Disney Television Animation is celebrating 30 years. At LaughingPlace we will be celebrating all week. As we begin our coverage, let’s take a look at 9 milestone shows that changed the face of television animation.
The Wuzzles: Disney’s first foray into TV animation was not a hit, but laid the groundwork for future successes. Based on idea of Michael Eisner’s Wuzzles were a comboination of 2 animals, like Butterbear (butterfly and bumblebee) and Bumblelion (bumblebee and lion) the series only aired 13 episodes. While response in the US was tepid, the show found more success in the UK where it was paired with…
Adventures of the Gummi Bears: Disney TV Animation’s first hit, established the action-adventure genre which would become a Disney TV hallmark. The success of this show opened the door for further productions and the creation of the Disney Afternoon of which it was a charter member. The show’s six seasons also established the Disney trademark of catchy theme songs…. “Gummi Bears, bouncing here and there and everywhere. High adventure that’s beyond compare. We are the Gummi Bears.”
DuckTales: This show was my jam. And apparently, I was not alone. DuckTales has the distinction of being the first Disney TV Animation show to make the transition to the big screen. It is also the first show to feature established Disney characters, but not an A-lister like Donald Duck (that would be crazy). Inspired by the amazing Carl Barks comic books, the show struck a cord with a generation who, if they are being truthful, still sings the song in the shower.
The Little Mermaid: Following the success of The Little Mermaid, Disney created an ambitious plan; a weekly animated series for CBS. This move led to other animated series based on successful features such as Aladdin and Hercules. For the most part, the series featured the original voice cast including Jodi Benson as Ariel and Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian. The show is perhaps best remembered for the song “Harmony” and introducing new characters such as Urchin.
Gargoyles: With its dark tone, complex story arcs, and Shakespearean references, Gargoyles brought a new level of sophistication to Disney TV Animation. Starting with a 5 episode initial story, the show expanded into a world tour of noble quests and literary figures. The show did not survive a third season on ABC that saw a new direction and creative team, but many fans fondly remember the first two seasons. With fan conventions occurring to this day, there is no one that can say that the show did not leave a legacy.
Pepper Ann: She is too cool for 7th grade and was one of the major parts of One Saturday Morning when it launched on ABC in 1997 following Disney’s acquisition of the network. Think of it as a girl-version of Doug, but was accessible to both boys and girls over its 5 seasons and 65 episodes. Pepper Ann also has the distinction of being the only One Saturday Morning character to appear on House of Mouse
House of Mouse: An outgrowth of the Mickey Mouse Works shorts, House of Mouse combined all the Disney characters in one show. They essentially were all in a shared universe before Marvel made it cool. The show only produced 52 episodes over 3 seasons, but the unique nature of the show made many Disney fans wonder who was going to show up next.
Kim Possible: Though animation on Disney Channel is commonplace today, Kim Possible was only the second animated series commissioned for the network and the first from Disney Television Animation. The show was so popular amongst both boys and girls, fan demand caused an additional season following what was supposed to be a series finale movie. Kim Possible embraced a girl who could do anything, yet still dealt with the normal problems of high school. It struck a cord on the girl-dominated channel and was the longest running animated series until it was supplanted by…
Phineas and Ferb: Somehow airing 219 episodes despite only having 104 days of summer, Phineas and Ferb broke Disney Channel records. With an ample selection of catch phrases, running gags, and catchy tunes, Phineas, Ferb, Perry, and Dr. Doof proved popular with kids and adults alike. With a TV movie, Marvel and Star Wars crossover, a Feld Entertainment touring show, and a strong presence at Disney Parks. The show took Disney Channel animation to new heights and it brought style variety of Disney TV Animation that has propelled the division to an unprecedented level of diversity.
So we need one more to make an even 10. Which show do you think we missed? Which upcoming show do you think will join the ranks. Let us know!
FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World