Neat article at the Onion A/V Club about the business motives that created Duck Tales, the way the show kicked off the era of high-quality animated afternoon TV (including the Disney Afternoon, which I admit I grew up on) and how Disney is largely to thank for the changes to the TV business that killed the very genre they’d advanced.
“It’s an understatement to say DuckTales was a hit. Not only did it lead to a huge number of additional Disney animated shows that entered the “Disney afternoon” syndication package—shows like Chip ’N’ Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck—but it led to other studios raiding their own cabinets to see what could be reworked into programs that would entertain America’s bored latchkey kids. With the rise of two-income households, there were more and more kids out there who couldn’t be bothered to do their homework until someone made them, and an army of shows marched onto TV to entertain them, including legitimate classics like Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series.”
Even as a kid, I remember thinking the Disney animated shows, like Gummi Bears and Duck Tales, Tale Spin, and so on were just better than other animated shows. The animation looked cleaner, smoother, and more vivid, the stories were better, the concepts were cooler, etc. I didn’t know enough then to put my finger on it, but it’s interesting to go back and read the motives.
…and I still want to dress up for Halloween some year as Don Karnage.