Last month Disney posted a three-hour video that included clips from nearly every title that will be on their new streaming service Disney+ when it launches on November 12, 2019. It's an impressive array of titles that reach back to the studio's beginnings on through to many of their latest offerings. While a few of the recent releases are tangled up in agreements with other streaming services, eventually Disney+ will be home to almost everything Disney and family-friendly titles from the newly-acquired Twentieth Century Fox catalog.
Disney+ will also feature new and original content. At launch the service will have eight originals and this weekend I was able to sit down and get a taste of seven of the eight titles. The only major release that I didn't get to watch was the Star Wars series "The Mandalorian." The press release says this is because Disney wants "to give audiences the opportunity to enjoy the show to the fullest and allow them to discover any surprises and plot twists." I think they just didn't want me to spend my entire weekend focusing on Star Wars. I might have.
Here's a quick tour of what they did share with me.
I think I went to my five-year high school reunion and vowed to never attend another unless I could arrive in my own helicopter. It seemed like good motivation at the time. I still don't have a helicopter. However, I would make an exception if Disney called and asked me and my classmates to recreate our performance of "Anything Goes." Why? Because it sounds like a potential train wreck. Who doesn't love a figurative train wreck?
Kristen Bell (the voice of Frozen's Princess Anna) takes that concept of reuniting high school thespians and runs with it with"Encore!" "Annie," the first episode is not quite as insane as "Waiting for Guffman," but there's certainly the potential for fact being stranger than fiction here.
Forky Asks A Question
"Forky Asks a Question" is a series of 3-minute short films where, as the title suggests, Forky from "Toy Story 4" asks a question. Seeing as Forky isn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer, the answers to his questions tend to leave him even more perplexed than he was before. The first two episodes, "What is Money" and "What is a Friend?" are fantastic.
Marvel’s Hero Project
If anyone tries to tell you that diversity doesn't matter, you should direct them to the first episode of "Marvel's Hero Project." The series celebrates young heroes who are making a huge difference in their communities. “Sensational Jordan” tells the story of an incredible young girl who is changing the way that children with limb difference see themselves. In a world dominated by friction and hopelessness, it is refreshing to see a program that promotes hope. Love this.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Our news station is a stone's throw away from East High School where the original "High School Musical" films were shot. So, by pure osmosis, I know a whole lot about "High School Musical" than I'm comfortable with. When it was announced the reboot, I wasn't expecting this: a series about students at East High School putting on a stage version of the movie. It's still pure fiction, but at least it can poke fun at itself and hopefully stray from the confines of the original without ruining anyone's childhood. I don't know how long the self-aware schtick will work, but I enjoyed the first episode far more than I expected to.
The Imagineering Story
Do you love Disneyland? Want to know the stories behind the magic and the people who played a role in building the Magic Kingdom and beyond? "The Imagineering Story" is a peek behind the curtain. The cynical part of me sees it as one big advertisement for the theme parks. The geek part of me reveled in the stories (and they're decades away from getting to the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge part of the plot). I don't want to know all the secrets, but the central narrative behind how these parks and their many moving parts came to be is more enjoyable than you might think.
Lady and the Tramp
You might have noticed that Disney has developed a habit of revisiting their past in hopes of bankrolling their future. "The Lion King" wasn't exactly a flop ($1.6 billion at the box office) and while critics weren't enthralled, audiences obviously were. I remember seeing "Lady and the Tramp" as a kid and feeling a bit uneasy about the romantic elements (I saw the film during its 1980 re-release; I was four years old), but feeling like the two dogs were clearly meant to be together. I haven't exactly reconciled with my romantic heart and my pessimistic brain, but I've come to really enjoy the animated version of "Lady and the Tramp."
This new live-action version (yes, they used real dogs and used CGI to make it look like they are talking) feels like it is aiming for a even younger audience than the original film. They've taken out the Siamese cats and their song, but otherwise it plays pretty much the same. If you like the idea of of a live-action remake appeals to you, then you'll probably like the film itself.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
One of my favorite parts of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" were the Picture Picture segments when Fred Rogers went out into the world to show us how crayons or macaroni was made. "The World According to Jeff Goldblum" is essentially a Picture Picture segment with Jeff Goldblum replacing Rogers. Whereas Rogers always sounded excited about his topics, Goldblum needs a little convincing. It's as strange and wonderful as that might sound.
And yes, here at the end of all things we pause to acknowledge "The Mandalorian." At this point few have seen anything beyond the trailers. There are a select few who were shown 30 or so minutes of footage that avoided revealing the central plot. We're all in the dark really. It's not such a bad place to be.
We're just seeing the tip of the Disney+ Original iceberg, but there's enough variety and quality here to have me interested in what is yet to come; not just on what I already know and love.