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TaleSpin on DVD: Volume 1 Volume 2

TaleSpin: Volume 1 DVD Review

Buy the TaleSpin: Volume 1 DVD from Amazon.com TaleSpin: Volume 1 (1990)
Show & DVD Details

Producers: Jymn Magon, Ken Tsumura, Mark Zaslove

Producer/Directors: Robert Taylor, Jamie Mitchell, Larry Latham, Ed Ghertner

Regular Writers: Libby Hinson, Mark Zaslove, Alan Burnett, Len Uhley, Don Rosa, Jeremy Cushner, Carter Crocker, Dean Stefan / Story Editors: Jymn Magon, Mark Zaslove, Karl Geurs, Bruce Talkington, Ken Koonce, David Wiemers

Voice Cast: Ed Gilbert (Baloo), Sally Struthers (Rebecca Cunningham), Jim Cummings (Louie, Don Karnage, others), R.J. Williams (Kit Cloudkicker), Alan Roberts (Kit Cloudkicker), Janna Michaels (Molly Cunningham), Pat Fraley (Wildcat), Tony Jay (Shere Khan), Chuck McCann (Assorted), Michael Gough (Colonel Spigot), Lorenzo Music (Sergeant "Dundy" Dunder), Charlie Adler (Assorted), Frank Welker (Assorted), Jack Angel (Assorted), Danny Mann (Assorted) / Notable Guest Voices: Cam Clark (Dan Dawson), Pete Renaday (Captain Stansbury), Scott Bullock (Ignatz), Hamilton Camp (Seymour), Ken Sansom (Ralph Throgmorton), Tress MacNeille (Kitten Caboodle), Brian Cummings (Jack Case), Ken Mars (Heimlich Menudo, Buzz), Patrick Gorman (Professor Martin Torque), Joan Gerber (Helga the Maid), Stan Jones (Hans the Butler), Robert Ridgely (Platypus Director), Linda Gary (Assorted)

Running Time: 617 Minutes (27 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated (TV-Y equivalent)
1.33:1 Fullscreen, Dolby Digital Surround (English), Dolby Stereo (French)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
DVD Release Date: August 29, 2006
Original Airdates: September 7, 1990 - October 15, 1990
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Cardboard box with three clear slim keepcases

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

A star () indicates ten standout episodes from this Volume 1 collection.

Baloo and Kit oversee a gas station like no other in "For a Fuel Dollars More." Baloo and Kit save a baby, but only one will claim the headlines in "A Bad Reflection On You." Baloo recalls his Throgmorton-induced road test woes in "On a Wing and a Bear."

DISC 3

19. "For a Fuel Dollars More" (22:47) (Originally aired September 28, 1990)
Rebecca comes up with the idea of a mid-air gas station and it's a success. To compensate for the sudden loss in business he consequently experiences, Louie enters the refueling game as well. Soon, it's a heated competition between Baloo and Louie for customers and their satisfaction, with battles over prices and perks fueling the fire between friends.

20. "A Bad Reflection On You, Part 1" (22:51) (Originally aired October 1, 1990)
A few heroic actions get Baloo all over the newspapers. The praise goes straight to the bear's head, while Kit feels left out by the limited coverage his help receives. The press attention leads to Baloo getting a special job offer from Shere Khan,
who dubs Baloo the Best Pilot in the World. Drama is amplified here, and this episode expectedly ends on an intriguing cliffhanger.

21. "A Bad Reflection On You, Part 2" (22:49) (Originally aired October 2, 1990)
The mysterious and daring job that Baloo accepted from Shere Khan takes him to a place where he is promptly intercepted by Don Karnage and, as usual, taken prisoner. Saving the day requires some heroic flying from Baloo, but first Kit tries to help provide a much-needed morale boost.

