Saturday, November 22, 2014

Snooper and Blabber — Chilly Chiller

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – John Boersma, Layout – Jerry Eisenberg, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, J. Evil Scientist – Daws Butler; Mrs. J. Evil Scientist – Jean Vander Pyl; Ghost, Junior, Wolf Monster – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-044, Production J-128.
First Aired: 1962.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber are hired to evict the J. Evil Scientist family from a haunted house.

Boris Karloff hosted a horror anthology series from 1960 to 1962 called “Thriller,” which featured a series of lines appearing on the screen and the word “Thriller” fading in as his face faded out.



Something like couldn’t be passed up by Mike Maltese, who parodied it in “Chilly Chiller.” In the cartoon, the lines instead form a tic-tac-toe game before the word “Chiller” flashes on the screen.



Your host for the show isn’t the ghostly-sounding Karloff, although there is a ghost in it. Snooper welcomes viewers with the words “Greetin’s, lovers of spine-chilling stories. If you are the scary type, do not watch this show. You had best go prune a daffodil, or something.” “Snoop is right, folks,” adds Blabber. “This is a real scaaaary story. Honest.” The appropriate mock-scaaaary mood is enhanced by a solo Wurlitzer in the background playing a Hoyt Curtin cue called “Wild Organ For Prowler (Take One).”

We’ll get to our story in just a moment. First, let’s check out some of Bob Gentle’s backgrounds. The haunted house exteriors are top notch and the overhead angle on Snooper’s office door is unique; perhaps it comes from Jerry Eisenberg’s layout. (Note Scott Shaw!’s note about layouts in the comments).



The story starts with Snooper admiring his “fabulous butterfly collection.” The phone rings. The detectives are called to Creepy Mountain House by someone who finally has to shout “Help!” into the phone to prove he needs them. “Now are you convinced?” says the phone. “Yeah. Especially me left ear.” The cartoon cuts back to the present and Snooper outlining the story. “So, after a visit to me left ear doctor...” he begins, then allows Blab to pick up the story. John Boersma animated the cartoon. See what he does with Snooper’s pinkie in one frame. You’ll see the same pinkie-crooked-up hand on Blab “Bronco Bluster,” Augie Doggie in “Vacation Tripped” and Huck Hound in “Bars and Stripes,” all Boersma cartoons. He liked gestures. See one of Blab’s below.



Our heroes arrive at the spooky mansion to find its occupant, a ghost with the Professor Gizmo voice from “Ruff and Reddy,” can’t haunt it because the J. Evil Scientist family (though unnamed in this cartoon) has moved in and refuses to move out. J. Evil ignores Snooper’s “writ of habeas vacancy” so the detectives decide to remove the furniture from the home, starting with Junior’s crib. That brings on the gags. First, Junior pushes a button to zap Snooper with electricity. Then Junior pushes another button so Snoop falls through a trap door into the basement, where he fights a huge octopus with a chair (“What a dastardly tribulation experience,” says Snooper after closing the door on the creature).



Next, Junior mixes a formula (with a cue used during the Pebbles birth episode of “The Flintstones” in the background) which he feeds to a mosquito. The insect grows to a huge size and smugly battles a sword-wielding Snoop (“That giant mosquita is going to shiska-blab us, Bob, I mean shiska-bob us, Blab”). After escaping, our heroes run from a wolf monster that Junior lets out of his TV set.



“I’m not takin’ in every Tom, Dick and Scary Ghost,” says Snoop as their client wails that he’s now homeless. But the final scene has Snooper on the phone trying to sell his life story to a TV station. “It’s bein’ written now. By a ghost writer.” Cut to a shot of the ghost at a typewriter. Oh, but Mike Maltese’s groaners aren’t over. Blab observes: “When it comes to ghosts, Snoop has the right spirit.” With that truly cringe-worthy pun (and cringing is, no doubt, what Maltese had in mind), the cartoon ends.

And, with that, we end our reviews of all 45 Snooper and Blabber cartoons.

