It’s Cartoon Friday, again!
Tonight’s selection is a classic episode of Tennessee Tuxedo, who with his pal Chumley get into repeated escapades as they try to escape the zoo, or otherwise rise to the top of the animal’s social hierarchy. Tennessee is voiced by the wonderful Don Adams, who also played Maxwell Smart and voiced Inspector Gadget. In every episode, a brief educational lesson is given by the gloriously named Phineas J Whoopee, The Man With All the Answers on his high-tech 3D blackboard. Then, the hapless duo try to get into, and out of trouble with their new knowledge.
Last year Noel Murray, writing for the AVClub, contemplated “The doleful soul of Tennessee Tuxedo:”
Where Popeye had spinach, the bowtied penguin Tennessee Tuxedo and his dimwitted walrus pal Chumley had knowledge, which they picked up from “the man with all the answers,” Phineas J. Whoopee. After a two-minute lecture on basic scientific principles, Tennessee and Chumley would return to a task that had previously bested them, and would usually do better at it—though never good enough to escape their lives as zoo animals.
Tennessee Tuxedo represents a lot of what television meant to me when I was little. I watched that show mainly in the mornings before elementary school, and as a latchkey kid, I usually had to switch it off about halfway through, so that I could make my way down to the bus stop at the entrance to our apartment complex. Which meant that every weekday during the school year, I had a choice: Turn off the TV and go where I was supposed to go, or keep watching and then lie to my mother later, telling her I stayed home sick. The latter I could only do a few times a year, but it seemed like a viable option just about every day, which meant that Tennessee Tuxedo became emblematic of what I had to leave behind when I chose to go to school.
The article goes into some interesting detail about Tuxedo’s commercial origins as a product of General Mills.
What are some of your favorite cartoons? I’ll try to use them in a future installment.
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Photo by Kevin Ryder released under a Creative Commons license.