We've run some Popeye shorts from this era before. I'd acquired this first volume for mere chump change at a Family Dollar on Friday, and thought I'd check it out. Happy as I am that the Hanna-Barbera era is now on DVD, I can see that some of the writing wasn't all that great. Jack Mercer (Popeye) did some directing as well, but back then, you couldn't tell which episodes he helmed.
As we've previously noted, newcomer Marilyn Schreffler was cast as Olive & Swee'pea, replacing the then-still-active Mae Questel, with Allan Melvin (ex-The Brady Bunch, All In The Family, etc.) as Bluto. Daws Butler is heard as Wimpy, giving everyone's favorite moocher a WC Fields flava to his voice. Mercer & Schreffler share the duties with Popeye's quadruplet nephews, who will be heard from in a future entry.
Some stories were reimaginings of old plots from the Fleischer era in the Golden Age, and didn't quite translate so well. H-B decided that Bluto had no redeeming value that would allow him to socialize with Popeye without them breaking into a brawl. He had to be the villain, and in true H-B fashion, a perpetual loser.
One such case is "I Wouldn't Take That Mare to the Fair on a Dare", from season 1 (1978). On the DVD, the King Features open/close is included, along with the Hearst Entertainment logo of the period.
Yes, they turned Bluto into a bigger, dumber Dick Dastardly. Whodathunk?
Of the 8 cartoons, only one came from after the first season, "Abject Flying Object". We'll see that another time as well.
You can say Popeye & Bluto were neutered by the anti-violence restrictions of the period, but bad writing often did them in, too.