22. "On a Wing and a Bear" (22:54) (Originally aired October 3, 1990)
Baloo is surprised to learn his pilot's license has expired. Furthering his troubles is the fact that his examiner is Ralph Throgmorton, the man who failed him on his driver's test years ago and still holds a firm belief in alphabetical pneumonic devices. When he can't pass the flying test, Baloo looks for work elsewhere. Meanwhile, Shere Khan keeps raising gas prices, and Don Karnage is behind the inflation.

Hello nurse! Baloo saves starlet Kitten Caboodle from a potentially bad accident in the movie-minded "A Star is Torn." What would you do for a bunch of truffles? As "The Balooest of the Bluebloods", Baron von Bruinwald (a.k.a. Baloo) enjoys his newfound royal status.

23. "A Star is Torn" (22:48) (Originally aired October 4, 1990)
Baloo and Rebecca's night out takes a strange turn when he saves movie star Kitten Caboodle from falling equipment on a film shoot. Soon after, Baloo and company get flown out to Starrywood to take part in Kitten's new movie. Baloo quickly gets swept up in the starlet's charms, which concerns Rebecca as does the surprising number of mysterious accidents.

24. "A Touch of Glass" (22:55) (Originally aired October 5, 1990)
In searching for a more respectable clientele, Rebecca becomes a bit of a classist in this episode. Without hesitation, she accepts a demanding job from an apparently affluent couple. She also tries to distance herself from Louie, whose club is the site of a series of thefts. Like the preceding installment, this one assumes the airs of a mystery and, again, one that isn't so hard to solve.

25. "The Bigger They Are, The Louder They Oink" (22:53) (Originally aired October 8, 1990)
In the hopes of improving business, Rebecca puts money into a new idea (truffle-sniffing pigs) instead of replacing the pontoon in Baloo's plane that her previous idea damaged. Her expensive porcine investment leads to nothing but trouble, as the gang ends up on an island where pigs are strictly prohibited and the angry natives (gator pygmies) wield spears.

26. "A Spy in the Ointment" (22:50) (Originally aired October 9, 1990)
Rebecca hires a government spy named Jack, whose orders take Baloo and Rebecca into Thembrian territory. There, they are suspected of conspiracy and thrown into a dungeon. When Jack shows up, he persistently tries to obtain a secret package. Meanwhile, Baloo and Rebecca disagree over their new client's legitimacy.

27. "The Balooest of the Bluebloods" (22:50) (Originally aired October 15, 1990)
Baloo learns that he is royalty and, as a baron, he settles into a vast castle and a life of privilege. All seems swell, until Baloo learns of a family curse which has brought his ancestors death and now threatens him at every turn.

Kit Cloudkicker = kid who kicks clouds. Don Karnage surprises Baloo and Kit.

VIDEO and AUDIO

It almost goes without saying that this, a TV show produced in 1990, is presented on DVD in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1 "fullscreen." Almost as unsurprising, both the video quality and animation styles are a little bit erratic. Nevertheless, picture quality is pretty good, for the most part. At no point will you mistake this DVD for some brand new theater-worthy animation, but the inconsistencies and flaws which marked last November's box sets of slightly older works (especially "Rescue Rangers") are almost entirely absent here.
There are a few artifacts here and there, but these are minor and do not appear as frequently as you might expect from single-sided discs daring enough to hold nine episodes on them. Some episodes look worse than others, but there is no clear reasoning behind this. In addition, some parts look out of focus and colors look a bit oversaturated at times (hey, that's the early '90s for you). On the whole, though, this is largely pleasing, especially in consideration of the thrifty-seeming nature of this box set.

Sound is fully intelligible and sufficient. Equipped with a surround channel, "TaleSpin" exhibits a bit more liveliness than "DuckTales" and "Rescue Rangers" offered. It's still not even close to a house-rocker, but it's a little better than expected for a 16-year-old mass-produced series. As far as I could tell, the surround speakers merely provide subtle reinforcement to music and some effects. Could 5.1 remixes have been done and achieved practical and purposeful new things? Yes, but the soundtrack is acceptable, and faithful to original broadcast, as is.

