On DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Darwking Duck, and TaleSpin

DuckTales was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. I adored the show for it’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy elements, and entertaining stories. According to the Mental Floss article, “15 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘DuckTales’“:

Even if your life wasn’t like a hurricane in 1987—no race cars lasers, or aeroplanes—you may have been a DuckTales fan. Disney has already announced a reboot of the series, but it’s not scheduled to hit the airwaves until 2017. To tide you over until then, here are a few facts about Scrooge McDuck and his daring grand-nephews.

1. SCROOGE EARNED HIS LUCKY NUMBER ONE DIME BY GIVING A SHOESHINE IN HIS HOMETOWN OF GLASGOW WHEN HE WAS JUST 10 YEARS OLD.

That’s according to Don Rosa’s Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck comic. And it’s not just any old dime—it is, specifically, a 1875 or 1857 (depending on which comic you read) Seated Liberty dime. Depending on the which year it is and the condition it’s in, that dime would be worth up to $700 today. It’s not much compared to Scrooge’s massive money pit, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

2. ALAN YOUNG, WHO WAS THE VOICE OF SCROOGE, WAS ARGUABLY MORE WELL-KNOWN FOR HIS WORK WITH ANOTHER NON-HUMAN: MR. ED.

Young played Wilbur Post, the famous talking horse’s owner. Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby are voiced by Russi Taylor, who happens to be the voice of Minnie Mouse as well.

3. IF THE SHOW HAD FOLLOWED THE COMICS MORE CLOSELY, DONALD DUCK WOULD HAVE BEEN PART OF THE DUCKTALES GANG.

Disney producers decided that they really wanted the focus to be on the stingy Scot, so they took Donald out of the equation.

4. MARK MUELLER, THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT OH-SO-CATCHY THEME SONG, ALSO WROTE THE CHIP ‘N’ DALE RESCUE RANGERS THEME SONG.

Ok, that makes sense. But how about this: He also wrote Jennifer Paige’s “Crush” and Amy Grant’s “That’s What Love is For.”

5. EXACTLY HOW BIG IS SCROOGE’S MONEY BIN? THREE CUBIC ACRES.

Which doesn’t make sense, of course, and I’ll let author and economic historian John Steele Gordon tell you why. This is what he noted to the Wall Street Journal in 2005:

“An acre is a measure of area (i.e. two dimensions). If you have a ‘cubic acre,’ you would have a four-dimensional space—a three-dimensional space existing in a specific time frame. Hell, add another dimension and you get a late-’60s soul/R&B singing group. A cubic acre, of course, is Carl Barks’s wonderfully meaningless measurement of Scrooge’s infinite wealth. Lewis Carroll would have loved it. But as a child I calculated that a cubic acre would have a side 208.7 feet long (square root of 43,560) and thus a volume of 9,090,972 cubic feet. So Scrooge’s money bin would have been 27,272,916 cubic feet in size, an adequate piggy bank by any measure.”

A later story by Don Rosa, however, showed blueprints for the vault that pegged its size as 127 feet by 120 feet.

6. BEAGLE BOYS LEADER MA BEAGLE WAS MODELED AFTER THE INFAMOUS MA BARKER OF THE BARKER-KARPIS GANG.

An incomplete lineup of Beagle Boys includes Bigtime, Burger, Bouncer, Baggy, Bankjob, Bugle, Bebop, Babyface, Megabyte, Bomber, Backwoods, Bacon, Bullseye, Bulkhead, Butterball, Bombshell, Bankroll and Brainstorm.

7. DARKWING DUCK WAS INSPIRED BY THE DUCKTALES EPISODE “DOUBLE O’ DUCK.”

In fact, Darkwing was originally called Double O’ Duck, and would have starred wannabe spies Launchpad McQuack and Gizmoduck.

