My wife and I just picked up Disney's Jungle Book which was recently released on DVD. We enjoyed it fine enough, but it leant a bit of extra entertainment when watching TaleSpin which borrows a few characters from Jungle Book, such as Baloo, King Louie, and Shere Khan. (KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!) We also got Duck Tales Volume 3. Both of these volumes are available now on DVD.
TaleSpin First off, kudos to Disney for pulling this one off. From what I remember, Duck Tales was a runaway hit for their afternoon television programming, and TaleSpin was the first spin-off (Duck Tales spin -off), later followed by Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers and then Darkwing Duck. All of these were pretty strong, but if their sophomore effort, TaleSpin wasn't as strong as DuckTales, then I don't think we'd have the Disney Afternoon.
Why was DuckTales, and then TaleSpin, so successful? Number one, they had good stories. These cartoons weren't selling toys (it took awhile before we had action figures), and they weren't too emblazened with sugary sweet morales. There were basic parables illustrated, such as loyalty, following directions, believing in yourself, but it rarely got in the way of the storyline. Also the art was fairly sophisticated for something that aired daily. Corners were rarely cut, which is good for us, because these series really stand up well on DVD, even after 10-15 years.
As a parent, I feel more comfortable with my son watching a show like this, rather than some of the stuff that's really popular now. I don't like all the anime that seems to dominate the TV horizon. I haven't really see everything that's available, but I thought too many corners were cut with the latest Masters of the Universe revival, and don't get me started on the new Transformers Animated series.
Haha, here I am talking about how much better for kids that I find this series, and then I find the following:
Banned Episode according to Wikipedia, the episode Last Horizons was banned due to a possibly unfavorable view of the Japanese.
"Investigation of the event has since revealed that the reason for its temporary removal was the alleged stereotyping of Asians. The villain in the episode is an anthropomorphic panda Emperor named Wan Lo (voiced by actor Robert Ito) living in a mock-pre-WWII Asian nation called "Panda-La", who takes Baloo into his country to exploit his naiveté and attacks Cape Suzette. There is a reference how their lust for conquest is not shared by all of their species with 'Good Pandas especially dislike us.'"
Ah well. Offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder right? I personally believe they should un-ban the episode of The Simpsons where they visit the World Trade Center. (Yeecchhh! Give me the crab juice!)
Gizmoduck There are two large chunks of connected episodes in this box set of DuckTales. The five part Time is Money that introduces the cave duck Bubba, and the SuperDuckTales part 2, that introduces fan favorite Gizmoduck, the Robocop style superhero.
Disney took quite a gamble with their original investment into a higher quality cartoon, but it paid off with syndication, and a whole afternoon worth of series that still stand out, 10 years later.