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Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers on DVD: Volume 1 Volume 2 NEW!

Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 1 DVD from Amazon.com Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 1 (1989)
Show & DVD Details

Producers: Tad Stones, Alan Zaslove / Supervising Director: Alan Zaslove

Directors: John Kimball, Bob Zamboni, Rick Leon

Regular Writers: Dev Ross, Mark Edens, Julia J. Roberts, Eric Lewald, Kevin Hopps / Supervising Story Editor: Tad Stones / Story Editor: Bryce Malek

Voice Cast: Tress MacNeille (Chip, Gadget, Spunky), Corey Burton (Dale, Zipper, Mole, Snout, Roger Baskerville, Kiwis Chief, Poptop, Dr. Wexler, Robocat), Jim Cummings (Monterey Jack, Fat Cat, Professor Nimnul, Wart, Sergeant Spinelli, Sir Colby, Hiram, Steggy, Butch), Peter Cullen (Monterey Jack, Meps, Officer Kirby, Officer Muldoon), Rob Paulsen (Flash the Wonder Dog), Sindy McKay (Queenie Bee, Irweena Allen, Elliott), Pete Schrum (Sewernose de Bergerac), Noelle North (Tammy Squirrel, Binky Squirrel), Alan Oppenheimer (Captain Kernel), Jimmy MacDonald (Humphrey the Bear), Danny Gans (Sparky, Buzz)

Running Time: 614 Minutes (27 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio), Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Release Date: November 8, 2005
Original Airdates: March 5, 1989 - November 3, 1989
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Cardboard box with three clear slim keepcases

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from this Volume 1 collection.

No, that's not Vin Diesel, it's still Zipper, only he's gotten rawther large in "Fake Me To Your Leader." "The Case of the Cola Cult" features the weirdest bunch of rodents you'll ever come across. Hiram the mummy explains his situation to Chip and Dale.

DISC 3

19. "The Luck Stops Here" (22:41) (Originally aired October 6, 1989)
Gadget falls into the possession of Clyde Cosgrove, a highly superstitious inventor who decides that the lavender-clad mouse is his new good luck charm. Gadget must overcome Cosgrove's vengeful cat and the
nutty experimenter's high stress efforts to make a splash at a quickly approaching kitchen appliance convention.

20. "Fake Me To Your Leader" (22:42) (Originally aired October 12, 1989)
Feeling small and helpless, Zipper's self-confidence gets a boost when he is inadvertently among a group of pill bugs that Professor Nimnul zaps with his Gigantico Ray gun. While Nimnul uses the now-enormous pill bugs to convince mankind that demanding aliens in search of gold are among them, the bigger and buffer Zipper wows his fellow Rescue Rangers and tries to thwart the Professor's plans.

21. "Last Train to Cashville" (22:40) (Originally aired October 13, 1989)
A young boy's missing toy train doesn't warrant much attention from the police, but it does garner the Rescue Rangers' efforts. They discover the train is part of a bank-robbing scheme concocted by . . . Fat Cat, who else?

22. "The Case of the Cola Cult" (22:51) (Originally aired October 17, 1989)
Fate brings the Rescue Rangers into contact with the Cola Cult, a group of rodents who worship a bright, catchy, musical commercial for Koo-Koo Cola and christen themselves with fruit soda of the same brand. When Gadget experiences some problems, she considers turning to them, until she learns the truth about one of their leaders. Not only is this likely the weirdest "Rescue Rangers" episode ever made, it could be the strangest half-hour of animation ever. That puts it in the same league as the giant crossover anti-drug special "Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue." Good luck getting that Koo-Koo Cola jingle out of your head.

23. "Throw Mummy From the Train" (22:46) (Originally aired October 18, 1989)
The short, bearded, and greedy archaeologist Dr. Wexler steals a jeweled ring from King Nut-Ahn-Kahmen's tomb expecting diamonds. This theft sets the Egyptian tomb's guardian mummy Hiram off to retrieve the ring, which winds up wrapped around Dale's midsection. The Rescue Rangers and mummy work together to prevent Wexler from getting away with the jewel, which is really a favor since it brings demons, not diamonds.

