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Toon Tuesday: Disney's "The Aristocats" ... The Animated Series ?!

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Toon Tuesday: Disney's "The Aristocats" ... The Animated Series ?!

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Today, the "Special Edition" version of "The Aristocats" DVD goes on sale.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And while it's hard to find fault with this 1970 Walt Disney Productions release itself (Which remains just as charming as ever. With Duchess the filthy rich feline falling for Thomas O'Malley the alley cat ...

 Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... not to mention the amusing antics of Duchess' pampered offspring, Toulouse, Berlioz & Marie), ...

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... as you watch this single disc edition of "The Aristocats" ... It's hard to get all that excited about the meager assortment of "Bonus Material" that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has placed on this DVD. I mean, yet another interview with Richard M. & Robert B. Sherman? Zzzzz ...

Don't me wrong, folks. I grew up listening to the Sherman Brothers. So I love these guys and greatly admire their work. But that said, when you watch as many WDSHE releases as I do, it seems like Dick & Bob are interviewed for every single DVD that Disney puts out. And -- to be honest -- I'm getting kind of tired of looking at these guys.

Surely there must be someone else left on the planet who actually worked on "The Aristocats." Another person who could then offer some fresh perspective on how this picture -- the very last animated feature that Walt Disney personally put into production -- came together?

But if that's really not possible ... Okay. Then how's about we expand the definition of what "Bonus Material" is? Wouldn't it be fun if WDSHE chased down someone from DisneyToon Studios to talk about that "Aristocats 2" home premiere that they had in the works a few years back? Or -- better yet -- got someone from the Disney Channel to talk about "Aristocats: The Animated Series" ?

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

What's that? You never heard about this project? This was way back in 2003 or thereabouts. Right after then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner had just gone on one of his "We-have-to-start-getting-more-value-out-of-our-pre-existing-library-of-characters" jags. And given that the theme parks & the Disney Stores were moving a startlingly large amount of Marie-themed merchandise, it was then decided that "The Aristocats" might be a franchise that was worth revisiting.

Or should I say "reinventing" ? Given that the very first thing that the folks at the Disney Channel did was kick Duchess and O'Malley to the curb (You see, adults are boring). Next they turned Marie ...

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... and her brothers, Toulouse and Berlioz ...

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

... into teenagers. And then give Marie (Who was supposed to be the main character of this new "Aristocats" show) someone new to bounce off of, they then basically invented this teenaged version of O'Malley the alley cat and called him Delancey.

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Who (To give you some idea of how cool Delancey was supposed to be, circa 2003) could dance like a combination of Justin Timberlake and Usher.

And then -- to round out the cast (as well as give Marie et al characters that they could then be in conflict with) -- the Street Cats were created.

Copyright 2003 Disney. All Rights Reserved

The basic idea here was to reinvent "The Aristocats" so that this franchise would then appeal to your typical Disney Channel / Toon Disney watcher. And while Glen Hanson really did do a great job of updating the look of these classic characters (More importantly, then making it possible to do Disney's "Aristocats: The Animated Series" in Flash) ... In the end, Mouse House management thought that ... Well, maybe this Marie,-Berlioz-and-Toulouse-as-teenagers idea was too big a departure from the original 1970 film.

Which is why it was then decided to introduce the Marie-as-a-teenaged-character concept in an "Aristocats" home premiere. And then -- if that film was successful -- then the Disney Channel would use "Aristocats II" as the jumping-off point for Disney's "Aristocats: The Animated Series."

But then in January of 2006, the Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar Animation Studios. And John Lasseter -- with the hope that this one move might then make the movie-going public appreciate Disney's animated films once again -- got the Mouse out of the unnecessary sequel business. And "Aristocats II" -- right along with "Chicken Little 2" and "Meet the Robinsons 2" -- wound up getting cancelled.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But that said ... All of the development art that was done for "Aristocats: The Animated Series" and "Aristocats 2" is still sitting in drawers in the Frank Wells building. And wouldn't it have been more fun to see all of that stuff on "The Aristocats: Special Edition" DVD? Rather than having to listen to Dick Sherman tell his "We-didn't-write-that-title-song-thinking-that-Maurice-Chevalier-would-actually-come-out-of-retirement-in-order-to-perform-it" story again.

Again, no disrespect intended toward Dick & Bob. I'm just looking for WDSHE to freshen up the sort of "Bonus Material" that it features on its DVDs ... Your thoughts?

