21 October 2002 | happiscotsman
Don't worry folks, it's all part of the show
If you are viewing this show for the first time, you may start wondering if you are in an alternate reality. Colorful and imaginative characters? Entertaining dialogue? Plots that seem to have some depth to them, even creating atmospheres of suspense and drama at times? I mean, this is a syndicated children's show right? This is the same venue that has brought kids such drek as "Pokemon", "Pepper Ann", "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers", and "VR Troopers" (please note that three of the titles mentioned above are crass Japanese exports, courtesy of the Fox Network and Saban Entertainment). Don't worry, you are just sampling some of the quality fare that was available to kids during the late 1980's and early 1990's. Some examples of this period would be "Transformers", "Garfield and Friends", "Captain Power", and "C.O.P.S." (a cartoon NOT to be confused with the live action show on Fox). Besides these prime examples, Disney also returned to syndicated programs for kids, coming up with a lineup called "The Disney Afternoon". Aside from a dumbed-down show called "The Gummi Bears", early shows like "Darkwing Duck", "Duck Tales", and "Chip 'N Dale's Rescue Rangers" gave credence to the Disney animation teams that were also turning out theatrical classics like "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Rescuers Down Under", and "The Great Mouse Detective". But above all these wonders shines "TaleSpin". The premiere of "Plunder and Lightning" was a two-hour thrill ride, and won an Emmy. Much to my delight, the rest of the episodes were up to par on the promise of the premiere.
While I enjoy the plots and dialogue, I guess for me the greatest attraction are the characters. There's Rebecca Cunningham, an independent female, but still fallible; Kit Cloudkicker, full of pre-teen angst and optimism; Louie, with his loyalty and support; Frank Wildcat, the most entertaining engineer since Scotty on the original "Star Trek"; Molly Cunningham, cute and witty, but with some depth that most child characters don't have, and of course in the middle of it all, there's Baloo, whom I would describe as a slobby version of James Bond. This is because whenever there's trouble, Baloo saves the day with the assistance of his sleeker-than-most, fastest-of-all Sea Duck (Read: James Bond's Aston Martin). Of course every great show has to have great villains, and TaleSpin doesn't disappoint here either. From the megalomania of businesstiger Shere Kahn, to the vain and always failing air pirate Don Karnage, to the hilarious and inept Soviet-satirized Thembrians. The animation is good, the music appropriate, and the episodes are (for me) the finest that children's programming has ever had to offer. Great fun for the WHOLE family!