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Western Animation / Hong Kong Phooey

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Hong Kong Phooey! Number one super guy!
Hong Kong Phooey! Quicker than the human eye!

Hong Kong Phooey is a Hanna-Barbera-produced Animated Series that aired on ABC in 1974 as a response to the Chop Sockey martial arts fad of the time, especially the Adventure Series Kung Fu (1972). It would reappear in reruns a few years later on NBC.

The Hero, Hong Kong Phooey "number one super guy", posed as mild-mannered police janitor Penrod Pooch, and listened in on dispatcher Rosemary's responses to crime reports. It wasn't until Sgt. Flint took off after the criminal that Penry, as he was called, engaged his Transformation Sequence. As his super-hero alter ego, Phooey pursued crooks in his shape-shifting Phooeymobile, accompanied by Spot the Cat.

Despite Phooey's "impressive" displays of martial arts, it was Spot who did most of the work and got none of the credit. Neither Sgt. Flint nor Rosemary ever suspected that Penry led a double life.

Scatman Crothers (no, not that Scatman) voiced the title character and performed the show's theme song. Later in the decade, Hong Kong Phooey joined Scooby-Doo's team on Laff-A-Lympics.

Hong Kong Phooey contains examples of:

  • 100% Heroism Rating: Pretty much the only thing that keeps Phooey branded as a hero.
  • The Ace: Spot, who is arguably the real hero of the show.
  • Alliterative Name: Penrod Pooch.
  • Almighty Janitor: The titular Hong Kong Phooey himself.
  • Animal Superheroes: Natch.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: "Hong Kong Phooey/Number One super guy!/Hong Kong Phooey/Quicker than the human eye!"
  • Canines Primary, Felines Secondary: Zig-Zagged. On the one hand, Spot the cat is the sidekick of Hong Kong Phooey the dog, all of the plot lines revolve around the dog and the cat plays a supporting role. However, Spot is also a Hyper-Competent Sidekick, and tends to be the one doing the real hero work more often than not.
  • Character Catchphrase: Sgt. Flint's "Ooh, ooh!". Wouldn't be a Joe E. Ross role without it.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: When Phil the Farmer disguises himself as Hong Kong Phooey to claim the rewards offered to the real one, the viewers can always tell who's who because the real one wears a red kimono and the false one wears a black one.
  • Comedic Hero: The titular Hong Kong Phooey.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Nine issues by Charlton. Whatever wasn't simple model sheet poses were simply poorly drawn. Phooey also made appearances in Marvel's take on Laff-A-Lympics.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: Doctor Disguise impersonates several people while trying to escape from Hong Kong Phooey. Phooey is confused when Disguise impersonates Penrod Pooch because he is Penrod Pooch. Phooey decides to let the villain become Penrod while he becomes Hong Kong Phooey full time but Spot uses the villain's device to revert him to his real form with prison clothes instead of the regular outfit he's seen wearing while not disguised. Phooey just thinks the villain decided to surrender once hearing his name.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: That would be Phooey himself.
  • Cool Car: The Phooeymobile.
  • Deadpan Snarker: You can say this about Phooey, amazingly enough — he may be a complete and utter failure as a crimefighter, but he's got a great wit to compensate.
  • The Ditz:
    • The amount of times Hong Kong Phooey does something wrong is truly unbelievable, to the point of being absolutely unbearable.
    • Why do the citizens of the town depend on a dog that can't even tell that his partner did all the work? Because they're so star-struck by him that they blatantly ignore his constant screw-ups. A Running Gag is Phooey accidentally wreaking somebody's hard work, only for that person to say what a great honor it is to get their day ruined by the amazing Hong Kong Phooey!
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Penry Pooch as the titular hero is a lucky nimrod that is painfully unaware of almost everything. His Hyper-Competent Sidekick Spot does all the real work, while Phooey just assumes he did it himself; "I don't know how I did it, but I did it!"
  • Dub Name Change: The comic books were published in Swedish, and Hong Kong Phooey was renamed Karate-klanten, "The Karate Klutz".
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Poor Spot. You can't help feeling bad for him because he saves the day and his master just reads stupid Chinese sayings.
  • Epic Fail: A number of Penry's screw-ups in his janitor job qualify. One time he got some important papers wet and when he tried to dry them with a hair dryer, the letters blew off.
  • Face Palm: Spot notably does this quite a bit, even during the "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune, mostly when Hong Kong Phooey does something stupid.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: As mentioned, Spot always does the heroic work, and Hong Kong Phooey would always take all of the credit. It shows just how brainless he really is. He's not doing this maliciously, mind you; he actually believes he won all on his own and never notices Spot's help like a massive fool. Moreover, neither does anyone else watching the fight, including the criminals he defeats. Luckily, Spot doesn't seem to mind much that Phooey gets all the credit, which makes sense, given his established reputation as the city's "hero" and that he wouldn't want to ruin that (even though he obviously isn't too thrilled about it).
  • Film Felons: On one episode.
