TaleSpin (1990–1991)

TVSeries


TaleSpin (TV Series 1990–1991)

This casts key characters from The Jungle Book (1967) into a 1930s pacific setting where Baloo is a bush pilot who finds himself as part of a struggling courier company.
USA
IMDb   7.6 /10
TheMovieDb    7.2 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity   5.7 /10
Creators
Creator Jamie Mitchell
Creator Robert Taylor
Creator Alan Burnett
Creator Carter Crocker
Information
Release Date1990-09-07
Runtime
GenreAnimation, Action, Adventure
Content RatingTV-Y7 (TV-Y7)
AwardsWon 1 Primetime Emmy1 win & 5 nominations total
CompanyDisney Television Animation
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish
Balooas Baloo…
Kit Cloudkickeras Kit Cloudkicker
Rebecca Cunninghamas Rebecca Cunningham
Don Karnageas Don Karnage…
Wildcatas Wildcat…
Mad Dogas Mad Dog…
Dumptruckas Dumptruck…
Additional Voicesas Additional Voices…
Shere Khanas Shere Khan
Molly Cunninghamas Molly Cunningham
Kit Cloudkickeras Kit Cloudkicker
Colonel Ivanod Spigotas Colonel Ivanod Spigot
Additional Voicesas Additional Voices…
Sgt. Dunderas Sgt. Dunder
Colonel Groggas Colonel Grogg…
Ice Cream Manas Ice Cream Man…
Buzzas Buzz…
Dr. Deboltas Dr. Debolt…

TaleSpin

TaleSpin is an American animated television series first aired in 1990 as a preview on Disney Channel and later that year as part of The Disney Afternoon. It features characters adapted from Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book (namely, some of the film's animals being given an anthropomorphic makeover while the humans are removed), which was theatrically rereleased in the summer before this show premiered in the fall. Namely Baloo the Bear, Louie the ape, and Shere Khan the tiger, along with new characters created for the show. The name of the show is a play on "tailspin", the rapid descent of an aircraft in a steep spiral. The two words in the show's name, tale and spin, are a way to describe telling a story. The show is one of nine Disney Afternoon shows to use established Disney characters as the main characters, with the other eight being Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Quack Pack, Aladdin, and Timon & Pumbaa. It is also one of two animated television series based on the book The Jungle Book, the second being Jungle Cubs.


Background

Development

The series was largely developed by writers Jymn Magon and Mark Zaslove, who were also the supervising producers on the series as well as story editors. There were four production teams, each one headed by a producer/director: Robert Taylor, Larry Latham, Jamie Mitchell, and Ed Ghertner.

Initially, Disney simply commissioned Magon and Zaslove with creating a thirty-minute animated program for them, with no requirements as to what the show should be about. Nearing the deadline for a pitch without having come up with anything, Magon hit upon the idea of making the story about Baloo, one of the central characters of Disney's The Jungle Book, which had recently been theatrically rereleased. The show Tales of the Gold Monkey was an inspiration according to creator/supervising producer, Jymn Magon. Similar to the main character in that show, they decided to have Baloo work for an air cargo delivery service, a concept, also, occasionally featured on Disney's successful DuckTales. In order to add dramatic tension, they decided to maintain the impressionable son / bad father dynamic which had driven part of the plot of The Jungle Book, replacing the human Mowgli with the anthropomorphic bear Kit. Inspired by Cheers — then one of the most popular programs on television — Magon and Zaslove created the character Rebecca (voiced by actress Sally Struthers), basing her on the character Rebecca Howe and giving her that character's arc of being an intelligent and headstrong yet inexperienced manager put in charge of a fledgling business. Deciding to make the show a period piece, the pair lastly decided to make one of the show's primary locations a neutral zone inspired by Rick Blaine's bar in Casablanca, where they inserted the character of Louie in place of Rick. The decision to add Shere Khan to the cast was not made until later in the show's development. Magon and Zaslove also took inspiration from Hayao Miyazaki's 1989 manga Hikōtei Jidai, about a pigheaded man who flies a seaplane and fights air pirates. Two years after TaleSpin premiered, Miyazaki released an anime adaptation called Porco Rosso, which Zaslove felt took cues from TaleSpin. Phil Harris, who voiced Baloo for the film, was initially hired to reprise the role; at age 85, however, Harris had lost some of his comic timing and had to be chauffeured from his home in Palm Springs for each recording session. His work was discarded and Ed Gilbert took over the role for the rest of the series.

