From 1950's One Hour in Wonderland in 1937, through the TV movies that Disney plans to release through 2019 and early 2020, Professor James Mason delivers a treasure trove of pertinent and often hard-to-find information about Disney's television movies and anthologies.
Mason's chronological, cross-referenced collector's companion to Disney TV is unmatched in its detail, providing not just release dates, cast and crew, and literary sources, but also the show's connections to comic strip adaptations and books, with cross-references to relevant Disney theme park rides, video games, and soundtracks.
In this comprehensive all-in-one guide, you'll have at your fingertips virtually everything that Disney produced for the small screen, from long-ago (and sometimes obscure) features like The Walt Disney Christmas Show and I Captured the King of the Leprechauns to modern airings of High School Musical, Kim Possible, and Halloweentown.
For Disney fans, collectors, and historians alike, this is your front-row ticket to the televised magic of Disney.
How to Use This Book
Part 1: TV: 1950–1959
Part 2: TV: 1960–1964
Part 3: TV: 1965–1969
Part 4: TV: 1970–1974
Part 5: TV: 1975–1979
Part 6: TV: 1980–1984
Part 7: TV: 1985–1989
Part 8: TV: 1990–1994
Part 9: TV: 1995–1999
Part 10: TV: 2000–2004
Part 11: TV: 2005–2009
Part 12: TV: 2010–2018
Checklist 1: TV Movies
Checklist 2: Anthology Episodes
Appendix: Volume 1 Errata
Growing up in the 80s and 90s in the north of England with TV choices limited to four channels, my first exposure to Disney came in the form of the animated classics (on very occasional cinema trips and on VHS) and Disney cartoon series—such as Gummi Bears, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Aladdin—shown on Saturday and Sunday morning kids TV—but I never saw a Disney anthology series. Unlike Richard Rothrock, who writes nostalgically about the role The Wonderful World of Disney played in his childhood in Sunday Nights with Walt (2017), I have no memories of sitting down with my family to get lost in the dramas and backstage stories of Disneyland and its successors, thus such productions inspire no nostalgia in me.
This lack of familiarity with the Disney anthology show or any of the Disney Channel Original Movies (available on cable and satellite channels) growing up, means that I’ve always experienced such shows and films afresh, as an adult viewer—when I’ve been able to track them down, that is. For Disney’s TV movie output seems a poor cousin to the big screen releases, and even the direct-to-video fare, covered in the first volume of Disney Connections & Collections. But Disneyland and its successors represent a rich source of comedy and drama, acting and writing debuts, behind the scenes trivia and more.
For this second volume of Disney Connections & Collections I wanted to focus on the factual and fictional episodes of the various anthology series, along with the longer-form, sometimes multi-part TV movies that Disney has produced, to discover their connections with the wider world of Disney. From the earliest days of Disney TV in the 1950s and the Davy Crockett phenomenon, right up to the 2018 TV movie adaptation of the Freaky Friday stage musical—which was preceded by the original book, the 1976 Disney movie and a 1995 Disney TV movie version—this reference book demonstrates how Disney’s approach to TV content has changed over 60 years of broadcasting.
Anthology shows were regularly used to promote Disney’s theatrical movies and theme parks, with behind the scenes glimpses at how they were made, as well as providing packages of animated shorts and natural history stories alongside original drama and literary adaptations. Very occasionally, the success of a TV movie would break out into the wider cultural consciousness—witness the fandom and spin-offs that High School Musical has wrought—but often these self-contained dramas have passed largely unremarked upon in the Disney literary field, both popular and academic, despite the joy and memories that such productions have brought and continue to bring to audiences both young and young-at-heart.
With Disney soon to launch their new Disney+ streaming service, which aims to rival the likes of Netflix, it will be interesting to see whether more of their anthology and TV movie content is released for modern consumption. Whether that happens or not, you hold in your hands a useful guide to Disney TV movies and anthologies to help you navigate this exciting and somewhat hidden part of the Disney entertainment empire.
Dr James R. Mason has enjoyed watching and collecting Disney movies since his parents bought him Disney Classics on VHS as a child. His personal interest eventually led to an academic interest. While studying for a Masters degree in Film Studies at the University of Bradford he kept returning to Disney for his papers and presentations, eventually writing a dissertation about the overlooked package features of the 1940s. From this came the inspiration for further study at the University of Leeds and the authoring of a PhD about Disney movies and their adult audiences.
James’ PhD research gathered data on 390 Disney movies released to cinemas in the US between 1937 and 2015. He used this data to define a Disney film genre. At the same time he sought the opinions of adult audiences through an online questionnaire and focus groups that reached over 3,500 people. Then he compared audience perceptions of Disney movies with the movies themselves, revealing the biases that exist around animation and their implications for adult audiences and their appreciation of Disney movies.
Having earned his PhD in late 2017 through an examination that included animation scholar Professor Paul Wells, James works as a proofreader and copy editor. He continues to collect Disney media and longs to return to the Disney parks one day someday soon.