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Walt Disney Television Animation
Walt Disney Television Animation is the television animation production arm of the Disney Channels Worldwide dedicated to creating, developing and producing animated television series, films, specials and other projects.

Established in 1984 during the reorganization and subsequent re-incorporation of The Walt Disney Company following the arrival of then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, the entity was formerly known as The Walt Disney Pictures Television Animation Group, the name was then later changed, shortened to Walt Disney Television Animation starting in 1987 and was its name up until 2011, when it was shortened again to Disney Television Animation.

BackgroundEdit

The Walt Disney Company first ventured into the television industry as early as 1950, beginning with the one-hour Christmas special, One Hour in Wonderland. This was followed by the 1951 Christmas special, The Walt Disney Christmas Show, the long-running (1954–2008) anthology series, The Wonderful World of Disney (which was Disney's first regular series as a whole), the children's variety show The Mickey Mouse Club, and the 1957-1959 adventure series, Zorro. However, one element was missing from Disney's expansion into television: An original animated television series. Until the early 80's, the studio had never produced its own original animated shows in-house, because Walt Disney felt it was economically impossible. Nearly all pre-1985 Disney TV animation consisted of wrap-around segments made to bridge the gaps on existing theatrical material on The Wonderful World of Disney.

HistoryEdit

The Walt Disney Television Animation department was started in November 1984 with Gary Krisel as president. This was considered a risky move, because animated TV series were generally considered low-budget investments for most of the history of TV cartoons up through the 1980s. Many critics say that Disney's own animation studio had lost most of its luster during the period from Walt Disney's passing through the 1980s. However, the studio took a number of risks that paid off handsomely. The studio successfully gambled on the idea that a substantially larger investment into quality animation could be made back through both network television and over-the-air in syndication, as well as cable. The final result is a string of higher budgeted animated television productions which proved to be profitable ventures and raised the standard for the TV medium.

The Disney television animation cycle began in mid-1985, with The Wuzzles (which premiered on CBS on September 14, 1985) and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears (which also premiered on NBC on September 14, 1985 at the same time as and went head-to-head with The Wuzzles), both of which are based upon funny animal-based conceptions, the Gummi Bears being named after a common candy and the Wuzzles originating as a hybrid of two animals put together into one creature. The supposedly (and possibly) final third series in the incidentally so-called "magic animal"-based "trilogy" of original character sets was going to be Fluppy Dogs (which premiered only as an hour-long TV movie pilot on ABC on Thanksgiving 1986), itself loosely based on a series of children's books and line of toys about a race of anthropomorphic pastel-colored dimension-hopping alien (fluppy) dogs. It was not a successful hit (due to low viewership and support) however, as the proposed series was not picked up after it never went beyond that one pilot episode, and the studio instead quickly fell into a routine of adapting its old properties into the new use.

In 1987, Disney finally unveiled the newest series yet in its cycle, and the first in their successful long-time line of syndicated animated shows, DuckTales, which premiered on September 18, 1987. The show was successful enough to spawn a feature film, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, and two spin-off series: Darkwing Duck and Quack Pack. The success of DuckTales also paved the way for a new wave of high-quality animated TV series, including Disney's own The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in 1988. Later, early that spring, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers debuted on March 4, 1989, and was paired with DuckTales in an hour-long syndicated show through the 1989-1990 television season. In the 1990-1991 season, Disney expanded the idea even further, to create The Disney Afternoon, a two-hour long syndicated block of half-hour cartoons, which premiered much later on September 10, 1990. DuckTales was one of the early flagship cartoons in the series.

Over the next few years - and later, many more to come, Disney experimented with more television animation fare, such as Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, Raw Toonage, Bonkers, Marsupilami and Gargoyles (which was Disney's first serious action-based animated series, that later gained a large cult/fan following) and The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show and Disney's Doug (which was the sequel to and revival version of the Nickelodeon animated series of the same name) and Nightmare Ned. The TV animation unit was also responsible for even adapting some of the films from the Disney animated features canon and other film sources as well (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Timon & Pumbaa, Mighty Ducks, itself loosely based on Disney's The Mighty Ducks film series, Jungle Cubs, the second spin-off of Disney's The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians: The Series, Hercules, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, based on Disney/Pixar's Toy Story franchise, The Legend of Tarzan, etc.) and later finally bought back Mickey Mouse and company for two both brand new animated anthology and variety series, Mickey Mouse Works and Disney's House of Mouse. At the same time, the Disney Television Animation banner was strongly associated with Saturday morning cartoons and, since 1998, The Disney Channel, and may have adversely affected the widely commercial, and ratings, successes of its other cartoon series that premiered on ABC's Saturday morning programming block, such as Recess and The Weekenders. Other WDTA series include Kim Possible, Phineas and Ferb, Fish Hooks and Gravity Falls.[1]

