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My Favorite TaleSpin Episodes
Time for a bonus editorial. Yes indeed! I did finish all the editorials that I wanted to do this season. However; an editorial from Chris Barat called Wings allowed me to return to my favorite profession of writing these editorials.One that I would never think of writing. It is now time for revealing my picks for best episodes. Although I agree with Chris on many things; I couldn't help but notice that my picks are in fact different from is. So here without further ado is my take on the favorite episodes that I would watch again and again if I had the chance.
(2015 Gregory Weagle Says: Most of these episodes are pretty much in the same ranking as they were when this editorial was written. For some of them through; my reasoning for their rankings is different now than it was back then.)
[1.] Plunder and Lightning
The grand daddy of them all; only best by WrestleMania (just kidding). It's hard not to say that this is the best episode in the series and at times; I felt that for some reason, half of it was intended to be on the big screen and the rest was for the TV movie sence. The origins of the series came into play: Baloo's antics as a dirty pilot; Kit stubborness (most notable near the end of Act I) and somewhat checkered past; Rebecca's attempt to nudge her way into the business of shipping in ture Howard Hawks tradition. Molly was as hyper as ever and Don Karnage was brilliant as a villian showing his cunning and I believe a much more dramatic picture of the real Air Pirate. The songs were actually okay; particually the Air Pirates theme song. However; I have to agree with Chris Barat about the lackluster animation particually with the first two acts despite the excellent artwork that was present in every episode. Finally; it would have been nice if the production did last an extra half-hour if it (The production only lasted four episodes and 2 hours; not 5 episodes and 2 1/2 hours as Chris Barat states) is to see some more complete songs and some dialogue between Rebecca, Molly and Kit after he "betrayed" them. (Rebecca's Diary is my attempt to see into that week after Lightning in a Battle.)
(This is truly a historic story in DTVA history and well deserving of it's ***** rating and status as the best pilot ever. It's a lot more than what previous me's would say too: The chess game Kit Cloudkicker had played during this to stay alive and not be a pirate anymore; Don Karnage being the most serious heel that he could ever be, and the sheer emotion that came out of this. Again; as an episode on it's own, it's wonderful, but the standard this television movie set made it one of the most important pilot episodes in the history of animation. It's better than Treasure Of The Golden Suns and even Awakening, mainly because Plunder and Lightning was better focused, better paced and every character was really great in this one.)
[2.] It Came From Beneath The SeaDuck
I am going out on a limb on this one; but next to Plunder and Lightning, this is the best episode in the series. The biggest reason for this is seeing the interesting twist between Kit and Rebecca. Sure; Kit may have been doing it for the money, however; seeing Rebecca Cunningham put Kit in the hot seat of disobeince is just plain brilliant. I loved it. It also showed that Cape Suzette Naval Force was quite weak. Why they don't do this more often is beyond me? Of course this was the episode where Mad Dog and Dumptruck did their funny line about kitchen sinks and diving in a submarine. The only debit in this one is the animation; although marginally better than Plunder and Lightning, could have been better. I loved Molly's hyper disorder laying the smackdown on poor Kit. (The e-mails will be huge on this choice and mostly critical.)
(This is my favorite episode of the series; but it's far from the best episode in which I gave **** 1/2 for (mainly due to animation mistakes caused by Hanho Heung-Up Company limited). Molly was brilliant in this one as she managed to put Kit in his place during the babysitting job (in which Kit almost broke his nose in two different spots, one of them directly involving Molly), and Rebecca's love for her daughter in justifying her anger towards Kit when he showed up late with Molly later on. The sink joke was awesome because it was set up with Don Karnage saying that he wanted everything, including the kitchen sink. So Mad Dog provided him with the kitchen sink and Don kicked it out of his hands because Don gets a figure of speech and his goons do not. The finish was also great and the ending was funny. This would be penciled in as #5.)
