Thanks to James Fabiano for the suggestion that would have probably totally passed me by if he hadn’t mentioned it. A few days ago was the 30th anniversary of the Disney Afternoon block, so I’m going to look at the episodes in that block that played on or closest to that date.
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Rabbit Takes a Holiday/Eeyi Eeyi Eeyore
I probably didn’t watch this the time, but I do remember the pretty saccharine intro. The show looks mostly great on Disney+ and the score sounds phenomenal. Jim Cummings is immediately recognisable as Tigger, but in contrast to that Ken Sansom is not recognisable at all as the same guy playing Hound from Transformers and Rabbit here. Rabbit plans to take a secret holiday in the first segment, a more likeable Malvolio. It’s a comedy of errors as Pooh and the others plan to look after his place and make a mess of it while he’s gone. It’s not really my kind of show, but I do get a kick out of just how innocent Piglet is and Gopher’s whistling tic is admirably skilful.
In the second segment, Eeyore comes by, Peter Cullen’s voice for him deeper than the Laurentian abyss. As a kid, I really couldn’t understand how the pin in his arse didn’t kill him and wasn’t constantly bleeding! He’s supervising and waiting for the growth of a seed. Feeling sorry for him, Tigger dresses Piglet up as a flower to satisfy him. Piglet plays along while Pooh and Rabbit miss the bleeding obvious. Eeyore gets nominated as Rabbit’s gardener as a result, leading to misadventures. There’s room for shows like this on TV that have a good heart, but damn, they can be boring!
Adventures of the Gummi Bears – A Gummi’s Work Is Never Done
What a theme tune! I’ll contend that it could be Disney’s best. Toadie, Zook and Gad are tearing trees out while Gruffi is out and almost catch him. While chasing him, Toadie finds some Gummi Bear blueprints that he thinks are important and obsesses over them. Duke Igthorn (played by Michael Rye, who I’ve not appreciated until recently how busy an actor he was back in the day) commissions him to build the device, a logging machine, but they can’t read the instructions and need a Gummi Bear to build it for them. This is while Gruffi and Grammi have swapped jobs on a challenge, so while Gruffi would be the one to capture, they get Grammi instead.
The things that stand out to me about this episode are the things that stood out to me as a kid, which were the rich colour palette of pastel and the voice acting. While it’s not a masterpiece of writing, you’ve got legends at work like Rye, June Foray and Lorenzo Music, guys who would become legends like Corey Burton, and actors like Will Ryan and Katie Leigh who were just excellent. Although Leigh had a bit of a whiny role as Sheila, the thief, in Dungeons & Dragons, she’s got excellent comic timing as Sunni in ones like this. I also liked the design of the logging machine, like a mechanical elephant with a buzz saw tusks.
DuckTales – Ducky Mountain High
Bubba the Caveduck is pretty conspicuously featured in the intro and stories by this point in the series. Scrooge has just gotten the better of Flintheart Glomgold in a business deal – not that I watched DuckTales religiously, but if Glomgold was ever in an episode I tended to enjoy it because Hal “Otis Campbell” Smith had such a good voice for him. Scrooge’s next person to work is Glittering Goldie, who has gold-soaked trees on her land and Scrooge is going to try and buy them off her without her realising. Glomgold is not far behind and is going to use some hilarious Canadian redneck (eh!) Beagle Boys to get them.
Backwoods: “I’m Backwoods Beagle, eh, and these are my twin brothers, eh.”
Glomgold: “But THAT one’s a PIG!”
Backwoods: “He had a bad case of the swine flu as a kid, eh.”
I didn’t really appreciate shows like this when I was a kid, even though I got the gag, but from an adult perspective it’s funny to see Scrooge trying to protect Goldie from Flintheart conning her while trying to con her himself and vice versa. You could probably make a live action series of this show for Disney+ and I’m kinda surprised they haven’t already.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers – Zipper Come Home
Or does this show have the best Disney theme tune?! Definitely a contender. I did watch this show fairly regularly, but not that much of a memory of it.
Well, I would’ve reviewed this episode, but it’s episode 61 and episodes 61 to 65, the final short season of the show, are missing from the Disney+ in the UK. Double-yoo tee eff?! I can understand missing off a Spider-Man episode with Nazi symbolism in it, but did Monterey Jack switch from cheese to coke or did Gadget go on the game or something? That’s fucked up, yo!
TaleSpin – From Here To Machinery
And this show’s not fucking on Disney+ in the UK either! Fuck me! I couldn’t bear (no pun intended) the show when I was a kid, but I would’ve given it a look for this review.
Fuck this shit, we’re finishing with an episode of Gargoyles, regardless of whether it was in the block or not.
Gargoyles – A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time
Goes without saying that Keith David’s narration for the intro is Shakespearean, and you’d imagine that’s exactly what they were going for. I could’ve picked a dozen great episodes, like Long Way To Morning, Enter Macbeth, Deadly Force, City of Stone (“Alone…”), Future Tense, or many others, but I thought I’d go for this one. The “Previously…” recap establishes the Gargoyles’ history with Macbeth, so you know he’ll be in this one. Archaeologists discover the Scrolls of Merlin and Lexington shares the news in the Eyrie, prompting discussion of the value of reading (Lexington can read and appreciates it, Brooklyn is learning, and Broadway can’t be bothered, claiming ignorance is bliss). Macbeth sends Fleance and Banquo to steal them, but they meet with Goliath, Hudson and the others. Hudson plucks them from the cockpit but takes a tumble into the water and washes up near the home of novelist Jeffrey Robbins, who it should also be noted is blind.
I previously noted how the good nature of the Winnie the Pooh show was a little hard to swallow, but this episode so successfully captures the value of friendship (between Robbins and Hudson) and the shame that Hudson himself feels about not being able to read himself and Robbins’ lack of judgement towards him, for his illiteracy and who he is, not being able to see that he’s a gargoyle but still knowing he is different. And listening to Ed Asner, affecting a brogue, and the silver tongue of Paul Winfield is enough to give you chills in a good way. And that’s in a show with John-Rhys Davies as Macbeth, who when you listen to him sounds exactly as Davies does except for the Scottish accent instead of his Welsh one, but looks nothing like you’d expect. Actors would kill to play a character like this Macbeth. And Broadway gets a simple but beautiful speech at the end of the episode when he realises the value of reading.
I’ve said before that DC Universe is missing the boat by not producing new episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, and I feel like a stuck record, because Disney should make new episodes of Gargoyles, animated or live action, because goodness knows Greg Weisman had enough ideas for spin-offs. What a show!
Conclusion: So, happy anniversary to the Disney Afternoon, even if it wasn’t entirely comprised of shows for me, but Gargoyles… that’s magic.