Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers is an American animated series produced by Walt Disney Television Animation and created by Tad Stones and Alan Zaslove. The series aired a first episode on August 27, 1988 and then premiered on the Disney Channel on March 4, 1989. It technically premiered with a two-hour movie, Rescue Rangers: To the Rescue, which was later broken up into a five-part pilot and aired as the opening of the second season.
The show's theme song (lyrics and music) were written by pop music songwriter Mark Mueller, who also wrote the theme song for DuckTales and produced by Alf Clausen. Both songs were performed by Jeff Pescetto.
The series premiered in syndication in the fall of 1989. In 1990, it became a part of the Disney Afternoon line-up, where it aired until the fall of 1993. It has been credited with also setting up the Disney Renaissance era alongside several other animated TV series at the time.
Chip and Dale, two chipmunks with noses for trouble, start a detective agency, the Rescue Rangers, along with their new friends Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper. The pint-sized detectives deal with crimes that are often "too small" for the (human) police to handle, usually with other animals as their clients.
The gang frequently finds itself going up against two particular arch-villains: Mafia-style tabby cat Fat Cat, and mad scientist Norton Nimnul. The Recue Rangers' motto is to watch out for everyone, and whenever anyone is in trouble, they're on the case. This gang would never steal from anybody, has "hearts of gold", and always tries to help others in need.
The series primarily takes place in a city (which is presumably New York City due to the presence of the Chrysler Building in "The Carpetsnaggers" and the WTC Twin Towers in "Robocat"), where the Rescue Rangers reside inside of a tree. However, many episodes also take the Rescue Rangers to a multitude of different and exotic parts of the world and, occasionally, to outer space.
Unlike the other cartoons that aired during the Disney Afternoon, the world of the Rescue Rangers is mainly dominated by humans, while animals are less anthropomorphic. Animals within the world of Rescue Rangers normally cannot speak or be understood by humans, and their behavior and appearance tends to vary greatly, with some actually being somewhat anthropomorphic to the point where they dress and act like humans, while others are less intelligent or they're incapable of properly speaking to their fellow animals and may even act like animals in the real world. In the episode "Bearing Up Baby", the Rescue Rangers acknowledge this fact and even referred to such wild animals as 'uncivilized animals'. In the episode "Dirty Rotten Diapers", the Rescue Rangers refer to the 'language' that mice and chipmunks speak as 'mouse-ese' and 'chipmunk' respectively, showing that animals mainly speak through the noises that they make and can understand one another despite how different their form of communication sounds amongst each species. However the episode "A Fly in the Ointment", shows that if a human somehow becomes part animal they'll instantly be able to hear animals speak as if they were humans, showing that the sounds animals make, can actually be heard as regular speak through the ears of other animals. Humans, however, can understand animals under the right conditions, usually with the aid of magic or technology as shown by the likes of Winifred and Professor Norton Nimnul. A few rare animals have been shown to be capable of actually speaking to humans without any aid, as shown by Butch the Bulldog and Sewernose de Bergerac. Aliens, robots, and the undead have also displayed the ability to understand and speak with animals.
During the show's run, no anthropomorphic ducks, dogs, pigs, etc. like the ones seen in DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, or TaleSpin ever appeared within the series, which likely put Rescue Rangers in a separate universe of its own, and even in one episode Dale mentioned a cartoon "with that big dumb duck". However, the comic The Legend of the Chaos God seems to imply that the animal characters from Rescue Rangers exist in the same universe as other Disney Afternoon shows even though the events of the Rescue Rangers show take place in a different one. The characters' appearance in the DuckTales reboot, provides an alternate origin story for the team of five, as a group of intelligence-enhanced lab animals within that series' universe (see more details here).
When Tad Stones first came up with the idea of the Rescue Rangers series, Chip and Dale were not part of the show. In the original idea, the show would center around a team of animals, which included a chameleon, an earlier draft of Gadget, and Monterey Jack (with a different name). The main character, though, was an Indiana Jones type mouse named Kit Colby who sported a fedora hat and a fluffy collared leather jacket. When he proposed the show in a meeting with Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the idea was well received except for the character of Kit Colby. At Eisner's suggestion, he was replaced with the chipmunk duo to give the show some established Disney characters to work with.