[3.] Captains Outrageous, Stormy Weather, Flight School (tie)
I loved these episodes equally for their believable preceptions on Kit Cloudkicker and some of his friends. I mentioned Captains Outrageous first because it combines Kit's difference in attitude towards characters. While the Jungle Aces were not exactly the original kids that I was hoping for; the adventure of Oscar Vandersnoot trying to get an adventure was a very believable story and really showed some of Kit's compassion to help others who are less able to defend themselves. (Which is ture to his character as seen in Plunder and Lightning) Oscar of course is my favorite one-shot character of all time on the show. Oscar really did well at the end of the episode where he outsmarted Don Karnage (or Don Karnage got stupider; I don't know.). This episode was also one of the few episodes in which Baloo and Kit created an evironment in which they claim to be freedom fighters againest the Air Pirates; which they are only in reality just a cargo shipping business which only tries to defend itself. Believe me; I would love to see more episodes like this if the show had in fact continued.
Stormy Weather was excellent in its drama elements; in showing the symbolic fragilability of the Baloo-Kit relationship. Kit's stubborness and the "making of himself" which indeed were the two nearly fatal flaws that Kit was built with and learned by his experience with Don Karnage. This episode painted that no matter how much Baloo and Kit love each other; there are people out there who will try to destroy that relationship; like Dan Dawson. Dan is the only character that came close to killing the Baloo-Kit relationship. No one was untouched by this infighting as WildCat demostrated as he shook his head during one of those arguements. One final note: Notice the symbolicness of the clouds clearing up when the episode ends.
Flight School is a Kit-centered episode to the next level. Baloo has very little airtime in this episode and personally I'm not going to complain mainly because it shows the Kit can relapse into the traps that got him into so much trouble as shown in Stormy Weather. Colonel Spigot as usual was a gas; however Mr. Dunder was refreshing to see; particually when he tries to make Kit in his own mind understand that it is not a good idea to rebel againest the system. It reminded me of WildCat in Stormy Weather; only Dunder was talking directly to Kit. It's interesting to see how the episode ends and wonder if Kit had in fact crashed into the mountain instead of pulling away to safety? Would Baloo have crashed into the mountain as well as some have debated? That is one of the questions that I still pull away everytime I watch this episode. This was one of Sun Woo Animation's better episodes.
(Stormy Weather is in terms of historic value, the best of the three because no one saw this coming from DTVA. It's television animation and cartoons are all about comedy, adventure and morals out of the ears. This was also a chess game between Baloo and Dan Dawson as Dan poisoned the well so wonderfully that he managed to get the audience to turn on Baloo, even though Baloo was clearly the babyface anyway. Heck; I even wrote a comparison between this and Daredevil Bart. This was a ***** episode that made history in the evolution in the DTVA canon and should be the second best episode of the series. Captains Outrageous is a ***** episode in it's own right, and I really liked how Kit understands humanity very well. He didn't have to help a 1%'er like Oscar, heck; he probably had nothing to gain. But Oscar cannot help that he was born to a rich family who are paranoid snobs (in the case of his mother). However; as memoriable as this episode was, it's still an off-shoot of Double'O'Chipmunks from Rescue Rangers. Flight School Confidential is historic; but your rating depends on how much you love Kit Cloudkicker; so it could be anywhere from *** 3/4 (if you don't like Kit) to ***** (in my case). Kit beating the odds and managing to fly the most difficult plane in existence made this an awesome episode. The finish to this was great as well as Colonel Spigot got his comeupperance, Kit did what he had to do and Baloo redeemed himself somewhat. It's also one of those moments where Sgt. Dunder actually was a mature adult and not Thembria's answer to Baloo. Bobbo was good as well in his own way. These three episodes should be on the list, but Flight School and Captains Outrageous should be lower on the list, probably tied with Mach One For The Gipper at #6. Why?)
[4.] Mommy for a Day
Mommy for a Day was quite a bit different because this was a Molly-focused episode. However; I loved this episode because it shows the flaws between the relationship and Molly and Rebecca and how the anti-stereotypical character can cause problems with the burdens of the single-parent family. Somehow; Kit is able to keep this relationship; even if Molly or Rebecca don't realize it or not. Also it seems that Molly's so-called _maturety_ is dulled by her moroness that is clear in her attitude towards Kit. That is the formula for a spunky kid in the realm of Cubbi Gummi. However; this episode could have been better even number one if Mr. Macknee (One of the few one-shot characters I didn't like) was voiced by someone other than Jim Cummings. It was too Pete-ish for my taste. I loved the Yenkara Henry when he expands 12 feet in size and then dries up and shrinks into a 6-inch teddy bear like creature. It causes a lot of complications in the episode.