All that dinosaur does is eat and read! "Robocat" looks pretty friendly, doesn't he? Gadget with lab rat Sparky and lab guinea pig Buzz in "Does Pavlov Ring a Bell?"

24. "A Wolf in Cheap Clothing" (22:42) (Originally aired October 19, 1989)
Both the police and the Rescue Rangers investigate a series of beastly robberies. Naturally, the Rescue Rangers figure things out first. Their sleuth work brings them to Harry, a wolf at the zoo who has been disappearing at nighttime when the crimes are being reported and waking up with no memory of his antics. It turns out Harry has been behaving like a wolfwere and the real evil genius behind the transformations is Professor Nimnul.

25. "Prehysterical Pet" (22:38) (Originally aired November 3, 1989)
Dale makes friends with what he thinks is a baby dinosaur, which he names Steggy and declares his pet. Actually, Steggy is an intelligent life form from another planet who is looking for his ancestors who were lost on Earth. When he starts growing in size and dumbness, neither he nor the Rescue Rangers know why.

26. "Robocat" (22:44) (Originally aired October 20, 1989)
Using Dale's video game, Gadget reprograms a robotic cat found in a junk pile to be friendly, much to Chip's skepticism. The Rescue Rangers lose sight of their feline pal (who is named Tom) and the next time they see him, he's filled with hate, thanks to Professor Nimnul. Caught in his path are an effeminate wigged man, his son, and their wisecracking dog.

27. "Does Pavlov Ring a Bell?" (22:49) (Originally aired November 2, 1989)
Chip and Dale get a bit jealous when Gadget takes a liking to an absent-minded lab rat named Sparky. The electrifying fellow has problems of his own; he works for Professor Nimnul and is being brainwashed to rob a bank with the help of two guinea pigs - one real, one robotic.

The Rangers try their best to fit in at a Kiwi convention. Sewernose de Bergerac has some issues.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" is, of course, presented in its original 1.33:1 "fullscreen" aspect ratio. Picture quality is something of a mixed bag, but it almost always leaves the viewer disappointed. While some episodes fare better than others, on the whole, it's pretty apparent that serious remastering work has not been done. The video on many episodes is replete with artifacts;
white speckles pop up throughout all parts of the frame with some frequency. They appear to stem not from compression but just the aged, imperfect element.

Colors are vibrant and occasionally approach "unnaturally bright" - you can use Dale's oft-blooming Hawaiian shirt as a litmus test. Amidst the earthy browns and soft blues, the bold reds and yellows that regularly occupy foreground elements do stand out as if ideal contrast levels have not been achieved. Then again, the mixed palette is representative of '80s TV cartoons and we can be reasonably sure that they do not greatly betray the look the show displayed in its original television airings.

From episode to episode and sometimes even within an individual installment, the transfer can vary greatly. For instance, the opening title sequence is usually unsightly, plagued by video noise, blurriness, and shimmering; once the episode begins, different problems enter the mix and often to a lesser degree. Such inconsistency is perplexing for episodes that almost certainly would have been created and preserved in the exact same way. Though one episode may be strangely darker than the rest and another may look washed-out, the one thing all 27 have in common is that they do not look anywhere near as good as DVD technology allows. Compared to the simultaneously-released "DuckTales" Volume 1 set, the visuals of "Rescue Rangers" are considerably more troubled, even though they have had two fewer years to age.

Suddenly, the sweater/trenchcoat combo doesn't sound so bad. Fat Cat thinks he's all that.

There are also some minor issues which are hard to classify and likely would have been present in original airings. These are things like an odd jump transition where one assumes a commercial break belonged or a couple of frames were Zipper gets transported to an opposite side of the frame. If they didn't exist in the show originally, they should have been noticed and tended to during the mastering process, but it's quite conceivable that little foul-ups occurred when dealing with a mass-produced cartoon.

The only audio option offered is a two-channel Dolby Mono soundtrack and it is no great shakes. For the most part, the shrill chipmunk voices pose more problems than the DVD's mix as far as understanding every line uttered. While dynamics are stagnant and the recordings don't possess the type of vitality that a big screen animated film from the same era (say, The Little Mermaid) might, the track doesn't seem to offer any weaker of an aural experience that the show initially did in the less-demanding setting of 1989 weekday cartoons. Episodes with more problems in picture tend to be also inhibited in sound, resulting in a few particularly muffled tracks. Audiophiles may notice individual issues which plague some episodes more than others. Suffice it to say, the only way you'll find this Mono presentation to be a grand revelation is if you've been previously stuck watching degraded, teenaged, homemade SLP format VHS recordings. That could conceivably be the case, and if so, even with the video and audio deficiencies, you'll probably be content with the DVD and the fact that your player doesn't have a Tracking button.