8. THE DUCKTALES VIDEO GAME HAD AN ALTERNATE ENDING.

If you managed to beat the DuckTales game but bankrupted Scrooge, you were one of a select few people who saw the alternate “Sad Scrooge” ending. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you don’t have to manage that particular feat. Voila!

9. YOU CAN STILL PLAY THE ORIGINAL DUCKTALES GAME ONLINE.

You’re welcome? (Just don’t blame me when your productivity plummets this weekend.)

10. ACCORDING TO THE EPISODE “DOUBLE O’ DUCK,” DUCKBURG IS HOME TO ABOUT 315,000 RESIDENTS.

That makes it roughly the size of St. Louis.

11. IT’S HARD TO SAY WHERE DUCKBURG IS, EXACTLY.

The comic books place the town in Calisota, a fictional state in the U.S. But Calisota itself seems to move about the country, depending on the artist, the storyline, and whether we’re talking comic book or TV series. Various maps have showed it on the west coast, in Pittsburgh, and even somewhere near Virginia.

12. CARL BARKS TOOK HIS INSPIRATION FOR MAGICA DE SPELL FROM TWO ITALIAN ACTRESSES: GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA AND SOPHIA LOREN.

He was also inspired by Morticia Addams. “Disney’s always had witches who were ugly and repulsive,” Barks once said. “Why shouldn’t I draw one that’s not ugly, but outright sexy?”

13. CRITICS WEREN’T PARTICULARLY KIND TO DUCKTALES AT FIRST.

The L.A. Times believed the public was going to be hugely disappointed in the quality of the animation, and wondered why anyone would try to give Scrooge more dimension when people already loved him as a money-hoarding miser.

14. THE SHOW’S APPEAL WAS UNIVERSAL.

In 1991, DuckTales became the first American cartoon to be shown in the former Soviet Union.

15. WITHOUT THE ADVENTURES OF SCROOGE AND THE BOYS, INDIANA JONES MAY NOT HAVE EXISTED.

According to D23, the official Disney fan club, both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have said that the gang’s comic capers heavily influenced Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Additionally, Disney X-D has ordered a reboot of the series s part of The Disney Afternoon daily syndicated cartoon block, as according to the Deadline article, “Disney X-D To Reboot ‘Ducktales’ Animated Series For 2017 Launch“:

Disney X-D is revisiting Ducktales. The network said today that it has ordered a new animated comedy series based on the Emmy-winning series that aired from 1987-1990 as part of The Disney Afternoon daily syndicated cartoon block. The new series is slated to launch in 2017. Produced by Disney Television Animation, Ducktales will again star Disney’s iconic characters Scrooge McDuck, his grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, and Donald Duck.

The new series will follow Scrooge McDuck, his curious and mischief-making grandnephews — Huey, Dewey and Louie — and the optimistic yet temperamental Donald Duck as they embark on high-flying adventures worldwide. Other beloved characters slated to be in the new stories are: Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Launchpad McQuack, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell & Poe, Ma Beagle and the Beagle Boys (Burger Beagle, Bouncer Beagle), Mrs. Beakley and Webbigail Vanderquack.

“DuckTales’ has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history, it drew its inspiration from Disney Legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment that connects with both kids and adults,” said Marc Buhaj, SVP, Programming and General Manager, Disney X-D. “Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.”

Of course, this all depends on how they handle Magica de Spell and Ma Beagle, two of my favorite foes within the series.


Another show I absolutely adored was Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, which like DuckTales, used repurposed characters from Disney’s classic films, as according to UpRoxx‘s article, “The Indiana Jones Connection And 5 Other Facts About ‘Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers’“:

During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Disney pulled characters from their classic films and repurposed them for a slew of animated television series. There was DuckTales, with Donald Duck and Huey, Dewey and Louie, and Baloo of Jungle Book was re-imagined for TaleSpin.

The company’s two, often antagonistic, chipmunks were given an upgrade (and a voice) as leading characters in Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue RangersChip and Dale led a ragtag gang of crime solvers and had an odd couple-like relationship. Running for only two seasons, the animated children’s comedy was a part of “The Disney Afternoon” lineup.

