March 5, 2011

DVD Review: Jabberjaw - The Complete Series

"They call him jabber-jabber-jabber-jabber-jabber-jabber-jabber-Jaw!
The most futuristic shark you ever saw!
He's the finniest, funniest, shark you ever saw,
He's Jabber-Jabbber-Jabber-Jabber-Jabber-Jabber-Jabberjaw!
Jabber: I don't get no respect!!

There you have a snip of the theme music to the 1970's Hanna-Barbera cartoon production of Jabberjaw. The series ran for 16 episodes between 1976 and 1977 and lived on for years in repackaged re-runs. It is a mish-mash of the formula previously mined in prior Hanna-Barbera shows like Scooby Doo, Josie and the Pussycats, and Speed Buggy. The problem is that the formula was beginning to wear a bit thin. I mean, they went from a character sounding like (and voiced by) Casey Kasem to a character who sounds like he's seen one too many Three Stooges bits (of the Curly Howard variety).

Watching the series for the first time since I was a little kid brought up a great variety of emotions. Among those feelinfs was the love I always had for watching Saturday morning cartoons. It didn't matter what channel I was on, wherever I went there was some manner of animated goodness. Thinking back on those glory days just makes me sad whenever I take a spin around the modern Saturday dial. It is tough to find a cartoon and even tougher to find anything that matched up to the classics of the 1980's and earlier.

While the nostalgia bug was in full effect, it could not keep some other feelings from creeping in. It was the idea that unlike other childhood favorites like Scooby, Super-Friends, and even Thundarr the Barbarian, this program has not aged all that well. As a matter of fact I found it to be so annoying that it was almost painful to watch. It was partially the music, but it was much more related to the character itself, but we'll get back to that in a minute.

Jabberjaw is set in an undetermined future that sees the oceans colonized with cities all around. Jabberjaw is a Great White shark who can walk, talk, breathe air, and even play the drums. He is in a group called The Neptunes alongside Biff, Bubbles, Shelly, and Clam-head (who bears a striking resemblance to Scooby's Shaggy). They travel from city to city to play their music and invariably finding themselves in the middle of some adventure where they need to stop some nefarious bad guy's plan.

That's about all there is to it. Simple, easy to follow, and perfect for Saturday mornings. It is show whose episodes are all self-contained and wrapped up nice and tidy for easy consumption. The animation is int he familiar Hanna-Barbera style of the day and always bright and colorful.

Well, the problem is Jabberjaw is in constant Curly Howard mode complete with the "woo-woo-woo" and "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk" of the famous Stooge. Add in Rodney Dangerfield's "can't get no respect" shtick and you have the shark. He is so terribly annoying that I can't imagine I liked him even as a kid. Then there is Clam-head with his frequent exclamations of "wowee-wowee-wow-wow-wow." Talk about tiresome. Come to think of it, I remember watching it as a kid but I cannot say I recall actually liked it.

It is not the worse thing I have ever seen but it is definitely one of their lesser titles. It makes me want to see Speed Buggy again and see how that take on similar material holds up. This is not one that I foresee getting revisited all that often.

This set looks pretty  good. It is not perfect, of course, but the colors are crisp, bright, and the detail level is pretty good. The series was made from the best available video master and has not undergone any re-mastering. It should also be noted that the release is only available through Warner Brothers and is part of their new Made to Order service. This means that they are burned DVDs and not regular pressings. The disks are burned and packaged when you order them (helps them not get stuck with lots of disks for titles that don't sell).

I find that this set is for fans or completists only. Everyone else would be better served looking elsewhere for their animated nostalgia trips. There are no extras to be found, just four disks with four episodes each in a standard case.

Not Recommended.

Article first published as DVD Review: Jabberjaw - The Complete Series on Blogcritics.

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