Famed Uncle Scrooge comic writer and artist Don Rosa wrote episode 6, "It Came from Beneath the Sea Duck", and episode 9, "I Only Have Ice for You".

The series was animated by Walt Disney Animation (Japan) Inc., Hanho Heung-Up Co., Ltd., Jade Animation, Tama Productions, Walt Disney Animation (France) S.A., Sunwoo Entertainment, and Wang Film Productions.

Gilbert would continue to voice Baloo in other Disney Projects, Commercials, Promos, miscellaneous until his death.

Harris died of a heart attack on August 11, 1995, five years after TaleSpin premiered. Three years later in August 1998, Gilbert got sick from his illness and stayed home for nine months and never recovered, Gilbert died from lung cancer on May 8, 1999 Nine years after TaleSpin premiered.

Broadcast

After a preview of TaleSpin aired on The Disney Channel from May 5 to July 15, 1990, the series began its syndicated run in September of the same year. The original concept was embodied in the pilot episode and introductory television movie Plunder & Lightning which was the sole nominee for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour) in 1991. After its premiere on September 7, 1990, Plunder & Lightning was re-edited into four half-hour episodes for reruns. The show was often seen either on its own as a half-hour show, or as part of the two-hour syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon. TaleSpin ended on its 65th episode which aired on August 8, 1991. However, reruns continued to be shown on The Disney Afternoon until September 1994. On October 2, 1995, TaleSpin began reruns on The Disney Channel as part of a two-hour programming block called "Block Party" which aired on weekdays in the late-afternoon/early-evening and which also included Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Later, the show was aired on Toon Disney, where it was first aired from April 1998 until January 2006 (with a hiatus between 2001 and 2002) and later from January 2007 until May 2008. Throughout its broadcast history, the series has been subjected to numerous edits.


Synopsis

TaleSpin is set in the city of Cape Suzette (a pun on the dish Crêpe Suzette), a place that's similar to San Francisco, California. The city lies in a large harbor or bay enclosed by a high cliff wall. A single cleft in the wall is the harbor's only means of access. The cleft is guarded by anti-aircraft artillery, preventing flying rabble-rousers or air pirates from entering the city. The characters in the world of TaleSpin are anthropomorphic animals (though normal wild animals exist too, but no humans). The time frame of the series is never specifically addressed, but appears to be in the mid-to-late 1930s, based on Baloo’s Seaplane and other things, possibly in the last stages of the Great Depression. In the show, the helicopter, television, and jet engine are experimental devices, and most architecture is reminiscent of the Art Deco style of that period. In one episode, Baloo comments that "The Great War ended 20 years ago", thus indicating that the series takes place in or around 1938. Radio is the primary mass medium, and one episode even briefly alludes to the characters having never heard of television.

The series centers on the adventures of bush pilot, Baloo the bear, whose air cargo freight business, "Baloo's Air Service", is taken up by Rebecca Cunningham who has a young daughter named Molly. Upon his default on delinquent bills with the bank (run by the criminal tiger Shere Khan), and his perceived irresponsibility in running a business by Rebecca, she takes over the business and renames it "Higher for Hire", making her Baloo’s boss. An orphan boy and former air pirate, the ambitious grizzly bear Kit Cloudkicker, attaches to Baloo and becomes his navigator. He sometimes calls Baloo "Papa Bear". Together, they are the crew of Higher for Hire's only aircraft, a 20-year-old modified Conwing L-16 (a fictitious aircraft using elements from the Fairchild C-82 transport, Grumman G-21 Goose amphibian, and a Consolidated PBY-3) named the Sea Duck. From there, the series follows the ups and downs of Higher for Hire and its staff, sometimes in the vein of old action-adventure film serials of the 1930s and 1940s, like the Tailspin Tommy movies, and contemporary variations, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Their adventures often involve encounters with a gang of air pirates led by Don Karnage, as well as with representatives of Thembria (a parody of the Stalinist Soviet Union inhabited by anthropomorphic Warthogs), or other, often even stranger obstacles. In deference to contemporary sensitivities, there is no equivalent of the Nazis in the series, although one story in Disney Adventures Magazine, "The Dogs of War!", had the heroes encounter members of the "Houn" nationality, a menacing militaristic nationality of dogs from "Hounsland" who wear uniforms that are clearly based on German ones and who speak in a mock-German accent.