(Wow; Mommy For A Day is ranked too high. I'd put it at #6 tied with Flight School & Captains Outrageous. It is a ***** episode and it was really the very first episode where Molly really came out of her shell as a focus character and gave our second and final episode of mind blowing chemistry between her and Kit in the second half of the episode. I also love how they showed how difficult it was to be a single parent running a business. It felt believable and it allowed me to have sympathy and empathy towards Rebecca in general. She is in a really tight spot as a character. My opinion of MacNee has changed since this article as his psychopathic behaviour is what it should have been since he is supposed to be a cruel monster heel willing to kill kids to skin a mystical creature as demonstrated when he aimed the rifle at Molly and Kit when they were riding the Inkara Henry. The reason that this is not historic and is considered lower in the ranks is because the "kid befriend animal" plot has been used in Ducktales a lot and might have contributed to certain critics charging that Molly was Webby 2.0; which she is clearly not.)
[5.] Her Chance To Dream
In my opinion the best non-Kit episode in the series and one of the most balanced at that. Does anyone remember that I did a review for Epinions.com? Rebecca tries to find a soul mate after Baloo and Louie drive her crazy with their excuses for the umpteen time. She finds one in William who turns out to be a ghost. Although it does run into problems with the ghost thing and all; but the plotline and the underlining moral beneath this episode really got to me. The ending is enough to make any grown human being cry and the beautiful balance of comedy and drama fly deep into the heart of a series in a mature way without the adult humor present in most _mature_ productions. Libby Hinson should be commended for her effort. One question: Is the ghost a captain or a pirate?
(Her Chance To Dream is the third best episode of the series; again at ***** and is historic for several reasons. (1) It's the best episode that Kit and Don Karnage were never involved in once. When Kit and/or Karnage are in episodes, it usually an automatic ** 1/2 (with one major exception: Your Baloo's In The Mail; at ** 1/4.); and if both or in it *** 1/2 automatically. (2) Captain William Stansbury was a babyface who never acted like a heel. In fact in this episode; Baloo and Louie were considered the heels. That almost never happens in a children's cartoon up to this point. And it's not like this was unintentional and the characters merely acted that way. This was on purpose. (3) Rebecca making love with an undead being which gave away the finish; but the finish was so well done in that it turned Baloo and Louie back into babyfaces without turning William nor Rebecca into heels. Once I do the 25 Years Of Spin; I'll explain why the finish was so emotional and why it was so brilliant. But yeah; it's third on the list.)
[6.] Molly Jolly Christmas
I liked this episode; some have in fact didn't like it for the fact that Molly was the star and not Kit. On its own merit; it is the best Christmas episode ever created in my humble opinion. It was a sentimental type of show and it would have been nice if Kit was the star in this one; however, I found it quite understandable considering that Kit's seamy past was clearly getting writers into trouble over ethics and over things. (Luckly; Dan Green and others have taken into themselves to write fanfics on this and founds ways around the problems that Kit had.) Everything was setup quite well though under those problems (Molly getting her snowflakes near the end as if the almighty was listening to her.) and the animation was quite good considering that Wang Films was animating it.
