March 14, 2015


(Disney Channel, Syndication, CBS, February 6, 1994-November 25, 1995)

Walt Disney Television Animation

Scott Weinger – Aladdin
Linda Larkin – Princess Jasmine
Dan Castellaneta – Genie
Frank Welker – Abu, Rajah, Xerxes, Squirt, Saurus, various

            Follow me to a place where incredible feats are routine every hour or so, where a thief lives in a palace and a genie is always on the go.

Aladdin character size-comparison chart and color palette.
            In 1988, lyricist Howard Ashman pitched an adaptation of the fable of Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights to Disney. He was joined by partner Alan Menken who co-wrote several songs and a film treatment. Linda Woolverton wrote a screenplay from it, and directors John Musker and Ron Clements chose the project to work on over two others; one of which eventually became The Lion King. Although the studio was committed to a November 25th, 1992 release date, studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg found the script not engaging and ordered massive rewrites. Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio handled those, and the script was approved. 

            The resulting film was Aladdin, which put a Disney-spin on the classic story to make it more appropriate for their audiences. The sinister Jafar (Jonathan Freeman), Grand Vizier to the Sultan (Douglas Seale) of the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah, enlisted street thief Aladdin (Scott Weinger) and his monkey Abu (Frank Welker) to steal a magic lamp from the Cave of Wonders for him. Instead, Aladdin frees and befriends the Genie (Robin Williams) inside and a living magic carpet, and together they faced off against Jafar; halting his plans to conquer the kingdom and marry the lovely Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin), whom Aladdin had fallen for.

Aladdin and Abu.

            Aladdin was a “street rat” in Agrabah; living by stealing whatever he needed and surviving on his cleverness and wits. He was designed by a team of animators led by Glen Keane, originally resembling Michael J. Fox. Wanting to mature the design a bit, elements were derived from Tom Cruise and various Calvin Klein models, as well as basing his loose pants on rapper MC Hammer’s. After the rewrites, Aladdin’s personality became rougher to bring him closer to a young Harrison Ford. Weinger sent in a homemade audition tape for the role with his mother playing the Genie. His companion, Abu, was a loyal friend but also a bit of a kleptomaniac. He was based on the Abu character from the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad. Although monkeys were studied for the character at the San Francisco Zoo, the character was given many human-like qualities and could even speak somewhat. He was animated by DuncanMarjoribanks.

Jasmine is tempted by Saleen.

            Princes Jasmine was based on Princess Badroulbadour from the Aladdin story, however made less vain and spoiled, and her ethnicity switched from Asian to match the new location of the story. The name “Jasmine” was chosen due to its being one of the most popular baby names at the time. She was the beautiful princess that was being forced to marry by law by her 16th birthday. She, however, was free-spirited, wanted to marry who she wanted to, and craved adventure; traits given to her as a result of the script rewrites that made her a stronger character. She was designed and animated by Mark Henn, who used his sister Beth’s facial features and was inspired by a theme park guest’s long, flowing hair. Larkin, accompanying a friend on an audition for the role, decided to herself and won the role. However, her pitch was deemed too high and sounding too young, which almost cost her the role until Clements and Musker fought for her to stay. Her pet was a tiger named Rajah (Welker) who displayed many dog-like behaviors. Despite not being anthropomorphized, he was capable of understanding human language and emotions. Rajah’s animation was handled by Aaron Blaise.

The Genie and his lamp.

            The Genie (who was never given a proper name) was created with Robin Williams in mind. Initially met with resistance for their choice, Clements and Musker compiled a reel of Williams’ stand-up and played it to animations of the Genie. Williams, enjoying the reel, eventually signed on to the film at base pay in gratitude for the success of his movie Good Morning,Vietnam. In an unusual move, Williams was allowed to improvise much of his dialogue with minimal direction and the best lines were selected by supervising animator Eric Goldberg to work off of. As a result, Genie became a source of comic relief in the film, using his vast powers to constantly transform into various beings and things, and making in-jokes and references beyond the universe where the film was set.

