Judge Mike Rubino refuses to eat spinach because he sees what it does to Popeye.
"I'm strong to the finich, 'cause I eats me spinach."
Popeye the Sailor Man is truly a piece of Americana. By all standards, he's the type of character that one would try very hard to avoid: he's a strange dock worker who is missing an eye, has a terrible speech impediment, and the same tattoo on both arms. Yet, he is an enduring animated classic that I still enjoy to this day. His latest DVD release, Popeye and Friends: Volume 1, however, isn't some of his better work.
This latest volume from Warner Bros. collects some choice short 'toons from the late '70s revival The All-New Popeye Hour, which also gave birth to other Hanna-Barbera characters like Dinky Dog. Popeye and Friends, which is devoid of any large sheep-hearding dogs, features eight brief episodes clocking in at around eight minutes each. The show features the usual cast of characters, like Olive Oyl, Bluto, Swee'Pea, and Wimpy getting into their usual tussles—most of which can be solved with the help of spinach. The shorts featured on the disc are as follows:
• Abject Flying Object
These cartoons, while very much in the vein of classic Popeye, aren't nearly as funny or entertaining as other Hanna-Barbera work from the same time. They feature a wide variety of subject matter, like Popeye meeting an alien in "Abject Flying Object" and Popeye and Olive Oyl taking Swee'Pea to New York in "Popeye Goes Sightseeing," and will certainly be entertaining for very young children. But if you are looking for something along the same quality as the classic Popeye the Sailor releases from the 1930s, you'll be pretty disappointed.
While the DVD case says that Popeye and Friends has been taken from the "original masters," it doesn't appear to have been "re-mastered." The video quality is pretty awful, with faded colors, a camera that flickers and shakes, and plenty of dirt and noise. These cartoons haven't aged well, and look worse than most cartoons from the '70s (yeah, that bad). The sound, while coming in plenty of languages, is also pretty bad; thankfully, Popeye cartoons haven't really been known for their award-winning dialogue, so it's not as big of an issue as the video.
This is a series that is definitely for the die-hard Popeye fan—or for a family looking to introduce the young'uns to an accessible version of the creepy sailor man. Since other aspects of the All-New Popeye Hour have already been released on DVD, I suppose Warner Bros. felt they had to release these brief 'toons as well. But with no special features, a terrible video transfer, and generally lame stories, buyers would be better to stick with the classics. Guilty.
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