Saturday, 4 May 2013

Snooper and Blabber — Big Shot Blab

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbara.
Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – ?; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle?; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber – Daws Butler; Scientist – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Lou De Francesco?
First Aired: week of November 28, 1960 (rerun, week of May 1, 1961).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-031, Production J-94.
Plot: After accidentally swallowing an explosion, Blabber forces Snooper to do his bidding or he’ll blow himself up.

Do you realise Snooper swears in this cartoon? Twice?

Actually, he does it in “Fleas Be Careful” as well. I didn’t think anything of it then but then I heard it again in this cartoon and decided to find out what it meant.

Snooper says the phrase “What in tunket…” According to the Old English Dictionary, “tunket” is a euphemism for “hell.” You can read a bit more about it here. Where in tunket Mike Maltese first heard the word, I don’t know, but with his affinity for odd words and phrases, only he would put it in a cartoon.

A week ago, we talked about how Maltese and Warren Foster weren’t above borrowing material from their fellow Warner Bros. writer Tedd Pierce and putting it in Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Maltese has done it in this one. The basic plot owes a lot to the last part of “Mouse Mazurka” (released 1949), where a little mouse drinks nitro-glycerin and then puts himself in harm’s way, forcing a panicked Sylvester to quickly rescue him so there won’t be an explosion. Maltese even uses a couple of Pierce’s gags. It’s sad in a way, for after Pierce’s departure from Warners, he went from freelance job to freelance job, while Maltese and Foster had steady careers at Hanna-Barbera and praise from Joe Barbera in the public press. Even when H-B was looking for writers, there’s no indication Pierce was ever considered.

Here’s the set-up for the plot: Snooper bosses Blab around, telling him to “dust off those habeas corpuscles” among other things. There’s a shot of Blab sweeping, dusting and polishing all at the same time. Snoop sends him out for a sandwich. The disgusted Blab (off camera) slams the door. “And fix that door,” Snoop adds. Blab walks down the street, lamenting he’ll “always be a nobody assistant.” The cityscape is really simple in this one.

While Blab’s out, a meek scientist knocks on the door, demanding protection from international spies for his invention—a peanut loaded with so many explosives, it could “wreak havoc if disturbed in any way.” “Take it back,” yells Snoop. “I’m allergic to wreaked havoc.” He’s offered $30,000 to guard it. “So what’s a little havoc that’s been wreaked?” Snoop rhetorically asks. The scientist leaves. Blab returns and eats the peanut. “Jumpin’ grasshoppers, Blab!” yells Snoop. “You just swalleyed a dangerous explosive that’ll wreak us all to havoc!” “All of a sudden, I feel a surge of power,” Blab tells us after Snooper explains to him that he’s now important “insofar as blowing me to smithereens.”

Most of the rest of the cartoon is taken up with Blab threatening to hurt himself unless Snoop does his bidding or rescues him.

● Blab tells Snoop to clean up the office, or he’ll jump from the top of a filing cabinet (it’s a chest of drawers in “Mouse Mazurka”). “Do my ears receive me?” asks Snoop. Blab jumps (“Smithereenies, here I come!”), Snoop stops him from hitting the floor and the scene ends with Snoop cleaning the office the way Blab was before.
● Blab demands Snooper’s lunch, and starts skipping rope. “Here’s the lunch, Blab! I don’t look good in smithereens.” Snoop fans him after lunch.
● Blab orders Snoop to repeat “Blab is important, Snoop is a nothin’,” or he’ll drop a safe on top of himself (also from “Mouse Mazurka”). Snoop stops the safe with his head and then repeats the phrase to the fade out.

● “You just broke the straw with the camel’s back,” says Snoop when Blab tells him to clean the office a 12th time. Blab doesn’t like the backtalk and jumps out the window of their office on the 84th floor. (84 floors? It must be the tallest brick building in the world.) Snoop refuses to rescue him until the last second. Blab lands on top of his head. (In “Mouse Mazurka,” the mouse leaps from a beam at the top of the room).

● Blab tells Snoop to answer the phone. It’s the scientist on the other end. He says Snooper can forget all about the bomb because it’s lost its power after two hours. Snooper demands Blab remove himself from his desk. Blabber threatens to paddle himself (in the butt, it would appear). Snooper offers to help and kicks him in the rear. Kablam! Unlike “Mouse Mazurka,” the blast doesn’t kill anyone. “Jumpin’ tunkets!” Snooper exclaims as he realises his watch is running a minute fast. But what difference should that make? Didn’t the scientist tell him the peanut (which should have been in some stage of digestion) was now harmless?