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  • Hey Jim, the two paragraphs, starting with "The basic idea here was to reinvent 'The Aristocats'" seem to have gotten mangled a bit.

    On your main point, I agree.  I like the Sherman Brothers and their music, but I think Disney needs to get a little more creative with the special features.  (That said, it's hardly sporting to have them talk about one film they did without inviting them to talk about the other films when their turns come up.)

  • I liked what Toon Disney did with 101 Dalmations as a series... but this already looks old and dated. I'm glad Disney management axed this.

    On a sadder note, now we know what the '00s will be known for when this decade becomes the new retro in 30 years...

  • llsoap... there's always KimPossible

  • Well, Marie STILL sells well...  Although most little girls have no idea where she's from...

  • Not much of a "special edition" with only 1 disc anyway!

  • I've never been a fan of Aristocats. IMO it's a bargain-basement rip of Lady and the Tramp. No really appealing characters either. I'm glad Dis nixed the TV idea (wish they'd nixed the Dalmation one too. That was awful).

  • I hear that the Aristocats still sells well in France...along with Jerry Lewis. 'Nuff said.

  • GofForever said:

    Not much of a "special edition" with only 1 disc anyway!

    Exactly my thoughts...I was going to get it just to have another special edition (I know, they've sucked me in!) but I don't think I will now.

  • I pitty the poor parent that purchases "The Aristocrats" instead of the new "Aristocats." Judging by previous articles about how parents disliked 2 disc sets because they got confused by them I'm sure there are some parents stupid enough to confuse the two polar opposite movies.

  • There was plans for a "Meet the Robinsons 2"?!??!

    What was the story supposed to be? My kids and I love "Meet the Robinsons" and I think it didn't get the love it deserved.

    Maybe we all love it because all 3 of my kids are adopted? But I still think it has a lot of heart!

  • I am just glad they didn't decide to make an animated sequel to the AristoCRATS.  How much more awkward would have that been?  Also, they actually mention the AristoCATS in the documentary and the confusion that tends to occasionally happen with the comedian telling the joke.

  • "Aristocats" is little more than warmed-over "101 Dalmatians" by way of "The Jungle Book," produced by a shop afraid to take chances following Walt's demise.

    IMO it would have been the perfect framework for a cable TV show, since so little character development occurred in the original film. Still, I can't imagine anyone in France liking it, since most of the characters were either faux Southern or --- Hungarian?

  • I vastly prefer "The Aristocast" to "Lady and the Tramp" or "101 Dalmations".  The villain is much more interesting and it's nice to see a mature love story for a change.  All the other love stories (animal or otherwise) are between young lovers.  O'Malley and Duchess are older, comfortable in their own skins, yet recognize that there's still more to life than what they have.  (Particularly O'Malley.)  And *any* film with such a solid performance by Phil Harris has more going for it than most.

    "Lady and the Tramp" is just too schmaltzy for my tastes and "101 Dalmations" a bit too serene.  (Great villain, though.)  Don't know where the "Jungle Book" reference comes from (except for Harris, and that's a criticism more approriate for "Robin Hood".)

    Anyway, I think it would be unwise to spend a great deal of time and effort putting together bonus material about something Disney *isn't* doing.  There'd always be those who would like the idea or kids who would want something that isn't going to ever come out.

    As for the Sherman Brothers, keep 'em coming!  They did the work, they deserve to talk every time!  Of course, *more* people would be appreciated, but I'm not going to ask them to ignore the Brothers just because they've been seen "too much".

  • I don't remember being all that impressed with the Aristocats.  That said, I'd still watch it again for another look.

    I am not getting tired of the Sherman Brothers at all.  Richard Sherman remembers a LOT of stuff from that era, music related or otherwise.  I remember litsening to the Mary Poppins commentary and Sherman, along with Karen Dotrice, were actually more interesting to listen to than Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews.

    I guess I wouldn't really care to hear about about how the Disney channel was going to make another crappy cartoon series and then didn't.

  • I'm not really planning on upgrading from my Gold Collection DVD, but I like the Sherman Brothers- they're always very interesting to listen to/watch- Disney fans can learn a lot from them.  

    I used to watch "101 Dalmatians: The Series" and I liked it- the designs for "The Aristocats: The Series" are interesting- I would have watched the show if it came to be.

    I think that the Sherman Brothers' bonus features should stay, but it'd be cool to look at "The Aristocats (orinsert film name here) That Never Was".

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