Most of the following shows produced by WDTA premiered on ABC, especially since Disney's 1996 purchase of that network's parent company, Capital Cities Communications (Disney began active control over that network in the 1997-98 season). Prior to the 1997 takeover of ABC, Disney had also aired its animated cartoons on NBC, CBS and over-the-air in first-run syndication. Disney animated productions, both new and (less commonly) rerun, now occupy a major portion of the schedules of The Disney Channel (despite whom since 2002, the cable network now produces exclusive material of its own from WDTA) and its spin-offs, the now-defunct Toon Disney and Playhouse Disney and their successors Disney XD and Disney Junior. (Some of the 1990s WDTA content is rerun in overnight blocks on the Disney Junior channel.)

At the time Walt Disney Productions merged with Capital Cities/ABC, TV Animation was a unit of Walt Disney Television within the Walt Disney Television and Telecommunications group (WDTT).[2] With the retirement of the WDTT group president in April 1996 and ongoing post-merger reorganization, the unit (along with its Disney TV parent) was transferred to The Walt Disney Studios.[3]

In January 2003, Disney initiated a reorganization of its theatrical and animation units to improve resource usage and continued focus on new characters and franchise development. TV Animation was transferred to Disney Channels Worldwide.[4] Around the same time, the Disney MovieToons/Disney Video Premieres unit was transferred from Television Animation to Feature Animation.[5]

List of Disney Television Animation productions Edit

Disney television series (with "The Disney Afternoon") Edit

Title Original running Notes
Adventures of the Gummi Bears 1985–91
DuckTales 1987–90
Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 1989–90
TaleSpin 1990–91
Darkwing Duck 1991–92
Goof Troop 1992–93
Bonkers 1993–94
Aladdin 1994–95
Gargoyles 1994–97 Canon storyline continued via the Gargoyles comics licensed by SLG
Timon & Pumbaa 1995–99
The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show 1995
Quack Pack 1996
Mighty Ducks 1996–97

Disney television series (with "Disney's One Saturday Morning") Edit

Title Original running Notes
101 Dalmatians 1997–1998 co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Recess 1997–2003 co-production with Paul & Joe Productions
Pepper Ann 1997–2000
Hercules 1998–1999
Mickey Mouse Works 1999–2000
The Weekenders 2000–2004
Teacher's Pet 2000–02 Winner of 4 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Special Class Animated Program of 2001 and 2002
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command 2000–01 co-production with Pixar Animation Studios
House of Mouse 2001–03
Lloyd in Space 2001–04 co-production with Paul & Joe Productions
The Legend of Tarzan 2001–03
Teamo Supremo 2002–04

Other Disney television series Edit

Title Original running Notes
The Wuzzles 1985
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 1988–91 Winner of 2 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program of 1988 and 1989.
The Little Mermaid 1992–94
Raw Toonage 1992
Marsupilami 1993 in association with Dupuis Audiovisuel and Marsu Productions
Disney's Doug 1996–99 Seasons 5–7 only, co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Jungle Cubs 1996–98
Fillmore! 2002–04

Disney Channel Original Series Edit

Title Original running Notes
The Proud Family 2001–2005 co-production with Hyperion Animation
Kim Possible 2002–2007
Lilo & Stitch: The Series 2003–2006
Dave the Barbarian 2004–2005
Brandy & Mr. Whiskers 2004–2006
American Dragon: Jake Long 2005–2007
The Buzz on Maggie 2005–2006
The Emperor's New School 2006–2008
The Replacements 2006–2009
Shorty McShorts' Shorts 2006–2007
Phineas and Ferb 2007–present
Fish Hooks 2010–2014
Take Two with Phineas and Ferb 2010–2011
Gravity Falls 2012–present
Mickey Mouse 2013–present
Wander Over Yonder 2013–present
Gravity Falls shorts 2013–present

