Who is this superhero? Sarge? No. Rosemary, the telephone operator? No. Penry, the mild mannered janitor? Could be!
So began every episode of Hong Kong Phooey (number one superguy!) a cartoon originally released in 1974 but which must have been repeated many times well into the 80’s. Hong Kong Phooey was one of those heroes, a bit like Inspector Gadget, who was generally fairly inept and ended up solving crimes more through luck than judgement. That, and through the assistance of his feline sidekick Spot (who was, unlike suggested by his name, creamy yellow with purple stripes), who usually did more to save the day than Mr. Phooey. Of course, this went completely unnoticed by Hong Kong Phooey, who thought it was all down to him.
Hong Kong Phooey’s alter ego was Penry, a janitor at the local police station. It must have been a fairly small police force where Penry lived, as you only ever really saw the somewhat overweight Sargeant Flint, and Rosemary, who took all the telephone calls. Penry would find out about trouble going down by over-hearing Rosemary on the phones, and would then leap into the nearest filing cabinet to get changed into his superhero gear. Spot normally needed to lend a helping hand by bashing the filing cabinet to allow Penry back out after the drawer had jammed.
Hong Kong Phooey was supposedly a Kung Fu master, but most of the time he ended up dipping into his Kung Fu reference book for help. He did have a really useful vehicle though, in the shape of the Phooeymobile. Normally this took the form of a car, with an oriental looking roof, but with a bang of a gong it could transform into something a bit more useful for the job at hand. Well, that was the idea. Normally it would become something that wasn’t 100% what Hong Kong Phooey actually had in mind.
I haven’t seen an episode of Hong Kong Phooey in years, so all I really remember of it now were the things that happened every episode, like changing in the filing cabinet and the transformation of the Phooeymobile. I don’t recall any of the villains from the series, but I do remember it being one of Hanna Barbera’s better cartoons. There is a DVD containing all 16 episodes available however, so if like me you’d like to reacquaint yourself with Penry and company, you should get hold of a copy.