DVD Review: ‘Tennessee Tuxedo And His Tales’ — A details-driven look at simpler times

Your fondness for Tennessee Tuxedo And His Tales: The Complete Collection should owe much to nostalgia for the ’60s ‘toon character, as well as tolerant appreciation of animation that’s limited without being charm-challenged. Both such things should make this elaborate set a treat for aficionados.

But let’s keep it real.

Due Tuesday from good ol’ Shout! Factory — true keepers of vintage flames —  the extensive set’s 2D animation is so far from today’s state of the art that I can’t imagine many current kids warming to it, even though it’s aimed largely at them. But then, modest animation didn’t stop Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons from being widely considered as among the best ever for TV.

Here, the fun involves the titular penguin character, voiced dryly and familiarly by none other than Get Smart’s Don Adams, and walrus pal Chumley, voiced goofily by Bradley Bolke, at a city zoo where they often escape to indulge in adventures. These escapades lead them to Phineas J. Whoopee, voiced by F Troop’s Larry Storch, and his three-dimensional blackboard, by which they pick up knowledge — as kid viewers also were intended to do.

This 3D BB gizmo lately has been likened to the iPad, and I suppose it does constitute an early manifestation.

Besides the sly education of 70 Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons, the set includes related series shorts for The King And Odie (38), The Hunter (35), Tooter Turtle (11) and Klondike Kat (5).

Purists may quibble about idiosyncrasies of this array, including the fact that five cartoons listed on the box aren’t included, though they’ve been replaced and noted onscreen. And the first episode’s theme song isn’t the original. But be grateful that most ‘toons seem to have been provided via the original masters.

Indeed, considering the age of this material, this is a remarkable amassing of 159 cartoons, along with some promos, bumpers and other details on Disc 3.

For ardent fans, such quality control and extensiveness are essential. For casual viewers, the original nature of the cartoons themselves may matter more. Either way, there’s excellent quality for a nearly 50-year-old collection of innocent entertainment — or edutainment — from a simpler time that still has its rewards.

And btw, if you’d like to see some clips from the set, look here. Consider it your own personal 3D BB.

— Bruce Westbrook

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