Iago throwing a fit, as usual.

            Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) was Jafar’s colorful parrot companion. Initially scripted as being a calm, serious, British character, the filmmakers abandoned that concept upon seeing Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II and casting him in the role. As a result, Iago became a high-strung and outspoken character, always willing to vent his frustrations. He was also notoriously greedy and went to outlandish lengths to acquire wealth. Animator Will Finn incorporated some of Gottfried’s appearance into Igao’s. Iago’s name was derived from Shakespeare’s Othello, where Othello had a sidekick named Iago he believed to be trustworthy but really had his own selfish agendas. 

Aladdin and Abu ride Carpet.

            The Magic Carpet (usually referred to as just “Carpet”) was a living entity unto itself. It had a personality through its silence and an obvious intelligence, being good at Chess for one thing. Animator Randy Cartwright designed it to use body language and pantomime to communicate, making it more flexible and almost human. For the film, computer artist Tina Price added a faux-Persian design that could match Carpet’s movements without changing too much in appearance. It became Aladdin’s primary mode of transportation. 

            The film previewed on November 13th, 1992 before opening in a wide release on the 25th. Despite taking five of its 22 weeks to reach #1 at the box office, it became the most successful movie of the year. Tad Stones and Alan Zaslove were commissioned to begin work on an animated series based on the concept, however Stones suggested that they should eye a direct-to-video sequel in the ever-growing home video market. Considering a sequel would be cheaper to produce that way, and able to be released three years sooner in order to appease audience demand for more, the idea was approved and what was intended to be the first five episodes of the animated series ended up being gathered and condensed into 1994’s The Return of Jafar. It became Disney’s first direct-to-video animated feature release.

Sadira uses her magic to switch places with Jasmine.

            The film saw Iago managing to free himself from the lamp where Jafar, who was tricked into wishing he was a genie, became imprisoned and rebels against his former master in the hopes of getting in Aladdin’s good graces to return to palace living. The incompetent bandit Abis Mal (Jason Alexander) found the lamp and freed Jafar. Aladdin and his friends banded together, with the help of Iago, to defeat Jafar once and for all by destroying his lamp. All of the original cast returned except for the Sultan, who was voiced by Val Bettin due to Douglas Seale’s health, and the Genie. After Disney backed out on their deal with Williams to keep his name out of advertising for the first movie and keep the Genie’s image under 25% of promotional art, Williams had a falling out with the studio and refused to reprise his role. It was instead taken over by Dan Castellaneta. 

Although the sequel was not as well-received as the first, production on the animated series continued from where the film left off. Animated by Slightly Offbeat Productions Studios in New Zealand, the series ran nine episodes in previews on The Disney Channel beginning in February, 1994 before officially beginning in syndication on The Disney Afternoon 2-hour programming block and on CBS Saturday mornings that September. The series maintained the look and cast from Return of Jafar, with Aladdin resuming living in his hovel while still being engaged to Princess Jasmine. Genie, despite being freed at the end of the first movie, once again wore the wrist bands that marked his servitude. The series used a rearrangement of the soundtrack from the first movie, notably the Return of Jafar version of the song “Arabian Nights” by Menken and Ashman with vocals provided by Bruce Adler. A second version of the intro featured new clips from the first ABC season interspersed with the ones shown previously.

Mozenrath and his undead minions.

Continuing on like the movies, Aladdin and his friends journeyed around Agrabah and the neighboring kingdoms; going on treasure hunts, protecting their home, and encountering a myriad of mystical beings—both good and sinister. They often found themselves at the mercy of individuals like Mechanicles (Charlie Adler), an ancient Greek scientist who specializes in advanced mechanics and has an OCD about cleanliness; Mirage (Bebe Neuwirth), a cat-like enchantress who controls illusions, dreams and shdows; Ayam Aghoul (Hamilton Camp), an undead ghoul who was obsessed with trapping Aladdin and his friends in the Netherworld; Saleen (Julie Brown), a sea elemental who was determined to make Aladdin her merman prince of the sea; and Mozenrath (Jonathan Brandis & Jeff Bennett), a young sorcerer whose gauntlet is both the source of his powers and rapidly fed on his physical body, causing him to seek additional means of power as well as a new form. Abis Mal from Return of Jafar also made several appearances with his sidekick Haroud Hazi Bin (James Avery).   

