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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Superheroes > Comedy > Children > TV > Hong Kong Phooey – The Complete Series

Hong Kong Phooey – The Complete Series


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B+



There are fun animated TV series and there are great ones.  The best have such character with their great characters that they endure long after they have wrapped up.  Hanna-Barbera has more classics in their catalog than many realize, but the following, fond memories and endurance of Hong Kong Phooey is exceptional.  Witty, goofy, subtly outrageous and the unbelievable chemistry between artists, scriptwriters and voice actors has rarely ever been so effective anywhere in animation history, TV, feature film or otherwise.


The great Scatman Crothers is at his exceptional best as Penry The Janitor, who works at local police station so he can be privy to the latest crimes, with the in-joke that this brings him closer to crime than being a reporter ala Clark Kent.  There is the giddy, sexy police phone board operator Rosemary who foreruns Miss Dipesto on Moonlighting by over a decade in her wacky and very, very long answerings of the phone.  Then there is the ever-tortured Sergeant Flint, voiced by the comic legend Joe E. Brown, in what is remarkably one of his best-remembered performances.  Then there is Spot The Cat, who is not only the only one to know his secret identity, but actually does a little more than be a sidekick assistant when it comes to Penry’s alter ego capturing the villains.


Then there are the villains, a rogue gallery that might be one of the greatest superhero comic book set-ups of all time.  Celebrities also get nudged at times, but the villains are silly and outrageous in a way that the writers were coming up with as many possibilities with criminals as they did with flying machines in the first (and best) Dastardly & Mutley series.  There is also the Phooey-mobile, which uses a gong to transform into dozens of other outrageous vehicles and then there is the all-time classic theme song written by Hoyt S. Curtin and performed by Scatman himself.  All this adds up to one of the greatest Saturday Morning Cartoon labors of love in TV history and is one of the most entertaining DVD releases of the year.


This DVD set comes in a nicely illustrated box with new art, though I love the vintage art and its amusing use of color.  Looking at the show decades later, down to the great end credits, it was part of the last golden age of Saturday Morning Cartoons from the 1974 – 1975 season.  With other great voices supplied by Richard Dawson, Casey Kasem, Bob Holt, Allan Melvin, Don Messick as both the narrator and Spot, Alan Oppenheimer, Jean Vander Pyl and Paul Winchell among others, it is a classic better than ever over thirty years later.


The 1.33 X 1 image varies in quality and color per show, as expected, with the first one being softer than usual.  The differences are not too severe, but the better the print, the more impressive the color.  The Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono is not bad either, with all of Scatman’s witticisms in tact.  Extras include several excellent audio commentary tracks, trailers for six other great Warner animated releases, the complete Batty Batty Gang episode with storyboards running at the same time as the actual episode and terrific The Phoo-nomenon featurette that altogether delivers the kind of package diehard fans will love.  Next, a feature film is supposedly in the works for 2008, but can it capture the charm and class of this show.  Only Hong Kon… I mean Spot, knows for sure.  Until then, don’t miss Hong Kong Phooey – The Complete Series!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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