While Chip and Dale were established characters, to bring them into the series, only their general appearance and broad personality traits were kept. Unlike their appearances in Disney shorts, in the Rescue Rangers the chipmunk duo are very verbal, with Chip voiced by Tress MacNeille, and Dale voiced by Corey Burton. Audio processing was used to speed-up the voice recordings and give the voices a higher pitch, particularly Chip's. The pair were given clothes -- Chip, the clothing of the original-concept Kit character based on Indiana Jones, and the goofier Dale, incidentally modeled after Magnum, P.I., with his red Hawaiian shirt.
The series premiered in 1989 on the Disney Channel before moving into a regular slot in weekday afternoon syndication in the fall.
The show's opening theme was performed by the pop group The Jets. It was written by Mark Mueller, an ASCAP award-winning pop music songwriter, who also wrote the theme song to DuckTales.
- Chip is the leader of the Rescue Rangers. Loosely modeled on Indiana Jones, Chip wears a fedora and a brown bomber jacket and frequently uses rope to lasso or swing to other spots. Chip tends to be serious and with a strong sense of responsibility, to the point that he is sometimes accused of not knowing how to have fun. He can be domineering and often ends up in squabbles with Dale over his more laid back manner. At times, though, he also lets himself go and joins Dale in some frivolity. Voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Dale wears a red and yellow Hawaiian shirt reminiscent of Thomas Magnum. Though dedicated to the job, he is a fun-loving, mischievous prankster who is sometimes irresponsible and forgets to think before he acts. He spends his free time reading comic books and playing video games. A known candy addict, Dale has "chocolate attacks" similar to Monterey Jack's cheese attacks. He frequently finds himself being knocked on the head by Chip when he says or does something foolish. Voiced by Corey Burton.
- Monterey Jack is a fat mouse with a red mustache, that wears a light brownish coat. His favorite food is cheese, and he is named after a type of cheese. Voiced by Peter Cullen in Season 1, and by Jim Cummings in Seasons 2-3.
- Gadget Hackwrench is a female mechanic mouse with blonde hair, that wears a lavender jumpsuit. She can create and invent things on the fly. Voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Zipper is a little blue-green fly that wears a red sweater. In earlier seasons he doesn't talk much, usually communicating through buzzing and other noises. In later seasons he occasionally speaks in short exlamations, but his high pitched voice can still be hard to understand. He is very close to Monterey Jack. Voiced by Corey Burton.
- Fat Cat is a felonious grey tabby cat and one of the Rescue Rangers' most frequent antagonists. He is initially introduced as the pet of the nefarious underworld crime lord, Aldrin Klordane. Voiced by Jim Cummings. Fat Cat's Gang consists of:
- Wart, a lizard who dresses in a gangster-style suit and hat similar to his boss. Out of all of the henchmen, he is probably the least unintelligent and will sometimes ask questions about his boss' schemes, to which Fat Cat will usually explain in a gracious way, despite how simple he thinks he is. Voiced by Jim Cummings.
- Mole, a slow-witted, but cheerful, overweight mole, who wears an undersized red t-shirt and a yellow hat. When plans go wrong, Mole usually is the one who Fat Cat chooses to use as a punching bag. In these instances, Fat Cat is harshly critical of Mole (in fact he just might be the most criticized member of the gang). Voiced by Corey Burton.
- Mepps, a thin alley cat with brown and creme colored fur and dressed in a ratty blue vest and toboggan who speaks with a whiny voice. Due to Mepps' bandaged tail and bitten ear, it is possible that Mepps has had many adventures. Whether or not these adventures involve Fat Cat and the rest of the gang is unknown. Voiced by Peter Cullen.
- Snout, a rat who wears a short-sleeved red turtleneck with a black vest and a dark blue flat cap that covers his eyes. He is usually only seen briefly. It is possible the Snout joined the gang after the Rangers formed and initially defeated Fat Cat, because unlike Mole and Mepps who appear in 16 episodes, and Wart who appears in 15, Snout only appears in 7 episodes. Voiced by Corey Burton.
- Professor Norton Nimnul, a mad scientist who once worked for Aldrin Klordane. Though Nimnul is an intelligent and creative scientist, his plans often lack any trace of logic and tend to be extremely convoluted. Voiced by Jim Cummings.