The relationship between Baloo and Rebecca owes something to the screwball comedy films of the 1930s. More precisely, according to Jymn Magon (co-creator of the series), the two characters were fashioned after Sam Malone and Rebecca Howe from the then-popular sitcom Cheers.


Home media

VHS releases

Eight VHS cassettes containing 15 episodes of the series were released in the United States.

VHS NameEpisode TitlesRelease Date
True Baloo"From Here to Machinery" & "The Balooest of the Bluebloods"August 9, 1991
That's Show Biz!"Stormy Weather" & "Mommy for a Day"
Jackpots & Crackpots"A Touch of Glass" & "Her Chance to Dream"
Fearless Flyers"Jumping the Guns" & "Mach One for the Gipper"
Treasure Trap"The Idol Rich" & "Polly Wants a Treasure"February 28, 1992
Imagine That!"Flight of the Snow Duck" & "Flight School Confidential"
Wise Up!"Molly Coddled" & "The Sound and the Furry"
Search for the Lost City"For Whom the Bell Klangs" (Parts 1 & 2)

Australia and New Zealand releases

Eleven VHS cassettes containing 21 episodes of the series were released in Australia and New Zealand.

VHS NameEpisode TitlesRelease Date
TaleSpin (Volume 1): Fearless Flyers"From Here to Machinery" & "The Balooest of the Bluebloods"September 11, 1991
TaleSpin (Volume 2): Baloo Skies"Stormy Weather" & "For a Fuel Dollars More"September 11, 1991
TaleSpin (Volume 3): Dare-Devil Bears"Mommy for a Day" & "The Idol Rich"September 11, 1992
TaleSpin (Volume 4): Hot Shot Heroes"Jumping the Guns" & "Mach One for the Gipper"September 11, 1992
TaleSpin (Volume 5): Imagine That"Flight of the Snow Duck" & "Flight School Confidential"September 11, 1992
TaleSpin (Volume 6): Treasure Trap"Polly Wants a Treasure" & "The Bigger They Are, the Louder They Oink"April 2, 1993
TaleSpin (Volume 7): True Baloo"The Time Bandit" & "Louie's Last Stand"April 2, 1993
TaleSpin (Volume 8): Jackpots & Crackpots"Her Chance to Dream" & "A Touch of Glass"September 10, 1993
TaleSpin (Volume 9): That's Show Biz!"I Only Have Ice for You" & "It Came from Beneath the Sea Duck"September 10, 1993
TaleSpin (Volume 10): Wise Up!"Molly Coddled" & "The Sound and the Furry"September 10, 1993
TaleSpin (Volume 11): Search for the Lost City"For Whom the Bell Klangs" (Parts 1 & 2)September 10, 1993

DVD releases

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has released the complete series on DVD; three volumes have been released in Region 1 featuring all 65 episodes of the series. The first volume was released on August 29, 2006 (containing episodes 1–27) and the second on November 13, 2007 (containing episodes 28–54). Volume 2 includes the controversial episode "Last Horizons", which never re-aired on broadcast syndication although it did re-air on The Disney Channel and Toon Disney. On June 25, 2013, the third and final volume was released on DVD via the Disney Movie Club Exclusives. TaleSpin: Volume 3 is also for sale on DisneyStore.com.

TaleSpin: Volume 3 received a wide retail DVD release on January 13, 2015, and has been seen as a Wal-Mart Exclusive in Canada since October 12, 2014. and in the United States since October 14, 2014,

DVD NameEp#Release Date
TaleSpin: Volume 11-27August 29, 2006
TaleSpin: Volume 228-54November 13, 2007
TaleSpin: Volume 355-65June 25, 2013 (Disney Movie Club)
October 12, 2014 (retail)

International releases

The series has been released into several volumes in different countries, each containing only 4 episodes each.

Germany

In Germany, A series of 3-disc sets started with Collection 1 released on December 5, 2012, in Region 2, PAL format. The sets contain the episodes in the same order as the US releases, as well as a Fastplay feature and 6 language tracks: English, Danish, German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish, but no subtitles have been added. the first collection has only 17 episodes. A Second Collection, containing 16 episodes, was released on March 7. A Third Collection, containing 17 episodes, was released on May 29.

