In the tradition of reaching out to kids with loveable characters and interweaving enough violence and grown up situations to just keep it a Disney cartoon, we present: TaleSpin.
TailSpin's main cast actually came from Disney's 1967 classic "young boy raised by forest creatures that don't violently maul him and him drag his carcass to their young...except for that one tiger that wants to" The Jungle Book. Many were suprised that the titular character of Mowgli, the young wild haired youth was left out of the TailSpin series as his chemistry with the burly bear Baloo was defined as one of the best parts of the successful film.
A shirtless boy cavorting with a bawdy, talking bear in the woods. Put 'em on a plane and the stories write themselves.
But despite the lack of Mowgli, Disney moved forward with a story of a now clothes wearing bear who worked for a second rate air freight company, battling usually incompetant sky pirates and a ruthless, familiar looking tiger that fancied expensive suits and could inspire enough fear to make someone shit a brickwall.
His biggest concern at one time was figuring out how to scratch his back and ass on a tree while eating bananas but flash forwards to the 90's and he's trying to pilot a modified Conwing L-16 through the South Pacfic without being strafed by "Air Pirates" and going into the aptly titled name of the show. He still maintains his "bear necessities" which translated to a more human reality is that he's lazy, unreliable, and consistantly broke. Baloo, however, still has a heart of gold and will go out of his way to help those that need it, the key note of worth to our hefty hero as we look past his many faults.
I bet you had no idea you were transporting bootleg "The Jungle Book" VHS tapes. Tell me another one, slick.
Keeping in the theme of rambunctious young characters that kids watching could identify with, we introduce Kit Cloudkicker. Obviously paying homage to (aka ripping the fuck off) Luke Skywalker's name, this little wannabe actually ran with one of the series' main villains (the aforementioned Air Pirates) until he got bored with saying "arr" all the friggin' time and followed his first love of wanting to be a pilot. Hiding out from his former pals that wanted to see him one last time and run a cutlass through his fluffy head, Kit ends up hiding in Baloo's plane, The Sea Duck. Instead of turning him over to the authorities or ratting him out to the Air Pirates, reminiscent thoughts of his old pal Mowgli kick in and Baloo takes Kit on as his co-pilot of sorts, taking him on his wacky adventures and overseeing the child's safety.
Did I say "safety"? What I meant was "child endangerment".
Kit was apparently adept at a skill and some day future X-Games sport of "cloud surfing", making his name workout even better but tossing physics itself out of a window and expecting it to sail on a metallic plate to safety. Suspension of disbelief aside, a children's cartoon aside, who in the hell at Disney looked at this and said "yeah it's impracticle and irresponsible, but damn it, we know what's cool"? While Baloo didn't like Kit riding what I like to call the "tinfoil stairstep to plummety death", he flew the Sea Duck and allowed Kit to soar outside on that thing, steering clear of the child services building downtown during the flights because they don't play around.
"WE heard him screaming that he wanted to come back inside the plane, sir! You are a son of a bitch, aren't you?"
Swooping in and purchasing Baloo's air freight business because the shiftless vagabond failed to pay the bank loan, the woman seen in the picture above clamped her anthropomorphic bear paws right onto Baloo's nutsack and squeezed with delight. Supposedly an intelligent business woman, she went and renamed the business "Higher For Hire", the first golden nugget of goodness in her ownership stead. She tends to have Baloo and Kit go on ridiculous outings with questionable cargo, usually involving their lives being put in danger but between a screw up of a pilot and a kid with a deathwish of falling to his death from a great height, she's got little concern.
If business were easy, everyone would be in it. Now deliver that nitroglycerin shipment to Cannibal Island! Tick tock!
A lion in the company of bears, Wildcat is an outcast not just because of his race but because other than having the idiot savant quality of repairing nearly all mechanical devices, he is complete and total nimrod otherwise. While you can usually find these guys at your local Pep Boys, Wildcat is the sole mechanic at Higher For Hire, working tirelessly to repair the cargo plane that gets the crap beaten out of it on an episodic basis. Out of all of the characters and their own negative surface aspects, Wildcat is the most normal and therefore most balanced.
