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 Rangers. Chip 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.”
The catchy, oh-so-eighties theme songs for Rescue Rangers and DuckTales were both penned by songwriter Mark Mueller.
Maybe his most recognizable track is nineties jam “Crush,” by one-hit-wonder Jennifer Paige. You know the one…
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 DuckTales, Rescue 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 Rangers at 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 Rangers and 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.”
And, once again, the Rescue Rangers intro, this time re-created with real chipmunks.