Disney Odyssey #29 – Rule Number One About Rescuing Animals: Don’t Mouth Off To Poachers

Welcome to Australia! The landscapes are diverse and breathtaking, the animals strange and beautiful, only some of the people have funny accents, and everything is poisonous!


Yes, that’s right… we’re on to our next film in the Disney Renaissance, and it’s a sequel! The very first sequel to make the list!



The Film: The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

The Facts:

  • Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor returned to voice Bernard and Miss Bianca – but this would be Eva Gabor’s last film before her death in 1995. A third Rescuers film had been planned for 1996, but was scrapped after she passed away – and all future Rescuers films likewise were wiped off the drawing board. Additionally, the character of Orville was removed from this movie because his voice actor Jim Jordan had passed away. He was replaced with John Candy playing his brother, Wilbur. (Hashtag, Wright Brothers joke.)
  • This is the first animated sequel for a Disney movie – all following sequels would be straight-to-video (except for Fantasia 2000).
  • Use of the CAPS production system for this digital wonder of the modern animation world cut production time down by six whole months.
  • The flight scenes with Marahute (the great golden eagle) were heavily inspired by the work of Japanese animation maestro, Hayao Miyazaki.
  • The movie’s villain, Percival C. MacLeach, would inspire later Disney villains of a certain “masculine hunter” type, including Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Clayton (Tarzan), Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas), and Commander Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire).
  • Interestingly, it was released in the same weekend as one of the highest grossing films of the 90s – Home Alone. This was the primary factor which led to The Rescuers Down Under being the least (financially) successful film of the Disney Renaissance, and ultimately discouraged Disney from releasing other sequels in cinemas. Direct-to-video, however, was another story…
  • It is the only Disney Renaissance film to not be a musical.
  • The voice actress of Minnie Mouse – Russi Taylor – has a cameo line as one of the nurse mice in the hospital when Wilbur is about to be operated on.
  • The only actual Australians in the film are Tristan Rogers (the voice of Jake, the cool outback kangaroo mouse) and Peter Firth (the voice of Red, the male kangaroo in the MacLeach compound).
  • Disney master animator Glen Keane is responsible for the exquisite animation work on Marahute.

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Disney Odyssey #28 – Every Single Bubble In This Movie Was Drawn By Hand

This is it, folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for… well, most of us, anyway. The first Disney princess movie in thirty years (since Sleeping Beauty). The first movie of the Disney Renaissance, heralding the utopian years of the 1990s when every film was a musical, every film was made of gold, and the very fabric of our childhoods was wrought with exquisite hand-drawn art painstakingly and carefully integrated brand new CGI techniques. The movie that made a generation of little girls long for perfect flowing hair, tiny waists, beautiful voices and powerful fish tails.

It’s time for The Little Mermaid.


The Film: The Little Mermaid (1989)

The Facts:

  • Once upon a time… the story for this movie was drawn from the utterly disappointing and depressing fairy tale of the same name written by Hans Christian Anderson in 1837. In that version, the prince falls in love with another girl, and the mermaid vows to kill them both – but she cannot, and, brokenhearted, she dissolves into seafoam. Then she is transformed into a spirit of the air, bound to do good deeds for three hundred years in order to ascend into heaven. So there’s that.
  • It made $211.3 million at the box office.
  • Ariel is the first redheaded princess, and she is also the first princess to bare her midriff. She was made to be a redhead in order to differentiate her from Daryl Hannah’s character in the movie “Splash” which came out a few years before this. Ariel is the first princess to have siblings, as well, and all of her sisters’ names also begin with the letter A. Ariel’s physicality was based on actress Alyssa Milano, and she was voiced by the incomparable Jodi Benson. Jodi was so into the role that she recorded “Part of Your World” in the dark – to get that underwater, isolated feeling. Ariel was fully animated by Disney legend Glen Keane, who demanded the right to animate her himself after seeing Jodi Benson recording the song.
  • The role of Ursula almost went to Bea Arthur, Roseanne Barr, Jennifer Saunders, and Elaine Stritch, among others who auditioned for the role. Stritch was cast but left the project after she and Howard Ashman did not mesh well. Ultimately the role was filled by Pat Carroll, who based most of her performance off of Ashman’s renditions (and ad-libs!) of the song in rehearsal.
  • Did you know that all of the bubbles in this film are hand-drawn? None of the bubbles were Xeroxed. They even had to outsource some of the bubble-drawing to China, but this was interrupted by the student riots in Beijing. Watch this movie again and try not to think about the poor animators painstakingly drawing each and every single bubble… it’s madness!
  • Prior to this movie, songs for the animated features were written beforehand and then integrated into the story later. This marked the first time they changed that process: the songs were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman alongside the storyboard creation for the film, to make the songs more organically integrated.
  • There are plenty of nods to other Disney films and characters in this movie, although they may be more subtle than in some of the other movies.
    • In the concert crowd, Mickey, Goofy, and Donald can be spotted if you look fast.
    • At Prince Eric’s palace, a portrait on the wall in the dining room looks a bit like Aurora and Philip…
    • Ariel’s pink dress is a combination of Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora’s gowns in their respective movies.
    • the housekeeper in the palace is wearing the same clothes as Cinderella wears when doing chores, just in different colors
  • Scuttle’s ‘romantic’ vocals before “Kiss The Girl” are actually the melody from Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet.”

