He’s strong to the finish ‘cuz he eats his spinach but Popeye is making a fresh start with a cutting-edge 3D look and an all-new animated TV special debuting tonight on Fox at 8:30/7:30 Central. Produced by King Features Syndicate and computer animation house Mainframe, the show is just part of a larger franchise relaunch timed to Popeye’s 75th anniversary. An animated theatrical feature may also be on the way.
In Popeye’s Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates plays a sea hag/siren opposite Billy West (Ren & Stimpy) as the spinach-guzzling seafarer. The 30-minute special was written by Mad About You star Paul Reiser and Jim Hardison.
In addition to Mainframe’s 3D makeover, former Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, who has been making quite a living scoring movies and animated TV projects such as Rugrats, is putting a new spin on the “Popeye the Sailor Man” theme song.
Lions Gate Family Home Entertainment will release an hour-long version of the Popeye special featuring never-before-seen footage as well as classic material on DVD and VHS. FHE represents such pre-eminent children’s and family franchises as Barbie, Clifford The Big Red Dog, Care Bears, Rescue Heroes, Hot Wheels and Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie.
Popeye made his first public appearance on January 17, 1929 in Elzie Segar’s comic strip Thimble Theatre. He jumped to the silver screen in Popeye the Sailor, a 1933 Betty Boop cartoon from Fleischer Studios. The Sailor Man went on to star in nearly 600 Popeye cartoons, produced through the years by the Fleischer Studios, Famous Studios and Hanna Barbera, among others. In 1980, the character returned to the big screen in the live-action Popeye movie starring Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. Ted Turner’s Cartoon Network celebrated the 60th anniversary of the muscled mariner’s film debut with Popumentary, a series of six prime-time specials that aired in 1993.