Western Animation / Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales


"Phineas J. Whoopee, you're the greatest!"

Total Television created this Saturday Morning Cartoon for CBS in 1963 as a response to the famous "vast wasteland" speech given two years earlier by Newton Minow, who was then head of the FCC.

Tennessee Tuxedo, a penguin, and his walrus friend, Chumley, sought to improve their lives in the zoo. Despite gaining helpful information from their friend Phineas J. Whoopee, Tennessee and Chumley still ran afoul of zookeeper Stanley Livingston.

Supporting segments included The Hunter and Tooter Turtle, both repeated from King Leonardo and His Short Subjects, as well as The World of Commander McBragg. The series' voice talent included Don Adams as Tennessee Tuxedo, Bradley Bolke as Chumley and Larry Storch as Mr. Whoopee.

When CBS acquired the broadcast rights to Underdog in 1966, Tennessee moved to ABC, where it aired Sunday afternoons. In syndication, Tennessee Tuxedo ran on its own as a series and as a component of Underdog.

Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales provides examples of:

  • The Ace/Parody Sue: Commander McBragg
    He can do anything, in his world he's a king!
    Or so says the brag of McBragg!
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Anytime an episode ended with Tennessee doing something right, he did so completely by accident. He's also foiled a few crimes this way, only to get into trouble with Stanley for breaking more crimes in the process.
  • Afraid of Doctors: Simply saying the word "dentist" to Chumley will make him leap on the chandelier and refuse to come down; an episode where he has a toothache results in this refusal causing Tennessee to try some rather bizarre ways to extract the tooth before Mr. Whoopie convinces him to see one.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Tennessee's American Civil War dream in "Tell-Tale Telegraph".
    • And his pirate adventure in "Admiral Tuxedo".
    • Also, flying to the moon in "By the Plight of the Moon".
  • An Aesop: At the end of every Tooter Turtle cartoon: "Be just vat you is, not vat you is not. Folks vat do zis are ze happiest lot."
  • Be Yourself: The message of the Tooter Turtle cartoons. Tooter never learned, however.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Zig-zagged in an episode which had Tennessee competing in a bowling match against Jerboa Jump, who tricks Tennessee into thinking he needs glasses. Jerboa gives him a pair of glasses with bottle caps in place of the lenses, rendering him unable to see. Mr. Whoopee then explains how the human eye functions.
  • Bold Explorer: Commander McBragg of The World of Commander McBragg, was a now-retired bold explorer who had visited some of the most remote and dangerous parts of the world—at least to hear him tell it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Stanley Livingston, although he does get the better of Tennessee and Chumley sometimes (even getting them thrown into jail on a couple occasions).
  • Captive Audience: Whenever Commander McBragg launches into one of his tales in the Gentleman's Club, his hapless victim starts to object but is pushed back into his chair and is forced to listen to the ridiculous story.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Tennessee Tuxedo will not fail!"; "Quite!" (McBragg).
  • Colonel Badass: If any of Commander McBragg's tales are true (which is highly debatable), he would definitely qualify.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: This was the reason Tennessee and Chumley were able to win a boat race in one episode against Jerboa Jump, who was no better than the Trope Namer.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: No matter how many times Tennessee and Chumley drive Stanley up the wall with their antics, he can't seem to keep an eye on them long enough to prevent them from escaping the zoo again and again. (He does manage to prevent it in a couple episodes.)
  • Herr Doctor: Zo vhat elze kann exshplain a Lizard mit a German aksent?
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: At the end of every installment of The World of Commander McBragg, the person listening his story would sum up his story with one of these, with McBragg responding, "Quite!"
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: So you say that Tennessee will often restate exactly what someone has just said to him.
  • Magic Hat: Mr. Whoopee's animated chalkboard, which also served as The Big Board.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Deliberately averted; Chumley the walrus is at the South Pole because he accidentally traveled there. Not, of course, that the zookeeper who comes to capture him realizes it.
  • The Munchausen: Commander McBragg. Quite.
  • Rain Dance: Chumley attempts one (indoors!) in the episode The Rainmakers, and it does nothing. This is, of course, the lead-in to Professor Whoopee's explanation of what really makes rain.
  • Recoil Boost: In one of "The World of Commander McBragg" shorts, McBragg uses the recoil on his high-powered rifle (which was responsible for getting him into this mess in the first place) to propel himself out of the pit he had fallen into.
    • In another tale, he hefts a cannon single-handedly and similarly uses it as a rocket to propel himself out of danger, and get back to his regiment just in time for A Spot Of Tea.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: As recited by Mr. Lizard the Wizard every time Tooter got himself into a jam.
    Drizzel, drazzel, drozzel, drome —
    Time for dis vun to come home.
  • Right Behind Me: When Tennessee goes to complain about not getting fresh vegetables, Stanley says he has no time to talk because the Mayor's wife is coming to inspect the zoo, saying that she's a battleaxe. Stanley doesn't realize she was behind him until Tennessee bows to her.
  • Running Gag: Every time Mr. Whoopee goes to his badly cluttered closet to get the 3D Blackboard to use as a visual aid, an avalanche of junk falls on him. (In some episodes, Tennessee and Chumley clearly expect this, and cover their ears before the crash.)
  • Sequel Episode: One of Tennessee and Chumley's scheme involved the duo trying to start their own coal mine, only to dig under Stanley Livingston's office instead. Several episodes later, that tunnel caused Stanley's office to sink to one side, leading Tennessee to try to fix the foundation.
  • Shout-Out: In 1998, when the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville, Tennessee, ESPN's Chris Berman referred to the team as the Tennessee Tuxedos.
  • The Smart Guy: Mr. Whoopee. He seems to know everything.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: "The World of Commander McBragg" always started with McBragg in his gentlemen's club, telling a Tall Tale to his fellow members.
  • Tall Tale: The World of Commander McBragg consisted of McBragg (loosely based on Baron Munchausen) telling ridiculous tall tales about himself, including how he carved the Grand Canyon, built the Great Pyramid and dug the Panama Canal. One of them is, quite literally, a "Fish Story". Or so says the brag of McBragg.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone:
    • At the end of "Wreck of a Record", Stanley reluctantly lets Tennessee's folk group sing in the stage show.
    • Also, Tennessee and Chumley manage to win the sailboat race in "Sail Ho!" mostly because Jerboa loves cheating so much.
  • Tin Can You Hear Me Now: Done in "Telephone Terrors".
  • Warm-Hearted Walrus: Chumley the Walrus is the stalwart sidekick to the motivated penguin Tennessee. Though he speaks with a Simpleton Voice, he's remarkably competent once he's told what to do, and despite being among the largest characters in the series, he's very much a Gentle Giant.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Jerboa Jump, although he's technically a kangaroo rat.