However, a few episodes have been removed from the original list. The 1st collection does not include "From Here To Machinery" and "Vowel Play". The 2nd set excludes "A Touch of Glass", while the 3rd set misses out "Jumping the Guns". There is no confirmation on whether these episodes will be released, along with the final 11 episodes of the series.

DVD NameEp#Release Date
Käpt'n Balu und seine tollkühne Crew Collection 117December 5, 2012
Käpt'n Balu und seine tollkühne Crew Collection 216March 7, 2013
Käpt'n Balu und seine tollkühne Crew Collection 317May 29, 2013
Käpt'n Balu und seine tollkühne Crew Collection 415N/A

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom had only two releases, each containing 3 discs per set, the sets do skip over episodes that were present on the North American sets. The First Collection came out on February 11, 2013 and The Second Collection was released on May 20, 2013.

DVD NameEp#Release Date
TaleSpin First Collection (Volumes 1–3)17February 11, 2013
TaleSpin Second Collection (Volumes 4–6)16May 20, 2013

Australia

The sets from Germany and the United Kingdom have also been released in Australia. The First Collection came out on August 17, 2012. The Second Collection was released on March 15, 2013. The Third Collection was released on October 11, 2013.

DVD NameEp#Release Date
TaleSpin First Collection (Volumes 1–3)1-27August 17, 2012
TaleSpin Second Collection (Volumes 4–6)28-54March 15, 2013
TaleSpin Third Collection55-65October 11, 2013

India

In India, TaleSpin was dubbed in Hindi and Telugu for TV broadcast in the 90s along with DuckTales. In 2012, 63 Hindi dubbed episodes out of the total 65 episodes were released by Disney India on 21 DVD volumes in PAL format. These discs support DVD Region 2, Region 4 and Region 5. However due to limited number of copies, they quickly went out of stock. Each DVD contained only 3 episodes.

Video on demand

The entire series is currently available for purchase in standard definition on Amazon Prime Video and the iTunes Store in the United States.

As of November 12, 2019, the series is available to stream on Disney+, with the exception of the episodes "Last Horizons" and "Flying Dupes".


Reception

IGN listed TaleSpin as the 81st best cartoon in the Top 100 Animated TV Shows.


Comics

A monthly comic book based on the show was published by the Disney subsidiary W. D. Publications, Inc. as part of their Disney Comics line in 1991, running for eleven issues, including a four-issue limited series called "Take Off" based on the series premiere episode Plunder & Lightning, which was published between January and April, followed by a series of seven regular issues published between June and December. Bobbi J.G. Weiss was the writer for regular issues 1–4 and 6–7, while "Take Off" was adapted from Plunder & Lightning and regular issue 5 was adapted from episode 35, "The Old Man and the Sea Duck", for both of which Weiss is credited for adaptation.

The comic's cancellation at the end of 1991 terminated several planned stories that would have revealed pieces of background for the main characters. This one seems to be an exception though: Issue 7, "The Long Flight Home", explored Kit's past, and how he joined up with the pirates. According to the letter page in #3, a planned story for the comic's annual would have explored the origin of the Iron Vulture. In addition, #4–7 would have letters 'answered' by the characters. A collected edition called Disney's Cartoon Tales featuring TaleSpin came out in 1991 (ISBN 1-56115-269-2). It reprints #4 and 6 from the regular comic book series. Subsequent comic stories were also printed in Disney Adventures from 1990 to 1995, and then re-appeared in the Summer 2006 issue of Disney Adventures Comic Zone Magazine, as well as in The Disney Afternoon comic book published by Marvel Comics.

Although issue #8 of the monthly comic series never made it to print, the end of issue #7 included a preview for it: "Spies in Cape Suzette?! There are some mighty mysterious folk sniffing around Shere Khan Industries. When Special Agent Booker shows up to handle the problem he finds that battling foreign agents is easier than dealing with Baloo as an assistant in... THE SPY WHO BUGGED ME!"


Video games

Three different TaleSpin video games were produced. One game was a scrolling shooting game published by Capcom for the NES and Game Boy. The other two were platform games; one developed by Sega for the Sega Genesis and Game Gear, and the other developed by NEC for the TurboGrafx-16. Rebecca, Kit, Baloo, Don Karnage and Shere Khan from Talespin also appeared in the Cards, for 1993's Puzzle game Mickey's Memory Challenge, released for Amiga and DOS, developed by Infogrames.

