Jaberjaw with the combo.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1976
Creators: Joe Ruby and Ken Spears
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In the mid-1970s, Hanna-Barbera's most popular TV show, by far, was Scooby-Doo, which was about kids and an animal, tooling around the country, defeating villains wherever they went. Given the studio's …

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… general tendency as regards uniqueness and originality, that called for a spate of shows about kids and animals, tooling around the country and defeating villains. Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy, Josie & the Pussycats … even their version of The Addams Family was molded into that formula.

Once the tone and direction of a new show are determined, there remains the job of dressing it up — creating characters, providing a general look for it, that sort of stuff. For this, too, Hanna-Barbera had a tried-and-true method: Simply swipe them from someone else, just as it had swiped the set-up for The Flintstones from The Honey-Mooners and that of The Jetsons from Blondie,, to cite only two famous examples.

Thus, as the entertainment industry resonated with sharks, following the 1975 release of Universal Pictures' blockbuster, Jaws, Hanna-Barbera launched Jabberjaw, about a bunch of kids who traveled around with a shark, defeating villains as they went. The show debuted September 11, 1976 on ABC — the very same day DePatie-Freleng's Pink Panther Laugh and a Half Hour and a Half Show started on NBC with another Jaws-inspired character, Misterjaw, starring in one of its back segments. The creators, if that's not too strong a word, were Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, who later, heading up a studio of their own, produced, among other things, Thundarr the Barbarian.

Jabberjaw was a great white shark (no relation) who was also a drummer with The Neptunes, a five-piece combo. The kids who accompanied him formed the rest of the band. They were Clamhead (voiced by Barry Gordon, who also did Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Bubbles (Julie McWhirter, also heard in Pirates of Darkwater), Shelly (Pat Parris, Winnie the Pooh's friend Kanga) and Biff (Tommy Cook, who played Kid Flash on Aquaman's show). Jabberjaw himself was done by Frank Welker (Dynomutt), in a voice strongly reminiscent of Curly of The Three Stooges, with dialog inspired by Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian who "gets no respect". To mix things up a little, the series was set in the year 2021.

Sixteen episodes were made, and they were run and rerun over a two-year period. A couple of years later, Jabberjaw was seen in the ensemble cast of Yogi's Treasure Hunt. After that, the whole show and all its characters were more-or-less forgotten.


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Text ©2005-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.