identity.  Bonkers is a fun lead character and the wacky cartoon setting leads to a lot of fun.  The series also featured several cameos and references to other characters.

17. The Weekenders (39 episodes, 1999-2002, One Saturday Morning)
The ABC children's block One Saturday Morning showcased educational cartoons (which fulfilled the FCCs three hour of educational/instructional programming requirement).  However even though the series really only qualified as educational due to them being set in school a lot of them were pretty entertaining.  Weekenders was a fun play on preteen stereotypes that featured a likable lively cast.  It also had an awesome theme song from Wayne Brady.

16. Pepper Ann (65 episodes, 1997-2001, One Saturday Morning)
One of the initial One Saturday Morning series, and while it never reached the popularity or marketability of Recess and Disney's Doug it managed to last for most of the block's run.  On the surface the show seems pretty bland and standard but it gets pretty wacky and absurd despite its overly suburban setting.  A lot of fun supporting characters and Pepper Ann herself is a strong lead.

15. Goof Troop (79 episodes, 1992-1993, Disney Afternoon and ABC)
While this series is very good it is notable for the reinvention of Goofy as a father.  While he had played a father several times in shorts in the fifties it was just for laughs, here he has a realistic relationship with his son Max who is a great kid character.  Goofy really makes sense as a father figure, he is embarrassing but clearly sincere.  The show led to the beloved A Goofy Movie and its fun sequel An Extremely Goofy Movie which both stand on their own as great features.

14. Dave the Barbarian (21 episodes, 2004-2005, Disney Channel)
This absurd series was far too short-lived, but it clearly stood out amongst Disney Channel's tween shows.  A lot of goofy humor and a unique art direction.  Feels a lot more like a Nicktoon but it is a very good one.  Fun little comedy with a distinct setting.

13. Teacher's Pet (39 episodes, 2000-2002, One Saturday Morning)
Far more stylized than the usual Disney fare, but its individuality really makes it work.  The style of Gary Baseman is appealing but irreverent.  The series, while not a huge hit on TV, led to a theatrically released feature that was received extremely well critically.

12. Fillmore! (26 episodes, 2002-2003, ABC Kids)
One of the last great series to premiere on Saturday mornings and the only original series on the ABC Kids brand.  The show plays it very much like a straight detective drama but it is broad enough to be interesting to younger viewers.  The show was well plotted and had some decent mysteries.

11. The Replacements (52 episodes, 2006-2009, Disney Channel)
When I first saw the premise of this show I thought that it would never last.  Did not see a lot of potential of two kids have a phone that allows them to replace adults.  However the show found creative ways to use the gimmicks and the characters were strong enough to stand on their on without the gimmick.  The lead characters are all fun, especially the parents who are plays on Evil Knievel and Emma Peel from the British Avengers.  The series has especially strong voice work (particularly from Daran Norris and Kath Soucie as the aforementioned characters.  Not many have seen this show but it is a great one.

10. TaleSpin (65 episodes, 1990-1991, Disney Afternoon)
I have no idea where the premise of placing Baloo from the Jungle Book as a pilot came from, but you know it really worked.  This series just had such a unique setting and great energy.  One of those early Disney Afternoon shows that perfected a balance between adventure and comedy while showcasing appealing artwork.

9. Darkwing Duck (91 episodes, 1991-1995, Disney Afternoon and ABC)
This show has remained popular among the nostalgic and had a well received comic book run a few years ago.  Newsarama actually named this series as featuring one of the best all time rogue's galleries.  Would be interesting if Marvel picked up the franchise and did something with it, still an audience that loves it.

8. Mickey Mouse (13 ordered shorts, 2013, Disney Channel)
May be placing this too high too early, but I have really been enjoying the few shorts that have been released and they have been getting a lot of attention.  The series differentiates itself from the classic Mickey shorts well and is able to stand on its on by its individual style and surrealism.  Hope that this lasts longer than 13 shorts because it could go a long way to reinvigorating Mickey's career.

7. New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (50 episodes, 1988-1991, ABC)
My all time favorite television series.  Love the imagination in it along with the simplicity and innocence of it.  Everyone gets used perfectly, including Gopher who has not been used much since.  The television animation friendly character redesigns and voice actors were reused until the computer animated series My Friends Tigger and Pooh in 2006.  This show aired consistently until 2007 and led to several spin-off specials and movies as well as episodes of the series being featured on several video releases.

6. Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers (65 episodes, 1989-1990, Syndication and Disney Afternoon)
Much like TaleSpin and Goof Troop this is a great example of using classic characters in a different setting really works.  Chip 'n Dale anchor a new memorable supporting cast.  Just fun adventures that are amusing at any age, this was on of my favorites growing up.

5. Kim Possible (87 episodes, 2002-2007, Disney Channel)
This show grew such a fan base that its internet following successfully campaigned for a fourth season. The show features a great lead ensemble and colorful rogues gallery.  Perfectly blended tween drama, cartoon comedy and high action to have something for everybody.  A great example how a show featuring a female lead can succeed across demographics.

4. Adventures of the Gummi Bears (94 episodes, 1985-1991, NBC, ABC and Disney Afternoon)
I ranked this as the third most important series of the animation renaissance.  This series was Disney's first television animated success and represented a huge jump forward for television animation.  The effort and high budget Disney put behind this shows and it paid off as this series led directly to every other cartoon on this list.  The fun fantasy was one of the best cartoons of the eighties and still holds up.

3. Recess (65 episodes, 1997-2001, One Saturday Morning and Disney's One Too)
Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere handled this familiar setting with the same creativity and heart as they did with Rugrats.  This series works because of its strong grasp and subversion of child archetype's.  It was fun to watch this show because we all went to a school like this and knew kids like that.  The cast is likable and the adults are just as fun (especially Dabney Coleman's Principal Prickly).  This series had a lot of staying power and led to a well received theatrical movie.  Surprised that this one is not airing anymore.

2. DuckTales (100 episodes, 1987-1990, Syndication)
This is Disney's greatest television success and remains culturally significant.  Perfect theme song, likable cast, fun big adventures.  Everyone loves DuckTales.

1. Gargoyles (78 episodes, 1994-1997, Disney Afternoon and ABC)
This series has such a massive following and it is easy to see why.  This series has a scale to it, there is magnificence in the artistry and quality in the writing.  It is a unique premise that thrives in its dark tone.  It is one of Disney's strongest cult following and I am surprised that they have not revisited it as a new series or theatrical feature.

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