Fun fact: I can sing the entire theme song of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers by heart. Why? Because Rescue Rangers is freakin’ awesome.
Vitals: Rescue Rangers was a Disney Channel TV show that ran for 65 22-minute episodes between 1989 and 1990. And, it didn’t matter how old you were, if you were a kid in the ’80s, you were watching Rescue Rangers.
Plot: Chip and Dale, the lovable chipmunk duo of the Disneyverse, are reimagined as gumshoe private detectives in charge of a squad of misfit friends. Dressed in an Indiana Jones fedora and bomber jacket, Chip is the charismatic no-nonsense leader of the group, while Dale is the bumbling comedic relief. Both are in love with the Rescue Rangers’ resident female member, Gadget, an eccentric tomboy who is the MacGyver of the mouse world. The team is rounded out by Gadget’s uncle, Monterey Jack, and his best friend, Zipper the fly, both of whom serve as the team’s muscle. Each episode features the Rescue Rangers solving a mystery or fighting crime against a cast of underworld villains, notably Fat Cat (who is basically Kingpin to their Spider-Man).
Pros: What’s not to love about Rescue Rangers? A few weeks back, J. Lamb and I mused that it was Gadget and Zipper who actually solved crimes and saved the day. All the other characters were basically useless. Every episode featured Gadget jury-rigging some crazy invention and saving Chip, Dale, Monterey Jack, or all three. Meanwhile, Zipper (who is the invertebrate minority on an otherwise all-mammalian team) is far stronger than Monterey Jack; plus, he can fly. Without these two members, the Rescue Rangers would’ve been made into Fat Cat snacks long ago.
The best part about Rescue Rangers is that it is totally watchable for viewers of all ages. Forget letting your brain melt with such shows as Martha Speaks. From the peppy theme song to the engaging adventures to the totally-over-your-kids’-heads innuendo, Rescue Rangers is just as fun for grown-ups as it is for kids, plus the lasting after-school special type moralizing common with cartoons of that decade.
Also, Gadget is badass. She is one of the earliest examples of a female “superheroine” who saves all the incompetent guys around her that I can remember, particularly in a TV show aimed specifically at kids.
Cons: One episode features villains called the Siamese Twin Gang, which (like the Siamese twins of Lady and the Tramp) are a mishmash of racist anti-Asian stereotypes all rolled up into two cats. Somebody at Disney during this era totally thought Siamese cats were hilarious, apparently. According to the Internets, the Siamese Twin Gang have slanted eyes, bucked teeth, and speak in Engrish. I haven’t seen the episode featuring these two, so that’s all I can really say about that.
The other 64 episodes of Rescue Rangers are awesome, though.
The only other downside is that Gadget is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed mouse. When I was about seven or eight years old, I was playing Rescue Rangers with a bunch of friends and really wanted to be Gadget. But I was told by my (blonde) best friend at the time, Erica, that she should be Gadget instead of me because I wasn’t blonde enough, so I had to be Chip. So, that sucked.
But I showed my friend Erica, because now I’m the happy-go-lucky, mile-a-minute, and eccentric scientist in real life. All I need to do is build my own fan-boat out of a ceiling fan and a roller-skating shoe and all my life’s Rescue Ranger ambitions are fulfilled!
Take that, all you doubters!
Age-Appropriateness: I watched Rescue Rangers when I was seven and loved it. I recently bought and watched all of Season 1 at the age of 30 and loved it too, along with my friend’s four year old. There is possibly no person of any age who would dislike Rescue Rangers. Unless that person also hates happiness.
- School of Hard NOCS: Why We Love Quincy from Disney’s Little Einsteins (thenerdsofcolor.org)