How Disney Turned Chip And Dale Into Cops
This weekend sees the release of Disney's Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, a revisionist reboot of the popular late '80s cartoon series. Judging from the trailer, the new movie has many of the meta cartoon qualities we previously saw in Who Framed Roger Rabbit – and to a lesser extent, that anti-drug PSA in which Slimer and Winnie the Pooh convince a teenager not to try pot.
The movie seemingly finds the pair investigating a series of mysterious disappearances – which makes sense, considering that the original show similarly found them solving crimes.
Which was pretty damn weird in retrospect. Up until that point, the chipmunk duo were tiny lil anarchists. Chip and Dale's first appearance, the 1943 short "Private Pluto," was just about them inexplicably terrorizing Mickey's dog – who apparently enlisted in the army during World War II?
How did they go from abusing a brave canine soldier who was just trying to fight Hitler to becoming Reagan-era law enforcement-type agents? The series began as a pitch for a TV adaptation of The Rescuers, but when that film's sequel tanked that idea, the premise was reworked as an animal-centric version of the hit cop show Miami Vice, called Miami Mice – later re-titled Metro Mice – which presumably would have focused on harassing rodent sex workers, and busting adorable cocaine dealers. The show would have featured a fedora-wearing mouse named Kit Colby, an Australian "explosives expert" named Colt Chedderson, and, most unfortunately, "an Oriental cricket" who does martial arts called Chirp Sing …
Gadget, the "blonde female mouse" with a knack for invention, somehow survived to the final incarnation of the show. While Disney execs were skeptical of the lead character, someone randomly suggested plopping some familiar characters into the project, like, oh, Chip and Dale. At that point then-CEO Michael Eisner simply said, "Great — put those guys in that show," seemingly without that much thought. So Disney just dressed up Chip and Dale like Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I., respectively, and turned the irreverent cartoon characters into a pair of animated narcs.
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Top Image: Disney