April 01, 2017


(ABC, September 11-December 18, 1976)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Frank Welker – Jabberjaw
Tommy Cook – Biff
Patricia Parris – Shelly
Julie McWhirter – Bubbles
Barry Gordon - Clamhead

            The world wanted more Scooby-Doo, the networks wanted more musical programs, and, thanks to Jaws, the 1970s was rife with shark mania. Hanna-Barbera decided to give the world the best of everything and produced Jabberjaw.

The Neptunes: Jabberjaw, Bubbles, Clamhead, Biff and Shelly.

            Created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, Jabberjaw (Frank Welker) was an anthropomorphic great white shark who sounded an awful lot like Curly from The Three Stooges, complete with all the trademark sounds and catchphrases (including one borrowed from Rodney Dangerfield). He played drums for The Neptunes, which also featured the level-headed (though dimwitted) and athletic Biff (Tommy Cook) on lead guitar; vain Shelly (Patricia Parris) on tambourine; ditzy Bubbles (Julie McWhirter) on keyboard; and kooky Clamhead (Barry Gordon) on bass. They all lived in an underwater civilization in the year 2076. The band traveled to various locations to perform and would end up encountering villains intent on taking over the undersea world (which, like The Flintstones did with rocks, often featured places that had some kind of ocean-themed pun in their names).

Jabberjaw is a drummer and roadie all rolled into one.

            The series was previewed on Friday, September 10, 1976 during a cartoon sequence of the Bill Cosby variety show Cos. It made its Saturday debut on ABC on September 11. The episode “The Bermuda Triangle Tangle” aired on a Thursday as part of ABC’s Thanksgiving Funshine Festival. As with other shows Hanna-Barbera produced in the genre, the chase sequences featuring the cast and the villains were accompanied by music performed by The Neptunes. The music, in fact, was composed by Hoyt Curtin and Paul DeKorte. Though it featured all the elements of previous hit shows, Jabberjaw only lasted a single-season of 16 episodes written by George Atkins, Haskell Barkin, John Bates, Larz Bourne, Tom Dagenais and Bob Fisher. It did remain on ABC’s schedule until the fall of 1978, and Welker’s Curly impression helped to increase the demand for his talent for future cartoon productions (including actually voicing Curly in The Robonic Stooges).

Space-age travel under the waves.

            Despite its short run, Jabberjaw received a wide merchandising compliment. Rand McNally released two coloring books, a story book and a read and color book, as well as puzzles between 1977-78. Thermos made a lunch box, a Presto Magix dry transfer sheet, a school tablet, puzzles by Arrow Games, and an Avon pendant, and a Hanna-Barbera Marineland picture viewer. Jabberjaw was also featured as part of the Scooby-Doo Paint With Water set. In 2005, Jabberjaw was released as a Wacky Wobbler bobblehead by Funko

Color model sheet/publicity image.

Charlton Comics was set to publish a Jabberjaw comic in 1977, but it was cancelled before an issue ever saw release. He did, however, appear in Marvel ComicsLaff-A-Lympics series between 1978-79. In 1996, Jabberjaw returned to comics in Hanna-Barbera Presents #6 by Archie Comics and with The Neptunes in Cartoon Network Presents #23 by DC Comics in 1999. In 1988, Worldvision Home Video released “Dr. Lo Has Got To Go”, “There’s No Place Like Outer Space”, “The Sourpuss Octopuss” and “The Great Shark Switch” on VHS. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that Warner Archive would release the full series on DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection.

Jabberjaw on Mystery Incorporated.

            Jabberjaw, sans his band, returned to star in Yogi’s Space Race. He bounced around in guest appearances in Hanna-Barbera’s All-Star Comedy Ice Revue (voiced by Don Messick), Laff-a-Lympics, Yogi’s Treasure Hunt, Sealab 2021, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Night of the Living Doo, Johnny Bravo and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Jabberjaw and The Neptunes reunited and received a modern update as a ska band for a music video set to Pain’s “Jabberjaw (Running Underwater)” airing on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. He also appeared with many others for the 2012 MetLife commercial “Everyone.” In 2018, more realistic interpretations of the characters drawn by Paul Pelletier appeared alongside Aquaman in the second wave of DC Comics’ Hanna-Barbera crossover one-shot series in Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special #1. Written by current Aqauman scribe Dan Abnett, the crossover had Jabberjaw coming from an alternate dimension where Aquaman, a cartoon character, inspired their undersea way of life.

“Dr. Lo Has Got to Go” (9/11/76) – Dr. Lo unleashes a gorgon on the city of Aquahama.

“There’s No Place Like Outer Space” (9/18/76) – Aliens land and begin their invasion in the city of Hydrostan.

“Atlantis, Get Lost” (9/25/76) – Dorsal plans to overthrow the queen of Atlantis in order to become king.

“Run, Jabber, Run” (10/2/76) – Jabberjaw competes in the Undersea Olympics to unmask Z, the leader of a worldwide criminal organization.

“The Sourpuss Octopus” (10/9/76) – The Neptunes end up having to protect Professor Acosta from the Octopus while on his expedition to find treasure in Panaqua.

“Hang Onto Your Hat, Jabber” (10/16/76) – The Brotherhood of Evil seeks to obtain the Power Helmet, which grants its bearer’s every wish.

“The Great Shark Switch” (10/23/76) – The Neptunes are accused of kidnapping Commander Shark and it’s up to Jabberjaw to prove their innocence.

“Claim-Jumped Jabber” (10/30/76) – Coldfinger is after the richest mines in Aqualaska, but Jabberjaw stands in his way.

“Ali Jabber and the Secret Thieves” (11/6/76) – Volton, an evil mass of energy, meets the Neptunes when they tour the kingdom of Hydrabia.

“Help, Help, It’s the Phantom of the Kelp” (11/13/76) – The Phantom plots to use a growth ray to raise an army to conquer the Aqua International Corporation.

“No Helpin’ the Sculpin” (11/20/76) – Sculpin steals an unfinished time machine from Professor Thorstein.

“The Bermuda Triangle Tangle” (11/25/76) – Sorceress Madame Sargasso captures the Neptunes when they accidentally enter the Bermuda Triangle.

“Malice in Aqualand” (11/27/76) – Jabberjaw witnesses Dr. Cybron replacing the Rajah with a robot duplicate, prompting Cybron to target the Neptunes before they can stop him.

“The Fast-Paced Chase Race” (12/4/76) – The Neptunes try to win the Trans-Marine Race while attempting to stop Dr. Robek’s evil plans.

“The Piranha Plot” (12/11/76) – The Piranha captures the tanker the Neptunes are sailing on to steal the special rocket fuel it carries for his plans to conquer the Underwater States of America.

“There’s No Heel Like El Eel” (12/18/76) – Jabberjaw must stop El Eel from turning the entire world to stone.

Originally posted in 2017. Updated in 2018.

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