Binge yourself into a nostalgia-induced coma.
Since the launch of The Walt Disney Company’s subscription-based video-on-demand streaming service, Disney+ – the bulk of media coverage has revolved around the much-anticipated Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian. But alongside the multi-media conglomerate’s extensive library of Disney Animation, Pixar, Lucasfilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones), and Marvel Studios – Disney+ subscribers will be pleased to discover an impressive collection of ABC and Disney Channel television series previously unavailable on streaming. Spanning from the late ‘80s to the early 2000s, expect a hearty dose of nostalgia from all ten of these millennial TV classics. This is vintage binging at its finest, perfect to watch over a long holiday break surrounded by family.
After the success of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears, the company’s first serialized animated television series – DuckTales was commissioned for a massive, syndication-focused 65-episode first season. Set in Disney’s “Duck universe” city of Duckburg, DuckTales tells the story of Donald Duck’s three nephews – Huey, Dewey, and Louie – after he joins the US Navy and leaves them with his money-obsessed businessman uncle, Scrooge McDuck. As the duck brothers help their curmudgeon uncle across a number of episodic adventures, the family grows closer, slowly warming Scrooge’s cold heart. Over the show’s original 4-season run, the series produced 100 episodes, a feature film (DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp), and spawned fellow Disney animated series Darkwing Duck, Quack Pack, and 2017’s DuckTales reboot for Disney XD.
Boy Meets World (1993)
Whether you were raised on Saved by the Bell, That 70’s Show, Degrassi or The O.C. – it’s hard to imagine anyone who grew up in the ‘90s not watching Boy Meets World at some point in his or her life. Tuning in for new episodes on ABC’s TGIF and reruns after school on Disney Channel was appointment television for kids and teens alike. At the time, the development of main characters Cory and Eric Matthews, Shawn Hunter, and Topanga Lawrence was seemingly more impactful than the development of our own selves. Running for 158 episodes over seven seasons from 1993-2000, Boy Meets World was more than a moment. The Matthews were like a second family to viewers. The show was an extension of life itself, often mirroring where we were at in school educationally, socially, and emotionally. The series spanned middle school to college, first kisses to marriage, and life to death. While a new generation may have discovered the series following Disney Channel’s 2014 spinoff, Girl Meets World – it’s great to see the entire series now streaming on Disney+.
Even 25 years after the original airing of Gargoyles, the cartoon remains one of Disney’s darkest and most complex animated series to date. The show’s concept begins a million years in the past when a castle in Scotland falls under attack. The gargoyle occupants are all killed or cursed and frozen in stone until the castle “rises above the clouds.” Fast-forward a millennium when a New York billionaire buys the castle and chooses to rebuild the structure atop his Manhattan skyscraper. This reawakens Goliath, voiced by Keith David (Todd McFarlane’s Spawn), and the surviving members of his gargoyle clan. Episodes follow the nocturnal creatures as they adjust to life in the big city, while simultaneously protecting its occupants. Airing from 1994-1997, the cartoon was often compared to the dark tone of Batman: The Animated Series. Featuring a veteran voice cast comprised of Ed Asner (Up), Jeff Bennett (Johnny Bravo), Bill Fagerbakke (SpongeBob SquarePants), Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo), and Salli Richardson (Eureka) as NYPD detective and friend of the gargoyles, Elisa Maza – the series produced 78 episodes over three seasons before its cancellation. Gone but not forgotten, the Gargoyles have yet again received a second chance at life… now streaming on Disney+.
Smart Guy (1997)
Three seasons into Sister, Sister, Tia and Tamera Mowry’s younger brother, Tahj Mowry, received his own starring-vehicle, Smart Guy – which would go on to become The WB’s next hit sitcom. Smart Guy follows T.J. Henderson, a D.C.-area 10-year-old genius who skips from 4th to 10th grade. As if being a kid genius in high school wasn’t hard enough, his older brother Marcus (Jason Weaver) and sister Yvette (Essence Atkins) attend the same school. With storylines tackling T.J.’s intelligence, small stature, and general struggle to fit in – the series served well alongside Sister, Sister, The Jamie Foxx Show, and The Wayans Bros. on The WB’s lineup. Airing for 51 episodes over three seasons from 1997-1999, Smart Guy also starred John Marshall Jones (Bosch) as T.J.’s father and Omar Gooding (Barbershop: The Series) as Marcus’ best friend Mo. Disney is wise to include Smart Guy on its new streaming service as rumors of a Sister, Sister revival whisper around Hollywood.
