The Disney folks are hoping to add to the smashing commercial and aesthetic success of DuckTales and Chip 'N Dale's Rescue Rangers with a new, syndicated offering called ''The Disney Afternoon.'' The bulging, two-hour package consists of DuckTales and Rescue Rangers, plus Disney's Adventures of Gummi Bears (previously seen on Saturday mornings), plus a new series, Tale Spin, all of which, Disney hopes, will provide kids with a wonderful way to unwind after school.
Now, I have serious reservations about encouraging children to watch two hours of TV every afternoon. (Spend an hour reading a book, kids!) But that shouldn't be held against the shows themselves. They tend to be very good-and Tale Spin is positively first-rate.
Like DuckTales and Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin takes well-known characters from Disney feature films and places them in a new context. Baloo the Bear, Louie the Ape, and Shere Khan all from the recently rereleased Jungle Book are the main characters. Baloo has been lifted out of the jungle and converted into an old-fashioned barnstorming pilot; Louie has been turned into a nightclub owner; and Jungle Book's villain, the tiger Shere Khan, has become an air pirate and our heroes' recurring nemesis.
There are new characters as well, most notably the pilots' boss, a bear named Rebecca, whose voice is provided by Sally Struthers. The animation is marvelous, rich, and detailed; the scripts are funnier and more complex than most prime-time sitcoms. And Tale Spin isn't saddled with the sort of moralizing that bogs down so many children's programs these days. As its punning title implies, the show is most interested in telling good, rousing stories and it does. A