Belgian businessman and artist Freddy Monnickendam
had tried unsuccessfully to acquire the rights to Peyo’s
The Smurfs since 1977. Eventually, he
became the head of SEPP
International S.A., the branch of publisher Dupuis
responsible for the merchandising of The
Smurfs’ comic. He brokered the deal
between Peyo, NBC
to adapt the comic into an animated series. However, Monnickendam’s
relationship with Peyo quickly soured when the men disagreed over the direction
the series should take; Peyo wanted it to remain faithful to the comics, while
Monnickendam wanted it to become mainstream and accessible.
|First Snorks comic.
After a legal dispute over the
division of the rights and money for the show, Monnickendam decided to try and
find a property to acquire to compete with The
Smurfs. Monnickendam came upon Nic
Broca’s self-published Snorkels;
the evolution of an idea that began as the “Diskies” in the comic series Spirou
acquired the rights to the characters from Broca and the two of them entered
into a partnership with Hanna-Barbera to turn it into an animated series.
(or Snorky), as they were renamed, was essentially
the underwater version of The Smurfs. They
were a race of colorful creatures that lived under the sea and had large
snorkels--also called snorks--coming out of the tops of their heads. They could
use these snorkels to propel themselves or objects through the water, breathe,
or make a variety of sound effects. Unlike The
Smurfs’ medieval setting, Snorks was
set in modern times with underwater equivalents to modern conveniences like
television and automobiles. They lived in a capitalist society, using money
called “clams” that were shaped like clamshells to purchase things. They also
primarily ate things made out of kelp, including ice cream and burgers.
|The residents of Snorkland.
focused primarily on a group of teenaged friends from the town of Snorkland.
Allstar Seaworthy (Michael Bell) was the de facto leader of the group. He was
brave, smart, athletic and generous. Casey Kelp (B.J. Ward) was a tomboy and
Allstar’s love interest. She was equally athletic, brave and intelligent, and
would always come to the defense of anyone that needed it. Tooter Shelby (Frank
Welker), was Allstar’s best friend and had a condition that prevented him from
talking; however, he communicated by making sounds with his snork. Daffney
Gillfin (Nancy Cartwright) was good-hearted, although incredibly vain. Dimitris
“Dimmy” Finister (Brian Cummings) was an aspiring comedian and fighter, however
his attempts to do either usually led to unfavorably comedic results. He and
Daffney frequently dated. Wellington Wetworth, Jr., also known as simply
“Junior” (Barry Gordon), was the spoiled rich son of the Governor, Wellington,
Sr. (Frank Nelson). He was the series’ original “villain,” constantly seeking
fame and fortune at the expense of others. He often involved his little
brother, Willie (Fredricka Weber), in his schemes and treated him shabbily as
thanks; however, Willie was Junior’s polar opposite and generally more
|Daffney and Jo-Jo.
Other characters included the
aforementioned Governor. He was vain and egocentric, and acted like a
stereotypical dishonest politician. The Governor’s actions, while predominantly
left unchecked until a situation causes him to lose face, did sometimes come
under question by the true power of Snorkland: the shadowy Council of Elders (Peter Cullen
and Bell). Dr. Galeo Seaworthy (Clive Revill) was Allstar’s scientist uncle who
often provided Allstar and his friends the tools needed on their adventures;
including their submarine, The
Silverfish. Occy (Welker) was Allstar’s pet octopus who could handle
several instruments at once. Jo-Jo (Roger DeWitt) was a wild Snork with two
snorks on his head, and was essentially Snorkland’s version of Tarzan.
His companion was Fengy, a dogfish. The Snork-Eaters were large creatures who
hunted and ate Snorks, and were a constant environmental threat to them.
|The Silverfish and a whale.
Hanna-Barbera, along with SEPP
International S.A. and 3M
France produced a 3-minute pilot episode to sell the show to
NBC. NBC bought the series, and Snorks made
their debut on September 15, 1984. The intro to the series was done in the form
of narration from the log of a sea captain who encountered the Snorks after his
ship sank in the 1600s. Among the show’s writers were Gordon Bressack,
Semper, Jr., Alan Burnett,
Charles M. Howell,
Luckey, Francis Novier,
G. Birney, Kevin
Stewart-Taggart, Joseph Barbera,
Burian-Mohr, Evelyn Gabi
Hanrahan. Leopold and Bradford served as story editors.
renewed the show for a second season, and Snorks
was included in their Saturday morning preview special Back to Next Saturday. Bell reprised his role as a limitedly
animated Allstar interacting with the stars of the special, leading to clips
from the show. The season premiered the next day on September 14, 1985 with a
new theme: “We’re the Snorks.” Both intro themes were composed by Hoyt Curtin,
who also scored the show.
