THE UNDERDOG CHRONICLES
Review by Michael Jacobson
Creator: Joe Harris
Audio: Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: Golden Books
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: August 7, 2001
"When help is needed, I am not slow…
It’s hip, hip, hip, and away I go!"
I’ll admit, Underdog was one of my favorites growing up.
From the same vein of limited animation cartoon series that brought us the works of Jay Ward, Underdog was the creation of Joe Harris: a pajama clad pup who always spoke in rhyme and never failed to save the day fighting all who rob or plunder. The Underdog Chronicles, the second Underdog offering from Golden Books, is a quality DVD collection of three full episodes plus a lot more.
On television, each episode was broken up into four parts for cliffhanger effect: here, all the episodes play straight through from start to finish. But fans haven’t been cheated…the original cartoon shorts that played during the breaks are included as well: Commander McBragg (my personal favorite), Go Go Gophers, the Hunter, King and Odie, Klondike Kat, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Tooter Turtle.
But Underdog is the real star of the disc, and he gets to do battle with three of his most reputed enemies here. In "The Ticklefeather Machine", an episode I clearly remember from my youth, our heroic canine tries to save the country from Simon Barsinister’s evil plan to keep people from voting, and thus electing himself dictator! In "Guerrilla Warfare", Underdog does battle with Riff Raff and his gang of hardened criminals, who develop a new plan of attack against our hero. Finally, in "Zot", our intrepid pup finds himself the object of affection of an alien princess…when he refuses to wed, it could mean interstellar war!
These shows are just as delightful and funny as you remember, and as with other similar shows from the era like George of the Jungle or The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, the simplified animation style adds to the charm of the program.
Classic cartoon fans, there’s no need to fear…Underdog is here!
I wasn’t expecting much in this department given that these shows are approaching 40 years in age, but Golden Books really came through: these cartoons look remarkable! Colors are bright, vivid, and well contained, and images are sharply rendered with no visible grain or other difficulties. Best of all, the prints are surprisingly clean and mostly free of dirt, specks, scratches and other elements of age. Fans should be extremely pleased with this effort!
Again, the audio is in impressively good shape for the age of the program, but given that they were recorded and presented in simple mono, there’s nothing spectacular here…just good, clean listening fun.
The coolest feature on the disc is an interview with Underdog creator Joe Harris, who also narrates (in the voice of Underdog) an unused storyboard, with explanation. There are also other episode previews, DVD ROM extras, and
Underdog is back and getting the treatment a superhero deserves on a quality DVD offering. If you loved the show, then this is one you won’t regret adding to your collection.