“Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy!”
Based around a mild-mannered janitor, who was secretly a crime-fighting superhero, the American animated series, Hong Kong Phooey, was created in 1974 by Hanna-Barbera Productions for the ABC network.
By day, Penrod “Penry” Pooch is a clumsy, bumbling, anthropomorphic dog, who cleans the police station under the watchful eye of Sergeant Flint, known as “Sarge”. However, Penry decides to become a vigilante crime-fighter and teaches himself how by taking a correspondence course and reading the Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu.
His sidekick, Spot the cat, is confident and assured – and the brains behind the duo! Showing great resourcefulness, his quick-thinking saves the day time after time, after Hong Kong Phooey’s crime-fighting antics invariably go wrong.
Each episode begins with the familiar Hong Kong Phooey opening music, followed by the telephone operator, Rosemary, greeting callers with the words, “Hello, hello, police headquarters, this is Rosemary.”
She tells callers she’s the “lovely lassie with the classy chassis” – probably not the manner in which your average switchboard operator would answer the telephone at the local police station or anywhere else for that matter!
Unbeknown to the other personnel, Penry listens in on the calls, so he can overhear details of the crimes in progress. As soon as he learns something is going on, he slips stealthily behind the vending machine, changes into his Hong Kong Phooey crime-fighting gear and emerges via the bottom drawer of his filing cabinet.
Invariably, he gets stuck and has to be hauled out by Spot. He then slides to the floor below on an ironing board (not your average crime-fighting apparatus) and bounces off a settee through the open window, landing in a dumpster parked outside.
Hidden in the dumpster is the Phooeymobile, which is the flashy green car that Hong Kong Phooey drives, with Spot in the passenger seat. As they set about apprehending the bad guys, viewers somehow know everything is going to go wrong.
“When the going gets rough, he’s super tough, with a Hong Kong Phooey chop!”
No-one is exactly sure what his super-powers are, although he has been seen doing a quick chopping motion on plants, knocking every leaf and flower off. Sadly, when he tries his hand at martial arts, he often has both eyes closed, which obviously leads to disaster and accidents for civilians.
In September 1974, one of the episodes sees our hero taking on the culprits behind a car theft ring operating around the town. He is also endeavouring to catch a gang of animal thieves and is helped in his quest by a kangaroo from the local zoo.
In another episode, entitled Grandma Goody: Cat Burglar, felines are being stolen all over town (even Spot), and Hong Kong Phooey realises a kindly old lady isn’t all she seems.
However, his crime-fighting efforts are thwarted by the fact he’s a total disaster at martial arts, but the public don’t realise this, mainly because Spot has mopped up after another of his disasters. He remains a highly-respected superhero, who’s always happy to take the credit for Spot’s success!
Even when Phooey manages to ruin an innocent bystander’s day, they always say they feel privileged to meet him. One lady tells him she is honoured to have had her expensive hat destroyed by a superhero!
Each episode of Hong Kong Phooey lasts 30 minutes, which is a long time in cartoon-land. The final episode aired on 21st December 1974.
It was announced in 2009 that a film version of Hong Kong Phooey was planned, but it hasn’t materialised to date.
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