Rupert Pupkin Speaks: The Hanna Barberians - SHAZZAN, MIGHTOR, MOBY DICK, BUTCH CASSIDY and more MARINE BOY ""

Monday, March 10, 2014


SHAZZAN (1967)
My daughter has developed an affinity for 60s era Hanna Barbera cartoons. The Herculoids, Frankenstein Jr. & The Impossibles and others. She has just recently taken to the Disney Classic ALADDIN so SHAZZAN seem like a good bet. There's something odd and interesting about these 60s HB titles. The stories have a fun sense of adventure about them, with a little bit of danger. It features two kids who stumble on a magic lamp in a cave in Maine (the opening of the show emphasizes that its in Maine for some odd reason). Shazzan emerges from the lamp and transports them back in time to the ALLADIN-era. They are trying to get back each week by returning the lamp to its owner. Lots of magic, flying carpets and such.
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This show combines a lot of elements my little girl loves so it was a hit after only a coue episodes (I'd never seen or heard of it before). It has a melange of dinosaurs, super heroes and underwater creatures. She loves all that stuff, especially dinosaurs and super heroes. The Mighty Mightor is basically a prehistoric Superman type character complete with a Clark Kent-esque alter ego. Fun animal voice characterizations from Don Messick always help too (he's very much ripping off his Zock voice from The Herculoids here). Moby Dick is a fun little cartoon with two kids (in diving suits) teaming up with a giant white whale to battle lots of evil fish-men, crab-men, giant electric eels and other 'perils of the deep'. A nice compliment to Marine Boy actually. Mightor was my favorite, but both shows were good stuff.
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MARINE BOY Season 2 (1969)
Ok, Marine Boy is technically a 7 Arts cartoon and not a Hanna-Barbera production, but I thought I'd talk about it here anyway. This season is more of the same and then some for MARINE BOY fans it is recommended. I loved MB's electric boomerang, it's a heckuva fun gadget and he makes great use of it. I really hope that Marine Boy sees a certain resurgence in popularity based on this and the previous WAC disc release. It's an odd, but very enjoyable show and one that I think youngsters today will get a kick out of.
I reviewed and enjoyed Warner Archives' first Marine Boy set a while back:

 Hanna-Barbera built their empire on many cartoons, but one popular type of production for them was churning out SCOOBY-DOO type shows. I fancy myself as a but of a conassier of these SCOOBY-DOO knockoffs. From GOOBER & THE GHOST CHASERS, FUNKY PHANTOM and JABBERJAW to the not yet on DVD shows like CLUE CLUB (a favorites of mine) and FANGFACE, they made a ton of them. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KIDS was one I'd never seen before this Warner Archive set and it was a lot of fun to discover. It's kind of like Mission Impossible meets Scooby. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids are a jet-setting (they literally have their own jet) hugely popular band that takes orders from a giant computer called 'Mr. Socrates'. Each episode, Mr. Socrates gives them their mission and they're off to somewhere in their snazzy jet to play a gig as a cover for said mission. They also have a wacky dog named Elvis (who the computer Socrates is inexplicably allergic to). As I was watching the first couple episodes, I couldn't help but notice a slight similarity to this show and the oddball film THE PHYNX (also from Warner Archive) from 1970. In both things, a band is sent to an eastern block country on a mission to get someone out. It's probably just a coincidence, but I found it a funny parallel. For a kids show, it's a bit more sophisticated plotwise than your average Scooby-Doo episode (which is probably why it wasn't an immediate hit with my little girl). I was nonetheless fascinated with it. I love the theme song and the songs used throughout the episodes. Just the kind of early 70s cheese that is a sweet spot for me. A silly show, but a good time. At least they justified the travel element a bit more in this show. Whenever Scoob and the gang went to exotic places, I was always kind of wondering ,"how can these kids afford to travel at all?".
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