The sinister Mirage.

Of course, the vast deserts are not just full of perils. Along the way they had also made friends like Sadira (Kellie Martin), a fellow street rat who turned to sand magic in order to forcefully win Aladdin’s heart before eventually becoming friends with him; Prince Uncouthma (Tino Insana), ruler of the barbaric land of Odiferous who began as a suitor for Jasmine before eventually marrying Brawnhilda (Carol Kane) and having a son named Bud (E.G. Daily); Thundra (Candi Milo), a Rainbird who oversaw the world’s weather from her rain forest and developed affections for Iago; and Merc (Dorian Harwood), the captain of a flying ship who sought to hunt and kill a giant land-shark.

In 1995, the series won three Daytime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Music Direction and Composition,” “Outstanding Film Sound Mixing,” and “Outstanding Film Sound Editing” while taking home the “Outstanding Film Sound Mixing” again in 1996. After the series, Disney released a final direct-to-video sequel called Aladdin and the King of Thieves in 1996, inspired by Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. It introduced Cassim (John Rhys-Davies), Aladdin’s father and the king of thieves and culminated in the long-delayed wedding of Aladdin and Jasmine. Several characters from the series made cameo appearances in the crowd at the wedding. When new Disney chairman Joe Roth initiated a public apology to Robin Williams over the first film’s marketing, Williams agreed to return to voice the Genie for the third movie. All of Genie’s footage and Castellaneta’s recorded dialogue were scrapped and the role completely redone to fit Williams’ comedic styling. 

One of the Aladdin VHS tapes.

Twelve VHS tapes, eight as Aladdin's Arabian Adventures and four under the title Princess Collection – Jasmine’s Enchanted Tales, were released containing two episodes each between 1995 and 1996 in America, while ten VHS tapes were released in New Zealand between 1996 and 1997. Between 2004 and 2005, Disney Princess Stories volumes 1-3 each contained one episode of the series as did Disney Princess Party volume 2. Three episodes were released on the DVD Jasmine’s Enchanted Tales: Journey of a Princess.

Hercules meets Aladdin.

In the following years, Aladdin, Jasmine, Abu and Carpet reunited for a crossover episode of Disney’s Hercules: The Animated Series in the 1999 episode “Arabian Night.” In the Square Enix action role playing game series Kingdom Hearts, Aladdin, Abu, Iago, Carpet and Genie are all featured characters. Castellaneta reprised his role of Genie until he was replaced by Jim Meskimen in Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix. Jasmine, Abu, Iago, Rajah, Carpet and the Sultan (now voiced by Bennett) were featured in the direct-to-video feature Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams in 2007. Marvel Comics published a series of Aladdin comics between 1994 and 1995 for eleven issues, and the series was also a featured comic in Disney Adventures magazine.

EPISODE GUIDE (airdates before September ’94 are original Disney Channel airings):

“Air Feather Friends” (9/5/94) – Aladdin has to prove small tornados wrecking the marketplace are thieves in order to save Abu’s life.

“Bad Moon Rising” (9/6/94) – The gang heads to Quirkistan to trade, but end up enlisted to change the young child king’s mood as it controls the state of the country.

“To Cure a Thief” (4/17/94) – Believing Abu responsible for a theft from the palace, Aladdin puts him on a leash prompting Abu to run away and join up with the real thief.

“Do the Rat Thing” (9/8/94) – To prove to Aladdin she can survive on the streets, Jasmine and Iago set out and steal a mirror that ends up turning them into a rat and lizard respectively.

