Hong Kong Phooey

TV review by
KJ Dell Antonia, Common Sense Media
Hong Kong Phooey TV Poster Image
70s 'toon dog fights mild crime with inept glory.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Hong Kong Phooey never improves, realizes that he's incompetent, or credits his cat buddy for his work -- but good always wins out, and there's no real harm here. Female characters are stereotyped in ways typical to the '70s and don't have very proactive roles.

Violence & Scariness

Hong Kong Phooey fights crime with a remarkably low level of violence, other than the characters spinning around in a swirl of fisticuffs.

Sexy Stuff

Occasional lacivious views of Rosemary's legs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not too much to worry about in this classic '70s cartoon. There aren't a whole lot of lessons to learn, and female characters are stereotyped in ways typical for the original era (and rarely appear in any significant or powerful roles), but the animated violence is mild and generally goofy. Nostalgic parents can enjoy this one with their kids.

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What's the story?

HONG KONG PHOOEY is the alter ego of Penrod Pooch (voiced by Scatman Crothers), the janitor at the police station manned by Sergeant Flint (Joe E. Ross) and telephone operator Rosemary (Kathy Gori). When a crime is committed (a jewel heist, a kidnapping), "Penry" leaps into his file cabinet to change into the famous Hong Kong Phooey, revered throughout the city. In his Phooey mobile, the kung fu-fighting superhero sets out to save the day -- which generally amounts to bumbling and leaving mayhem in his wake while his loyal cat sidekick, Spot (Don Messick), does the real work. Invariably, Phooey awakes from whatever damage the villains have done to him and is stunned to see that he's triumphed after all.

Is it any good?

This goofy cartoon is one of Hanna-Barbera's more original efforts. Phooey's oblivion and Spot's all-knowing superiority will make kids giggle and give them a sense that they, too, could have hidden powers that the grown-ups don't see. The plots are simple, although some grasp of why a "bad guy" would want to steal jewels or counterfeit money is required. There are no high-speed chases, no one is ever hurt, and nothing is ever scary, making Hong Kong Phooey fun for pretty much any kid who's interested.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the character of Hong Kong Phooey compares to more recent superheroes. He may be silly and oblivious, but he's happy to be a superhero. Is the same true of today's caped-and-masked heroes? What's changed about the way we see superheroes since the days when Phooey was created? Why do you think that is?

TV details

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