Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For another definition of underdog, see underdog (competition).
For the band The Underdog Project, see The Underdog Project.
For the abandonware site, see Home of the Underdogs.
- There's no need to fear ---
- Underdog is here!
Produced by Leonardo/Total Television, "Underdog" was an anthropomorphic parody of Superman and similar heroes with secret identities. The premise was that "humble and lovable" Shoeshine Boy, a cartoon dog, was in truth the superhero Underdog. When villains theatened, Shoeshine Boy ducked into a telephone booth in which he transformed into the caped and costumed hero, destroying the booth in the process when his super powers sprung into being. Underdog, unlike Shoeshine Boy, almost always spoke in rhyme.
- When Polly's in trouble, I am not slow,
- So it's hip! hip! hip! and away I go.
The villains almost always managed to menace "Sweet Polly Purebred," an anthropomorphic canine TV reporter as part of their nefarious schemes; she was a helpless damsel in distress most of the time, and had a habit of singing in a somewhat whining tone of voice, "Oh where, oh where has my Underdog gone?" when in jeopardy. Recurring villains included "Simon Bar Sinister," a mad scientist, his assistant "Cad" and "Riff Raff," an anthropomorphic wolf gangster.
Unlike Superman, Underdog's super powers are not a natural part of his physical makeup. When he is not Underdog, he is incognito as a shoeshine boy and hurriedly dresses in a phone booth like Superman when trouble calls. More than a costume change, Shoeshine Boy must take an "Underdog Super Energy Vitamin Pill" to ignite his powers. He keeps one of these pills inside a special ring he wears at all times. Several episodes show Underdog losing the ring and being powerless until he gets it back since he must take another pill as his super powers begin to fail. When the series was syndicated in the 1980s and 1990s, the scenes of him actually taking his energy pill were edited out. Animation fans lambast this as a form of political correctness, as they believe the scenes were removed in order to prevent any glorification of drug use.
Actor and comedian Wally Cox was the voice of Underdog and Shoeshine Boy. Norma McMillan played Sweet Polly Purebred.
The show ran in two- or four-part serial episodes. Usually two brief episodes were shown in a single show along with various cartoon shorts like Go Go Gophers, King Leonardo and his Short Subjects, Klondike Kat, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales and The World of Commander McBragg. With the possible exception of Tennesee Tuxedo who was voiced by Don Adams of Get Smart (and later Inspector Gadget) fame, none of these cartoons or characters ever reached Underdog's popularity. The show is also remembered for its clever and dramatic theme song:
- When criminals in this world appear
- And break the laws that they should fear
- And frighten all who see or hear
- The cry goes up both far and near
- For Underdog! (Underdog!) Underdog! (Underdog!)
- CHORUS: Speed of lightning, roar of thunder
- Fighting all who rob or plunder
- Underdog! Underdog!
- When in this world the headlines read
- Of those whose hearts are filled with greed
- Who rob and steal from those who need
- To right this wrong with blinding speed
- Goes Underdog! (Underdog!) Underdog! (Underdog!)
- REPEAT CHORUS
Today, Underdog's balloon continues to be a recurring feature of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. All 120 episodes are available on a DVD anthology.
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