Goof Troop (1992)

Premiering on September 7, 1992, Goof Troop was Disney’s eight venture into television animation, and the fourth show to revive old classic Disney characters into a new era, whilst adding new characters into the mix. The show is based on several classic 1950’s Goofy cartoon shorts which depicted him as a father to a mischievous, red-haired son. Additionally, prior to this series Goofy had already enjoyed an illustrious career in cartoons, playing many roles over the years, sometimes eclipsing Mickey Mouse with his outwardly loveable and “goofy” personality. In this series Goofy is still true to his old self, with a tinge of modernization for the current time. Producers picked up on the basic themes of his career and put Goofy as a single father, raising his son Maximilian “Max” Goof, who move back to their hometown of Spoonerville where Goofy becomes neighbours with his longtime friend/foe Pete (a classic Disney villain), who is married to his high school sweetheart Peg and have two children, P.J. (Pete Junior) and Pistol (all original characters).

The show establishes itself well with its portrayals of modern suburbanized life, and was pretty much the first Disney cartoon to do so. While shows like DuckTales, Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck were indeed placed in a contemporary time, Goof Troop reflected its timeframe (the early 1990’s) in a truly genuine fashion, and didn’t mix elements of a classic time period or fighting villains into its setting or stories. It was basically a show about working-class people and families in everyday life. The series had a great mix of stories, meaning each and every character got a lot of screen time as different episodes focused on different things. Max and P.J. become the best of friends and do practically everything together. Max is dealing with the early onslaughts of puberty and growing up in the shadow of his goofy father. All the while Goofy reveals many facets of his personality, blissfully enduring Pete’s personal grudge against him. A large portion of humor from Goof Troop comes from Goofy unintentionally screwing up Pete’s plans (usually something to do with money and getting more of it), as well as Max’s relatively normal personality sharply contrasting with that of his father’s.

Goof Troop was a big hit with audiences, so much so that 78 episodes plus one Christmas special (basically 79 episodes) were produced, placing the series in third place behind Darkwing Duck and DuckTales for the most episodes in a Disney cartoon. I have no confirmed date as to when the last episode aired, because some sources state the series aired its last regular episode on December 5, 1992 (oddly enough the same day Darkwing Duck aired its last episode), others say December 5, 1993. The Christmas special was not aired until 1993. Like many Disney cartoons before it, Goof Troop was previewed with an hour long two-part special (serving as the show’s pilot) before the series itself premiered, with the episodes “Everything’s Coming Up Goofy” (Forever Goof Part 1) and “Good Neighbor Goofy” (Forever Goof Part 2) airing on September 5, 1992. The show’s first season, made up of 65 episodes, aired in syndication as part of The Disney Afternoon block. The second season, made up of 13 additional episodes, aired Saturday mornings on ABC (whether it was the fall of 1992 or 1993 I’m not sure at this time). The series was kind of aired like Darkwing Duck, with the next season aired on another network; although with the case of Goof Troop episode order was never messed around with.

Where many Disney cartoons failed, Goof Troop proved successful enough to warrant a full-length motion picture, produced by DisneyToon Studios who had worked on DuckTales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp. Perhaps centered on the fact it was a modernized cartoon that displayed a good working model of a father/son relationship, Disney picked Goof Troop out of many other cartoons to have a theatrical film, as young viewers and their parents could relate to Goofy and Max. While Goof Troop has the honor of being the second Disney cartoon to be blessed with a theatrical movie (from Disney’s prime days of television animation), it really stands out by itself as unlike the DuckTales movie, this movie features characters from the television series Goof Troop but is not canon to the series. Peg, Pistol, the family pets, Goofy’s old house and car are gone, and it’s not known if they are still living in Spoonerville. A Goofy Movie was released in 1995, and overall was a successful film. So much so that in 2000, a direct-to-video sequel to this film titled An Extremely Goofy Movie was released, and faired good in sales. In these aspects, the Goof Troop franchise ended up being more successful than DuckTales, and to date has not been topped by any other Disney cartoon.

Goof Troop got the standard merchandising – Happy Meal toys, plush figures, books, stickers, coloring books, and videogames. Comic stories were featured in the magazine Disney Adventures from 1992-1996 as well as the Disney Afternoon comic book published by Marvel Comics. It’s worthy to note that the town of Spoonerville was named after layout artist J. Michael Spooner, who designed many of the background layouts for the series. Pete’s wife Peg is a play on “Peg Leg Pete”, one of Pete’s characters in the classic Disney shorts. Likewise, his daughter Pistol is a play on another such name, “Pistol Pete”. The most pressing question in the series however, is what happened to Max’s mother/Goofy’s wife? The fan theory is that she had died; this issue was never touched on in the series (but could be related to Goofy and Max moving back to their hometown at the beginning of the series), leaving many fans to draw their own conclusions. Goof Troop was also the first Disney cartoon to have more original animated clips in its opening credits other than just the title card – prior to this other shows just used clips from the episodes matched to music.

The last this goofy pair were seen in Canada was on Family Channel in September 2005; at time of its removal it was the oldest cartoon airing on the network (13 years), and was the constantly longest running premiering in September 1996 (9 years) airing twice a day. For me, Goof Troop is the one – it is my absolute favorite show from Disney’s classic days of television animation. I love this series, and really like the character of Max and how he was able to grow during the run of the franchise. It was my favorite show as a kid, and when I started regularly watching episodes on Family Channel in my late teens, I liked it even more. It aged well, albeit with it being so modern at the time it’s dated in areas (look at Max’s clothes for example, yikes!) but overall is still a strong performer in 2008. It’s hard not to like a program like this. Moreover, I feel Goof Troop was the ending on an era for Disney – it was their last great show from their superior years where they dominated television animation. Some say it was the last best thing to happen to The Disney Afternoon before it started to go downhill. By 1993 other networks were catching up with them in terms of popular shows, and Disney was slowly going in a different direction with their cartoons.

Another trait I feel Goof Troop had was a strong voice cast; it featured the best names in the business. Bill Farmer, who had been voicing Goofy (and still does) since 1986, Jim Cummings as Pete, Rob Paulsen as P.J., April Winchell as Peg, Nancy Cartwright as Pistol, and Dana Hill as Max. These fantastic voice actors gave much life to their respective characters. Sadly, Max’s distinctive voice would be lost forever come July 1996, as actress Dana Hill died from suffering a massive stroke related to her diabetes.

A DVD of the show was released in 2006 with a paltry three episodes and horrible box art – I don’t even acknowledge its existence, it’s that bad. One Youtube user has uploaded most of the series for viewing online. Of course the opening theme song (and ending theme) are awesome and have a great beat. Another merit to Goof Troop being a “hip for the time” series – the theme song has a heavily influenced hip-hop/rap feel, and back in the early 90’s it seems not even cartoons could escape the explosion of hip-hop/rap during this time. The song, its lyrics and clips are well placed; as usual, the singer is unknown.

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