STUDIO: Disney
MSRP: $34.99
RUNNING TIME: 614 Minutes

After successfully reinventing the Scrooge McDuck character for younger audiences in DuckTales (read my review of that set here), Disney’s television animation department set their sights on the duo of Chip and Dale. The two high pitched chipmunks had starred in several Disney shorts throughout the years, often torturing Pluto the dog and causing mischief. Apparently they got tired of causing trouble and decided to be responsible crime fighters. They also got tired of being naked somewhere along the way.

Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers debuted in 1989 and lasted the standard 65 episodes that most syndicated Disney programs received. This initial volume collects the show’s first 27 episodes. The show differs from DuckTales in its storytelling nature and jokes, but still maintains a high level of quality. The same cannot be said for this DVD set, which features below average transfers and the glaring omission of the show’s pilot episodes.

Shouldn’t this be rated TV-MA?

The Show

The animal kingdom may seem innocent at first glance, but it’s full of just as much crime and corruption as the human world. Victims of crime who happen to be animals can’t turn to the police for help, so they regularly call upon the services of the Rescue Rangers. Lead by the serious detective Chip and the buffoonish Dale, the Rescue Rangers will take on any case no matter how dangerous the circumstances may be.

Chip and Dale are joined by Monterey Jack, Gadget and Zipper. Jack is an Australian mouse with a penchant for cheese who serves as the muscle for the group. Gadget is an intelligent young mouse whose inventions often help the rangers get around in a world that’s much larger than them. Zipper is a common housefly who serves as reconnaissance on the group’s missions.

The group’s cases usually involve retrieving a person or an object, hence the rescue part of their name. The cases can range from finding a missing kitten to retrieving a valuable golden statue stolen from a museum. Once they find out where the missing object is located, the Rangers swoop in with their fancy vehicles constructed with household objects. Dale’s incompetence or Jack’s obsessive love of cheese usually gets the gang into deeper trouble than they counted on, but they always find a way to save the day in the end.

The chief nemesis of the Rescue Rangers is the crime boss Fat Cat, an appropriately obese feline with a gang of stupid henchmen to do his dirty work. Fat Cat is primarily interested in obtaining riches but killing the Rangers is high on his list. The Rangers are also plagued by Professor Nimnul, whose insane inventions always involve theft of some sort. One of his more amazingly stupid inventions is a machine that rubs cats vigorously in order to generate static electricity, which he then uses to shoot lightning bolts.

In addition to loving cheese, Monterey Jack also really likes to be "punished."

The animation quality of Rescue Rangers is better than that of the early DuckTales episodes and necessary given the show’s reliance on physical humor. This show is all about action as the Rescue Rangers are always zooming off in hot pursuit of something. The character designs are creative and make each of the characters distinct. Chip and Dale have been given almost polar opposite personalities in this show and their designs reflect what they’re each about. The voice acting is well done, but Jim Cummings voices a lot of the characters such as Monterey Jack and Fat Cat, which results in some situations where it sounds like one guy having a conversation with himself.

Just like the DuckTales set, this collection does not include the show’s initial pilot – Chip ‘N Dale’s Rescue Rangers to the Rescue. These pilot episodes fully fleshed out the premise of the show and told how the Rescue Rangers came to be. These episodes also featured the debut of Fat Cat. These episodes aren’t necessary in order to easily grasp the premise of the show, but it would have been nice to see how everything began.

The humor in Rescue Rangers is centered more on slapstick comedy than wit. It’s definitely directed more at a child’s sense of humor and not as entertaining to all ages as DuckTales was. The show’s fast pace is geared towards smaller attention spans and keeps the action flowing. In that respect it’s similar to the other children’s programming of the time that focused on crime fighting squads beating the bad guys. The show endears itself to children but not anyone else. Some shows are good enough to hold up forever, but even through the glassy eyes of nostalgia this one is hard to enjoy as an adult.

6.0 out of 10

The X-Munks, coming soon from Marvel. And you thought the X-Babies were bad.

The Look

Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers is presented in its original fullscreen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer on these episodes is fairly bad. The colors are washed out and faded and artifacts are everywhere. Some episodes are worse than others, but none of them can be called anything close to good. The show’s intro suffers the most, with several parts of the opening being blurry. These episodes look worse than the ones on the DuckTales set even though this show is younger. It looks better than the VHS collections this show was originally available in, but not by much.

4.0 out of 10

In today’s exciting episode, the Rescue Rangers venture deep into the jungle to rescue a stray cat before being captured and sacrificed to the elder gods.

The Noise

The show’s audio is presented in its original Dolby Digitial Mono format. The dialogue is crisp and easily heard, although not necessarily easily understood sometimes due to the high pitched voices. The music is loud and vibrant, especially the show’s catchy opening theme song. The show’s original audio has held up remarkably well over the years even if the video hasn’t.

7.0 out of 10

This image inspired 3,000 disturbing fan fiction stories and fan drawings.

The Goodies

No extras whatsoever. There are some sneak previews of upcoming Disney titles that play before the menu loads, but most people would consider those an annoyance rather than an extra. Even the menus look drab as they are just one still frame of the show with a few options. Not even a large logo of the show or anything that would spruce them up. Chip and Dale have such a large history as Disney characters that it shouldn’t be hard to find some extras. Some vintage shorts featuring the duo could have been included. Disney is counting on the episodes alone to move these sets and fans of the show probably will be grateful just to have the show on DVD, but a few goodies here and there could never hurt.

0.5 out of 10

This one inspired 20,000.

The Artwork

The box artwork features a snazzy image of Chip and Dale over a white background. The three discs are housed inside slim cases. Each of the cases centers on one of the characters. Disc one is Chip, disc two is Dale and disc three is Monterey Jack. The back of the cases list the episodes included on that disc. The episodes are not listed on the outside box. The set’s design is understated and actually draws more attention than a standard animation still would have.

7.0 out of 10

Overall: 6.0 out of 10