Oooo-wa oooo-wa …
OK, enough singing.
There have been several “Underdog” collections released on DVD over the years, but it looks like Shout! Factory has finally hit on one that will please just about everyone with this terrifically fun set out this week.
The 1964 series is a sentimental favorite to generations of cartoon watchers, including myself. After Scooby-Doo, I’d have to say he’s my favorite animated pooch. I watched him in syndication, several years after the last episode was produced in 1967, and I still think he has one of the best cartoon theme songs ever. And the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade wouldn’t be the same without him.
So it’s been a treat to pop these discs into the player and relive my childhood with the humble, rhyming shoeshine boy who becomes the hero Underdog and saves the frequently kidnapped Sweet Polly Purebread, a TV reporter — Lois Lane to Underdog’s Superman.
Shout Factory has done its best to present the cartoons in their original broadcast state, with stories split into four parts over two episodes, interspersed with a variety of other characters, including the Go Go Gophers, Klondike Kat and some I don’t even remember: Tooter the Turtle and the Hunter.
They had to go back to some non-pristine sources, but the set as a whole is awesome. I laughed, I, well, laughed some more. Crying isn’t a common reaction to “Underdog.”
Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff are just as dastardly as ever, as are the likes of Batty Man. There are lots of little spoofs, too, including homages to “Car 54 Where Are You” and “Dragnet” at the same time.
There’s also an interesting featurette with interviews with co-creator Buck Biggers and others. Alison Arngrim (“Little House on the Prairie”) shows up here as she did on the “Casper” set. Her mother, Norma MacMillan, voiced Polly, and she has some fun insights into the biz. Some cartoons have commentary tracks, as well.
In its licensing deal with Classic Media, Shout! Factory is working hard to make good with fans of classic animation. First came the “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Mr. Magoo” sets last year, and “Tennessee Tuxedo” is coming up in March.