The final scene has Blab back sweeping, dusting and polishing. “Anyway, for a while, I was really livin’ it up,” Blabber happily turns to tell us, and he giggles to end the cartoon.

Lots of familiar Phil Green music here. I wish I had the names of those Jack Shaindlin cues, but I have no idea where to find them.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:15 - PG-161H LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Blab runs with fingerprint set, Snoop tells him to clean up the place.
0:26 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – “It’s a mess,” door slam, Blab walks on street.
1:00 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Blab talks to himself, Scientist scene.
2:07 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Blab returns, jumping off cabinet scene.
3:22 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Lunch scene, Blab drops safe.
4:08 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Snooper rushes to stop safe.
4:25 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Mopping scene, Blab jumps.
4:51 - light symphonic string music (?) – Blab drops, lands on Snoop.
5:29 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Blab on Snoop’s head, phone rings.
5:37 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Snoop on phone with scientist, explosion.
6:27 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Smoke clears, Snoop in wreckage.
6:38 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Blab cleans.
7:00 - Snooper and Blabber End Title Music.


  1. Maybe "tunket" once meant "hell," but it seems to have become milder over the decades.

    In Pogo, Walt Kelly had Albert say "by tunket" in the story where he has a rhyming contest against an angle worm (reprinted in I Go Pogo). The angle worm was going home to work on his "i-ambic pentameter" and Albert was upset enough to use the expletive because he thought that meant he was going to use machinery to win.

  2. Strangely, I didn't make the "Mouse Mazurka" connection myself until you mentioned it - was always reminded more of Tom and Jerry's "The Missing Mouse", which also involved a rodent time-bomb. Plus a Bill 'n' Joe connection.

    Still, in a way I do agree that Tedd Pierce would have been at home at HB as his shorts (at least under McKimson's control) became more dialogue-heavy in later years.

  3. Snooper's watch being slow makes perfect sense to me - that way the peanut is still a threat until the 2 hours are up. I'd have to see the episode though. Daylight savings might have worked better.

  4. It seems that the layout on this Snooper & Blabber episode was made by Paul Sommer.

  5. Yes, what was the deal with Tedd Pierce?

    You’d think, once Maltese and Foster departed for H-B, Pierce would have been more valuable than ever to Warner.

    Instead, it looks as if Warner had brief flirtations with writers like Dave Detiege, and Nick Bennion, having the directors write their own stuff, and eventually making John Dunn the main writer, with some additional efforts by Cal Howard and perhaps others.

    Even if Tedd Pierce was “Number Three” on the “WB Writing Depth Chart”, that still made him better than most of what was out there at the time (simply due to the stellar company he kept) – and why he faded completely away at a time his studio appeared to be in need, remains a mystery. Personal conduct issues, like drinking, perhaps?

    I’m sure someone knows, but I sure don’t.

  6. I suspect it was the alcohol, Joe.

  7. Besides the obvious connection to "Mouse Mazurka" Blabber's having (courtesy of Snooper:)) some household/office gadgets tied to him to work with is lifted from another WB Freleng cartoon written by Tedd Pierce and this time starring Daffy Duck, "His Bitter Half".SteveC

  8. Cartoon characters dying cartoon deaths (angels wearing robes, halos and wings) are generally in the minority when it comes to being victimized by explosion, fallen objects, murder attempts or failed suicide attempts. The usual result is the one in this cartoon: a character suffer typical temporary cartoon injuries that only last the rest of the scene. Property damage generally lasts for the rest of the cartoon, however.

    BEWITCHED BEAR is unusual in that after Ranger Smith is blown up by an errant missle he survives, but is shown heavily bandaged and confined to a wheelchair at the end of the cartoon. And Yogi receives his just punishment of having to clean up the destroyed cabin and build a new one.

  9. This must be the ONLY cartoon where Snooper and Blabber don't solve no cases.

  10. This cartoon demonstrates just what an obnoxious character Snooper really is. A big bully bossing little Blab around. It's OK for Jinks to do it to the meeces because he is a funnier character, and Snoop and Blabber are supposed to be partners, even though they are cat and mouse. Still, Snoop gets his comeuppance... for a while...