Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue was a half-hour animated television special aired simultaneously on NBC, CBS and ABC on April 21, 1990, financed by McDonald's. This special brought together a number of famous cartoon characters, representative of the line-ups of all three networks, as well as syndication -- the Muppet Babies and Garfield (CBS); Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show), and Slimer (The Real Ghostbusters) (ABC); ALF, The Chipmunks, and The Smurfs (NBC); and Huey, Dewey and Louie (Ducktales) and Michaelangelo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) from syndication. The purpose of the program was to make youthful viewers aware of the dangers of drug use, and was a joint production amongst the various studios involved, overseen by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, with the main animation provided by Southern Star/Hanna-Barbera Australia Productions and Wang Film Productions.
The plot line centers around a teenage boy named Michael, already struggling with drugs, who is pressured into using harder drugs by his unsavory friends. Also harassing him is Smoke, a malevolent symbolic representation of drug abuse, dressed in a business suit. Michael's younger sister Corey worries about him; her room is littered with familiar toys and merchandise, including a Baby Kermit alarm clock and stuffed Winnie the Pooh. Through some form of psychic connection and mythical anthropomorphism, the various toys, books, and posters of licensed characters awaken to assist her. Once apprised of the situation, through a clinical definition by Chipmunk member Simon of the chemical affects of marijuana, other characters, apparently manifesting from thin air or from the labyrinths of network cross-promotion, join in.
The Muppet Babies are most prominently featured in a sequence in which Kermit, now sans clock mechanism, is suddenly joined by Baby Piggy and Baby Gonzo. Piggy is more interested in romance, while Kermit, "thanks to the power of imagination," takes Michael on a psychedelic tour of his own tortured mind. The trip shows the effects of illegal substances on the brain, or rather, Baby Gonzo's lurid artistic conception. The trio are soon compelled to "abandon brain."
Other highlights, as an array of animated characters lecture Michael incessantly, include Bugs Bunny's impersonation of an officer of the law, a musical number "Wonderful Ways to Say No" which includes an admonition not to be tactless to drug dealers, Baby Piggy spitting Michael out of her mouth, and ALF demolishing The Berlin Wall.
Behind the Scenes
- Songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who wrote the songs for the Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors and the Disney movies The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, wrote the song "Wonderful Ways To Say No" for this special.
- Jeff Bergman as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck
- Townsend Coleman as Michaelangelo and Dad
- Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
- Don Messick as Papa Smurf
- Danny Goldman as Brainy Smurf
- Lorenzo Music as Garfield
- Paul Fusco as ALF
- Ross Bagdasarian Jr. as Alvin and Simon
- Janice Karman as Theodore
- Frank Welker as Baby Kermit, Slimer, and Smurfs
- Laurie O'Brien as Baby Piggy and Mom
- Russi Taylor as Baby Gonzo and Huey, Dewey and Louie
- George C. Scott as Smoke
- Executive Producer: Roy E. Disney
- Producer: Buzz Potamkin
- Writers: Duane Poole, Tom Swale
- Voice Director: Hank Saroyan
- Art Directors: Don Morgan, Takashi
- Production Executives Committe: Bill Hanna, Mark Glamack, Lee Gunther, Margaret Loesch, Jean McCurdy, Phil Roman, Ken Spears, Michael Webster
- Germany, Austria, Switzerland: The special was simulcast on all major networks in 1990, and once more in 1991, as Comic-Stars gegen Drogen (Comic-Stars Against Drugs). The Bush introduction was replaced with one by Annemarie Renger, former federal parliamentary vice-president of Germany and voluntary, supervisory board chairwoman of "Ronald McDonald" Kinderhilfe (Ronald McDonald House Charity). The special was promoted by McDonald's restaurants.