Saturday, January 11, 2014

Snooper and Blabber -- Surprised Party

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.

CREDITS: Animation - Lew Marshall, Layout - Paul Sommer, Backgrounds - Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director - Alex Lovy, Titles - Art Goble, Production Supervision - Howard Hanson.

VOICE CAST: Snooper, Blabber, J. Evil Scientist, Crocodile - Daws Butler; Junior, Monster - Don Messick, Mrs J. Evil Scientist - Jean Vander Pyl.

MUSIC: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone/Emil Cadkin, Jack Shaindlin, Clarence Wheeler?

FIRST AIRED: 1960-61 season (rerun, week of Oct. 23, 1961).

EPISODE: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-037, Production J-108.

PLOT: Snooper and Blabber are hired to babysit by Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist.

The J. Evil Scientist clan both pre-dated and post-dated the Addams Family. "Pre-dated" because the cartoons featuring the Scientists debuted a few years before the Addams TV series. "Post-dated" because the Family had appeared in one-panel cartoons in the New Yorker magazine for more than 20 years at that point. But the Scientists must have seemed fresh to much of the TV audience when they first appeared; after all, how many viewers were regular readers of the New Yorker?

Despite their name, the Scientists really aren't terribly evil. In fact, they barely appear in "Surprised Party." The cartoon is kind of a reworking of their first appearance in "The Big Diaper Caper." In their debut, they leave Snooper and Blabber to babysit their kid then return at the end of the cartoon. The same thing happens in "Surprised Party," except writer Mike Maltese tosses in a birthday party angle.

In a number of H-B cartoons, Maltese puts together a bushel of unrelated gags before getting to the main plot. This is one of them. The first minute and a half is taken up with a classroom setting which has nothing to do with the J. Evil Scientists. I wonder if Maltese did this simply because he didn't have enough material to fill the actual story and figured he could string some amusing stuff together to come up with seven minutes. Whatever the reason, it works seamlessly in this cartoon.

Snoop is giving Blab lessons in "strange, oddball capers," pointing to different drawings to set up each bit of silly dialogue.

SNOOP: This is the leaning tower of pizza.

BLAB: What makes it lean, Snoop?

SNOOP: It doesn't lean, Blab.

BLAB: Gosh, Snoop. It looks leany to me.

SNOOP: Me clever deductions prove that the ground leans, not the tower.


SNOOP: Me toughest caper was figurin' out why bats hang upside down by their teeny feet.

BLAB: Did you solve it, Snoop?

SNOOP: Only after a scalp-tinglin' solution. I hung by my feet for 37 days, lookin' for a clue.

BLAB: And what did you get, Snoop?

SNOOP: A tingly scalp.

After a bit more chit-chat, a call comes in. "Snooper Detective Agency. If your case is strange, we don't work for small change," says Snoop. It's not a "strange odd-ball caper," he assures Blab (there's the tie-in between this scene and the rest of the cartoon). It's a "1203--Guardin' Birthday Gifts." So they're off to the old Scientists' Victorian home. Here are some of Art Lozzi's backgrounds. Sorry the screen grabs are so fuzzy, but they'll do until the series is released on DVD (which means "never"). The mailbox is on a separate cel.

The rest of the story is a typical J. Evil Scientist affair. The Scientists enjoy ghoulishness--J. Evil likes Snooper and Blabber's heads and offers to shrink them; the couple is going to see "Ben Horror" at the movies--and Junior has detective-eating pets (in this case, a crocodile that comes up through a trap door in the "play penitentiary"). Snooper somehow (we don't see it on camera) escapes from the "707" ("a crocky-dile on the loose") and our heroes make a run for it.

SNOOP: Leave us get out of here!

BLAB: You're right, Snoop. I don't care about the $60,000, either.

(The two skid to a stop)

SNOOP: I forgot about that.

BLAB: That's a lot of forgettin' to do.

Snooper and Blabber make a permanent getaway past the returning parents after Junior puts together a "Do-It-Yourself Monster Kit" and the snarling metal monster walks toward them. Lew Marshall gives Mrs. Scientist (her first name is never mentioned) a neat little 12-drawing walk cycle where she thrusts out her tall leg, curves it, then plants it on the ground. If the copy of the cartoon was a little better, I'd try to embed it here. Needless to say, Snooper and Blabber, just like in "The Big Diaper Caper" run away without stopping to get paid. Unlike that cartoon, where J. Evil ended things laughing at the fact they never pay the people they hire, the Peter Lorre-evoking Scientist chortles about the "pile-up" in the chariot race in "Ben Horror."

The sound editor in this cartoon decided to use a fair number of cues. The Phil Green piece "EM-136I Eerie" (the name in the Capitol Hi-Q library) works really well here. The cue when Snooper is on the phone may be Clarence Wheeler's "Woodwind Capers;" I haven't been able to confirm it. The sound effects trample over the final cue but it's discernible as one of Jack Shaindlin's chase themes, "Six Day Bicycle Race."

0:00 - (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).

0:27 - (Green) - Classroom scene.

1:52 - (Green) - Phone rings, "Snooper Detective Agency."

1:59 - WOODWIND CAPERS (Wheeler)? - "If your case is strange ," it's a "1203."

2:20 - (Green) - Snoop and Blab in car.

2:25 - (Green) - Shot of house, Snoop and Blab on sidewalk.

2:43 - (Green) - Snoop rings doorbell, door scene with J. Evil.

3:14 - (Green) - Mrs. J. Evil conversation.

3:58 - (Cadkin-Bluestone) - Where's Junior scene, Junior comes out of trap door.

4:15 - (Jack Shaindlin) - Crocodile snarls, gets bashed.

4:19 - (Green) - "Here comes our guest of honour " gunshot, "Look, Snoop!"

4:57 - (Green) - Junior runs with cake, feeds cake to crocodile.

5:08 - (Green) - "Ragged-muffin," crocodile bites Snoop, pulls him through trap door.

5:28 - (Green) - "Help!" Snoop and Blab run, skid to stop.

6:00 - (Green) - Snoop talks to Junior, Junior builds monster.

6:22 - (Green) - Monster walks, Snoop and Blab zoom out of scene.

6:35 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) - Mr and Mrs Scientist scene.

7:10 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).
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