(Jolly Molly Christmas is the fourth best episode of the series, and has historical implications in it's own right. For one; this was the first DTVA Christmas special since Mickey's Christmas Carol and despite being treated as a 22 minute episode; it felt like something Walt Disney would have done, albeit with different characters. For two; the whole setup of this was great with the snow globe, the peppermint fairy angle, Louie being Santa Claus and Molly's wish in general. For all the toys she could have gotten, she wanted it to snow for her mother. She was giving something to her mother (who at the beginning of the episode was waxing for snow because that is what happened during her childhood. It's a general detail that most writers would have missed in the modern era) instead of wanting toys. Adding the pirates was simply icing on the awesome cake; with Santa Karnage, bullets flying, Kit saving Rebecca from the soap flakes storm they were creating. The last five minutes of this is probably the most amazing five minutes you will ever see in a cartoon: Molly finding out that Louie is Santa leading to Molly crying her eyes out while running, throwing the letter into the sky and then the ear twitch...which lead to the most surreal ending in DTVA history. Was it a scientific freak storm that happened? Was it Santa? Was it Jesus/God? Was it his father? This ending was designed to make us wonder; and it's something that modern cartoons would have shunned (even more so; the setup as much of it was in silence with only music and Molly giggling at one point. This is the best Christmas episode I have ever seen in my whole entire life. Many of those old specials from Rankin-Bass are great for their time; but feel dated. This didn't feel dated, it felt really timeless compared to even Mickey's Christmas Carol. It was a lot less scarier than MCC; and for a festive season, that's a good thing. There's one more important note about this: Libby Hinson wrote this episode and the final scene involving Molly was one of the most heartwarming moments during production. Janna Michaels voiced Molly at the time and she broke her arm before production, so she couldn't turn the page. Libby had to help her for that; and the final promo Molly was supposed to cut, Ginny McSwain basically wanted Janna Michaels to embrace Libby Hinson and say "Merry Christmas, Mommy!" and she did it, and it was really great to see. That's what made the promo so real; because they acted it out during recording.)
[7.] Mach One for the Gipper
Let's face it; we love balance to be the main focus of TaleSpin; however, there are times where you just want to let your hair down and just laugh away the silly antics. There are four episodes that give me that kind of experience; however Mach One for the Gipper was the best of the lot. It was a laugh a minute antics with Baloo, WildCat, Don Karnage (as a neutral role rather than his villian role) and a very cocky, careless furry named Ace London. Phil Hartman was great; sounding just like Phil Hartman without the pickup line that he says in his Troy-role in the Simpsons. That was near-perfect. I also liked the plane chases along with the infamous lines in which Baloo and WildCat never spoke:
Baloo: SHUT IT OFF! WildCat: I THOUGHT I DID! Baloo: WELL; DO IT AGAIN!!
Downright funny and somewhat realistic.
(Yeah; this one is ranked too high as well; I would probably tie it with #10 with Ransom Of The Red Chimp. But Ace London made this episode great with Phil Hartman at the helm. If TaleSpin was rebooted, Billy West would probably be Ace London since Billy West is a good soundalike to Hartman. Otherwise; it was closer to what most DTVA episodes are. Honorable mention: War Of The Weirds.)
[8.] Vowel Play
The educational value of spelling was the real winner for this one at least in my humble opinion; although I must admit that this episode goes too far into believing that the consequences are _that_ grave. The second biggest thing going for it was three characters from the episode that were shown once and never shown again. Hemlich Manudo is a great character that had more cunning than Don Karnage and as much success at Wan-Lo from Last Horizons and goodness knows what might have happened if he was incorprated into the regular rotation. (Can you say Carnage VS Diamond Teeth?). Weazel was a surprise minion with at least some depth that surpass most of Air Pirates. It's good that Gidget has incorprated this character into her fanfics. Then there is Detective Thursday who is considered by some circles as the most colorful member of the police department and is very critical on the spelling front. I really liked his character. He is one of the few characters from the TaleSpin show that I have used in my fanfics. Very good episode despite the moral's importance being streched out too far.
(Vowel Play is vastly underrated and I probably should rank it tied with #5 with It Came From Beneath The SeaDuck because they took a rather mundame concept of spelling and turned it into a great story with a colorful law enforcement guy in Thursday (which I have used a lot in my fanfics) and two really great heels in Weazel and Himlich Menudo aka Diamond Teeth. Also of note; I think the episode's attempt to show the consequences of bad spelling was too far; but guess what? The whole reason it had grave consequences was because spelling played a huge part in the book code of how the crooks communicate with each other. It was also one of the few times we saw someone robbing a bank or some place. Most robberies are done by pirates in the series and almost never by bank robbers (which is done a lot more often in other DTVA shows.). And there is Baloo's unintentional fan service spot near the end.)