Disc 2's non-animated Main Menu The Set Up menu is the same on each disc. A look at the box and slim keepcases.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

As is the case for the three other television series Disney is treating to DVD box sets this week, the digital debut of "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" aims to please a large fan following with the show alone. There are no bonus features whatsoever to be found. Anyone who has ever bought a TV show on DVD knows that the quality and volume of a program's bonus features are usually proportional to how willing its creators are to reflect and pay respect to a work which has obviously won over enough viewers to merit a DVD release.
Perhaps Tad Stones, Alan Zaslove, and John Kimball aren't as proud or enthused about "Rescue Rangers" as Greg Weisman is about "Gargoyles." But from the nonchalant nature of this release, I'm willing to bet Disney never asked them to reminisce about the show and share some inside stories. Likewise, I doubt an invitation was extended to the vocal talent, even though all four central cast members continue to voice Disney characters on a regular basis -- Tress MacNeille (Chip and Gadget) is the current Daisy Duck, a voiceover project rarely escapes Corey Burton (Dale) who has embodied personalities from Captain Hook to Walt Disney, while Jim Cummings and Peter Cullen provide vocals for three beloved Hundred Acre Wood residents (Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore) in the always-active Winnie the Pooh series.

It's never fun to fill up a "bonus features" section of a review talking about things that aren't there, but the complete absence of supplements is bound to dishearten "Rescue Rangers" fans and someone needs to call out the studio on such a thrifty, no-frills release. Even if new retrospectives or commentaries were deemed too time-consuming or costly, there is plenty of archival material that should have been easy to access to easy to provide, from the Disney Afternoon opening to TV promos, from commercial bumpers to the countless '40s and '50s cartoons starring Chip 'n Dale. Furthermore the strong sales numbers that "DuckTales" and this set are likely to produce in spite of nonexistent advertising should more than cover a little effort to provide additional show-related material, old or new.

It should also cover menu design a bit more elaborate. The static 4x3 selection screens feature a small handful of imagery of the title cast and are all accompanied by an instrumental of the catchy theme tune. The "Play" button on each disc's Main Menu runs through the platter's 9 episodes in succession. Chapter stops are presented at commercial breaks and after the opening credits, which thankfully allows quick scene access, something that not all TV sets are equipped for. The inconsistency in video quality carries over to the post-credits studio logos, which range from none to two. Some episodes even conclude with a slightly different instrumental of the theme song.

This Volume 1 DVD collection is packaged in a plain-looking cardboard box, which holds three slim clear keepcases inside. The individual cases recycle elements from the box front and rely on phony-looking clip art, not unlike what impatient bootleggers would have done. As slick and sleek as the slim cases are, they do often hurt your thumb(s) when opening. But if you're good and don't complain too much, Mommy might give you a treat.

Sneak Peeks mark the beginning of Disc 1. In standard fashion, they tout upcoming Disney movies and DVDs: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Valiant, Toy Story 2: Special Edition, and Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition reissues. Strangely, they are not available from the menu.

The Rescue Rangers stand proud while hearing their reputation at the zoo. Is walking the plank piratey enough for you?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

While it is far from the ideal DVD presentation that fans have long been awaiting, this Volume 1 box set of "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" does preserve an abundance of those case-solving cartoon chipmunks' undeniably fun adventures. Subpar picture quality and the complete lack of bonus features are sure to disappoint many, but the show's plentiful entertainment value and the low retail price still garner a recommendation for this set. Hopefully, warm sales will point to a release of the remaining "Rescue Rangers" episodes plus other TV series from Disney's weekday animation heyday. Strong reception can only lead to improvement, as a show like this deserves far better than such thrifty, basic DVD treatment.

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers on DVD: Volume 1 Volume 2 NEW!

Reviewed November 9, 2005.