- The Siamese Twin Gang, two Siamese cats that own a laundromat and an illegal underground casino. Though not major villains, these two characters have been considered as Asian Stereotypes due to the fact that they own a laundromat and speak in fractured English. They bear a resemblance to Si and Am from Lady and the Tramp. Both of the cats are voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Sewernose de Bergerac. A brown, sewer dwelling alligator with bushy eyebrows and two different colored eyes. Voiced by Pete Schrum.
- Early seasons have the original intro with a synthesized theme song. Later seasons have the intro with different clips and a calypso version of the theme song.
- Chip and Dale's outfits are based on those worn by Indiana Jones and Thomas Magnum, respectively. Incidentally, Tom Selleck was the original pick for Indiana Jones, but had to back out of the film, because of his commitment to Magnum, P.I.
- The Rescue Rangers later appeared in the third season of DuckTales (2017 series) as super-evolved lab animals.
- Frank Angones, co-developer of the DuckTales reboot, once pitched a reboot of this show, which would have incorporated elements of The Great Mouse Detective and The Rescuers.
- Main article: Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode list
Except for the 5-part set of episodes made from the pilot movie, each 22-minute episode of the series was self-contained. Plot points introduced in each episode stayed in the episode and any character development did not appear to continue through to future episodes. Most of the episodes followed a similar format, where in the next case was presented at the start of the episode, then the bulk of the episode had the sleuths gathering clues and investigating the situation. In the last few minutes of the episode, the case was resolved, usually in dramatic fashion and the final moments would have a humorous wrap-up scene between the Rangers.
In fall of 1989, McDonald's produced a series of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers themed Happy Meal that included toy versions of the main characters riding small vehicles. Scenes from the TV series were incorporated into the TV commercials advertising the Happy Meals.
A monthly comic book based on the show was published by Disney Comics in 1990, that ran for 19 issues. Subsequent comic stories were printed in Disney Adventures from 1990 to 1994, as well as in the Disney Afternoon comic book published by Marvel Comics.
A 1990 issue of Comics Scene magazine reported that a theatrical feature film based on the series was planned for a 1991 release, however, the film never happened, possible due to the lackluster performance of DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp.
On January 31, 2014, Walt Disney Pictures announced that an upcoming live-action film based on the series is in early development and will tell the origins of the Chip, Dale, and the Rescue Rangers. The film is still in early stages of development and a predicted release date is currently unknown. By May 2019, Akiva Schaffer was hired as the director, replacing Rugan. The script is now set to be co-written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, from a previous draft by Barry Schwartz. David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman will serve as producers. The film will be a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films. On October 19, 2020, it was reported that the film will be released on Disney+, with filming set to begin in early 2021 in Los Angeles, California. In November 2020, Larry Fong was hired as the film's cinematographer and Corey Burton was announced to reprise the role of Zipper. On December 10, 2020, John Mulaney and Andy Samberg were announced to be providing the voices of Chip and Dale respectively. The film is slated for spring 2022.
- Disney's Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: The Adventure in Nimnul's Castle
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2
Home video releases
- Main article: Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers videography
Disney has released some of the series to DVD in the form of box sets, with each set having three single-sided discs and no extra features. Two out of three planned volumes have been released to Region 1 as of November 14, 2006. Making 14 episodes not currently on DVD. Two volumes has been released to Region 2 DVD, in which the first volume contains seven fewer episodes than the Region 1 set. To date, there have been no releases for any additional volumes.
The episodes on the first volume are arranged by production date, while the episodes on the second volume are arranged by original air date.
The entire series was available on Amazon Prime but became unavailable as of 2013. However, the entire series was made available for purchase on digital through Amazon Instant Video in 2016 in SD and HD formats, in addition to being available through iTunes and Google Play. It is now available to stream in its entirety on Disney+.
The Rescue Rangers appeared in the reboot episode "Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice!" In this series' alternate continuity they are an artificially enhanced experiment by Black Heron of F.O.W.L. They later briefly reappear in the series' finale "The Last Adventure!" Jeff Bennett provided the squeaks (and buzzes in Zipper's case) for all of the Rescue Rangers.
- Kit, Borys (January 31, 2014). "Disney Reviving 'Chip 'n Dale' for a Live-Action Feature (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved on January 31, 2014.