Whether the pair, Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper were facing off against mafioso Fat Cat or evil scientist Norton Nimnul, hilarity was always ensured. The show left its impact – and even made history during the Cold War.

Find out more about that, and other things you don’t know about the late, but great, series – which finished it’s run a little more than 25 years ago.

Chip and Dale weren’t originally part of the series.

The iconic Disney characters weren’t always savvy rodent detectives. In fact,Rescue Rangers was originally conceptualized with a completely different animated hero at the helm. That’s right, just one.

Writer and producer Tad Stones first wrote the series with a mouse named Kit Colby leading the ragtag gang of rescuers, which initially included a chameleon, Gadget, and a differently-named but similar looking Monterey Jack.

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner was game for the series, but wasn’t fond of Kit. “They said, ‘We really like the show, but we don’t really feel anything for the main character,’ ” Stones said in an interview with AWN.

So, instead, he suggested popping in some reliable Disney staples.

The characters’ ensembles are based on other big screen heroes.

Original Rescue Rangers leader Kit was drawn with a puffy leather jacket and a fedora, a style choice that was transferred over to Chip. The inspiration for the recognizable look, however, was George Lucas’ globetrottin’ archaeologist Indiana Jones.

If Chip was Harrison Ford, then Dale also needed a hunky real-life hero to take after. Cue Tom Selleck. Much like the mustachioed actor on long-running ’80s action show Magnum, P.I., Dale embraced his goofier side with a Hawaiian shirt.

The show’s theme song was written by the same man behind “Crush” and “That’s What Love is For.”

he catchy, oh-so-eighties theme songs for Rescue Rangers and DuckTaleswere both penned by songwriter Mark Mueller.

Mueller didn’t just craft music for animated television, though. The Emmy nominee wrote Heart’s “Nothin’ at All,” as well as Amy Grant’s 1991 tune “That’s What Love is For.”

Maybe his most recognizable track is nineties jam “Crush,” by one-hit-wonder Jennifer Paige.

“Crush” hit #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and even found it’s way into an episode of Glee.

Rescue Rangers and DuckTales were the first American cartoons to ever air in the then-Soviet Union.

When the Cold War ended, the former Soviet Union finally began to have access to American television programming. In 1991, along with DuckTalesRescue Rangers was the first American cartoon to be shown in the country.

Both series were part of a Sunday morning program called Walt Disney Presents. Darkwing Duck joined the exciting lineup a year later.

There was a live-action show featuring the Rescue Rangersat Disney World for most of the nineties.

Disney has turned most of their movies into rides in their extensive theme parks – and, even some of their rides into movies. Both American resorts feature a plethora of live shows with college students performing in oversized mascot costumes. For a time, some of those daily performances included the Rescue Rangers.

From 1990-1996, Mickey’s Magical TV World showed on a stage in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, with all the characters from the Disney Afternoon.

In Disneyland, there was instead a Disney Afternoon “Avenue” in 1991. The area was a designated character meet-and-greet spot for Rescue Rangersand DuckTales mascots, so kids had one-stop access to their favorites.

The park even briefly rebranded a Fantasyland ride as the “Rescue Rangers Raceway.”

There’s a reason Gadget reminds you of Real Genius.

While Indiana Jones and Thomas Magnum inspired our leads, the gang’s female character was also drawn from another ’80s icon.

1985’s Real Genius – which starred Val Kilmer – featured a hyper-genius named Jordan Cochran, played by an actress named Michelle Meyrink.  Rescue Rangers creators liked the idea of an intelligent but beautiful and quirky heroine and borrowed some character traits from Jordan.