Disc 2's Main Menu screen. The other two discs make minimal changes. Baloo holds up your choices in Disc 2's Episode Selection menu. This is what the individual cases look like.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Sadly but not surprisingly, no bonus features have been included. Now you probably don't want me to rant about this fact. But honestly, a single episode commentary with Jymn Magon (who appears to be the show's top dog, from his Supervising Producer credit on all 27 episodes)
would cost close to nothing in terms of time, effort, and money. Heck, record it off a speakerphone conversation and slap it on. Magon, who will turn 57 in December, appeared in the documentary Ringers: Lord of the Fans and showed up at the 2006 Gathering of the Gargoyles convention. He's even written a recent episode of "JoJo's Circus."

Magon is merely one example. There is no shortage of writers, producers, and voice cast members who I am sure would be willing to reflect on their show and would have plenty of interesting recollections for commentaries or a featurette. Some voice actors, like Jim Cummings (Louie, Don Karnage) and Pat Fraley (Wildcat), regularly provide vocals for Disney. Others -- including Ed Gilbert (Baloo), Lorenzo Music (the oafish Dundy, sidekick to the diminutive Colonel Spigot), and most recently, Tony Jay (Shere Khan) -- have passed on, making it clear that these kind of opportunities do not last forever. Reward the fans and give us something special! Even if it's only the old Disney Afternoon opening, TV commercials, or a trailer for The Jungle Book (or even its sequel)...any and all of these morsels would be more special than nothing and would probably bolster sales and certainly improve satisfaction from those who have come to expect supplements. People prefer Easter eggs to goose eggs.

The menus meet one's expectations, so long as the one in question expects the same low-effort look of last November's box sets. Each screen plays the theme song, while clip art and still frames from different sources come together. Responsiveness is quite slower than usual both in playing episodes and returning to the menu, which makes the "Play All" option slightly more attractive than usual. Still, shows like this are enjoyed best in moderate doses, a luxury not afforded to reviewers on a remarkably tight deadline.

Likewise, the packaging -- a cardboard slipcover and three clear slim cases composed of all kinds of discordant publicity artwork -- falls in line with the "Chip 'n Dale" and "DuckTales" box sets.

Disappointingly, there are no chapter stops. While that's not a major blow, it's inconvenient for those who like to skip the opening title sequence (preserved in its full, 65-second form on each episode) and not easily justified by any conceivable explanation.

As is usually the case, previews for other Disney properties are found on Disc 1. Automatically-played promos tout The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition, Meet the Robinsons, Cars, and Disney Princess: Enchanted Tales - A Kingdom of Kindness. Additional ads are accessible from the Sneak Peeks menu and showcase The Wild, the upcoming Pooh-themed wave of Disney Learning Adventures (Good Day, Good Night and Time to Rhyme), The Fox and the Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey Saves Santa and Other Mouseketales, and Air Buddies.

Friends for life, through thick and thin, with another tale to spin! Look out Hepburn and Tracy, it's Cunningham and...Bear?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There are no bells and whistles to be found here in "TaleSpin" Volume 1, only an efficiently-produced, 16-year-old cartoon series. But don't let the strange starting point fool you; "TaleSpin" is regularly as entertaining and engaging as some of the best beacons of television animation. Sure, the video and audio aren't top-notch, there isn't a single thing which qualifies as a genuine bonus feature, the pilot is missing a few shots cut for syndication, and the series might not quite be as flawlessly fun as you remember it. The positives, nonetheless, far outweigh the negatives and both the large amount of content and low price ensure that, at least this time, the customer is king.

Grown-up kids of yesteryear and younger viewers keen on the idea of solid episodic animation should both find plenty to love about this 27-episode "TaleSpin" Volume 1 set.

Buy TaleSpin: Volume One DVD from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com


Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed August 29, 2006.