Saturday, March 10, 2012

See, See, Seeing Tennessee Tuxdeo! Initial Observations.

Just got my copy of “TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION” on DVD, from Shout! Factory on Thursday, March 08

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…Tennessee Tuxdeo!”  Parachuting for your pleasure… Sailing seas in search of treasure… Annn-eee-thing so he can measure… Up to Man!”

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.   


Chris Barat said...


One TENNESSEE TUXEDO-appropriate word about the decision to redo the theme song:



Joe Torcivia said...

Yes, Chris… while “Tennessee Tuxedo will not fail!” (… as he was wont to say), SOMEONE certainly “failed” with regard to the authenticity of the theme.

Notice that I did not blame Shout! Factory for this because, for all we know, this might have been the only version available to them.

Over the years, so many strange and varied things have happened to the multi-segment cartoon shows of the ‘50s and ‘60s – from HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS onward – that I could never fault a DVD producer for the inability to accurately reconstruct such shows. Cuts, rejiggering, the elimination of interstitials, the shunting of one show’s component segments to another show – to the point that, if you weren’t there originally, you might not truly know what a given show was like in its original format.

We may never know why, or at what point in the series’ history, the vocal substitution took place, but I’m quite certain this did not ORIGINATE with Shout! Factory.

…The unusual organization of shorts into sub-categories of their own, rather than attempt the format of an actual show, however, is another story.

joecab said...

Awesome! I'm getting this one. But now I feel guilty for saying something about the riddle segments since I obviously jinxed them away :(

Joe Torcivia said...

Or, perhaps you may have SAVED US from them!

Just imagine if they repeated as often as the Underdog ones do! …Eeesh!

ramapith said...

There seem to be several versions of the Tennessee theme song floating around. Not (yet) possessing the DVD set for myself, let me try and figure things out here:

What I might call Version 1 of the song has the theme sung by the voice cast. In the opening verse, the second "See see see Tennessee Tuxedo" is voiced in a Mexican accent, so it sounds like "Si si si."

There is also a *long* variant of Version 1 which runs through the theme twice, with an alternate "B melody" in the middle. After the B melody, the second run-through of the theme has the second "See see see..." voiced by Chumley and Tennessee.
I can't find a complete version of the long variant, but here's one that picks up at the B melody.

Then here is Version 2, which matches the short Version 1 *except* it seems to dub the Tennessee and Chumley "See see see" over the Mexican voice—and the SFX are different (and sound newer).

Finally, am I to presume the "revoiced" theme song is what I might call Version 3 here?

Joe Torcivia said...


What you call “Version 3” (…but ONLY the first verse – not the whole thing!) is what I’m referring to as the non-authentic version on the DVD set.

This must have come along later, because the original – which you call “Version 2”, and I can STILL hear, after all these years – was sung by (or sounds as if it were sung by) the voice cast. At least THAT’S the one I remember!

Also, the “skyrocket opening” to “Version 2”, with Allen Swift narration, which I forgot about, is also missing from the DVDs.

This just gets more and more complicated.

…And, I just found another flaw that I’ll report on soon. Unlike the variant versions of the theme, interstitials, etc., this is one I CAN cite Shout! Factory for.

ramapith said...

Whoa! This Shout Factory clip advertising the new set actually shows one of the sequences I mentioned above—the sequence I described as an extended Version 1, beginning with the B melody. So an early version of the song is apparently on the DVD set somewhere—but where?

I'm no Tennessee Tuxedo expert. Maybe my "extended Version 1 plus B melody" is really just an alternate take of Version 2 with an extended fanfare.

Joe Torcivia said...


All I can say is, at the point at which I am “at” in the set – more than ¾ of the way through the first disc – what I described concerning the theme variations is true.

If it changes over the course of the set, I do not know – and I billed my impressions as early ones, so that I might update any additional discoveries. At least one update (and an unfortunate one) will be coming soon.

ramapith said...

Hmm; notice Mark's comments on this Amazon review.

Presuming he's right (...and I do!), then what we've been calling "Version 3" with the male and female chorus is actually the earliest version of the theme song, with the others coming later (and being represented later on in the set).

Sadly, the Amazon comments seem to suggest an absolute avalanche of other last-minute glitches in the set.

Joe Torcivia said...

I’d never challenge Mark, when it comes to TTV history.

Assuming that’s true, I STILL do not recall THAT version of the Tennessee Tuxedo theme sequence existing WITHOUT SOUND EFFECTS, regardless of who may have sung the lyrics! …Falling into the boat, the cannon shot, etc.

Of course, my “mental archive” for TTV is not quite what it is for Hanna-Barbera.