Even though Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers is remembered for being part of The Disney Afternoon, but only a handful of new episodes were aired on over-the-air TV.
The idea for Rescue Rangers was originally proposed by Tad Stones to CEO Michael Eisner. The show was about a group of animal detectives including a chameleon, an early version of Gadget, Monterey Jack (but with a different name, I’ll assume the less flattering Cream Cheese) and a mouse named Kit that dressed like Indiana Jones. Eisner loved the idea, but in true Hollywood fashion, hated everything about it. The Chameleon and Kit was given the boot, Gadget redone and Monterey Jack was given his name. The biggest change of all of course was adding in Chip N’ Dale.
Of course, even Chip N’ Dale weren’t good enough. In the old Disney cartoons, Chip N’ Dale didn’t speak much and looked the same. Now Dale was given a big red nose and an Hawaiian shirt (to look like Magnum P.I.) and Chip was given Kit’s former Indiana Jones getup.
Chip’s voice was provided by Tress MacNeille, best known as the voice of The Crazy Cat Lady on The Simpsons (and couple of dozen other characters) and Dale’s provided by Corey Burton (best known to me as the voice of Braniac in DC Universe cartoons and video games). Their voices were both sped up to give the chipmunks their higher voice in a method similar to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
With the cast together, all the show needed was a catchy theme song. That was provided by Mark Mueller, the same genius behind the Ducktales theme. The song was song by Pop group The Jets. They are best known for their song “Crush On You” which of stayed in the 80s and not somehow wound up embedded in this post right below this paragraph.
The show made it’s debut on March 4, 1989, not in syndication like Ducktales, but on The Disney Channel. The show aired for four seasons on the cable station, but all those seasons were shown in less than a year’s span. Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers’ fifth, and final season consisted of just five episodes and those were held for The Disney Afternoon.
Even though a fairly large amount of kids have The Disney Channel now, back in 1989 it wasn’t like that. Less households had cable in their house and even if you did, at the time Disney was considered a “Premium Channel” and cost about an extra $10 a month if you wanted to watch it, similar to how HBO and ShoTime still operate.
It wasn’t until Rescue Rangers teamed up with Ducktales for am hour block in syndication and then The Disney Afternoon on stations across the country did the show really gain it’s popularity. Unfortunately at that point the show had already completely wrapped up production. Back then there was no Netflix to bring it back 6 years later. There was talk of a feature length movie, but it never materialized, probably due to the Ducktales film fizzling and the Box Office.
The one plus about Rescue Rangers being on a premium cable network was that there weren’t any commercials. Although there was a certain fake commercial jingle for Coo-Coo Cola that I would nominate to be one of the catchiest non real jingles ever written:
Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers would be part of The Disney Afternoon for the first three years, before being kicked off in 1993 to make room for Bonkers.