Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Toon Sports: Popeye in Fantastic Gymnastics (1979)

In season 2 of The All-New Popeye Hour, Popeye's Treasure Hunt was replaced with the short-lived Popeye's Sports Parade. Short-lived because only six of these shorts were made. Apparently, Hanna-Barbera didn't feel comfortable attempting to adapt some sports-themed shorts that the Fleischers had previously made under this particular banner.

In "Fantastic Gymnastics", Popeye (Jack Mercer) is a pizza shop owner/delivery man, specializing in--wait for it---spinach pizza. Olive (Marilyn Schreffler) is a gymnast, being coached by Wimpy (Daws Butler). Bluto (Allan Melvin) is a rival coach, and naturally is looking for any illegal advantage he can get, including copping some of those same spinach pizzas that are being fed to Olive's team.

The climax of Popeye & Bluto improvising away from the arena is worth the price of admission alone in a tribute to those old classics.

Notice how Butler gave Wimpy a W. C. Fields-esque voice, nothing like previous characterizations (which had been done by Mercer, among others). The gimmick, otherwise, remained the same.

Rating: B+.

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