Yesterday’s Woody Woodpecker remake I was prepared for. One for Popeye and friends I was not. Like Universal, King Features has opted to create an official YouTube channel for old Popeye cartoons, not only the old theatrical shorts but the two cartoon shows created for CBS co-produced with Hanna-Barbera. And like the woodpecker, the sailor man gets a brand new cartoon series to go along with it.
I’m hoping this is a positive trend, of free-with-ads YouTube or even other sites bringing old properties back for the niche market that might still enjoy them. However, while Woody’s new shorts are quite good, and Mickey Mouse’s…let’s say varies by taste…the new Popeye shorts are not looking to be coming out the same. As of this writing, only the first of Popeye’s Island Adventures is out and let’s just say the cartoon could use a can of spinach.
Look, I’m not expecting King Features to have the same budget to put to this as Universal. But you guys couldn’t get a voice cast? Last night I stumbled across this made-for-YouTube cartoon for preschoolers (oddly enough pointed to from one of the Woody shorts in recommendations) that had similar animation and still had voice actors and I don’t think it had any bigger a budget. I will even make a concession that parents these days would freak out if they saw Popeye with his signature pipe even if he doesn’t use it to smoke (and rarely did). One commenter on the video even suggested using a bubble pipe but I don’t know if kids still use those. At least giving Popeye a bosun’s whistle connects him to his sailor ways.
However, nobody talks? It’s all just grunts and humming. Yes, I know I brought it up already but it’s my biggest problem with the short. Commenters were also wondering what happened to Bluto’s beard. (Or is that supposed to be Brutus? I never know which name they’re going with.) They all look like they’re supposed to be kids. As for the plot, is spinach that hard to get on this island? Bluto (I just checked the description) should be able to get spinach at any store I would imagine. Plus if they are kids he would be hating spinach since he’s the bad guy. Maybe he wants to steal it all so Popeye can’t kick his butt. Although that doesn’t matter because Popeye doesn’t throw a single punch. It seems like this is Popeye for real little kids, lower than the typical age bracket for a Popeye cartoon.
So what did they do right? Well, the animation isn’t bad for the budget I’m guessing they have. Like I said earlier if they can’t use a pipe then a sailor’s whistle is a fair substitute so we still get the classic “toot toot” ending. The music is okay but they should do something for when Popeye powers up on spinach. Also, Popeye grows and cans his own spinach. I guess that finally explains the lack of brand names. It does make sense and explains where the cans come from if he is stuck on this island. Also, Olive did something other than go off with another guy and beg Popeye to save her when he got fresh and was actually helpful as well as rather inventive. It’s a good update for one of my least favorite cartoon characters.
Overall, I just really didn’t get into this. It wasn’t bad on its own but it is a rather odd direction to take the franchise. If you want to see further episodes as well as the classic and CBS cartoons, that’s also available on the official YouTube Popeye channel so there will be something there for you. Now I wonder if someone will do this for Mighty Mouse. Who owns his rights at the moment? Can we get Mighty Mouse And The Great Space Chase back in the original serialized format? New shorts like Woody’s but with Mighty Mouse fighting bad guys?