I Guess I’m Just Reviewing Popeye’s Island Adventures Now

And then a couple days ago I noticed another in the Popeye’s Island Adventures series of two-minute direct-to-the-web cartoons featuring Young Popeye and cast. If they’re going to keep giving me something to write about, all right. I’ll go on writing. The only thing I’ve ever learned about blogging is that if you stumble into something, you probably should keep doing it. It’s just weird to be doing a weekly Tuesday review of something that’s actually a current thing. Even if it is based on a thing that premiered when Woodrow Wilson was technically president.

Anyway, this is Episode 4, Scramble For The Egg.

I’m rather happy with this cartoon. It’s the first one that’s gotten, to my tastes, all the important pieces together. There’s a clear storyline: Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto each trying to take possession of an egg. There’s solid jokes: Popeye befuddled by daydreaming of a dog hatching out of the egg, at least until the dog has a can of spinach too. There’s even personality. You can try telling me I’m wrong to be delighted by Bluto’s joy in imagining bonding with a pet alligator. You’ll be wrong. There’s a logical resolution, too: of course none of the rivals get the egg, and it rolls into the possession of the uninvolved Eugene the Jeep.

I’m also much happier with the direction. For the first time this series the camera movements all make sense. There’s good reason to pan over to the right and back again. It’s even got the first fight-cloud of the series. Some of the commenters claim it’s the first fight period. I think they’re being too restrictive about the term ‘fight’. And the storyline doesn’t need dialogue, so that the lack of characters doing anything but making grunting noises doesn’t stand out.

Not for the first time I’d like more information about just who’s making these cartoons, and why. The story and direction are measurably better this time around. I’m curious whether it’s a lucky combination of creative staff or whether the team making these is getting better with experience.

Eugene the Jeep’s magic powers continue to be “any old thing”. It does inspire the question of, if he can make chocolate eggs, why does he need eggs? Maybe having the egg around reminded him he could be eating chocolate eggs now. It feels a bit weird to have the egg — which Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto all assumed would hatch — get eaten. But the story does need to end with the egg in nobody’s possession, so it’s either get eaten or hatch.

Popeye doesn’t eat his spinach this time. Well, he can’t, or he’d win the egg, against the needs of story logic. There was something weirdly exciting in older Popeye cartoons that subverted or entirely avoided the spinach scene. I’m glad that whoever’s paying for these new cartoons allows that Popeye doesn’t have to gulp down a can of spinach every short. It gives each story more room. I’m more confident about this series after this one.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

14 thoughts on “I Guess I’m Just Reviewing Popeye’s Island Adventures Now”

  1. I also liked this one. It actually felt like a cartoon and not a weird fever dream. Aside from the Jeep resolution, anyway. If the egg was going to hatch didn’t he just, like, commit murder? Of a potentially cudddly and/or sapient being?


    1. could Eugene the Jeep transmute and consume his enemies? Or, even by mistake, his friends?

      is Eugene the Jeep really an all-powerful elder god who simply sees Earth and its contents as his mere playthings?


      1. Yeah, see, I like having more Eugene the Jeep in these cartoons. He was even interesting in the 1960s cartoons that were awful but at least bizarre. But the escalation of his powers from simply … uh… being able to turn invisible, to pass through matter, and to reliably know the future … to “can do anything” seems like it could imbalance the character. (But there’s probably not much you could do with the telling-the-future bit in pantomime cartoons.)


        1. Yeah, that might do it. It’d have to be clear that Eugene wasn’t planning out something he started to do, but that could probably be written around. Maybe if they had Eugene do some ‘mystic’ pose before foreseeing something.


    2. That is the big difficult point this cartoon! I suppose we don’t actually know the egg was going to hatch, but it’s what I would assume from the fact of its being laid like that. I would’ve expected the resolution to be the egg rolls into Eugene’s possession and then it hatches, which would be a great spot for a Whiffle Hen appearance.


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