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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's little to worry about in this fun, adventurous Jungle Book spin-off aside from cartoon rough and tumble, brief explosions, and crashes -- none of which results in serious injury. The central female character is a devoted single mom and hard-working businesswoman. Subject matter sometimes touches on things like ghosts, kidnappings, and potential death, but it's all so light that it won't affect young viewers. Parents who watch with their kids will get a kick out of fun cultural references -- like the mysterious "Bearmuda Trapezoid" that's said to claim the lives of pilots like "Amelia Airhart."
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What's the story?
Disney's animated series TALESPIN -- a spin-off of The Jungle Book -- follows a new chapter in the life of Baloo the bear (voiced by Ed Gilbert), who now lives in the Pacific Islands and flies a cargo plane for freight shipping company Higher for Hire. Carefree Baloo -- who used to own the company and his beloved plane, the Seaduck -- now works for businesswoman Becky Cunningham (Sally Struthers), hoping to eventually buy back the aircraft. In addition to being Higher for Hire's CEO, Becky is also a loving single mom to daughter Molly (Janna Michaels). Baloo and his young navigator -- an orphan and ex-air pirate named Kit (R.J. Williams), who looks up to "Papa Bear" as a father figure -- haul cargo to and from the nearby islands, doing their best to avoid run-ins with the villainous air pirates and their nefarious leader, Don Karnage (Jim Cummings). Much to Becky's chagrin, the boys are easily distracted from their assigned task; when they lag behind schedule, she's apt to find them at Baloo's favorite hangout, Louie's.
Is it any good?
TaleSpin is a lively, engaging series that's just plain fun to watch, and Jungle Book fans don't have to worry that the cross-over stars have been compromised in any way. The minor changes that were made were necessary: Baloo now sports four-fingered hands (instead of paws) to man the plane, for example, and the revived Shere Khan (Tony Jay), who appears occasionally in the role of a ruthless business tycoon, now walks upright and dons clothes.
While the show isn't heavy on actual lessons, little of its content is likely to worry parents of grade-schoolers. TaleSpin is so entertaining, in fact, that adults may find themselves drawn in -- those who are will pick up on occasional clever cultural references and characterizations that escape young viewers (for example, an eccentric hippopotamus/airplane designer named Howard Huge).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about responsibility. What does it mean to be responsible? Why is it important to follow through on your commitments? Kids: What responsibilities do you have? How do you make sure you stay on track with them? How do you feel when your jobs are done? Do you ever put them off? What happens when you do? Families can also talk about how the characters on the show compare to their original Jungle Book versions.
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