Keep reading for the movie commentary…

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The Night’s Rewatch: S1 E6 “A Golden Crown”

Welcome back to The Night’s Rewatch! Join us as we replay our way through HBO’s Game of Thrones from the beginning of the show to the present day. Watch along with us by starting your episode at the designated time in the track. It’s like we’re all watching it together!

Put on your blackest hoodie and join us on the Couch… for now our rewatch begins.


Season 1, Episode 6: A Golden Crown

Episode starts at: 1:18

Disney Odyssey #27 – Cats And Dogs, Living Together! It’s MADNESS!

The Disney Odyssey treks ever onward, friends, and this time we’re back with our final movie of the Bronze Age – it’s an oft-overlooked animal-centric tale inspired in equal parts by Charles Dickens and Billy Joel. The Fella was off at rehearsal, so this marks the first Disney Odyssey episode sans-Fella. So, to revisit this gritty, dog-eat-dog food world of New York City in the late 80s, I invited my dear friends Josh and Stace to watch with me!

Stace is a fellow writer and also a big tough city lawyer as well as a widely recognized animal lover. Josh is a stage combatant and performer, as well as a noted lover of 80’s music, and both he and Stace are also performers at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. There was no question that they were both highly qualified to weigh in on this final film of the Bronze Age.


The Film: Oliver and Company (1988)

The Facts:

  • This is the final movie of the Disney Bronze Age – and the transitional elements are definitely in play. The animation quality has been upped considerably here, when compared to previous Bronze Age films, but it does not quite stand on the same level as its following Renaissance Era films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the BeastAladdin, etc.
  • The film’s plot is based loosely on Charles Dickens’ classic novel Oliver Twist.
  • Cast members include Dom DeLuise (in his first Disney voice role), Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Joey Lawrence, Cheryl Lee Ralph, and Cheech Marin.
  • The almost-cast of this film offers a world of curious possibilities: Sir Patrick Stewart was almost the voice of Francis the bulldog, and Marlon Brando was offered the role of Sykes (but turned it down flat).
  • Although much of the film was still hand-drawn, many of the inanimate objects were done on computer – a hint at the major leaps ahead in CGI that were soon to come.
  • Quick cameos of Peg, Jock, and Trusty from Lady and the Tramp and Pongo from 101 Dalmatians can be spotted during the song “Why Should I Worry” and “Streets of Gold.”
  • The real brand names that appear as background advertising in the street scenes in  New York were done without actual sponsorship – the animators believed New York simply wouldn’t be New York without the advertising.
  • The film debuted the same week as Don Bluth’s number one at the box office The Land Before Time, consequently making Oliver and Company fourth at the box office. It was reviewed generally as fun and harmless, but most agreed it would not stand up with classics like Pinocchio or Fantasia.


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The Brother-Sister Fable (An Audio Short Story)

Happy Halloween!!!

To celebrate this most delightful of holidays (sweets, treats, spooky tales, chilly weather, costumes, parties, and frivolity of all sorts!) I have brought you a present.

In 2014, just before my novel came out, I published a short story called “The Brother-Sister Fable” in an anthology called Legends and Lore: An Anthology of Mythic Proportions. This short story is what I have brought out for you today, freshly recorded and polished up by audio producer and fellow author KT Bryski. I am thrilled to offer you this audio short story today and hope you enjoy giving it a listen!



“The Brother-Sister Fable” by Alyson Grauer

Read by Alyson Grauer

Audio production by KT Bryski

Music by Kevin MacLeod (Tracks used include: “Come Play With Me,” “Magic Forest,” “Dark Walk,” “The Snow Queen,” “House of Leaves,” “Shores of Avalon.”)

Some sounds provided by the Free Sound Project

This podcast story is copyright 2016 under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives 4.0 Unported License.