“Never Say Nefir” (4/24/94) – The gang learns Getizstan is constantly destroyed by dancing rhino Semir and suspiciously quickly rebuilt by Nefir and his Imps the following day.

“Getting the Bugs Out” (2/6/94) – Aladdin takes credit for Genie and Carpet’s work in stopping a mechanical bug and ends up forced to do so for real when they’re taken captive.

“The Vapor Chase” (9/13/94) – Abis Mal tricks Jasmine into giving magic powder to the people as they form a creature willing to steal for him.

“Garden of Evil” (9/14/94) – Arbutus returns to claim a debut the Sultan owes him for picking one of his flowers: Jasmine.

“Much Abu About Something” (3/27/94) – A lost civilization worships Abu as their great protector, but Aladdin keeps stealing his spotlight.

“My Fair Aladdin” (4/3/94) – Aladdin tries to be more sociable in order to be part of royal meetings, while Genie is captured by Mechanicles.

“Some Enchanted Genie” (9/19/94) – Abis Mal wants the genie Eden possessed by an orphan girl while Genie falls for Eden.

“Web of Fear” (9/20/94) – Aladdin investigates the sudden collapse of a section of town.

“Mudder’s Day” (2/13/94) – A desert oasis turns out to be a trap to catch food for carnivorous subterranean mud creatures.

“Plunder the Sea” (9/22/94) – Mechanicles’ kraken sinks merchant ships.

“Strike Up the Sand” (9/23/94) – Street rat Sandira tries to make Aladdin fall for her by using sand magic to create a monster to kidnap Jasmine.

“I Never Mechanism I Don’t Like” (9/26/94) – Only Genie and Carpet escape the hypnotizing of Mechanicles’ latest plot against Aladdin.

“Fowl Weather” (2/20/94) – Iago distracts Thundra, ruler of the rain forest, so that the gang can steal a rain cloud in order to give the city water.

“Forget Me Lots” (9/28/94) – Abis Mal uses the Rose of Forgetfulness to make Jasmine believe she’s his daughter and that they’re destined to take over the city.

“Scare Necessities” (9/29/94) – Iago sets his sights on Jasmine’s new pet who grants the wish of whoever frightens it.

“SandSwitch” (9/30/94) – Sadira uses her magic to rearrange everyone’s memories to believe she is the princess; however the magic doesn’t affect animals.

“Lost and Founded” (10/3/94) – Abis Mal uses a magical hour glass to go back in time and ensure his ancestor becomes the city’s first Sultan.

“Moonlight Madness” (10/4/94) – Aladdin must choose between a romantic evening with Jasmine and joining his friends on a treasure hunt.

“The Flawed Couple” (10/5/94) – Abis Mal and Mechanicles team-up to battle their common foe.

“Rain of Terror” (10/6/94) – Iago is given control of the rain forest while Thundra takes a vacation, but is tricked out of the controlling amulet by her enemy Malcho.

“Dune Quixote” (10/7/94) – Genie’s magic disrupts Sandia’s fantasy spell, causing Aladdin to continue to act out her fantasy in the real world.

“The Day the Bird Stood Still” (10/10/94) – Abis Mal curses the Sultan’s bath oils, and when Iago uses them he begins to turn to stone.

“Of Ice and Men” (10/11/94) – The gang brings an ice ifrit to the city to entertain the people with snow, but realize the cold weather is too much for them to handle.

“Opposites Detract” (10/12/94) – The gang rescues Zin from the desert, and learn his evil half Zang causes their dragon form to destroy the city of Pei Ling that they’re supposed to protect.

“Caught by the Tale” (10/13/94) – Overhearing Iago embellishing stories about Aladdin to two kids, Abis Mal and Haroud convince them to steal something only Aladdin would be able to.

“Elemental, My Dear Jasmine” (10/14/94) – Water elemental Saleen traps Jasmine under water while she goes on land to win Aladdin’s heart.

“Smolder and Wiser” (10/17/94) – Haroud tricks Aladdin to believe he’s been cursed with clumsiness while Abis Mal uses a fire ifrit to conquer the city.

