The Walt Disney Company built its film business on the idea that select titles would only be available for a limited period, either with limited re-releases at cinemas or having home video releases being limited for a certain period, before being placed back into the “Disney Vault”. It’s why Disney’s VHS and DVD’s were so collectable because you couldn’t always just go to the store to buy a copy. So back in 2019, when Disney+ launched, Disney marketed the service as the “Disney Vault Is Open” and is still using the catchphrase to promote Disney+.
While Disney+ has a huge collection of movies and series available, Disney hasn’t fully opened the vault as there are some great vintage TV series from ABC and Disney that aren’t available yet, which would fit within the classic idea of Disney+ being for the entire family.
There are some issues that can stop Disney from adding shows onto Disney+. Music is one of the biggest issues, since many classic shows don’t have the streaming rights to certain songs that were used in specific episodes. So would require them to either license them for streaming, cutting the scene or just changing the music, all of which costs money.
Other issues can be to existing contracts with other streaming services and with regards to payments to the cast and crew. Some of the content also doesn’t fit with today’s standards, but this would seem easier to deal with, since Disney could just pop a disclaimer before it. Then there are also other issues with some of the cast involved, especially if they’ve had some brushes with the law.
There are also some technical quality issues, as some older series aren’t in great condition, either with bad audio or video quality, which will cost money to fix. But many of the shows owned by Disney are already available digitally, either on Hulu or available to purchase.
Classic ABC Comedies:
ABC has produced many excellent comedy series and dramas since its inception, but besides “The Muppet Show” and “Dinosaurs”, Disney+ in the US lacks many family-friendly classic ABC series, one of the notable omissions which are available in my home country of the UK is “Golden Girls” which is a TV-PG sitcom about four middle-aged women living together after being divorced or widowed by their former partners. “The Golden Girls” is available through Disney+’s Star brand in the UK, but it fits the Disney brand and could be one of the first binge TV series on Disney+ in the United States.
“Doogie Howser M.D.” is another great example of a Disney owned and produced series which whilst being produced for ABC back in 1989 and being rebooted as “Doogie Kamealoha M.D.” for Disney+ the original “Doogie Howser” series isn’t available on Disney+ in the US, despite it being rated TV-PG nor is it available in the UK.
Another great series from the 1980s that would fit the Disney+ “family-friendly” brand is the original 1988 series “The Wonder Years”, which was recently rebooted for ABC earlier this year. The original version of “The Wonder Years” was created by 20th Television and ran on ABC. This series is rated TV-PG and follows the life of a teenager growing up in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, so by making this series available On Disney+ would seem like a no brainer.
Some other family ABC comedies that would be great additions to Disney+ include Tim Allen series “Home Improvement”, “The Golden Girls” spinoff series “The Golden Palace”, the other “The Golden Girls” spinoff series “The Empty Nest” and classic teen high school series “Blossom”. All of which are rated TV-PG and are owned by Disney, it would also help boost the idea that Disney+ isn’t just for Disney Channel shows.
The Mickey Mouse Club (all iterations):
In 1955 Disney premiered a new show on ABC (decades before Disney acquired ABC), and it was called “The Mickey Mouse Club”. In the 1970s, Disney rebooted “The Mickey Mouse Club” as “The New Mickey Mouse Club”, and then in 1989, they rebooted the series again as “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club”. Despite being rebooted twice and having three different shows, and starting the careers of many beloved actors and actresses, only five episodes of one of these series are available on Disney+. “The Mickey Mouse Club” is a beloved variety show to many Disney historians and fans of vintage Disney content, so the fact Disney hasn’t made even one of these complete series available is disappointing.
What’s strange is that Disney has already made the first five episodes of the original version of “The Mickey Mouse Club” available in the US, but not internationally. There could be other legal reasons why these episodes aren’t available, but it’s just odd they added some but not all of them.
Classic “Adult” Animated Series:
20th Television has created some fantastic animated series over the years and “The Simpsons” is one of the most popular shows on Disney+. But there are plenty of other shows that could fit within Disney+’s family-friendly quota such as “King Of The Hill” and “Futurama”.
“Futurama” was added to Disney+ in many companies thanks to Star, but in the US, the series is locked on Hulu, despite the series being a sister series to “The Simpsons”. “King Of The Hill” is also rated TV-PG and yet, isn’t available on Disney+ in any country, and in the US, the series is on Hulu. It would be great if Disney could take “Futurama” and “King Of The Hill” and add them to Disney+ in all countries where they aren’t yet available.
Classic 20th Television Series:
20th Television is one of Disney’s primary TV production studios, and since its inception in the 1950s, they’ve produced several classic TV series which Disney could add to Disney+. Some of the classic 20th Television series that Disney could utilise in its war with Netflix include, “Daniel Boone”, “Lost In Space”, “Return To The Planet Of The Apes”, and the animated series “The Tick”.
The Odd Case For Zorro:
“Zorro” was one of Disney’s first television series, and unfortunately, the series remains MIA in almost all countries besides those in Latin America. Back in March of 2020, Disney promoted the series as coming to Disney+ in the US, but the series never materialized. The series is seemingly absent on Disney+ in other countries, including the UK. While some of the older dubs for “Zorro” could be lost, there is no excuse for a clearly preserved series that was initially filmed in English to not be available in primarily English-speaking countries like the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Classic Muppet Shows:
“The Muppets” is one of Disney’s most beloved IPs, and despite the original series and the series “Dinosaurs” being available on Disney+, there are several “Muppet” shows owned by Disney that isn’t available on Disney+. The missing shows include “Muppets Tonight”, “The Bear In The Big Blue House”, and “Muppet Sing-Alongs”, all of which are desired by “Muppet” and Disney fans alike, but Disney hasn’t added these series to the Disney+ catalogue for some unknown reasons, which is likely to be due to music issues.
Classic Disney Channel Shows and Disney Toons:
Disney has produced many great shows for ABC’s Saturday Morning and Afternoon blocks and for their Disney Channels, some of the great series Disney has produced include “Dumbo’s Circus”, “Mickey Mouse Works”, “Bug Juice”, “Jungle Cubs” and “Sing Me A Story With Belle”, to name a few. Classic Disney children’s shows could be utilised to help dig into the nostalgia of a large number of Disney fans who may have already binged the service’s backlog of shows from their childhoods. There are so many kids and animated shows missing from Disney+.
Disney really needs to add more of these legacy shows not only for older audiences but for fans of Disney’s classic content. Some of the series we have on this list like “Zorro”, “Futurama” and “The Golden Girls” are available on Disney+ in select countries, they all fit the TV-14 and below ratings and aren’t as edgy as a series like “Family Guy” so them not being available is a mystery.
The lack of so many vintage and classic television series on Disney+ is both disappointing but also expected. Some series like “Bill Nye The Science Guy” are unavailable due to litigation over the original series and Disney needing to give payouts. Things such as actors getting bonuses for reruns or creatives not giving Disney the streaming rights also affect the availability of many classic Disney, Marvel, 20th Television and ABC series on Disney+ globally, as does the quality issues of the content.
While Disney’s focus is often on the nice new shiny content, which is proven to drive new subscribers, classic content does help to keep existing subscribers engaged with the streaming service. So investing money in sorting out its existing library, such as adding subtitles, dealing with legal issues or restoring the quality, would be a great way of utilising the Disney vault, which still has thousands of titles locked away.
If Disney could add at least one or two vintage Disney owned series per month, it would give older fans something to enjoy, but also give a new generation a chance to watch them for the first time.
Do You Think Disney Has A Vintage TV Problem?
Special thanks to TheSteadfastMan for helping me with this list.
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