Hong Kong Phooey is a 16-episode (31 shorts) Hanna-Barbera animated series that first aired on ABC Saturday morning from September 7, 1974 to December 21, 1974. The main character, Hong Kong Phooey, is a superhero who uses Chinese martial arts to fight crime. Hong Kong Phooey is the secret alter ego of Penrod "Penry" Pooch, a "mild-mannered" police station janitor. Hong Kong Phooey/Penry Pooch is also an anthropomorphic dog in a world populated mainly by normal humans.
The series stars Hong Kong Phooey, the “number one super guy” who travels about the city in his “Phooeymobile” fighting crime with the aid of his manual, The Hong Kong Book Of Kung Fu. The stories begin at the police headquarters, where Hong Kong Phooey's alter ego, Penry, works as a mild-mannered janitor under the glare of Sergeant Flint ("Sarge"). Also at the police station is Rosemary, the telephone operator, who has a crush on Hong Kong Phooey. After Rosemary gets a call and explains the crime, Penry runs into a filing cabinet and (always getting stuck) transforms himself into Hong Kong Phooey.
Despite the theme song, Hong Kong Phooey is a classic screw-up, and often fails to save the city only to be saved by his sidekick pet, a striped cat named Spot. In a few rare circumstances, Hong Kong Phooey actually does save the city, but usually as an unintended side effect of his intended attack going horribly wrong. Hong Kong Phooey is a respected superhero who always gets full credit for Spot’s success.
A running gag is that Hong Kong Phooey is such a respected hero that when his incompetence causes him to crash into, harm, or otherwise inconvenience a civilian, the passer-by feels honored as opposed to annoyed or embarrassed, such as when he drove the Phooeymobile through wet cement, splattering the workers, who responded that it was an honor to have a whole day's work ruined by "the great Hong Kong Phooey."
Hong Kong Phooey was voiced by Jazz legend Scatman Crothers. Sergeant Flint was voiced by Joe E. Ross, best known as Officer Gunther Toody in the early '60s television series Car 54, Where Are You?. As Flint, Ross revived Toody's famous "Ooh! Ooh!" exclamation. Sergeant Flint was very similar both in voice and appearance to Botch, assistant zoo-keeper at the Wonderland Zoo on Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch that Ross also voiced.
In the episode "Comedy Cowboys", several new cartoon characters (Honcho, The Mystery Maverick, and Posse Impossible) appeared and helped to clear Hong Kong Phooey of a crime he did not commit. This episode was a pilot for the characters, and Posse Impossible later appeared in their own continuing segment on The CB Bears Show.
Like many animated series created by Hanna-Barbera in the 1970s, the show used the limited Hanna-Barbera self-created laugh track.
The show’s theme song, entitled "Hong Kong Phooey", was written by Chester Stover, Watts Biggers, Treadwell Covington, and Joseph Harris and was sung by Scatman Crothers. A cover of the show’s theme song, performed by Sublime, is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records.
- Scatman Crothers – Hong Kong Phooey/Penrod "Penry" Pooch
- Joe E. Ross – Sergeant Flint
- Kathy Gori – Rosemary
- Don Messick - Spot
On August 15, 2006, Warner Home Video released the complete series on 2-disc DVD in Region 1. The shorts "Car Thieves" and "Zoo Story" were also released on a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon compilation.
On July 12, 2009, it was announced that David A. Goodman had been hired to pen a Hong Kong Phooey film. Alex Zamm is set to direct and Broderick Johnson, Andrew Kosove, Brett Ratner, and Jay Stern are producing. Alcon Entertainment will back the film. It was announced August 10, 2011, that Eddie Murphy will be voicing Penry/Hong Kong Phooey in the film. On December 28th, 2012, Test footage of the film and a Marvin the Martian project was leaked (released). The film is likely to be released around 2014.