First episode date 5 May 1990
Network Disney Channel
Opening theme "Spin It"
Theme song TaleSpin Theme Song
Created by Jymn Magon Mark Zaslove
Directed by Larry Latham Robert Taylor
Voices of Ed Gilbert R. J. Williams Sally Struthers Janna Michaels Pat Fraley Jim Cummings Tony Jay
Theme music composer Silversher & Silversher
Cast Jim Cummings, Ed Gilbert, Sally Struthers, Pat Fraley, Tony Jay
TaleSpin is a half-hour animated adventure series based in the fictional city of Cape Suzette, that first aired in 1990 as a preview on The Disney Channel and later that year as part of The Disney Afternoon, with characters adapted from Disney's 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book, which was theatrically rereleased in the summer before this show premiered in the fall. 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 the nine Disney Afternoon shows to use established Disney characters as the main characters, with the others being Darkwing Duck, DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Quack Pack, Aladdin and Timon & Pumbaa.
- Talespin intro
- VHS releases
- UK Australia and New Zealand releases
- DVD releases
- International releases
- United Kingdom
- Video on demand
- Outsourced production work
- Video games
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 pair then decided to have Baloo work for an air delivery service, a concept 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, 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.
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".
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.
TaleSpin is set in the fictional city of Cape Suzette (a pun on the dish Crêpe Suzette), in a fictional country called Usland. The city lies in a harbor protected by an enormous natural 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. The time frame of the series is never specifically addressed, but appears to be in the mid-to-late 1930s. 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 purchased by Rebecca Cunningham upon his default on delinquent bills with the bank and renamed "Higher for Hire". An orphan boy and former air pirate, the ambitious Kit Cloudkicker, attaches to Baloo and becomes his navigator. He sometimes calls him "Papa Bear". Together, they are the crew of Higher for Hire's only aircraft, a 20-year-old modified Conwing L-16 (a fictitious combination of a Fairchild C-82 transport and a Grumman HU-16 amphibian) 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 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 boars), 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.
Eight VHS cassettes containing 15 episodes of the series were released in the United States.
UK, Australia and New Zealand releases
Eleven VHS cassettes containing 21 episodes of the series were released in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
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 has never been re-aired in syndication although it was rerun on The Disney Channel during the mid-to-late 1990s. 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. Volume 3 includes the controversial episode "Flying Dupes," which has never been re-aired in syndication.
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, prior to the general January 2015 release date.
The series has been released into several volumes in different countries, each containing only 4 episodes each. As to the US release, all 65 episodes have been released in the US.
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.
The sets from Germany have also been released in the United Kingdom. The First Collection came out on February 11, 2013. The Second Collection was released on May 20, 2013.
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.
Video on demand
The entire series is currently available for purchase in SD on Amazon Instant Video and iTunes in the United States.
IGN listed TaleSpin as the 81st best cartoon in the Top 100 Animated TV Shows.
Outsourced production work
The following is a list of companies based outside of the United States that helped to produce the animation for the series:
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. 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!"
Three different TaleSpin video games were produced. One was a scrolling shooting game developed 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. Rebbeca, 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.