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Originally published August 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 5, 2007 at 2:02 AM

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Mark Rahner's DVD Picks

So maybe Popeye's not exactly PC

Well, blow me down. Check out this disclaimer on the wonderful and long-awaited collection of Max Fleischer's "Popeye the Sailor Volume...

Seattle Times DVD writer

Well, blow me down. Check out this disclaimer on the wonderful and long-awaited collection of Max Fleischer's "Popeye the Sailor Volume One 1933-1938" (Warner, $64.98):

"The animated shorts you are about to see are a product of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic, sexist and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following shorts do not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these animated shorts are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed."

Back at you, Warner: Thanks for not sanitizing history, but there's no need to be so sniveling about it. All of that goes without saying, except for morons.

Having said that, I still nearly spit a drink across my living room when this one caught me off guard: In one of the 60 cartoons on the four discs packed with extras, Popeye's protecting Olive and Wimpy from hordes of attacking Indians. When their big warrior squares off against him, he gives the guy a spinach-fueled wallop that knocks him into the air, knocks off his clothes and lands him on the ground cross-legged as Gandhi! That's right: Popeye can hit so hard that he turns an American Indian into an East Indian. Whoa.

Times have definitely changed. For instance, the love triangle of Popeye, Olive and Bluto seems especially dysfunctional now. Continually trying to force himself on Olive, Bluto would now be a registered sex offender. And Olive, because of this or some other trauma, is clearly anorexic and in need of immediate help. The cute, burger-gobbling Wimpy is as dangerous a character for children as the banished Joe Camel. As for Popeye, he appears driven by intense feelings of inadequacy and overcompensation, his overdeveloped forearms a sign of body dysmorphia and the spinach addiction a form of self-medication. Something must have happened to him at sea.

But it's cool that he can punch anything into countless tiny versions of itself.

Among all the TV hitting DVD this week, HBO's "Rome — The Complete Second Season" ($99.98) stands tallest. It was a crime that budget woes ended the series, but talk about a magnificent death. This time it's uptight ex-soldier Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) who goes off the rails after his wife's death, and his ursine buddy Pullo (Ray Stevenson) watches his six, as the macho saying goes. And there's a small thing with Antony and Cleopatra that you may have read about.

Also Tuesday:

Season one of "The Dresden Files" (Lionsgate, $39.98), season two of "The Muppet Show" (Disney, 1976, $39.99), season 10 of "The Simpsons" (Fox, $49.98), "Disturbia" (DreamWorks, PG-13, $29.99); and "TMNT" (Warner, PG, $29.98).

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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