“The Game” (10/18/94) – To beat Carpet in a game, Genie enlists the aid of two wizard who aren’t as benevolent as they seem.

“Poor Iago” (10/20/94) – Tired of being greedy, Iago begins being generous to a fault—especially with other people’s belongings.

“The Animal Kingdom” (10/24/94) – The gang finds a hidden valley where animals built their own civilization and deem Aladdin a threat.

“Power to the Parrot” (10/25/94) – Genie gives Iago his magic so he can learn what a responsibility it is having those powers.

“The Sands of Fate” (10/27/94) – Trying to help two warring factions escape a time loop ends up entrapping Aladdin in the same loop.

“The Citadel” (10/31/94) – Sorcerer Mozenrath offers Aladdin a position after he bested his monster, but Aladdin’s refusal results in Mozenrath kidnapping Genie.

“Snowman is an Island” (11/2/94) – A yeti lets the gang pass through his frozen kingdom, but keeps Genie to entertain him.

“The Secret of Dagger Rock” (11/3/94) – Mozenrath kidnaps Aladdin in exchange for Genie, and Jasmine does whatever it takes to help rescue him.

“In the Heat of the Fright” (11/4/94) – Charting a river leads the gang to encounter Mirage, whom Genie becomes increasingly afraid of.

“The Seven Faces of Genie” (11/7/94) – Abis Mal and Haroud throw an orb at Genie that splits him into seven forms with different personalities.

“The Wind Jackals of Mozenrath” (11/8/94) – Aladdin, Jasmine and Abu go to find a weapon Mozenrath has, and the others end up getting them captured by triggering his magic alarms.

“A Clockwork Hero” (11/9/94) – A young boy wants to be a hero like Aladdin and commandeers one of Mechanicles’ constructs to do it, but Mechanicles wants it back.

“Mission: Imp Possible” (11/10/94) – Nefir poisons Aladdin in order to get Genie to help him steal the golden silk from a giant worm.

“Stinker Belle” (11/11/94) – The group attends a wedding where the bride suddenly falls for Aladdin, meanwhile the Royal Vizier plans to overthrow the kingdom.

“Shadow of a Doubt” (11/14/94) – Mirage erects an obelisk that will wipe out the city as its shadow expands with the sun.

“Smells Like Trouble” (11/15/94) – Odiferous’ citizens are being plagued by petrification, and their barbarian ways aren’t enough to deal with the cause.

“The Way We War” (11/16/94) – Nefir sets Agrabah and Odiferous to war so he can profit on selling arms to both sides.

“Night of the Living Mud” (11/17/94) – Iago accidentally brings some of the Al Muddy home, and Genie attempts to deal with it so that Aladdin can get some rest.

“Egg-stra Protection” (11/18/94) – The gang tries to retrieve a gryphon egg from Abis Mal, and despite being hurt Aladdin refuses to sit things out.

“Heads, You Lose” (11/21/94) – Wizard Caliph Kapok asks for help reattaching his head to his evil body, but the gang soon learns that it’s the head that’s actually evil.

“The Love Bug” (11/22/94) – Mechanicles tears down Thundra’s rain forest.

“When Chaos Comes Calling” (11/23/94) – Mirage sicks the chaos-loving godlike cat Chaos on Agrabah to destroy the city for her.

“Armored and Dangerous” (11/30/94) – The Sultan dons a mystical armor to protect the city, but the others soon learn it’s cursed to turn its wearer evil.

“Shark Treatment” (1/6/95) – Saleen lures Aladdin back to the ocean and curses him to turn him into a shark.

“Back Sand” (2/2/95) – Mozenrath imprisons the residents of the palace with his Black Sand and replaces them with his undead minions.

“Love at First Sprite” (2/6/95) – Sprites follow Aladdin to the palace one day and give them the gift of flight, however they refuse to let them return to Earth.

“Vocal Hero” (2/8/95) – Amin Damoola turns the Sultan into a gold statue with devices supplied by Mozenrath.