Disney XD Original Series Edit

Title Original running Notes
Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil 2010–2012
Motorcity 2012–2013 co-production with Titmouse, Inc.
Tron: Uprising 2012–2013 co-production with Sean Bailey Productions
Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja 2012–present co-production with Titmouse, Inc. Boulder Media Limited and Rough Draft Studios Korea Co., Ltd. Season 2-present
The 7D 2014–present
Star Wars Rebels forthcoming 2014 co-production with Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm Animation
Star vs. the Forces of Evil forthcoming 2014
Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero forthcoming 2014 Executive Produced and created by Jared Bush and Sam Levine.
Pickle & Peanut 2015
Future-Worm! TBA

Playhouse Disney/Disney Junior original series Edit

Title Original running Notes
PB&J Otter 1998–2000 co-production with Jumbo Pictures
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 2006–present
My Friends Tigger & Pooh 2007–2010
Special Agent Oso 2009–2012
Jake and the Never Land Pirates 2011–present
Sofia the First 2012–present
The Adventures of Disney Fairies 2014–present
The Lion Guard 2016

ABC television series Edit

Title Original running Notes
Clerks: The Animated Series 2000 uncredited; co-production with Miramax Television, View Askew Productions, and Touchstone Television

Television specials Edit

Title Original airdate
Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too December 14, 1991
Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh October 25, 1996
A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving November 22, 1998
Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You February 13, 1999
Haunted Mansion TBA

Television films Edit

  • Fluppy Dogs (1986)
  • DuckTales: The Treasure of the Golden Suns (1987)
  • DuckTales: Time is Money (1989)
  • Super DuckTales (1989)
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue (1989)
  • TaleSpin: Plunder & Lightning (1990)
  • Darkwing Duck: Darkly Dawns the Duck (1991)
  • Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time (2003)
  • Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama (2005)
  • The Proud Family Movie (2005; co-production with Hyperion Animation)
  • Leroy & Stitch (2006)
  • Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension (2011)

Only Fluppy Dogs is not related to any television series, as it is a failed pilot episode to the proposed TV series of that same name.

Direct-to-video films Edit

  • Gargoyles the Movie: The Heroes Awaken (1995)
  • Mighty Ducks the Movie: The First Face-Off (1997)
  • Hercules: Zero to Hero (1998)
  • Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000; co-production with Pixar Animation Studios)
  • Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse (2001)
  • Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street (2001; co-production with Paul & Joe Productions)
  • Tarzan & Jane (2002)
  • Mickey's House of Villains (2002)
  • Stitch! The Movie (2003)
  • Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade (2003; co-production with Paul & Joe Productions)
  • Recess: All Growed Down (2003; co-production with Paul & Joe Productions)

Theatrical films Edit

  • Doug's 1st Movie (1999; co-production with Jumbo Pictures)
  • Recess: School's Out (2001; co-production with Paul & Joe Productions)
  • Teacher's Pet (2004)

ReferencesEdit

  1. Nellie Andreeva (December 7, 2010). "Disney TV Animation Builds Exec Team And Gets Pickups For 'Gravity Falls', 'Fish Hooks' ". . http://www.deadline.com/2010/12/disney-tv-animation-builds-exec-team-and-gets-pickups-for-gravity-falls-fish-hooks/. 
  2. "Fact Sheet: The Walt Disney Company ". . The Walt Disney Company. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/%2FFIRST+AND+FINAL+ADD+--+DISNEY,+CAPITAL+CITIES%2FABC+AGREE+TO+MERGE%2F-a017368916. Retrieved on 7 March 2013. 
  3. "Roth, Iger Assume Expanded Responsibilities at the Walt Disney Company ". April 16, 1996. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/ROTH%2c+IGER+ASSUME+EXPANDED+RESPONSIBILITIES+AT+THE+WALT+DISNEY+COMPANY-a018198127. Retrieved on 11 March 2013. 
  4. Godfrey, Leigh (January 3, 2003). "Disney Streamlines Television Animation Division ". http://www.awn.com/news/business/disney-streamlines-television-animation-division. Retrieved on 27 February 2013. 
  5. Baisley, Sarah (June 16, 2003). "DisneyToon Studios Builds Slate Under New Name and Homes for Needy ". http://www.awn.com/news/films/disneytoon-studios-builds-slate-under-new-name-and-homes-needy. Retrieved on 26 February 2013. 

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