Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Top 10 Animated Disney Channel Programs (Updated for 2017)

Of all the TV stations I grew up with in the 90’s, I watched Disney cartoons more than anything. That was Disney channel’s golden age, featuring some of their most timeless TV shows and any child who grew up with them will always have long lasting nostalgic fondness. I gradually stopped watching Disney back in 2001, but the shows I did grow up with were so captivating that they shouldn’t go without mention. For this list, I'll be counting down my personal favorite animated Programs from Disney, some new, but mostly ones that I grew up with.

#10 Darkwing Duck

Building on the universe of the already successful “Duck Tales” series came a highly original satire of the superhero genera simply called “Darkwing Duck”. While it’s clearly paying homage to Batman and other dark comic books, this show was also very clever with its approach by giving us a protagonist that was only fighting crime for fame and attention. Yeah, in a rare move by Disney, Darkwing Duck was the first ego driven hero, and it was hilarious for that. Not to say he wouldn’t do anything heroic, but sometimes you just need a stick in the mud to balance out all the other super heroes. With voice actor Jim Cummings on the top of his game in the role of Darkwing Duck, it made for a memorable character from a memorable animated series.       

#9 The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

While I can’t say I re-watch this as an adult, it was still something very meaningful to my child hood, and it’s the kind of program I’d want kids to grow up on. It’s honestly kind of depressing that kids from this generation can’t be exposed to this series the same way I was. This was the series that worked Winnie the Pooh and his friends into the hearts and minds of a whole generation of children. The gentle light hearted nature of Winnie the Pooh goes much deeper than just looking cute, it was a way of telling meaningful stories of friendship, finding courage and giving to others. Weather it was a colorful adventure in the woods, or learning valuable life lesions, I’ll always have fond memories of that magical forest and the humble characters that lived within it.     

#8 Aladdin 

The movie “Aladdin” was already one of my favorite Disney properties, and it seemed like a good one to expand. The Arabian Knights setting offered many possibilities for new adventures with our favorite characters from the film. The show also featured a colorful cast of memorable villains, giant monsters and exotic locations. While the show hasn’t exactly aged as well as other Disney shows, it was still a lot of fun to grow up with and still has some excitement that’s worth looking back on.    

#7. The Classic Mickey Mouse cartoons

      Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, etc, those have always been my favorite cartoon characters of all time and for a while, the Disney Channel had a special half hour show in which they aired there classic cartoons. I know most people preferred the Loony Tunes for being a little more adult with their hummer, but they lack the same nostalgic charm that only Mickey Mouse and company can provide.

#6. Duck Tales

     Good old Duck Tales, this show is often regarded as the great classic Disney cartoon, and for good reason. The show is memorable just for that catchy theme song in the opening. It was also their first syndicated show that paved the way for other animated classics including “Tail Spin” and “Goof Troop”. It was basically a treasure hunting adventure series, just with classic Disney characters like Scrooge Mcduck and his three mischievous nephews tacking center stage. Throw in some brisk animation, and you got yourself a TV show that’s just as rich as Scrooges big gold collection.

#5. The Little Mermaid

     This wasn’t the first, or the last Disney TV show to be adapted from one of their movies, but for whatever it’s worth, I remember watching this one far more than either the “Aladdin” or “101 Dalmatians” spin-offs. You wouldn’t think that a princess themed show would be that interesting to a small boy, but The Little Mermaid series was actually just as much for boys as it was for girls, if not more so. It gave us underwater adventures that revolved around defrosted Dinosaurs, fire breathing sea dragons, an ancient Cyclops, pirates and evil doctors. Fortunately, everything balanced out with its wholesome characters, a colorful underwater world, musical numbers and good moral values for young viewers.

#4. Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

       Oh, I loved “Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers”, with its cute animal leads, colorful animation, fast paced adventures and insanely catchy theme song, this is the show that literally made Disney Channel a house hold station for me. Seriously that theme song was just so catchy that after all these years, it’s still bouncing around in my head. As part of the Disney Afternoon line-up, Chip and Dale paid tribute to Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I., respectively, solving crimes too small for the full-sized police to handle. It may sound silly giving these classic Disney cartoon characters a CSI makeover, but it was all done so well. Each mystery had their own moral tied in, and the new supporting characters like Gadget, Monterey Jack and Zipper were great fun to watch and once again. 

#3 Star Wars Rebels 

Once Disney got hold of the rights to Lucas films it was no surprise that an animated “Star Wars” show was on the horizon. What did surprise me was just how much I loved the new series. It proved to me that “Star Wars” still had a lot more fresh ideas and fun space adventures to offer. “Star Wars Rebels” focuses on a small team of hero’s that are standing up to the terrine of the all controlling evil Empire. So it’s like an animated version of the 2002 TV series “Firefly”, just set in the “Star Wars” universe. The series simultaneously works as a sequel to the previous TV series “Star Wars The Clone Wars”, by giving closure to some loss story arcs and brings back some fan favorite characters. The show was also kind enough to bring in classic characters from the original trilogy, but they were all used sparingly, most especially Darth Vader who’s brief appearance still stole the show. With a completely original cast of colorful new characters, a brisk pace, awesome battle scenes and even a subtle sense of hummer, this show accomplished the unthinkable and stands as yet another great entry in the ever expanding “Star Wars” saga.    

#2 Gravity Falls 

In the strange little town of Gravity Falls, twin siblings named Dipper and Mable spend their summer going on wild and hilarious supernatural adventures. Watching over the kids is there cranky old uncle named Stan, who makes his living as an expert con-artist. This show came well after my childhood had passed, but word of mouth got around for me, and upon my first viewing I realized that series was right up my alley. It’s got the spooky charms of shows like “Goosebumps” or “Courage the Cowardly Dog”, with the brilliant comedy one would expect from shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or “The Simpsons”. Unlike other Disney programs, I was quiet surprised with just how funny this show got, as well as how exciting it got. It had an engaging mystery plot that was slowly unraveled, but more to the point, it just had a splendid cast of characters that I loved going on adventures with. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the creepy moments and the cast was solid. 

Before I reveal my #1 favorite, here are some quick honorable mentions ...

Quack Pack 

Tale Spin 

Goof Troop

Kim Possible

The Lion Guard  


      Interesting that my favorite Disney TV show is nothing like traditional Disney material. To be honest, Gargoyles was whole different league and far to good for the Disney. This was like the Batman of Disney cartoons, focusing on dark, complex, melodramatic storytelling and episodes chalk full of action, adventure, mystery, mythology, and history. The show had a short run, but it still left a big impact, focusing on a tight group of memorable characters, fascinating villains and thrilling story arcs. It had a different look, took risks and should be cited as one of the great classic action series of the 90's. Calling Gargoyles my number one favorite Disney channel show is honestly an understatement because it's still to this day one of my personal favorite TV shows of all time.

The End

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