“The Lost City of the Sun” (2/9/95) – Mozenrath captures the sprites in order to have them find him a lost city with a weapon he requires.

“As the Netherworld Turns” (2/13/95) – Jafar’s magic ball transports Iago and Abu to the Netherworld where Ayam Aghoul plans to make them permanent residents.

“Seems Like Old Crimes –Part One” (2/16/95) – The Guardian of the Destiny Stone comes to Aladdin for help in retrieving the Destiny Stone which absorbed his former friends.

“Seems Like Old Crimes – Part Two” (2/17/95) – Aladdin’s old friends, now transformed, wreak havoc on Agrabah.

“From Hippsodeth, With Love” (2/20/95) – Jasmine declines a date invitation for the Sultan from Queen Hippsodeth, and Iago’s added insults bring her suitor to defend her honor.

“Destiny on Fire” (2/27/95) – Aziz turns everyone into slugs, and only Aladdin and Razoul can stop him—together.

“The Return of Malcho” (2/28/95) – Malcho returns for revenge on Iago, and acting-Sultan Aladdin has to protect him and the city.

Season 1:

“Raiders of the Lost Shark” (5/1/94) – The gang volunteers to help the captain of a sky ship defeat a giant land shark.

“Sneeze the Day” (9/24/94) – Aladdin and Iago go after a cure for Genie’s cold, which makes his magic uncontrollable every time he sneezes.

“The Prophet Motive” (2/27/94) – A prophet in the marketplace leads the gang on an adventure against an evil cyclops.

“That Stinking Feeling” (10/8/94) – Aladdin and Jasmine have to put aside their fight to save Prince Uncouthma from the Forbidden Oasis.

“Beast or Famine” (10/15/94) – Mole people kidnap Genie so that a shaman can use his powers to increase his own.

“The Spice is Right” (10/22/94) – Aladdin finds a necklace for Jasmine which makes her the bride of Ayam Aghoul.

“Hero with a Thousand Feathers” (10/29/94) – A prophecy reveals that Iago will release an ancient evil and that only he can put it back.

“Witch Way Did She Go?” (11/5/94) – Sadira accidentally releases three Sand Witches and is accused of returning to her old ways.

“Sea No Evil” (11/12/94) – Iago tricks Aladdin to join a treasure hunt that ends up swapping him out for Ayam Aghoul.

“A Sultan Worth His Salt” (11/19/94) – Jasmine is kidnapped by a clan of warrior women and the Sultan insists on joining in on her rescue.

“Genie Hunt” (11/26/94) – Genie’s last living former master wants him back and hires Mukhtar the genie hunter to retrieve him.

“The Lost Ones” (12/3/94) – Mirage uses shadow walkers to kidnap Agrabha’s children.

“Eye of the Beholder” (12/10/94) – Mirage tests Aladdin’s love by giving Jasmine a lotion that turns her into a snake woman.

Season 2:

“The Hunted” (9/16/95) – Mozenrath captures his friends and Genie is forced to team-up with Mukhtar to save them.

“Riders Redux” (9/23/95) – The gang joins up with a group of marauders to find out how they keep robbing the royal treasure transport.

“The Book of Khartoum” (9/30/95) – Mozenrath captures Genie and Eden to use their magic to create a Philosopher’s Stone.

“While the City Snoozes” (10/7/95) – Only Aladdin and Jasmine are left awake to stop Mirage’s sleep-inducing music box.

“Two to Tangle” (10/21/95) – Mozenrath plans to place his spirit in Aladdin’s body, but Aladdin’s friends stopping him ends up leaving both their spirits in the same body.

“The Ethereal” (11/4/95) – Jasmine’s dreams foretell of the Ethereal coming to judge Agrabah.

“The Shadow Knows” (11/18/95) – Ayam Aghoul steals everyone’s shadows into the Netherealm.

“The Great Rift” (11/25/95) – Finding some gems releases a sorceress and her family and they conquer Agrabah.

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