Well...his ability to fix planes outweighs his eating sandwiches while crossdressing fetish. Barely, but there it is.
And here's the typical cute kid that runs around getting into more trouble than she can handle, forcing the heroes of the show to get her out of the trouble and considering sticking her in a day care on the far side of town next to that tattoo parlor with the police "warning - do not cross" tape still clinging in the doorway. Daughter of icy business woman Rebecca Cunningham, she serves as a constant reminder to the audience of the innocence of youth but to Rebecca, an all too real reminder of the bum that ran out on her and left the two of them to fend for themselves.
What was your father like? A track star. When you were born, he ran the 440 in eight seconds flat. Happy now?
Not prone to throw feces at his customers, Louie is the owner of Louie's Place, a nightclub and motel outside of Cape Suzette and also one of Baloo's best friends, which means that Baloo probably mooches off of the poor oragutan as much as he can, but the Hawaiian shirt that he wears signifies that he's a good natured fellow that's simply trying to earn a living. He even cuts his own cost of living by picking the bugs and mites off of his friends, an excellent source of protein and vitamins.
Who are you to judge Louie? Eaten at McDonalds recently? HIS diet is healthier than yours.
And standing in the way of the good folks at Higher For Hire were a group of villains that ran the range from downright frightening to that frightening where if like you sideswiped Goofy's car and he came out all pissed off, you wouldn't be concerned except that DIsney wasn't going to cover the damage and he got that "steam coming out of ears" thing? Like that.
This jovial looking fellow was the leader of The Air Pirates, because being a pirate on the sea just wasn't bad ass enough. Plus it's a show revolving around air cargo and the hero could simply fly away from a bunch of Johnny Depp's in a sloop. Sounding something like Ricky Ricardo if he were a canine (Lucille Ball's somewhere smiling), he led his ragtag group of mid air goons attacking the citizens of Cape Suzette but mostly focused on his old associate Kit Cloudkicker who's new associate Baloo transported the actual thing pirates are after but always interested in getting a shot at eliminating Kit, affectionately named "Lil Britches".
I let him fly out of the back of my plane as well, with the rope firmly around his neck. I'm all about safety.
In the jungle, one of the most feared animals is the tiger, ferocious, cunning and really good at tearing its target to bits. Move that concept to a jungle composed of concrete and steel and you still have the same deadly individual you see above. The suit just means he has great taste. Honesty and being forthright can bring you respect, but an individual like Shere Khan hands out fear like Tic Tacs and earns the same respect.
Even in the movie, he had a way with others. A flesh tearing, eviscerating way.
When he wasn't busy crushing smaller business that were languishing in Cape Suzette, millionair business mogul Khan would scheme to control all that he could get his paws on. A cool customer who's had his plans and scheme ruined by the efforts of Baloo and the rest of Higher for Hire, since donning his suit however, he's decided not to cleave his enemies with his retractable claws as his private goon squad does his dirty work for him. Trying his best to put the thorns in his side out of business, they somehow figure out a way to thwart Khan almost each epsiode, which led me to wonder why a powerful person like Khan just didn't do the obvious to solve his problem.
Officer, how was I supposed to know those melons were laced with heroin?! I was framed, I tell ya!
It's a story about a lazy bruin that's hardly working but trying to attain a large sum of cash to buy back his business and sea farring airplane from a cold hearted bitch whom he has feelings for but won't ever end up getting anything from. It's a story frought with perils of high flying aerial acrobatics, people with immoral or moronic business practices and it's all set to the backdrop of a beautiful Caribbean island.
Will Baloo ever get his business back?
We all remember what happened in the final episode, don't we?
BALOO: "If you don't give me back my business, I'm going to take these four fingers and I swear I'm gonna f..."
Oh, Baloo. You made after school cartoons fun. Thanks, Poppa Bear.