Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday Morning's Forgotten Heroes: Hong Kong Phooey (1974)

Martial arts movies were in vogue in the mid-70's, and Kung Fu, a Western (!) starring David Carradine, was being shuffled in and out of the ABC prime time lineup. The network felt they needed another superhero show to complement Super Friends, which was in perpetual rerun for its 2nd season. Enter Hong Kong Phooey, a canine martial artist whose talents were overshadowed by his general ineptitude. Shoot, Maxwell Smart was more proficient with mere karate chops than Phooey, but then again, Hanna-Barbera had Smart in mind when they were developing this series. Here's the open, narrated by Don Messick, and uploaded to YouTube:

Phooey (Scatman Crothers) would solve two cases per week, and one of the rare times where this wasn't the case was in a backdoor pilot for Posse Impossible, which later made it to air as part of the 1977 anthology series, CB Bears. Joe E. Ross (ex-Car 54, Where Are You?) was heard as Sgt. Flint, Penrod Pooch's boss.

There have been rumors for the last few years about a live-action/CGI feature film version of the series, but nothing has ever materialized beyond the talking stage. Would Hong Kong Phooey be worth reviving as a regular series? Only if they rebooted and converted Flint and Rosemary into canine characters. As we've already seen in the 21st century, "funny animal" heroes interacting with humans (i.e. "Underdog") don't resonate with audiences the way they did back in the 60's & 70's.

Rating: B.


magicdog said...

Anyone ever wonder why Penry/Hong Kong Phooey was the only anthromorphic character in a world populated by relatively normal humans?

That aside, it looks like the HKP movie is about to become reality. Alcon Entertainment will produce the film, Alex Zamm will direct and Eddie Murphy will do HKP voice.

The storyline will be that an ordinary dog will bumble into a mystical ceremony and obtain sentience and martial arts mastery. This dog becomes none other than "Hong Kong Phooey". The dog will be CGI of course!

Heaven help us!

hobbyfan said...

And, so, I must again invoke the words of George Santayana.

Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Underdog was a bomb, that is true,
For Phooey to avoid his fate,
The Producers must reconsider,
And use a total CGI slate!