  • The Fool: Hong Kong Phooey; his crazed attacks always get him in danger, during the time of which Spot effectively thwarts the Big Bad of the episode, which Hong Kong Phooey never notices, and when the enemy has his bum handed to him on a silver platter he replies with something like, "I moved so fast, I didn't even see myself catch him!"
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: At least once an episode, during one of Hong Kong's inevitably failing attacks.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The "Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu", covers a lot more than just martial arts.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Hong Kong's kung fu costume includes an orange gi jacket, a gold belt and a mask over his eyes.
    • His alter ego, Penry, sports a long-sleeved shirt and red cap.
  • Hero Insurance: Hong Kong Phooey is worshipped by so many that the citizens who suffer damage from his actions are actually flattered by this.
  • Heroic Dog: Well, if you can really call Penry a hero considering all of his ineptitude as one, that is. Spot definitely qualifies as a "Heroic Cat".
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Spot in one of the most exaggerated examples of such. Phooey's incompetence just exaggerates the trope even further.
  • Interspecies Romance: Rosemary made it pretty clear she was interested in Phooey. Of course, this being a kids' cartoon, thankfully nothing really came out of that.
  • The Klutz: The protagonist, both in and out of his costume.
  • Latex Perfection: One episode features Phil the Farmer, a human villain pretending to be Hong Kong Phooey to claim the rewards the real one refuses. The viewers can't realize he's not even a real anthropomorphic dog before he takes off his mask on-screen.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Rosemary is less interested in Penry than in his heroic persona.
  • Mistaken for Badass: The basis for the show's humor. Hong Kong Phooey is a bumbling moron who couldn't kung fu his way out of a paper bag, and it's Spot who actually saves the day. And nobody, not even Phooey himself, realizes this — the citizens practically worship the ground he walks on, Phooey just assumes he somehow saved the day himself, and the crooks always think it was Phooey who caught them.
  • Nearly Normal Animal: Also Spot. Who seems like a normal cat at first glance, but can also be bipedal and is actually unintelligible.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Spot has striped fur; no spots at all.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Penry/Hong Kong Phooey appears to be the only anthropomorphic dog (or anthropomorphic animal in general) in the town where the show takes place. This doesn't arouse any suspicion from anyone in the area who knows both dogs.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The double-length last episode functioned as a pilot for several TV shows; only one, Posse Impossible, took off, as a segment of CB Bears.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: One episode features a criminal who can become invisible and uses this power to steal a set of rare rings. The last two rings belong to people who live in Genova and Rosemary believes the first owner whose ring the thief will steal is the opera singer because even criminals follow the "ladies first" policy. The singer's ring is indeed the first of the last two the criminal steals but that's because the other ring already belongs to the criminal.
  • Secret Identity: Only Spot the cat knows that Penry is actually Hong Kong Phooey — despite it being blatantly obvious. Nobody notices or cares that Penry is literally just Hong Kong Phooey underneath the uniform, even with his rather clumsy attempts to guard his identity;
    Penry: If I know Hong Kong Phooey — and I don't (Aside Glance)...
  • The Speechless: Seemingly Spot, he prefers to let his actions and feelings do the talking. But he seems to be an unintelligible cat rather than just not being able to speak at all.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The final episode has Hong Kong Phooey in jail after being framed while the Poorly-Disguised Pilot heroes save the day.
  • Super Hero: Again, Hong Kong Phooey isn't exactly super. Granted, he tries, but either he doesn't try hard enough, or he tries a bit too hard.
  • Tickertape Parade: The opening sequence starts with an overhead shot of a ticker tape parade for the title character.
  • To the Batpole!: In this case, a filing cabinet whose drawers have a distressing habit of getting stuck, requiring a quick bit of Percussive Maintenance from Spot. That's right — the "hero" can't even change into his costume without help.
    • In one episode, the help was from a termite, who gnawed a tunnel and led Penry out of it, becoming HKP upon exit.
    • In another, the help was him bouncing the cabinet into a wall in an attempt to escape (after Spot was cat-napped).
    • In another, he got out without help by using the middle drawer. (The cabinet has three drawers: Penrod usually enters through the bottom one and HKP leaves through the top one) Then he somehow fell into it and Spot had to help him as usual.
    • He also got out without help when he crawled his way out under a carpet on which the cabinet was placed.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Phooeymobile, at the sound of a gong.
  • The Unchosen One: "The great" Hong Kong Phooey (unbeknownst to the entire world).
  • The Unintelligible: Most notably Spot to the titular hero, who doesn't speak but communicates to Phooey by humorous gibberish and deliberately inaudible sounds that are never translated in any way to make him come off as speechless.