Today is the birthday of beloved character actor Benjamin “Scatman” Crothers (1910-1986). Scatman’s cheerful, bald-headed visage seems just as indispensable as his husky, musical voice, so it’s strange to imagine him doing a voice-over. And yet I can’t imagine anyone else being Hong Kong Phooey. I am beyond astounded to see that this show only aired (originally) for three months, September to December 1974. I mean, I still know the words to the theme song!
“Hong Kong Phooey! Number One Super Guy!
Hong Kong Phooey! Quicker than the human eye!”
Parents, be careful, the things that children watch STICK WITH THEM. At any rate, as The Oddball Couple was to The Odd Couple, so was Hong Kong Phooey to Kung Fu. Needless to say, being as I was a small boy at the time, I was very much into the martial arts craze of the 1970s, although I never went so far as to actually STUDY any. Like most kids, I just pretended. At any rate, Hong Kong Phooey was a dog mascot to a local police station who solved crimes, driving around in a little car that looked like a pagoda. You see? It was a cultural!
Actually it sort of is, in a twisted way. The theme song (which just made my day) is a wild mix of Asian stereotype cliches AND blaxploitation funk AND jug band music AND 1930s serials conventions AND prototypical hip-hop. I may have to listen to this 30 times today:
BTW there is a new big screen version coming out soon starring the voice of Eddie Murphy. I shall reserve judgment, although the casting is perfect.