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TaleSpin: Plunder & Lightning (1990)
Excellent Way to Start A Series - WARNING! Possible Spoilers Ahead
This is the pilot episode that started out as a two hour movie on the Disney Channel. The plot sounds simple enough: A pack of Air Pirates led by Don Karnage steals a treasure box containing something very valuable. However; as Don was about to proclaim victory a young bearcub steals the box from Don and escapes the Iron Vulture. Known as Kit Cloudkicker he relucently finds refuge with a grey bear pilot know as Baloo who is having problems of his own as his own laziness and partying have finally caught up with him when his airplane the SeaDuck is one day away from being reprocessed due to Baloo's inability to pay...and that's just the start of the troubles.
I'm only giving away just a little of this story because this is one of the best stories ever written by the Disney Company...ever. It is surprisingly well done and had a great balance of comedy, adventure and action that pleases me both as a child when I first saw this and now as an adult as for some odd reason it seems to get even better the more I watch it now. The artwork is beautiful as was the series in general; although the first two acts were done by Walt Disney Animation France which made the switch over to Walt Disney Animation Japan's animation in act three a little confusing. The music is great as always from Christopher L. Stone. I did finds some of the songs to be a little inconsistent. I wasn't impressed with "I'm Gone"...and Sally Struthers singing "Home Is Where The Heart Is" although the scene (which is cut from the syndication four episode run of this film by the way) was considered to me the best turning points in the movie. The other song was the "Sky Pirates Theme" and it was the best...and the first act was lacking a bit of the thrill that it was designed for; but it was still good enough to keep me interested until the end.
Overall; Plunder and Lightning is considered one of the best television animation pilots out there and also won and Emmy award for its trouble....It's not hard to understand why as Jymn Magon and Mark Zaslove delievered a fun 1 1/2 hour television film that nearly everyone can enjoy. Plus; it shows at furry animal characters can dance and kick butt at the same time too. **** 3/4 out of *****
Best Show on Spike TV- May Contain Spoilers
I've always figured that Spike TV which claims to be the First Network for Men (even though it is clearly a cable channel) has had no clue about the real needs of men. After seeing The John Henson Project; this pretty much cemented that thought. That is very sad because Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is probably the best show on Spike TV and that's saying a lot.
The creators took the 1980's serious reality obstacle course game "Takeshi's Castle" and over-dub it to the point where I was laughing so hard that it was hurting my lungs. It stars Kenny Blankenship and Vic Ramano (both play samurai warriors and not their real names) who are supposed to be serious color commentators. However; when the action begins they argue about how something was supposed to be done; or better still Vic scolds Kenny for being dirty. On the field is the dirtiest field reporter of all time: Guy LaDouce; who when talking to the competitors; he sounds so animated most of the time that I'm laughing out loud. Also there's Captain Tanmeal; who runs the games and also insults the teams for being wrong on the question of the day...because he's the Captain. In most of the episodes; two teams compete againest each other calling themselves according to their profession (such as Porn or Toy & Games) by playing a series of wacky games such as Sinkers and Floaters, The Rotating Surfboard of Death (Vic: Catch A Wave! Dodge The Dolphin...OR DIE!!) and the painful Log Drop. The competitors must score points while at the same time avoiding stuff that would give them the famous MXC Impact Replay (Which is used to point out the most painful elimination of that particular event); which is used to compile Kenny's Most Painful Elimination Of The Day...and sometimes it isn't always what it seems. (Spoiler: In Cons VS. Cops; the #1 elimination was the bunny girls kissing a man before the game On Bottom. I'll leave that result as an excercise to the reader).
I was also gasping in horror over the spots which are in fact real. Many people actually got hurt doing some of these spots. In other words; what you see is real; what they say is fake. One example was in Meat Packers Vs. Cartoon Voice Actor where Ron Tussin tried to do a backflip; but he completely blew it and landed right on his neck. Everyone was shocked..even more so when he managed to recover and finish the course unsucessfully. He then was criticized by his own son by being called a loser and Ron stated that he had blood in his stool. That spot was breath taking; along with Guy's naughty humor.