[9.] Paradise Lost
I wish there were more episodes featuring WildCat; even when he's not the main seed in the pod; he can make an impact on the viewer. Paradise Lost is the best example of that impact. The innocence of WildCat is in full-bloom here with his dropping of jellybeans; his relationships with the dinosaurs (Yeah; there are dinosaurs in the TaleSpin world) and his attempt to protect the paradise from greasy bounty hunters such as O'Roaruke (who is another one of those characters that I don't like). It was one of those innocent episodes involving WildCat only. (Although Flight of the Snow Duck is a better example of innocence; it involves both Molly and WildCat) The animation was only so-so; but it was very good.
(Paradise Lost is basically a much better version Back Out In The Outback, only with dinosaurs and no children. O'Roarake wasn't all that great and most of the strength of this episode is Wildcat's maturey towards the dinosaurs, including one that got shot on-screen by O'Roarake. It also shows how RPG-equse the TaleSpin World really is; and in some respects, it feels like a more believable, diverse world version of Grundo from The Adventures Of Teddy Ruxpin too. Probably tick it up to #7 on the list.)
[10.] Ransom of the Red Chimp
I love this episode for one reason and one reason only. Don Karnage gets tortured....ERRR....chased around by an older woman who is turely in love. Ture; Don Karnage was overused however this was one episode in which makes me questionned if he underused or not. More importantly; Don Karnage deserved this, his fame and handsome body along with the boxer shorts he wears during the entire episode. Louie's aunt Louise is a gas to watch and she is turely one free spirit to say the least. Louise getting down with her airplane rival was also a good thing too.
(The whole episode is a blast to watch and Don Karnage getting buried by Aunt Louise is funny. More to the point; as a serious heel, Don Karnage was done. However; he is so more than just being a heel that his comedy more than makes up for that problem. Igthorn cannot claim that one. However; Joe from "The Issue At Hand" gave this ** 1/2 and his reasoning is as follows: but it loses points for relying too heavily on that “lustful female vigorously pursues fleeing male object of her desires” thing that Tex Avery did so well in MGM’s “Swing Shift Cinderella” (1945) and was seen in other, lesser-known cartoons like Paramount’s “Possum Pearl” (1957) and the Walter Lantz Woody Woodpecker cartoon “Red Riding Hoodlum” (also 1957). To be fair; using these shorts are in fact closer to TaleSpin's time period so it works on that level. Plus; most of the audience isn't going to watch the old guard stuff as it's ancient history to them anyway (well; until they become adults and then they use their brains even more.).)
There's my top ten...ERRR...top 12. There are at least eight or nine additional episodes in which were very good in their own right; but not as good as these. (If I remember correctly; 75% of TaleSpin was a thumbs up. That said; I think you can make a case for Road To Macadamia and Bygones taking out Ransom Of The Red Chimp just for that since Bygones is historic for a reason Joe actually explains in his review of Volume 3 of this series: That is exactly what separates TALE SPIN from other cartoons of its ilk. The ability to deftly combine mythic (even supernatural) yet somehow believable adventure with comedy, and do it with well-realized “funny-animal” characters. Even DUCKTALES can’t quite match it in that “believability” factor. That's no small feat since introducing sci-fi elements in TaleSpin can misfire more often than not using sci-fi; if you catch my drift. Heck; what about Old Man & The SeaDuck? I forgot about how it did the amnesia angle perfectly. ) Still; I always wondered if those one-shot characters had been reused, what kind of series would we have? (Probably the same series; only with more ecomony of characters syndrome attached to it.)
That answer in another time. (That would be 2015.) That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time.
(So here's my 2015 version of the Top 10 TaleSpin episodes of all time in terms of quality and historic value:
[1.] Plunder and Lightning (*****)
[2.] Stormy Weather (*****)
[3.] Her Chance To Dream (*****)
[4.] A Jolly Molly Christmas (*****)
[5.] The Old Man & The SeaDuck, Vowel Play (tie) (*****, **** 3/4)
[6.] Captains Outrageous, Flight School Confidential, Bullethead Baloo (tie) (*****, **** 3/4, *****)
[7.] Paradise Lost, Road To Macadamia (tie) (*****, *****)
[8.] In Search Of Ancient Blunders (**** 3/4)
[9.] Louie's Last Stand (*****)
[10.] It Came From Beneath The SeaDuck, Mommy For A Day, Bygones, Save The Tiger (**** 1/2, *****, **** 1/2, **** 1/2))
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