Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: The Complete Collection

Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales: The Complete Collection
Although best known for Underdog, Total TeleVision was actually created in 1959 just so General Mills could sponsor children's television. But rather than taking a sinister path, there was an attempt to produce something educational and that's how Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales came to be. Tennessee Tuxedo is a penguin who isn't particularly happy living in the Megapolis Zoo, so he and his walrus friend, Chumley, spend a great deal of time escaping and doing their own thing, much to the annoyance of the zoo's owner, Stanley Livingstone. When the duo run into problems with their many schemes, they seek the guidance of Professor Phineas J. Whoopee, who uses his three-dimensional blackboard to explain what they need to do. And that's where the educational component comes in ― the blackboard segments illustrate how engines work, how musicians make music and so on. It's an integral part of each ten-minute short, usually leading to the penguin and walrus succeeding in their pursuits. The voice of Tennessee was supplied by Don Adams (of Get Smart fame), which today suffers a little from being so recognisable, but that's a small complaint, as everyone else does a splendid job. Not much has been done to the picture quality, but it isn't bad at all, apart from a few of the opening sequences, which were likely included for the sake of completion. Naturally, watching a bunch of the cartoons in succession illustrates how formulaic they were, but they are still remarkably watchable, especially in small doses. With about 16 hours of material included in the six-DVD set, this is one of those definitive collections that go above and beyond what most people expect or need. It does deliver the complete set of 70 Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons, which ran between 1963 and 1966, but it also includes a bunch of episodes from the supporting shows: The King and Odie, Tooter Turtle, The Hunter and Klondike Kat. Those extra cartoons are more of a mixed bag. The King and Odie was a continuation of an earlier show, King Leonardo and His Short Subjects, and tells the tale of a lion king and his skunk footman. It has a Rocky & Bullwinkle feel, right down to the sarcastic commentator and bizarre plots, but is rather entertaining. The same can't be said of Tooter Turtle, where the eponymous hero is whisked away into different historical scenes by his reptilian friend, Mr. Wizard. It never works out and Tooter has to be rescued after what seems like an eternity. The Hunter isn't too bad; he's a vaguely competent canine detective (who sounds like Foghorn Leghorn), whose time is spent pursuing the Fox, a master criminal who gets caught far too often to be a deserve the title. Finally, there's Klondike Kat, which is just another variation of The Hunter, with a not-very-good feline Mountie chasing a French-Canadian mouse. But none of the supporting features hold a candle to the main attraction, which is the way it should be. (Shout! Factory)