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It’s not a reboot, it’s a comeback. Everyone's favorite chipmunk duo will return for a new movie on May 20 when Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers hits Disney+. Chip 'n Dale, the show, originally ran on the Disney Channel for 65 episodes from 1989 to 1990. It barely hit the ’90s era, but thanks to “The Disney Afternoon” syndication block, it was on all the time.
The return of the Rangers has us fondly remembering the classic series, as well as some other animated Disney fare that was part of the ’90s experience. If you simply cannot wait for the Rescue Rangers' new movie, here are five shows that might help you get to the finish line.
1. Ducktales (1987-1990)
Just squeaking into the ’90s, this true gem was also a part of The Disney Afternoon, and it feels like a ’90s staple because of that. It’s all a big duck blur.
True ’90s or not, this is one of our favorite series that Disney has ever made. Scrooge McDuck is an Scottish duck living in Duckburg, but he journeys around the globe more than Indiana Jones. In his off-time, he swims in a giant vault full of money that is in no way hidden. His “money bin” has a giant dollar sign on the side of it. It looms over the entire town. When you’re got it, flaunt it.
Adventure is the name of the game, whether it involves Scrooge on the hunt for an artifact, or having to save the city from the latest creation of a crackpot inventor. They might solve a mystery, they might rewrite history. It’s all in the theme song.
It’s fun, and it holds up. It’s all on Disney+, and so is the recent reboot of the property starring David Tennant. It was quite good, and was criminally canned way before its time. If you’re diving back into the life of Scrooge, check the reboot out as well. Margo Martindale recurs on it.
2. Darkwing Duck (1991-1993)
Let’s get dangerous! Once again we have a mainstay of The Disney Afternoon, and another duck having adventures. If you wondered what would happen if Batman was a duck, wore a big floppy hat, and was a little silly, this show has that answer.
Darkwing Duck fights crime with the help of Launchpad McQuack, who makes the jump over from Ducktales. Darkwing is stubborn and foolish, but he foils the bad guys every time. Those bad guys form a colorful rogue’s gallery, and part of the show’s fun is seeing which one is going to pop in.
In one memorable installment, they all gang together under the leadership of Negaduck, who is a “Reverse Flash” version of Darkwing. Our stubborn hero thankfully joins an assembled team of heroes to fight them.
Here’s to the terror that flaps in the night. He’s currently flapping on Disney+.
3. TaleSpin (1990-1991)
Another early ’90s wonder, and another show that was ever-present thanks to The Disney Afternoon. It’s an adventure series in a similar vein as Ducktales, though it uses the characters and designs of The Jungle Book as a baseline.
Baloo is an ace pilot, and though his main job is flying freight on his beloved plane, the Sea Duck, his real job is high-flying heroics. Together with his no-nonsense boss Rebecca, he operates out of Cape Suzette. It’s an ordinary town that just so happens to be blocked off by high cliffs and defended by giant cannons.
Nefarious pirates threaten the city every week, but Baloo and company are there to defend it. There’s a neutral island bar (run by Louie) which is straight out of Casablanca, and looming over everything is Shere Khan. He still has a voice of poison silk, he just wears a business suit now.
It’s another action-packed joy, another show that is now streaming on Disney+, and another theme song that you'll have to pay a doctor to physically remove from your head.
4. Gargoyles (1994-1996)
All of the shows mentioned thus far are goofy in spirit, despite getting serious every now and then. This entry is not goofy at all, and it is more powerful for it.
The premise is simple: a curse is broken, and ancient stone gargoyles come to life. Their castle has been moved to the top of a skyscraper, so now they are in a city. What do they do? Fight crime.
The word “Shakespearean” gets thrown around when people discuss this series, and it’s accurate. (And not just because John Rhys-Davies appears as the historical Macbeth, even though that does happen. There’s an underlying pathos to everything going on, especially when it comes to the romance between Goliath (Keith Davies) and Elisa Maza (Salli Richardson). The assembled voice cast is insane, and includes Ed Asner, Frank Welker, and a starship full of Star Trek veterans, including the recurring Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and Avery Brooks.
It’s Batman: The Animated Series with a heaping side of magical myth. It is streaming on Disney+ and it demands your attention.
5. Adventures of the Gummi Bears (1985-1991)
The central tenet of Gummi Bears is as follows: they are bouncing here, and there, and everywhere. If you can accept that, then you’ll skate through life on a magical cloud. Roy Kent owes them all a debt.
This was one of the first shows in The Disney Afternoon and it was bumped out of the lineup fairly quickly. It was already a classic at that point and it lived on in other ways. With the usual 65 episodes (95 segments), this weirdo romp was as much fun then as it is now.
You have a general fantasy setting, with ogres, knights, magic, etc. You also have this bunch of bears, who can magically bounce around on their butts when they drink “gummiberry juice.” No need to spike that stuff!
That is literally the backdrop of the show. The Duke of Castle Drekmore is constantly after these bears and the secrets of the juice, and almost every episode features the bears downing their swill and handing him defeat with the power of their bouncing a**holes. It’s ludicrous, but it works. With the virtuous inhabitants of Castle Dunwyn in the mix (and the bears being a secret), the lunacy somehow manages to have stakes.
The “Ursalia” story in Season 5 is particularly good. Wouldn't you know it? The show is currently streaming on Disney+. When it comes to theme songs that have no business going as hard as they do (all of the shows we’ve discussed qualify), this one might open with the biggest banger bop of them all.
Here. There. Everywhere.
Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers lands on Disney+ on May 20th.