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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > CGI Animation > Fantasy > TV Cartoons > History > Industry > Dog (2022/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/My Sweet Monster (2021/Lionsgate DVD)/Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons by Fred M. Grandinetti (2022/BearManor Media Books)

Dog (2022/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/My Sweet Monster (2021/Lionsgate DVD)/Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons by Fred M. Grandinetti (2022/BearManor Media Books)

Picture: B- & C/C+/X Sound: B & C+/C+/X Extras: C- Book: B+ Main Programs: C+

PLEASE NOTE: The Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons book by Fred M. Grandinetti has been updated since we first reviewed it a few years ago...

''Author Fred M. Grandinetti has expanded his publication from BearManor Media, Popeye the Sailor, The 1960s TV Cartoons. This series of 220 color cartoons is best remembered for their inferior quality. These were cranked out quickly to cash in on the success the theatrical Popeyes were having on television.

Despite their reputation Grandinetti maintains there are several good episodes, and the cartoons were extremely popular on television.

The book now goes into detail regarding the origins of several episodes which were based on Thimble Theatre comic strip stories by E.C. Segar. The strip began in 1919 and originally starred Olive Oyl. Popeye the Sailor was introduced on January 17th, 1929 and became the lead character in the comic strip.

The 1960s cartoons featured many more of Segar's creations than the theatrical films. They included The Sea Hag, Alice the Goon, Rough House, King Blozo and Geezil.

Personnel, involved with these episodes, are also highlighted.''

Now for some family-friendly fare, including a few throwbacks....

Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum's Dog (2022) is a tale of a young man and his dog to be, if he can help him out. In this case, Tatum plays an Army Ranger and the title animal, capable of serious attacks and trained to do so, but they have to go to a funeral and the ranger has to tame the dog as much as he can. Comical and not bad, it is the kind of film and TV material we used to see into the 1970s and Tatum is one of the only stars who could actually pull off this kind of material as few actors can recapture the kind of actor we used to have more of who could fit the bill.

Running 101 minutes, the film became a surprise hit, only solidifying Tatum's return as one of the biggest and most bankable movie stars around, even with the COVID break and a film that did not have a big budget or big expectation. Instead, it is one of the surprise hits of the last few years and shows he knows his audience, filmmaking and what works. It was on the predictable side for me, as I had seen this kind of thing dozens of times, but that was long ago. The remarkable thing here is he saw a quality story to tell that had not been told for decades and made it work because producers of all kinds of feature films have lost sight of the basics too often. Without needing to be any kind of masterpiece, Dog is the kind of quiet triumph we don't see enough of and its nice it got made and found an audience.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is an all-HD digital shoot that is a bit soft throughout and not because of some style choices. The Blu-ray disc disappoints, though the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the DVD is much poorer. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is more like it with a consistent soundfield and well recorded enough, but the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is just plain weak.

Digital Copy and a trailer are the only extras.

The CGI animated market is still too hot for any company that can afford to get one done not to try and make one. Victor Glukhushin's My Sweet Monster (2021) is one of the more interesting of this lower-tier set of productions, again using the voices of Pauly Shore and Jon Heder (Pinocchio: The True Story) as the name voices.

With an ambitious-if-odd plot, a princess (Haylee Duff) is unhappily set to marry a crazed mailman (!?!) who also wants to rob something rare from a nearby forest that does not belong to him, she teams up with some newly-made friends there to stop him. Then, we get more twists, turns and a few more unexpected (or odd) things, but I will not ruin them. The makers essentially seem to think taking on Shrek and Frozen by coming up with a wackier script will work. In a few ways, it does, but not though to make it as grand. Still, this might find an audience, because it is not much worse than those played-out hits either.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image looks as good as it can for this older format and though it is not the most state-of-the-art CGI work out there, it does well with what it has and color is not bad, while the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is well-recorded enough. Probably would sound better lossless.

Extras include a trailer.

Finally, a new book on one of the most popular comic strip heroes of all time. Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons by Fred M. Grandinetti (2022) is yet another solid, indispensable volume on the classic character by one of the world authorities on the subject, but there is as much love as knowledge here as Grandinetti (who we will disclose has reviewed Popeye disc releases for us over the years) covers one of the most underrated, under-documented and key eras of the character on any screen.

With rare information and illustrations, Grandinetti's attention to detail and being thorough is impressive as usual, finally settling the record straight on how the already insanely popular and iconic character landed up with another massively successful and profitable era as an evergreen character that people still love and know. Besides all the comic strips, comic books and memorabilia made of him and his cast of supporting characters, he was also a huge hit in a remarkable well-animated series of hit black and white theatrical cartoons made the the legendary Fleischer Studios (Betty Boop, Superman) and even some longer early color ones before the Fleischer Brothers suddenly parted ways. Paramount, their distributor, continued making them under their name and the Famous Studios name, moving into full color and the money kept pouring in until they were concluded in the 1950s as TV arrived.

Then, owner King Features saw syndication of those cartoons making a mint in reruns nationwide that did so well, they decided to create a new cartoon series for television and spend the extra money for them to be in color, even though color TV did not exist yet! This paid off as the new shows were a huge hit, on their own or paired with other programming, then color TV started to arrive by mid-decade and the rest is history. The show was in constant play all over the country into the 1980s (!!!) as new comic strips, comic books, more toys, more memorabilia and even the Robert Altman live-action musical Popeye film with Robin Williams hit the big screen. Popeye was even ahead of the Marvel and DC Comics superheroes making it to the small screen in new adventures.

This book does into full detail on how this all happened, how it took six animation studios from all over the world to deliver the hundreds of shorts that were eventually produced, how these shows became the debut of characters from the comics Fleischer and Paramount never got around to licensing or using in all their hundreds of theatrical cartoons and though the animation could vary between studios, the use of color was and remains impressive and the result was groundbreaking for television.

Best of all, the episode guide covering every single episode produced is massive, epic and library-reference quality in its depth and detail, some fans of Popeye will love and fans of other such characters may be a bit jealous of. Grandinetti has done some stunning research here and it will give you a new respect for both television animation and Popeye himself. Very, very impressive work for a book that is also a lot of fun to read. Once I started, I could not stop.

Over the years, we have reviewed all forms of Popeye animated adventures including these 1960s releases, but only on DVD so far, so we (still) expect their long-overdue arrival on Blu-ray is imminent, especially since Warner Archive has been issuing the theatrical cartoons in great sets that show off the amazing work that went into all of them. Having the Popeye rights as we post, we hope to see those upgrades soon, but having this book in advance of their arrival means we'll get even more out of those releases and that makes Popeye The Sailor: The 1960s TV Cartoons one of the best pop culture book of the year easily. Highly recommended!

- Nicholas Sheffo


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