Brilliantly set during every student’s favorite part of the day, Recess illustrates the difference between children during class time and playtime. Originally airing alongside Disney’s Doug and Pepper Ann as part of the One Saturday Morning children’s programming block on ABC – Recess was co-created by animation vets, Paul Germain (Rugrats) and Joe Ansolabehere (Lloyd in Space). Starring an ensemble of memorable characters, the main Recess crew consists of group leader and prankster T.J. Detweiler, star athlete Vince LaSalle, tomboy Ashley Spinelli (Pamela Adlon), child prodigy Gretchen Grundler, lovable oaf Mikey Blumberg, and Gus Griswald as “The New Kid.” Other iconic Recess characters include Randall Weems the playground snitch, King Bob the king of the playground, and The Ashleys. Airing for six seasons, 127 episodes, 4 movies, and one Lilo & Stitch crossover special across four different networks from 1997-2006, Recess has held up and lived on over the past two decades.
Even Stevens (2000)
Known most for launching the career of then young actor Shia LaBeouf, Even Stevens is a Disney Channel television series about a family of five living in the Sacramento suburbs. The majority of episodes revolve around younger siblings, Ren (Christy Carlson Romano) & Louis Stevens (LaBeouf), and their conflicting characters. Ren is a Type A personality constantly striving for perfection, while Louis is an attention-seeking jokester who spends most days with his best friends Twitty (A.J. Trauth) and Tawny (Margo Harshman). The series co-stars Nick Spano as older brother Donnie, Tom Virtue as Mr. Stevens, Donna Pescow as Mrs. Stevens, and Steven Anthony Lawrence as the family’s annoying neighbor, Beans. Producing 65 episodes over three seasons, concluding with The Even Stevens Movie, a Disney Channel Original Movie/series finale – Even Stevens marked the end of the beginning in Shia LaBeouf’s burgeoning acting career.
Lizzie McGuire (2001)
One year after the breakout success of Even Stevens, Disney Channel struck gold again with a new series about a teenage girl named Lizzie McGuire. Starring a 13-year-old actress named Hilary Duff as the titular character, the show followed Lizzie through the ups and downs of junior high alongside her two best friends, Miranda & Gordo (Lalaine, Adam Lamberg), and her animated inner thoughts. Airing 65 episodes between 2001 and 2004, Lizzie McGuire was a cultural phenomenon that launched Hilary Duff into the teen idol stratosphere, paving the way for Disney Channel child actors of the future like Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, and Selena Gomez. Nearly twenty years later, the show is now available on Disney+ in anticipation of the streaming service’s upcoming Lizzie McGuire revival series. Set to premiere next year, the show will bring back Lizzie, Gordo, and Lizzie’s parents (Robert Carradine, Hallie Todd), in a present day New York City setting.
That’s So Raven (2003)
Unlike Shia LaBeouf and Hilary Duff, Raven-Symone had been acting in hit television shows for 15 years prior to joining the Disney Channel family. Following her memorable roles on The Cosby Show, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and the Dr. Dolittle film franchise, Symone auditioned for a recurring role on a new Disney Channel series about a teenage psychic. After the audition, the creators changed the lead character and name of the show to That’s So Raven. Co-starring Orlando Brown and Anneliese van der Pol as Raven’s best friends Eddie and Chelsea, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Rondell Sheridan as her parents, and Kyle Massey as her prankster little brother Cory – That’s So Raven aired four seasons and became the first Disney Channel series to film 100 episodes. The series went on to produce two spin-offs, the first being Cory in the House starring Kyle Massey. The second spin-off series, Raven’s Home – is currently airing its third season on Disney Channel. That’s So Raven and Raven’s Home are both streaming on Disney+.
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (2005)
Whether you know Dylan and Cole Sprouse from Big Daddy or just Cole from Riverdale – most viewers were first introduced to the identical twin actors through Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and its spin-off series, The Suite Life on Deck. Set within the fictional Tipton Hotel, the show follows twins Zack and Cody as they get into mischief around the luxurious building they call home. Co-starring Brenda Song as the hotel owner’s daughter, Ashley Tisdale as the candy-counter girl, Phil Lewis as the hotel manager, and Kim Rhodes as the boys’ mother – The Suite Life of Zack & Cody produced 87 episodes in three seasons, with an additional three seasons, 71 episodes, and a movie of The Suite Life on Deck. Both series are now streaming on Disney+.
Hannah Montana (2006)
Before she came in like a wrecking ball, Miley Cyrus was getting the best of both worlds as the star of Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana. Co-created by Michael Poryes, the creator of That’s So Raven – from the launch of Hannah Montana, Poryes and Disney immediately had another hit on their hands. The series follows Miley Stewart – your average teenage girl by day, and pop star Hannah Montana by night. Co-starring Emily Osment and Oliver Oken as Miley’s best friends, Jason Earles as her brother, and Billy Ray Cyrus fittingly cast as her father – the series ran from 2006 to 2011. Airing 98 episodes over four seasons and two films, one concert and one theatrical – Hannah Montana simultaneously launched Miley Cyrus’ career, resuscitated Billy Ray Cyrus’, and refreshed Disney Channel for a brand new generation of viewers.