8 comments:

  1. I love Snooper and Blabber and I truly enjoy your analysis of these H-B classics.

    However, I think you need the know the specific function of layout. In those days, the layout artist, using the somewhat minimal storyboards, would create very specific character poses, design various secondary characters and props and delineate backgrounds, as well as indicate fielding and re-use of backgrounds and poses. Other than the writing and voiceover work, layout was probably the most essential step to making the cartoons we love so much. Therefore, those backgrounds you single out -- indeed ALL of the backgrounds in this short -- were designed by the megatalented Jerry Eisenberg, a second-generation cartoonist who did Harvey, his father, very proud.

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  2. Snooper and Blabber might not have been the ONLY Hanna-Barbera production influenced by Boris Karloff and “Thriller”.

    Aw, just indulge me on this, will ya, and take THIS LINK!

    …Perhaps you’ll be as amazed as I was.

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  3. Great review of the final S & B. Love the title card.

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  4. I heard Snooper's line as "You had best go prune a Danish, or something." Maltese was an expert at witty dialogue like that.

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  5. One of the best of the S & B's. Fortunately, this one has been released to DVD.

    Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist and family deserved a series of their own. However, they did get exposure in a few Snooper and Blabber cartoons and one Snagglepuss cartoon, plus as a backup feature in The Flintstones comic book for a few years, as well as their own limited four-issue comic book mini-series. They were good while they lasted...

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  6. 11/23/14
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    Regarding the "Thriller" opening sequences, is this where Screen Gems got their idea for the Dancing Sticks logo with the lines jumping and scrawling allover the screen? Their designer of logos at the time may have gotten some ideas for a new 1963 logo, taken from a 1961 opening design . Hmmmm....makes you think, not all ideas are as original as they are, don't you think? All SG's designer had to do was add some circles at the bottom. I can see that Mr. & Mrs. Evil J . Scientist is back with their ogre of a son who looks a lot like Milton The Monster. How can a Vampira like lady and a goblin like Mr.Evil J. possibly give birth to a Frankenstien's monster, oh never mind, it's only a cartoon. Mary Shelly can never predict things like this if she lived long enough to see these cartoons. The Werewolf jumping out of the TV screen was my favorite part.That would have been scary and funny if it was seen in 3-D! Mike Maltese & crew were having fun with this one. Those awful puns, though, eww...Soupy Sales wouldn't have done better with more crappy puns while doing his "Words Of Wisdom" shtick.

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  7. Anonymous, smack dead one about the possible Screen Gems opening logo (and with the connection at the time between SG and HB, it's even more on topic). I enjoy the puns myself..

    Scarecrow33, just think of The Gruesomes as the Scientists reborn (and the Addams reborn) as the appeared on the Flintstones.And now we hang up our "film noir" coats as the 45 cartoons have all now been reviewed.

    Steve C

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  8. 11/24/14
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    I agree, Pokey, there must have been a connection to designs/logos/art direction of the late 50's-early 60's that could be copied from one competing company to another. "Thriller" was a Revue/MCA/Universal Production, so competitor Columbia/Screen Gems must have taken notice to use the line/dots/sticks/circles ideas for company logos and opening sequences as feedback towards each other without any lawsuits pending at the time. I wish I knew who was the designer of both "Thriller's" opening and The Dancing Sticks were. As for puns, Your millage will vary. Yowp also described above that the puns were "cringe worthy", of which I agree. Soup Sales and his writers' puns were just as cringe worthy at the time he used them on his show.(being a Detroit-area veteran, Soupy still is considered a huge legend over here, even five years after his death.) That Tic-Tac-Toe joke was seen in another H-B gag on "The Flintstones", so it looks like they were recycling some of the gags. The resemblance of Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist to The Addams Family is also apt. I still think that Hal Seeger copied the design of "Junior" for Milton The Monster, which debuted in 1964. Around that same year, H-B came up with "The Gruesomes", a direct parody of The Addamses', and possible distant cousins to Mr.And Mrs. J. Evil Scientist.

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