Along with the theme, the second
season brought about several changes. Allstar’s voice was performed with a
lower pitch while Casey’s was performed higher. A new recurring villain was introduced:
Dr. Strangesnork (René Auberjonois).
He was the absent-minded mad scientist brother of Galeo who sought to conquer
Snorkland with his various schemes and inventions. He was accompanied by
Finneus (Welker), a catfish who kept reminding Strangesnork of everything he’d
season was delayed until 1987 and aired on both NBC and in first-run
syndication. The show gained its third and final theme, “Come Along With the
Snorks” composed by Chase/Rucker
Productions. That theme is the most well-known of the series, having
replaced the two previous ones in later syndicated reruns. Raichert took over
as head writer and story editor alongside Neal Barbera,
leading to a more adventure-oriented direction for the show. This was the first
and only season to feature digital ink animation, giving it a different look
when compared to the previous two.
|Corky model page.
Dimmy largely disappeared from
the show outside of several cameo appearances. In his place, Jo-Jo was upgraded
to a series regular, as was Corky (Rob Paulsen), a dedicated officer of
Snorkland’s police force, the Snork Patrol. Gordon took over voicing the Governor
after Nelson had died, as did Jim
Cummings in the role of Allstar’s father after his actor, Bob Holt, also passed on.
Junior’s role as a villain was greatly reduced and he became more of a pseudo-friend
to the main group. In his place were the new villains Bigweed (Bell) and Li’l
Seaweed (Ward), seaweed-like creatures with faulty magical abilities that
wanted to conquer Snorkland and enslave the Snorks, and the Great Snork Nork
(Welker), a vampire Snork whose snork was on the front of his face and could
fire electrical bolts from his hands. Snip and Snap, two robot Snorks created
by Bigweed, turned on him and became residents of Snorkland.
|Allstar and Casey sharing kelp shakes.
was renewed for a fourth season, but it was aired on two different networks
Network took over the Saturday airings beginning on September
10, 1988, while ABC aired
it in daily syndication beginning on October 24. Up until this season, every
episode was comprised of two segments. After the season’s seventh episode, the
show switched to a single-story format for the remainder of its run. While the
animation reverted back to the older hand-drawn style, a new style was used for
the characters and the overall animation was lighter when compared to the rest
of the series. Although Snorks was a
success in its own right, it didn’t quite match the success of The Smurfs. Monnickendam’s partnership
with Broca came to an end and eventually SEPP disbanded as well.
on the air in reruns until May of 1989. During its original run, a wide array
was released. Happy
House published a series of educational/coloring books,
House did a series of books continuing the Snorks’
Games released a board
game featuring the characters. Applause
released a series of erasers in the shape of the characters’ heads and plush dolls
that came in three sizes. They also released a series of PVC figurines,
along with Yolanda and Miniland. Tomy
produced two types of wind-up toys that either swam or walked, and a cartoon
maker that allowed kids to draw their own Snorks by rubbing crayons over
plates. Power-Tronic made a radio in the shape of Allstar’s head; a design
which was also utilized for a squirt gun with his snork being the barrel. Thermos released a lunch
box, and Worldvision
Home Video a promotional mug to celebrate their home video deal.
Other products included bed sheets, a block cube puzzle, a 3-D puzzle, stamps,
a variety of stickers,
squeak toys for dogs, a metallic bank and crank toy, a crib mobile and
returned to USA for syndicated reruns between 1990-92, where it also ran on
concurrently. Reruns also ran on Cartoon Network’s sister channel, Boomerang.
Many of these reruns combined segments from the various seasons together rather
than presenting them in their original broadcast form. Between 1985 and 1990,
collections of various episodes were released at first by Worldvision, and then
by its successor, Hanna-Barbera
Home Video. In 2012, Warner Archive
released the complete
first season to DVD as part of their Hanna-Barbera
Classics Collection, and Hulu
was allowed to release 39 episodes as part of an agreement with Content Media Corporation.
The first season DVD presented the original NBC opening sequence for the first
time since the episodes’ initial broadcasts; however, several of the episodes’
title cards ended up lost and the episodes aren’t in broadcast order. It
wouldn’t be until 2015 when they released the second
season, which also maintained its original theme. The third
and fourth seasons were packaged together and released the