During the awesomeness that was Disney Afternoon, Disney started running out of ideas. While you had your Darkwing Ducks or your Gargoyles — the pinnacle of Disney cartoons — there were plenty more frontiers to cover, like Saturday mornings. Realizing they spent years developing characters and assets for their feature films, they decided to double dip, creating new shows based on these properties. Surprisingly, not all of them were bad, only most of them.
The first show pulled from a movie was The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Seeing as how Disney had the original voice cast nailed to a wall, they were all willing to reprise their roles of these famous characters. Honestly, I hate Winnie the Pooh. I mean, the Heffalump song is cool and all, but the rest of it annoys me. I recommend reading Winnie the Pooh Goes Ape#*! (Warning, NSFW).
Next is The Little Mermaid. This was a decent show, taking place before the movie. Years later they released a prequel film, Ariel’s Beginning, contradicting much of the show, but, whatever. Jodi Benson, the speaking and singing voice of Ariel reprised her role, making the show seem more legitimate.
I’ll admit, with this next one, I’m biased. Taking a somewhat smarter path, Disney released a sequel to Aladdin, the sub par Return of Jafar to set up the TV series. The entire cast returned save for Robin Williams, replaced by Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson) as Genie. He did an admirable job. With plenty of material to pull from (1001 Arabian Nights), there were some good stories to tell. This was the second longest running show on this list with 86 episodes. And it was capped off by the great movie, King of Thieves. I love Aladdin.
Let’s do a couple rapid fires, shall we? Timon & Pumbaa had a long-running show, but never really worked for me. Ernie Sabella returned as Pumbaa, but Nathan Lane did not as Timon. It just sounded off. Then there was 101 Dalmatians, lasting about as many episodes. I knew this existed, saw about one episode. Then there’s Hercules. I really enjoyed this one as well. Like Aladdin, there was plenty of stories to crib from (Greek Mythology and all). Also like Aladdin, this was created by the same production team, explaining the quality. Everyone returned to voice their characters, even James Woods, save for Danny DeVito, who was apparently too good for that.
Paragraph break for formatting sake, and continue. Toy Story had an animated feature with Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. This had Buzz as the space ninja man that the toy always proclaimed to be. Not sure if this counts but, why not. Last one, The Legend of Tarzan. Almost none of the voice actors returned. Then again, this was a subpar movie to begin with, so I wasn’t expecting much.
Finally, we have Lilo & Stich, the property that refuses to die. There was not one but two television series to come from this. First was Lilo & Stich: The Series. And honestly, who cares. Then there’s Stitch!, an anime sequel to the second movie. Seriously?
There you have it. Though Disney had a lot of amazing shows at the time, they can’t all be winners. While most of these were garbage, or at least didn’t meet expectations set by the movies, there were one or two (Aladdin and Hercules) that were surprisingly decent. The rest were terrible.
Which Disney movie cartoon was your favorite? Any I missed? Comment below!
Wreck-It Ralph, the series. Do it. Now.