This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disney+: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!
Disney+, the highly anticipated streaming service, made its debut on November 12. Like many reading this fine blog series, we were there on Day One to check it out. Unlike many, I do not consider myself a “cord cutter.” In fact, we added a “cord” by getting a second DVR for the house. I’m personally not a huge fan of streaming, and am the old man yells at cloud while clinging onto my precious physical copy Blu-Ray DVDs. I’ve enjoyed Netflix, and have sampled other streaming services (including CBS All Access for Star Trek: Discovery and Hulu for Runaways) only to drop them relatively quickly. As a person who already owns a significant collection (my girlfriend would say “way too many”) of Disney media already, Disney+ was going to have to impress me.
SPOILER ALERT: it did impress me. A lot.
But it wasn’t ALL sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows, so this week we’re going to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Disney+, starting with…
# 6 – The Good: The Mandalorian
As mentioned above, I have no problem getting a streaming service to watch a show I think is great. Netflix got me with Daredevil, and for HBO Go it was Westworld (currently it’s Watchmen). The program on Disney+ that finally got me to pull the trigger was The Mandalorian. I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life, and I’m also a huge fan of Jon Favreau, the showrunner behind Mandalorian. Favreau has directed Elf (one of my all time favorite Christmas movies), the original Iron Man (the film which began the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and the recent live action remake of The Lion King (which was better than it had any right to be).
The first episode of The Mandalorian hit me “in the feels,” similar to when The Force Awakens came out. For me, THIS is Star Wars. For whatever reasons, the movie Solo and to an extent Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have not connected with fans in a way that The Mandalorian has. There has been almost universal acclaim for the new show, and it is well deserved. The show has a “slow burn” feel of a great western, with the titular character being someone you want to spend more time with. As of this writing, three episodes of The Mandolorian have aired and I am all in.
# 5 – The Bad: “Maclunkey” makes Star Wars viewers long for the halcyon days of “Greedo shot first”
Sometimes you hear things and think “that can’t possibly be real,” and it turns out it is. When word was going around on social media that Star Wars once again changed a scene in A New Hope, I assumed it was all a practical joke. Turns out, it was 100 percent real.
First, some backstory for those who aren’t hardcore fans. When the original Star Wars came out in 1977, it introduced the world to Han Solo. Definitely in the top 10 movie characters of all time, Han was established as a bad ass early in the film when he was confronted by the bounty hunter Greedo. After a tense discussion, Han killed Greedo before the bounty hunter had a chance to shoot him. When the special edition of Star Wars was released in 1997, the scene was changed. In the new version, Greedo shoots at Han first. Somehow Greedo misses his shot despite being approximately 24 inches away. Han then immediately shoots Greedo back and kills him.
For theme park fans, this was the equivalent of replacing Horizons with Mission: SPACE. The new “moment” was hated across the board. This is what George Lucas wanted though, so it was staying, no matter what. Whatever, the rest of the movie is so great that you can overlook one mystifying decision. But Star Wars wasn’t done. Not by a long shot.
In 2004, the scene was slightly tweaked so that instead of Greedo deliberately shooting first and Han afterwards, the two shot simultaneously. This change did not make the scene better or worse. But this had to be the last change, right?
When A New Hope made its debut on Disney+ the scene was changed AGAIN. This time Han moves a little bit, and Greedo says “Ma Klounkee” right before being shot.
Almost everyone watching assumed Greedo said “Maclunkey.” Now, that word makes no sense. What also makes no sense is Star Wars thinking anyone watching would know that Greedo was actually saying “Ma Klounkee.” For the .0001% of Star Wars fans who know the Huttese language, Ma Klounkee means “the end of you.”
The general reaction to “Ma Klounkee” was very similar to the reaction to the original “Greedo shoots first.” Unfortunately for Disney, the new change took place during the era of Twitter. In response to the incredible negative response, Disney threw George Lucas right under the bus saying it was a change made to the film before they bought Lucasfilm.
We’ll always have the memes and YouTube videos making fun of this change. Unfortunately, we’ll also still have the actual change in the movie too.
# 4 – The Good: The Imagineering Story, Legend of the Three Caballeros, Noelle, and Lady & the Tramp headline an impressive catalog
Star Wars was just the tip of the iceberg for what Disney+ brought to the table. There was literally something for everyone. Theme park fans were in for a surprise with the debut of the documentary series The Imagineering Story. I was hesitant going into this thinking it would be a fluff piece, but the series is surprisingly candid. It celebrates the rich history of Disney Imagineering, warts and all. The Imagineering Story is what you show people who don’t understand why you keep going back to theme parks on your vacations. It is a tale of regular people doing extraordinary things, leaving an impact that will be felt by generations. I have to admit I’ve teared up several times in just the first couple episodes, as each show is not just an informative look at how the parks we visit today were created, but also a love letter to the men and women behind them. One exciting part of The Imagineering Story is that the show opens the door for other series that we might get down the road. How about spending an hour with Imagineer Joe Rohde on Pandora: The World of Avatar? Tony Baxter on Splash Mountain? Kathy Magnum on Cars Land? What about Imagineers going over in detail the history and importance of Tiki Room, Jungle Cruise, or its a small world? The possibilities are endless and now I’m looking forward to more behind-the-scenes glimpses of the parks we know like the back of our hand.
