If you were born in the 1990s and your family had cable, you probably saw something on Disney Channel at least a few times. They played all kinds of movies and had some of the most popular kids’ shows around. Whole blogs and podcasts are devoted to these series and DCOMs (Disney Channel Original Movies), and I’m so glad for that.
I love approximately two eras of the Disney Channel (which, like Facebook, dropped the word “the” eventually). First and foremost is the Even Stevens/Lizzie McGuire era. Those are two shows that deserve their own posts. The second is the Phil of the Future/The Suite Life of Zack and Cody/Hannah Montana era. That’s So Raven bridged the gap between these two time periods.
There’s a viewing history that goes further back than that, though. In the late 1990s, I happily included the Playhouse Disney hours (now Disney Jr) in my daytime TV lineup. I was a preschooler. Two favorites from that realm are Out of the Box and PB & J Otter. I distinctly remember transitioning to the “big kid” shows in second grade, so 2001/02. Before that, even before my sister was born, my parents and I would occasionally watch the theatrically released movies that were rerun on Disney Channel. I’m talking about stuff like the Leave it to Beaver movie starring Erik von Detten and Cameron Finley (1997) and the older classic that became my all-time favorite film, Troop Beverly Hills (1989).
A constant on Disney from the late 1990s to about 2002 was a group of characters called the Zoogs (pictured above), although their looks changed in the new millennium. These robotic/anthropomorphic people livened up Disney Channel’s commercial breaks and eventually gave the network an identity: Zoog Disney. The Zoogs lived in the Zeether, a magical world that connects the Internet to the television. Internet engagement with audiences was brand new during this time, and I distinctly remember Lizzie McGuire on the screen reading “fan emails.” I also remember being told that I might just see my high score (from the online games) on the channel–that never happened.
Sadly, the Zoogs were discontinued altogether after their design revamp. Right under kids’ noses, Zoog Disney went back to just being Disney Channel again. I’m not sure why I don’t have a visceral memory of this change, but it took me awhile to notice it. I still feel nostalgic for the network post-Zoog, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the characters that told me what was on the schedule and showed me the latest Internet poll results. I’m excited to share more of the Zoog world created by skilled artist, animator, and author David Fremont on Monday. Are you also a Zoog fan? I want to hear about your memories! 🙂