Tale Spin (1990-1991)
This is another cartoon that I remember watching in the early-90s, and it’s significant because it’s one of the few that I’ve liked that was made by Disney, having much preferred what Hanna-Barbera and Warner Brothers have had to offer over the years. One of Disney’s most popular animated films is The Jungle Book, which was released in 1967 and featured lots of memorable characters, along with plenty of songs that people liked to sing along to.
So why not take the chance to expand on that? One of the most popular characters was Baloo the bear (“the bear necessities of life will come to you!“), so almost 25 years on from his appearance in that film, he was chosen to be the star of this new cartoon that launched in 1990, although this one most definitely wasn’t set in the jungle. What is the situation now. How about Baloo becomes a pilot in the 1930s? Well of course.
Tale Spin was set in the city of Cape Suzette, and featured Baloo’s Air Service. With no fancy new things like television around yet, Baloo spends most of his time flying in his old plane The Sea Duck (when it’s working), and he also had rather a big appetite. After a while, Rebecca Cunningham (also a bear) buys the business which is renamed Higher For Hire, and befriends Baloo (who often calls her “Becky”). The other main characters include the young Kit Cloudkicker, another bear who likes to fly.
Baloo often ends up flying into trouble, whether he means it or not. Plenty of other characters appeared, we also meet Rebecca’s six-year-old daughter Molly, Captain Don Karnage and Shere Khan who were the main antagonists, and Louie the orangutan who owns a nightclub that Baloo often visits. No humans appeared in the show, just a variety of different talking animals.
There was plenty of adventure through thick and thin, as the opening theme song put it. Now I don’t really know that much about aviation, but it was clear that Baloo and his team did and were very fond of it, and I haven’t heard so many references to having to pull the nose up and keep the flaps down since the last time I watched the response round on The Krypton Factor.
There were 65 episodes of Tale Spin, that were all shown in America in under a year, and every episode had a rather bad pun in the title. As well as being shown regularly in the CITV afternoon strand for a few years, several episodes were also shown as part of The Disney Club. As ever, there have been plenty of VHS and DVD releases, along with some comics and computer games.