All in all; I loved this show despite the fact that it can get a little vulgar at times with some foul lanuage; and there are a few continuity errors in place. The best show ever on Spike TV; surpassing the always fun Slamball. It's too bad that the creators aren't considering another season for this show... **** 1/2 out of *****.
An excellent parody of the Jungle Book- WARNING! Possible Spoilers
Count me in for singing the praises of this Disney Television Animation series. It is my favorite show of all time and prehaps the best creation Disney has ever created. It's sad that it took me almost three years after the show was cancelled in 1991 to finally see TaleSpin for what it really is (a show that would have destroyed the Simpsons if it wasn't a kids show) and by that time the show meant nothing. There is a good reason why cartoon fans loves this show based on Jungle Book characters and then turn around and hate Disney's The Jungle Book II. TaleSpin is a parody which Walt wouldn't mind considering that he self-parodized Mickey Mouse many times before; while a sequel is denounced simply because Walt didn't like the concept.
The show stars Baloo the bear, Louie the Ape, and Shere Khan the tiger in all new roles which fits them perfectly and then some. Baloo now plays the role of a cargo pilot who at first starts off as a lazy, fat bear who behaved just like the Jungle Book. Louie the Ape owns a resturant/motel/bar while Shere Khan owns a major corpration known as Khan Industries; which pretty much owns any industry that he wants. New characters include Kit Cloudkicker, an ex-pirate and Baloo's navigator; Rebecca Cunningham, a business major who's nudged into the rough and tumble world of cargo; Molly Cunningham, a hyper cute daughter of Rebecca who loves Dangerwoman and trouble; WildCat, a goofy but depectively intellegent mechanic. Baloo and Kit are often attacked by Air Pirates led by Don Karnage and his brainless piles of myhem. Baloo is almost always late (or losing cargo) with the cargo and the new owner of Baloo's Air Sevice (known as Higher for Hire); Rebecca is always ready to unleash her wrath to him as Kit tries hard to keep the relationship together for his own reasons.
The biggest strength of this show is the one that is the most likely to be ignored: The characters and how they interact with each other. Kit Cloudkicker is one that resonates in my heart the most because he had a mind of his own and wasn't afraid to speak out. He has so many talents and behaved very well; while at the same time, he was a rebel seeking redeempation for the past that has haunted him. Although the series didn't go into much detail about Kit's past, the interaction and reaction of Kit throughout is staged in brilliant fashion. It is a testement of how you can create depth without the need for flashbacks. Not to mention that I love the kid's spine-tingling laugh (R.J. Williams) Don Karnage is one of the best villians I have seen; he is a ruthless character (when he needs to be) who has the ability to scare or kill anyone; but we can feel sorry for him since his crews is a bunch of bumbling idoits. He is also very funny with his dialogue and his physical comedy; special thanks to Jim Cummings. Rebecca was impressive to me for being able to see through Kit's tough side and for her innovative ways to make money; even though many of them backfire. Molly was hyper-cute and moronic (although not near to the level of Patrick Star); but she has some great moment where her mature nature resigns. The rest of the characters are great for the most part for various reason. Suffice to say that the seller of the series- Baloo, Louie and Shere Khan; as great as they are, were not needed to make this series float well above water.
The episode quality of each episode ranges from above average to awesome. Minor Spoiler upcoming- Stormy Weather (Kit Cloudkicker joins an Air Circus), Her Chance To Dream (Rebecca falls in love with a ghost) and Jolly Molly Christmas (Molly wants snow for her mother) were beautfiul examples of drama. "Mach One For The Gipper", "Stuck On You", and "Ransom of The Red Chimp" did a great job of making me laugh out loud. Even the worse episodes were good enough for a look. The animation quality was excellent for the most part with it's art deco style. However; there were some episodes where spots where missed and the artwork looked off. However; those mistakes are minor and are covered up by the artwork. The opening theme was beautiful and very addicting to the mind; the music track is also very good and the voices were very believable; partically the child characters which were done by actual children.
There's a lot more to sing for this series; but I probably got to my maximum now. In closing; this show shouldn't be missed; it should be shown to anyone who is thinking of working for DTVA. It'll make you forget about bad shows like Recess and Teamo Surpemo. A perfect *****.