The Mighty Ducks (1992)
The Mighty Ducks (1996) – B+
The Mighty Ducks movie was a variation on “Bad News Bears,” where a cynical businessman is tasked with coaching a group of loud and obnoxious hockey players. Over the course of the movie, he turns them in to a winning hockey team, while their sequels chronicle their battle for championships and working as a team to conquer personal villains. So what to do with the spin off?
Focus on a team of alien ducks! Of course! The Mighty Ducks focuses on a group of intergalactic space ducks who crash land on Earth. When they’re discovered by a human, he manages them and agrees to hide their identity as they become a popular hockey team. Meanwhile they’re really superheroes who fight aliens from other worlds. The show is one of the last of Disney series that stopped trying and is a welcome show with a fun concept, and a killer theme song. It’s worth its cult appeal.
101 Dalmatians (1961)
101 Dalmations (1997) – D
I hate 101 Dalmations mainly because it replaced “Gargoyles” when Disney was too frightened of what the show might do to children. Heaven forbid we have an epic and complex tale with excellent heroes, and amazing stories! No, give us a cartoon about talking dogs!
This spin off is a bland take off from the movie, where the 101 Dalmations now live in a Dalmation Plantation with farm friends, and try to outwit Cruella Devill who spends most of the show trying to steal the puppies or devise some plan to destroy the farm. With horrible animation, and worse voice acting, I could barely sit through this spin off, in spite of enjoying the movie a great deal.
Hercules: The Animated Series (1998) – C+
Like the movie, the TV show is a spaztic and wonky pop period series that featured endless musical numbers, and for some reason guest starred many of the cast from “Friends.” James Woods of course returns as Hades, and this show backtracks to where Hercules was a young lad.
Moving in with his new wife Megara, he thinks back to where he was only a teenager, and the entire series focuses on young scrawny Hercules who gets in to all kinds of adventures, and comedic mishaps. The show is a time filler and nothing more, honestly. I liked the movie enough, but the show never stops moving and is loud, not to mention omits the fact that Hades was never aware Hercules was alive in the movie, while he’s suddenly a recurring villain in the prequel series.
Toy Story (1995)
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000) – C-
Of course we can’t focus on the toys anymore, so with the implementing of 2D animation, the creators of Toy Story focused on the meta-fictional character of Buzz Lightyear. Not the toy Buzz, but the character Buzz. Played by Patrick Warburton, Buzz Lightyear, and his group of ragtag star fighters fight the evil Zerg, and his menacing forces in space.
There’s no mention of any of the Toy Story toys save for the occasional bumpers featuring Woody. The series is pretty boring, and lacks any of the heart from the movie. Once you strip away the Toy element, “Star Command” is another stock space adventuree show and nothing more.
The Legend of Tarzan (2001) – D
Tarzan was a fine version of the literary hero with wonderful animation and a unique take on his tree swinging. “The Legend of Tarzan” continued the adventures of Tarzan and his wife Jane as they battled all kinds of foes in the jungles, including vicious animals, rival tribes, and many poachers. Olivia D’abo took over for Rachel Weisz, while the series offered no end of underwhelming villains and stock plots for every episode. Tarzan always found himself at wits end, and you will too. The series is bland and lackluster, and fails to provide the excitement of the movie.
Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Lilo & Stitch: The Series (2003) – F
“Lilo and Stitch” is one of the most blatant franchise efforts Disney has ever created after “Cars.” I hated the movie, and hated it even more when the ending closed on a question mark. Even then I knew that Disney left the door wide open as they were obviously planning a TV show.
And lo and behold, a TV show immediately followed. Like the movie, the series is grating, obnoxious, and pandering for merchandise. New aliens pop up like Stitch in future episodes, and there’s no end of toyetic characters to this series.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperor’s New School (2006) – D
Taking its cue from “Hercules,” this take off of the hilarious Disney show featured the emperor Kuzco as a young man going to an Incan high school with his best friends. He is of course the dimwitted hero of the series, while he attends class with his spunky gal pal Malina. Kuzco spends the show learning how to be an emperor while dodging the efforts of evil Yzma who is the school’s principal. Kronk is undercover as a student who befriends Kuzco while helping Yzma try to do him in. It’s a lame and somewhat boring show that never caught the movie’s sharp humor.
Peter Pan (1953)
Jake and the Never Land Pirates (2011) – B+
Disney went the “Dora the Explorer” root for “Peter Pan” with a fairly simple and fun show called “Jake and the Never Land Pirates.” Fairly simplistic, hero Jake and his group spend the entirety of episodes solving very basic puzzles and going through various obstacles in Never Land, while trying to dodge the efforts of the evil Dr. Hook, who is more a goofy bad guy than a violent menacing foe this time around. Peter Pan occasionally makes appearances to help Jake and his friends, but primarily this is a show for Jake and his cadre of toddler pirates. It’s an inoffensive and cute series that doesn’t ask much from its audience, thus it really isn’t the worst Disney’s ever trotted out.