Saturday, 6 August 2011

Snooper and Blabber — Adventure is My Hobby

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Gerard Baldwin; Layout – Walt Clinton; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Story – Mike Maltese; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Announcer, Alfred Adventuresome, Man in Sewer, Sea Monster – Hal Smith; Snooper, Blabber – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: week of January 4, 1960 (repeated, week of July 4, 1960).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-015, Production J-51.
Plot: Snooper relates on a TV show how he brought in a sea monster.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise that during his first year at Hanna-Barbera, Mike Maltese would repeat or re-work ideas he’d already used at the studio. He had done the same thing at Warners. The concept of Elmer hunting Bugs and Daffy got three funny workouts. Making Daffy a braggart with Porky as a meekish sidekick worked once, so it was tried a few more times. A clueless Porky and a protective, scared Sylvester managed to find life in more than one cartoon. One could argue the Roadrunner series was nothing more than the same basic idea continued for as long as there were gags to fill seven minutes.

Maltese must have liked the idea of an Adventurers/Explorers Club. It appeared three times in the first season of Snooper and Blabber (Fee Fi Fo Fumble, The Lion is Busy and Wild Man, Wild! before Maltese transplanted it into the Snagglepuss series when it aired in 1961. But Maltese re-worked the idea for this cartoon. Instead of cynical fellow explorers disbelieving the latest tale of discovery by one of their upper-crust colleagues, this features the cynical host of a TV adventure show disbelieving the latest tale of discovery by Super Snooper. And to get there, he’s twisted the title of the old radio show ‘Mystery is My Hobby’ and John Craig’s 1941 book ‘Adventure is My Business’ (it doesn’t appear a 1955 syndicated TV show with that name made it to air).

This is the second of two Snooper cartoons animated by Gerard Baldwin. His tell-tale signs are here, though not quite as noticeable as his earlier Monkey Wrenched and a couple of Yogi cartoons. Characters talk from the side of their mouths, Snoop has floppy, angular jowls in some scenes, and characters have a stretched neck when the head is raised during dialogue. He did a nice job with the blue-green sea monster. Walt Clinton’s design is pretty appealing.

Maltese dumps in some of the punny and silly verbiage he’s known for. The cartoon starts with a shot of a TV set (with no rabbit ears) and on it, Alfred Adventuresome brings on the World’s Greatest Detective.

Adventuresome: What tale of derring-do have you for us this evening?
Snoop: Well, the tale I’m about to unfold is so derring with do, it makes me hair curly with cue.

Snooper tells the story in story in flashback when he answers “the trinkling of the phone.” Off he and Blab go to Lake Wotcha-motchapoo to investigate a 14-11: “a crime committed by monsters, or monsters, unknown.” Snoop narrates that they find “the owner hidin’ in an unseemingly place” (he’s down a sewer). Maltese pulls his redundant dialogue bit:

Snoop: Why are you hidin’ in that unseemly place, owner?
Owner: I’m allergic to monsters. Surprised?

They’re offered $20,000 to find the monster. The next scene puts them in a boat on a lake. Snoop is fishing, looking stage left. The monster pops his head up and frightens Blab at the other end of the boat, looking stage right. Snoop doesn’t believe there’s a monster (“You’d better see your optimistic, Blab”) until the creature carts away Blab in its mouth. Then it’s a catchphrase—“Halt in the name of the Private Eye Summer School!” The sea monster lifts Snoop and the boat on its tail.We get a “low bridge” gag (a bridge on a lake?). We get another catchphrase—“Halt in the limb of the law!”

Today’s cartoon science lesson: pepper doesn’t dissolve in water. Snoop tries the old pepper gag with “a few dashes under the water.” And like in every cartoon, pepper creates a sneeze. Blab is achoo-ed out of the water, flies up into the air and down onto the boat, which catapults Snooper into the monster’s mouth.

Blab: What do you see, Snoop?
Snoop: It could be the hemogoblin or the doowah-dinal-diddy.
Blab (to audience): A private eye must have a rounded education. And Snoop’s is the roundest.

I don’t know what the last one Snoop is trying to pronounce (adenoids, maybe?), but Doo Wah Diddy was popularised in Phil Harris’ most famous song ‘That’s What I Like About the South.’

The smoke from the match makes the monster sneeze Snooper skipping across the water and up and down a tree. Snoop paddles on a log toward Blab, but the monster grabs him, plunks him into his boat, winds up the motor and sends him sailing over the lake and then under the water. I guess Maltese is going for sight gags here but the last part of it is in long shot which doesn’t make it remotely funny.

Snooper survives as, in the next scene, we find him in a helicopter lowering a rope to rescue Blab off an island. But it turns out the monster isn’t much of a danger and starts behaving like a whimpering dog. Blab has discovered he’s just. That ends the flashback. Back on the TV show, Alfred Adventuresome is sceptical of Snoop’s tale and until the detective orders the curtains of the set to be “impart”ed and there is the sea monster in a huge fish bowl as Blabber feeds him fish food. “Gee, Snoop, he’s awful hungry” is the best Maltese can come up with as a finish line. The monster ends it by making some happy gurgling sounds. Perhaps Baldwin lost interest in the cartoon by then or was behind on his footage quota because the monster’s mouth doesn’t even move while he makes noise (we do get cycle animation of bubbles, though).

Snoop has a black sedan in this cartoon. The tail lights are close to what you’d find on a ’56 Cadillac.

The sound cutter has edited together Jack Shaindlin’s ‘Mad Rush No 3’ several times to make it longer.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:05 - GR-58 GOING SHOPPING (Green) – Snoop speaks with Adventuresome, phone rings.
0:49 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Snoop on phone.
1:20 - GR-58 GOING SHOPPING (Green) Snoop and Blab in car, talk to owner.
1:49 - CAPERS (Shaindlin) – Snoop and Blab in boat, Sea Monster pops up out of water, takes off with Blab, “Halt in the name of...”
2:48 - MAD RUSH No 3 (Shaindlin) – Snoop chases Sea Monster, low bridge, sneeze blasts Blab from underwater, monster swallows Snoop, Snoop strikes match.
4:21 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snoop in monster’s mouth, Snoop sneezed out of monster.
5:01 - MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Snoop skips on water, paddles toward monster, Snoop and boat go underwater.
5:34 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Snoop in chopper, scene with Blab and monster on island.
6:18 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snoop talks to to Adventuresome.
6:38 - rising scale vaudeville music (Shaindlin) – Sea Monster in bowl.
6:49 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. By "doowah-dinal-diddy", Snoop means either the "duodenum" or something "duodenal".

  2. The stuff you learn. Thanks, Doz.