Tennessee Tuxedo was a penguin who shared living quarters at Megapolis Zoo with his best pal Chumley, a dim-witted walrus. Not content with his lot in life, Tennessee (with the help of Chumley) continually attempted schemes to improve his fortune or make his life easier. He came up with extravagant plans—usually involving building something—that he assumed would be simple to execute… until he actually attempted them and things went horribly wrong.
Not to be discouraged, Tennessee and Chumley made a habit of then visiting the office of their good friend Phineas J. Whoopee, the “man with all the answers” to get some expert advice. Mr. Whoopee knew a good deal about everything and was always happy to explain the scientific principles underlying how things worked. To help illustrate his points he used a ‘three-dimensional black board’ (or 3DBB, as he called it) that he stored in a closet. Each time he opened the closet door he was buried in an avalanche of miscellaneous items, from which he triumphantly emerged with the device. The 3DBB had the ability to render what was drawn on it into three-dimensional reality. This made the lessons he was ostensibly teaching Tennessee and Chumley entertaining to the kids watching at home, and informative as well. With the assistance of their newfound knowledge, Tennessee and Chumley set off and generally succeeded in carrying out whatever task they had begun, but rarely without unforeseen, negative repercussions.
Zoo director Stanley Livingston was the unintentional victim of a good deal of Tennessee’s shenanigans. Tennessee caused him endless aggravation, to the point that when something went wrong Stanley (quite correctly) didn’t hesitate to place the blame on the pertinacious penguin and his chronic cohort. He doled out plenty of punishments for the two: such as assigning them to wash pots and pans in the zoo kitchen for six months, running them ragged as zoo messengers, and even sending them to work on a chain gang. Stanley’s assistant Flunky also worked at the zoo.
Other recurring characters were introduced as the series got underway. Two additional friends to Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley were an eagle named Baldy and a yak named Yakkety Yak. Tennessee even gained an arch rival by the name of Jereboah Jump. Jereboah was an unscrupulous jerboa (similar to a jumping mouse) who vied with Tennessee to be top dog (so to speak) at the zoo. The two were always trying to out-do one another. Unlike most episodes, which ended with a less than desirable result for Tennessee and Chumley, the two had a knack for getting the better of Jereboah.
Tennessee Tuxedo was the first segment shown in the half-hour series, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. Other segments included The King & Odie, The Hunter and Tooter Turtle. These segments were later replaced by The World of Commander McBragg and Klondike Kat.