For similar “Initial Observations” on Shout! Factory’s “UNDERDOG THE COMPLETE COLLECTOR’S EDITION”, please go to THIS POST.
I’ve only gotten about half way through of Disc One (of TWO multi-disc sets contained therein), so it will be a long time (if ever) until I get around to doing one of my “Loooong DVD Reviews” of the entire package. But, as with UNDERDOG, I will offer some early observations…
The “Early Returns” would find me less satisfied with this set, than I was with UNDERDOG.
First and foremost, unlike UNDERDOG, no effort was made to reconstruct anything resembling the original TV show TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES!
The first disc is divided into THREE SEPARATE SECTIONS: One for Tennessee Tuxedo, one for The King and Odie (King Leonardo), and one for The Hunter. We will presume the other discs follow a similar pattern.
What would be the point in doing this, when a typical episode of the original series consisted of those three series? Couldn’t Shout! Factory have just strung “one each” of these three series together to reconstruct the feel of an episode of TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES?
But, no… That’s not what we got! If you wish to recreate that “original run feel” on your own, your can always go to the “Tennessee Tuxedo” menu and select an episode, go to “The King and Odie” menu and select an episode, and finally go to “The Hunter” menu and select an episode.
Needless to say, there are (at least to the point I’ve reached thus far) no interstitial segments – at least for Tennessee Tuxedo. (King Leonardo and The Hunter have their own “introductory interstitials" – ported over from the earlier KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS series.) So, Friend of This Blog “Joecab” can stop dreading the specter of the “Tennessee and Chumley Riddle Segments” (Fans of the show KNOW what I’m referring to!) endlessly repeating.
The authenticity of the Tennessee Tuxedo viewing experience is further compromised by the soundtrack of the original theme song to TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES being REPLACED by a vastly inferior version. Surely, you recall the theme: “C’mon and see, see, see…
for your pleasure… Sailing seas in search of treasure… Annn-eee-thing so he can
measure… Up to Man!” Tennessee
Oddly, the LYRICS are the same as I remember them. But the VOCALS (that were, by my recollection, originally sung by the show’s voice cast – including George S. Irving and others) are replaced by a small number of male and female singers.
This is especially irritating to my “trained and ingrained ear”. All the more so because it plays both BEFORE and AFTER every Tennessee Tuxedo segment.
At least the original animation remains intact – but, along with the original vocals, the SOUND EFFECTS for the theme sequence have also, apparently, been lost. This particularly undermines the ending of the sequence – where, in what may be the ultimate non-sequitar, a pair of huge artillery cannons are inexplicably aimed directly at our heroes (Tennessee Tuxedo the Penguin and Chumley the Walrus) and blast the pair into oblivion!
Gosh! How often do you see an opening sequence end like that – and now it’s no longer punctuated by an explosive sound effect! “Silence”, it would seem, is not always “golden”! Except, maybe, when you’re replacing original vocals with inferior ones!
Oddly, there is an ALTERNATE VERSION to the theme sequence, originally used as an interior interstitial, that is used here as the theme sequence for certain episodes (presumably, in the interest of “changing things up”). Hearing this, makes listening to the inferior version all the more grating.
The versions of King Leonardo and The Hunter that I’ve seen so far are (correctly) the ones that were produced for TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES, giving the set some needed points in the “authenticity department”.
Indeed, if memory serves, the first King Leonardo segment of the set WAS the first King Leonardo segment to air on TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES. I can remember that clearly, because it heralded a change in format to the King L. series, introducing the new villain “Mr. Mad” – a rather creepy guy, at least by Total TeleVision standards.
It looks as if some segments from the previous KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS series, including "Tooter Turtle" – and even TTV’s later “Klondike Kat", will work their way into the set as well – in the second set of discs. That is welcome news, because I still feel that “King Leonardo” was the best TTV series.
One easy way to tell if a segment was produced for TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES is to listen for Winston Sharples scores (animation fans will know what I mean – and my apologies to the rest, because explaining that in a soundless Blog is too difficult) recycled from other 1950s and early 1960s cartoons. Sharples is not credited as the series composer, indicating the existing scores were just purchased for this use.
Also, on the plus side, there seem to be many more Tennessee Tuxedo segments than I recall – so, I’m certain the run is complete. The additional TTV “stable characters” material is much appreciated – as, alas, they will probably not merit DVD releases of their own.
There are commentaries featuring TTV’s founder Buck Biggers (who is surprisingly candid in his view of Tennessee Tuxedo’s voice actor, comedian and TV series star Don Adams), voice actor and comedian Larry Storch, and others.
Mark Arnold also writes a great 16 page booklet on the background of TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES – and profiles many of the voice actors as well.
The picture quality of all the segments I’ve seen so far is quite good – the exceptions being the King L. and Hunter interstitials.
Honestly, just because I’m so hung up on “authenticity”, I can’t rate this set as highly as I did UNDERDOG. But, as I said in that review:
“At this point in time, I’m not sure it is at all possible to properly reconstruct multi-segment shows like this – that were “sliced and diced” in countless ways for various syndication packages. And, I’m certain that Shout! Factory did the best they could in reconstructing the original “Underdog Experience”. So, I’m willing to concede this, and give ‘em points for trying.”
I fully appreciate the challenges in reconstructing a show like this – especially, in view of the fact that most of those purchasing such a set are probably critical, fannish types possessing their own cherished memories of the original run.
But, it seems to me that Shout! Factory’s commendable efforts at reconstructing THE UNDERDOG SHOW could have also been applied to TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES.
Still, there’s LOTS TO LIKE – if not outright LOVE - about the contents therein! And, it ain’t never gonna be done better than this, so just buy it and enjoy.