While we were in Florida, we had more time to watch the television than we have been having at home lately, which was nice. Except for the fact that it was hard to find anything to watch.
We usually ended up watching the Disney Channel. And that meant that we usually watched either “Good Luck Charlie” or “Jessie.” Over and over again. Every now and then there would be “Phineas and Ferb,” and one night there may have been a movie on. But otherwise, it was just the same shows over and over. And over. And over.
We even saw one episode of one of those shows twice. Actually, we didn’t see it twice, because we didn’t watch it the second time that it was on.
The Disney Channel first came on in April of 1983. At our house, we started getting it at the end of May in that same year, so I have been watching it almost from the beginning. And in that time, it has changed greatly.
In those early days, I was a young, impressionable teenager. And I enjoyed watching such movies as “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and “Swiss Family Robinson.” I watched every Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy cartoon that they would show. I even enjoyed watching the original “Mickey Mouse Club.” When they started showing the episodes of the old Disney television show, I watched every one of those. And when they branched out a bit to show movies such as “Stars and Stripes Forever” or “The Glenn Miller Story,” I watched those, too.
[caption id=“attachment_1689” align=“aligncenter” width=“490”] The Disney Channel Magazine from August 1983, with “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” on the cover. I still have several issues in my collection.[/caption]
But then, somewhere along the way, things changed. The Disney Channel started trying to reach a different audience. And in doing so, they got rid of most everything that made the Disney Channel “Disney.”
These days, they mostly have shows that are made by outside production companies. Of course, most of the “Disney” movies these days are actually made by Pixar, Jerry Bruckheimer, or Marvel. So maybe the Disney Channel is just following the trend.
To their credit, the Disney Channel did have one big hit, “Hannah Montana.” And now, it seems like every show tries to be the next big hit. And fails. The shows all follow the same teen-oriented formula: Kids are cool and can do most anything, and parents, even if well meaning, are bumbling and not very bright. Which doesn’t always present the best model for society to follow.
To me, those shows just aren’t “Disney.” And even Mickey Mouse, the most famous character in the world, has been relegated to a show aimed at pre-schoolers. And even though it is well-made, it isn’t watchable for any length of time by anyone over five years old.
Ironically, on the day that we were leaving Florida, we stopped to eat breakfast at the McDonald’s near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In the restaurant as we were eating, there was a television showing some of the cartoons that I used to watch in the old days of the Disney Channel - among them were “Mickey and the Seal” and “Hawaiian Holiday.” And even though there wasn’t any sound, we all three enjoyed watching these cartoons greatly. They are timeless, and still just as funny and entertaining as they were 70+ years ago, or even 30 years ago. It made me dislike the current Disney Channel even more.
Fortunately, these days we have all those old movies and cartoons on DVD, so that we can watch them whenever we want to. Which is a good thing, because there never is anything worth watching on the non-Disney Disney Channel.