Tailspin

Gaijin's War Thunder 2021 April Fools' Day event is apparently related to or inspired by the show.

Content

A number of aircraft in the game appear to be inspired by those in the original show. Players start with the "Nimble" biplane seaplane fighter, and progress to more advanced aircraft by shooting down or getting "assists" on shooting down enemy aircraft, until reaching the mighty "Sly Duck" seaplane (which closely resembles the Sea Duck from the show). The game also includes a "Bear" pilot icon resembling Baloo and a "Fox" pilot icon. Every aircraft in the event besides the “Nimble” is from tailspin or heavily based on one seen in the show.

Gameplay is War Thunder air arcade, and players are randomly allocated to a side. Both sides have the same aircraft.

Other content includes:

  • Airship aircraft carriers.
  • Custom muzzle flash, tracer, explosion, fire and smoke effects.
  • A dragged art style that gives everything a hand drawn feel yet satisfyingly combined with a hard gloss on all aircraft which glint when they are in the sun.
  • A floating airborne map reminiscent of Ming the Merciless' cloud empire from Flash Gordon (film) or Avatar (2009 film).

Cameos

  • Darkwing Duck (1991–1992): In the episode "Film Flam", the front of Darkwing Duck's uniform is ripped open, revealing the TaleSpin logo on the shirt he wears underneath.
  • Raw Toonage (1992): In the episode "Sheerluck Bonkers / All Potato Network / The Puck Stops Here", Don Karnage hosts the episode, teaches viewers how to look for treasure, finds a lunchbox with a picture of Baloo on it, and sword fights with Captain Hook.
  • Bonkers (1993–1994): In the episode "Of Mice and Menace", Shere Khan appears in a mugshot.
  • Aladdin (1994–1995): In the episode "When Chaos Comes Calling", there is a scene where the Genie transforms into a figure resembling and dressed like Baloo and is flying the Sea Duck, while Iago is dressed like Kit Cloudkicker, Jasmine has Rebecca Cunningham's clothes and hairstyle, and Abu is dressed like Louie.
  • Robot Chicken (2014): In the episode "Batman Forever 21", Baloo is seen in the jungle with Mowgli and Bagheera, where he has dreams of his former life as a bush pilot.
  • Pickle and Peanut (2016): The episode "90's Adventure Bear" parodies TaleSpin with the title character being a stand-in for Baloo that leads a team consisting of characters based on King Louie and Kit as well as fellow Disney Afternoon characters Gadget and Zipper. An over-the-hill star of a long-ended show, 90's Adventure Bear has become bitter in his retirement and laments the show's lack of a DVD release, reflecting the incomplete status of many Disney Afternoon DVD releases.
  • DuckTales (2017): In the premiere episode "Woo-oo", Dewey Duck mentions Cape Suzette while trying to take his uncle Donald Duck's boat for a joyride and a newspaper in the episode references air pirates. Don Karnage and his Sky Pirates make appearances in the episodes "Sky Pirates...In the Sky!", "GlomTales!", "The Lost Cargo of Kit Cloudkicker!", and "The Last Adventure!", voiced by Jaime Camil. In addition, adult versions of Kit Cloudkicker (voiced by Adam Pally) and Molly Cunningham (voiced by Eliza Coupe) also appear in "The Lost Cargo of Kit Cloudkicker!" and "The Last Adventure!", along with a cameo by Baloo in a Higher for Hire commercial in the former.
  • War Thunder (2021): In an update published on April 1, 2021 as an April Fools' Day event, War Thunder introduced a limited time availability game mode called "TailSpin", which takes artistic inspiration from the TaleSpin cartoon series.

Award

  • Emmy Award 1991 – Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour) – Jymn Magon, Larry Latham, Robert Taylor, Mark Zaslove, Alan Burnett, and Len Uhley for Plunder & Lightning (Juried award; did not receive enough votes to win).
  • 1991 – Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming More Than One Hour) – Jymn Magon, Larry Latham, Robert Taylor, Mark Zaslove, Alan Burnett, and Len Uhley for Plunder & Lightning (Juried award; did not receive enough votes to win).