TV URBAN LEGEND: Launchpad McQuack was originally going to be the star of TaleSpin.
In the early 1990s, Disney began to really make a move with their syndicated animated programs. 1987’s DuckTales had been the first syndicated show created by Disney’s new animated television division (following the creation of the very first show by Disney’s new animated TV division, Disney’s The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, for NBC in 1985). Its success led to the creation of Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers in 1989.
In 1990, Disney (who had already been selling DuckTales and Rescue Rangers as an hour-long package) launched the syndicated programming block known as The Disney Afternoon. The concept was to have a rotating group of four half hour shows that would air in a row. They would then sell this block in syndication. Naturally, with a need to create new half hour shows, they went to their previous successes for inspiration, especially their biggest hit, DuckTales.
As we noted in a recent TV Legends Revealed about the creation of DarkWing Duck, Disney would specifically look at episodes of DuckTales and see which ones were popular enough to spin off into their own series. Darkwing Duck ended up having Launchpad McQuack, Scrooge McDuck’s personal pilot (who can crash any plane ever built!)…
leave Duckberg and travel to St. Canard to become the sidekick/partner in crime-fighting with Darkwing Duck.
However, rumors have long persisted that Launchpad was going to star in an earlier spin-off from DuckTales, namely the idea that TaleSpin, the show about the misadventures of a cargo pilot, was going to first star Launchpad instead of Baloo the bear (from The Jungle Book)…
After all, the show IS called Talespin, just like DuckTales and Launchpad, of course, is a pilot.
That was not the case, however, as the show was never going to star Launchpad. The confusion comes from an aspect of the show that WAS taken from DuckTales. You see, when Launchpad McQuack was originally introduced, he was going to have his own cargo plane business and he would end up helping Scrooge and the gang on the side of his main business (and, presumably, his business could lead to plots, as well).
Disney decided to instead make him Scrooge’s personal pilot. The concept, though, was put into the ol’ “Maybe we can use this later” pile.
When writers Jymn Magon and Mark Zaslove were hired to come up with a new show, all it had to be was a half hour show (since The Disney Afternoon had only three shows – Gummi Bears, DuckTales and Rescue Rangers – and they needed four to start. They would eventually add a new show to the last time slot each new season, bumping the other three shows up a half hour, with the first show going off of the air period). Zaslove came up with the idea of having it star Baloo from The Jungle Book and Magon came up with the idea of using the unused cargo pilot plot set-up from DuckTales.
And thus, TaleSpin was born!
The legend is…
Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV.
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