Tuesday, June 21, 2005


According to Variety, ;Disney is developing a live-action version of 'Underdog', the cartoon about the super-powered pooch which ran on NBC for nearly ten years.

The late, great Wally Cox voiced Shoeshine Boy, a mild-mannered mutt who transformed into the titular top dog. Underdog was probably the first rapper of the Tooniverse. (He spoke in rhymed couplets.)

Most of the time he was rescuing comely reporter Polly Purebred from yet another nefarious scheme by either the wolf Riff-Raff, or by the mad human scientist Simon Bar Sinister. It was the typical Tooniverse town populated by humans living side by side with anthropomorphic animals.

But in the Disney feature film's script, a real dog named Shoeshine gets his superpowers after a lab accident and just before he gets adopted by a 12 year old boy.

As if we've never seen that happen before!

At least when Scooby Doo or the Flintstones or Casper or even Howard The Duck were translated to the Cineverse, at least the trappings of the original were retained. But this doesn't sound like there's any reason why the suits wasted money on snaring the rights beyond name recognition. It doesn't seem likely that this pooch is even going to have the ability to speak, let alone speak in rhymed couplets.

And when it comes down to it, the main attraction to that cartoon was listening to the lisping cadences of Wally Cox's voice, which barely registered a determined timbre once Shoeshine Boy transformed into Underdog.

Without the participation of Wally Cox, who passed away while riding a motorbike out in the California desert back in the early '70s, of what interest could there be in such a project?

I don't know if they're using a classic sound bite clip by Wally Cox in that Visa Check Card commercial or not. But if it is a vocal impersonation, it's spot on. And they should hire that guy if ever a faithful remake of 'Underdog' is attempted. Otherwise they'd be barking up the wrong tree.

And attention, O Powers That Be at Cartoon Network! Bring us the original cartoons.

Bless you, sir.

[Your humble and lovable servant]


WordsSayNothing said...

The original Underdog isn't on Boomerang?

Toby said...

So far as I can tell by looking through the Boomerang schedule and using my remote to search through titles, currently they're not showing 'Underdog'.

It's possible it's just off the air for a while to give the series a rest and build up interest again; letting it lay fallow as it were....