“I remember in one of the early episodes we had Gadget walking across the ceiling, and she says ‘Wait up,’ unstraps herself and falls off the ceiling,” Stones told AWN when talking about conceptualizing the character, adding, “At first we were thinking, ‘She’s the traditional girl.’ No, she’s operating on a different level, and it’s quite funny that way, the ditzy but brilliant, the clueless ingénue kind of thing. She doesn’t realize how pretty she is, she doesn’t appreciate what a genius she is, but everyone else is going crazy over her.”


Yet another show I loved was Darkwing Duck, a spin-off of DuckTales, which very clearly got it’s inspiration from Batman, as according to the inquisitr article, “‘Darkwing Duck’: Here’s How Batman Was Used To Create This 90S Cartoon“:

More than 23 years ago, Darkwing Duck was introduced to the world through the Disney Channel.

Even though it has been confirmed that Darkwing Duck was a spin-off from another hit cartoon series, Duck Tales, the animators working behind the scenes drew a lot of their inspiration from another source.

A much darker source. One might have even say the original “Darkwing” – Batman.

It all started when master animator Tad Stones wanted to use the popularity of Duck Tales to create a spy parody that was similar in nature to the hit television series, Get Smart. Since Tad Stones was such a huge fan of DC Comics, he decided to create a character that was more like a comic book hero – with an original twist.

In an interview with the Animated World Network, Tad Stones had the chance to explain his creative process further.

“We wondered, ‘What if Batman had to raise a little girl? The idea finally jelled. That’s what gave the show the real heart, the real dynamic.”

After developing the character, Disney was ready to move forward with the production of what was then-titled Double-O Ducks. The only problem was that “Double-O” was already copyrighted and owned by Cubby Broccoli, producer of many of the James Bond films.

According to the interview with Tad Stones, there was a contest held within the animation studio to come up with a name for the cartoon – the winner would walk away with $500.

Stones stated that Alan Burnett was the one that came up with the winning name “Darkwing” and Stones simply added “Duck” to “make it silly.” Ironically, Alan Burnett eventually left Disney in order to help Bruce Timm develop the animated series, The Adventures of Batman.

In order to solidify the connection between Darkwing Duck and Batman, a catchphrase was developed.

“I am the terror the flaps in the night.”

In the opening title sequence, there is also a shadow cast on the wall of Darkwing Duck with his cape blowing in the wind while he maintains a “superhero stance.”

Even though Darkwing Duck is no longer in syndication, many people have been able to satisfy their nostalgia cravings with YouTube clips and DVD box sets.


Finally, the last of the shows, TaleSpin whose premise was, well, nutty, as according to Jalopnik‘s article, “The Premise Of TaleSpin Is Absolutely Insane When You Think About It“:

When I was growing up, Disney’s TaleSpin was just something that came on the TV while I was wearing my pajamas. Thinking back on things, I played witness to a show completely out of its mind.

It all comes down to the premise. Here’s how the show worked.

There was Baloo, the cartoon bear from The Jungle Book, flying a twin-engine float plane against air pirates. Why air pirates? Because in the world ofTaleSpin, the whole world was air- and sea-based, and everyone flew. Of course there were gonna be scimitar-wielding air pirates.

Baloo did not live in the jungle this time, but in a trading city with a single entrance through a passage between giant cliffs.

The mechanics of how the show worked were just as nutty. Kids were surfing on clouds and, as you can from the opening sequence, pineapples are more effective weapons than guns.

People often make ties between the show and Miyazaki’s later Porko Rosso, which was also awesome and also involved animals flying sea planes. You can also look at Tales of the Gold Monkey for inspiration, which was something like Raiders of the Lost Ark: The TV Show.

I was reminded of all of this by friend of Jalopnik Sam Smith, who posted this on Facebook today, and got most of the car-writing intelligentsia keyed in on the nostalgia.

If you want to get into the show, Ben Wojdyla of PopMech recommends the four-episode “Plunder and Lightning” series.

Anthropomorphic animals were evidently very popular during this time, but also apparently, crossdressing was as well.

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