There’s so much on Disney+ that it can be overwhelming. Case in point, the animated series Legend of the Three Caballeros. Back in 2018, Disney fans found out this series was released on a Disney app available only in South America. The reaction? Many desperately wanted to see it here. Well, thanks to Disney+ we now have it, and for the most part it’s tumbleweeds across the fandom. Why? Because we have so much other stuff as well!
Christmas movies have become a cottage industry for several television stations, and Disney+ brought out the big guns for its first holiday release Noelle. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, Noelle is a progressive take on the tale of someone taking over for Santa Claus. It’s a perfectly acceptable Christmas movie, and FAR better than the average release on the Hallmark Channel or Lifetime, but it also doesn’t reach the heights of a true classic. The good news is that Disney+ is also loaded with some all timers in the Christmas Hall of Fame, including A Muppet Christmas Carol, the original Santa Clause, and Jonathan Taylor Thomas in I’ll Be Home For Christmas. (Okay, maybe I’m the only one who’s a sucker for that film.)
You can probably count on one hand with some fingers left over of the animated classics Disney’s hasn’t remade into a live action version. I really want to dislike this trend, but for every Dumbo there is an Aladdin (which was a real surprise). Beauty & the Beast was “okay” but Jungle Book was really good (in some ways better than the original). Lady & the Tramp falls into the “perfectly acceptable” category with something like Cinderella.
When Disney announced High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, it almost seemed like a practical joke. Surprise! It’s actually pretty good! But there are so many TV shows on Disney+ to choose from, including: DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, Boy Meets World, Kim Possible, Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zach & Cody, Jessie, Gravity Falls, and more! If you grew up with it, there’s a great chance it’s on Disney+.
# 3 -The Good: Surprising Extras
Okay, we knew Disney+ was going to start with a TON of movies. In fact it’s jawdropping the amount of content they have film wise. However, we didn’t know they were also going to have “DVD extras” available for many of the movies! With deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and even audio commentary, this is going above and beyond because Disney could have easily included zero extras and no one would have said a word. Instead you can watch extra content from animated classics like Dumbo and Peter Pan, all the way to newer movies like Avengers: Endgame.
# 2 – The Bad: The rollout hasn’t been exactly flawless…
Before Disney+ arrived, many people (including Yours Truly) predicted it could be a disaster in waiting. For me personally, this was based on my history with the Disney Company basically screwing up every piece of technology that consumers have to interact with. Aside from a long history of disasters (ESPN phone anyone?) even recent things like MyDisneyExperience can become an endless source of frustration. However, there was another segment of the community that said this was all “much ado about nothing,” and that Disney+ would definitely arrive with no problems whatsoever.
Well, there were some problems.
In fact there were so many people having issues that Disney had to make a statement.
The issues became so well known that even The Daily Show on Comedy Central made fun of them.
When people starting playing around with Disney+, they also found some things that probably should have been caught long ago, such as typos…
# 1 – The UGLY: The Simpson Aspect Ratio
One complaint that went viral on the debut of Disney+ is something that Fox already had to deal with. It concerns The Simpsons television show, which is still something odd to see on Disney+. For those of you who aren’t audio/visual nerds, for a long time just about everything was presented in a 4:3 ratio. Let’s refer back to the picture of Walt going over the Haunted Mansion in The Imagineering Story earlier in the article. You’ll notice that there are black bars on the side of the picture. That’s because TVs now are widescreen, and everything is filmed in a widescreen format. The first 19 seasons of The Simpsons were presented in the 4:3 format, but when Disney released them on Disney+, they stretched out the picture so it would fit widescreen. What this does is cut off part of the picture. For many shows, this isn’t that big of a deal, but for a show like The Simpsons that uses a lot of visual humor, it can be a HUGE deal.
The reaction to The Simpsons aspect ratio was so overwhelmingly negative that Disney has already said they will change this in 2020, presumably giving people the opportunity to choose between 4:3 and widescreen formats. Not sure if they are going to put the same level of time and effort into converting episodes of The Little Mermaid TV show.
Honorable Mention – Mea Culpa 2.0
We’re going to be seeing a lot of this in the days and years to come, as society reflects back on what was acceptable in the past, but not today. Warner Brothers has a similar “context explanation” before some of their Looney Toons shorts.
So there you have it: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Disney+! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.