April 04, 2020


(CBS, September 9, 1967-January 20, 1968)

Hanna-Barbera Productions

Barney Phillips – Shazzan
Jerry Dexter – Chuck
Janet Waldo – Nancy
Don Messick – Kaboobie

            Shazzan was designed and created by Alex Toth for Hanna-Barbera Productions and CBS Television. The series drew heavy inspiration from the Arabian Nights folk tales in its depiction of a pastiche Middle Eastern culture, use of magical beings and thieves.

Shazzan with Chuck and Nancy and Kaboobie.

            The story centered on all-American teenaged siblings Chuck (Jerry Dexter) and Nancy (Janet Waldo) who stumbled across a halved magic ring in a cave off the coast of Maine. They found that when they combined the ring and spoke the inscribed word, “Shazzan!”, they ended up being transported to the Arabian-like world and in the possession of the giant, jovial, all-powerful genie, Shazzan (Barney Phillips). Shazzan could do just about anything—except send the twins home. To do that, they had to return his ring to its rightful owner, the Wizard of the 7th Mountain. That sent Chuck and Nancy on a quest through dangerous lands filled with thieves, pirates, evil magicians and more who sought to either conquer the kingdoms of the land or get revenge on Shazzan himself. To aid in their quest, Shazzan gave the kids an invisible cloak, a magic rope, illusion-casting dust, and flying camel Kaboobie (Don Messick) for transportation. When things got especially hairy, the kids could summon Shazzan himself by rejoining the ring again and saying his name.

Ad for CBS' Saturday Morning line-up.

            Shazzan debuted on CBS on September 9, 1967. Notably, viewers got a double-dose of the characters its second week on the air as they were included in the Space Ghost finale. Despite all of the people involved with the show, nobody was able to catch the one fatal flaw with the premise: Shazzan was too powerful. Whenever he appeared, the story was effectively brought to an end as none of the foes depicted in the show could physically or mystically harm him. As a result, the stories usually involved the kids being put into some kind of peril or having them unable to use the ring either because they were physically separated from each other (both held on to one half of the ring) or the rings were stolen. The series was written by Walter Black, Bill Lutz and Sloan Nibley with two segments airing per episode. Ted Nichols composed the music. The series also made extensive use of the sound effects originally created for Johnny Quest.

Shazzan meets Space Ghost.

            Production on Shazzan concluded with its first and only season, leaving the premise of Chuck and Nancy returning home unresolved. It remained on the CBS schedule until the fall of 1969 when parent groups’ complaints about violence in cartoons saw all of the networks shift from action to comedy programming. In the 1980s, the series was rerun as part of the syndicated Hanna-Barbera’s World of Super Adventure anthology series with other action-adventure programs from the studio. In the 1990s, it became part of the Super Adventures and Toonami programming blocks on Cartoon Network, and later moved to its sister channel, Boomerang.

The Shazzan DVD, depicting the typical climax of an episode.

As part of the merchandising tie-in, the characters were featured in Gold Key ComicsHanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes. In the 1990s, they returned to comics in DC ComicsCartoon Network Presents; with a cameo appearance on the cover of #9 and a featured story in #13. Whitman also published a Big Little Book in 1968, a coloring book, a magic slate and made both standard and frame puzzles based on the show. Ben Cooper released a costume a costume very loosely patterned after Shazzan himself. In 1990, Ansunaru released a series of figurines in Japan in 1990 based on Hanna-Barbera characters. The Shazzan characters were featured in two sets, with the kids being a special chase set. In 1985, Worldvision Home Video released two VHS collections containing several episodes. The complete series was released to DVD in 2012 as part of Warner Archive’s Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection.

Shazzan in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

            Although Shazzan wasn’t as prominent for revivals and revisiting as other Hanna-Barbera properties, he wasn’t entirely forgotten. Hanna-Barbera would revisit the concept of twins sharing powers in their Super Friends franchise with The Wonder Twins, and the combining of a ring in their later The Thing series. Robert Smigel’s “TV Funhouse” feature on Saturday Night Live parodied the character in 2005 as “Shazzang”. The actual character (although still in parody form) featured in the “Mufti Trouble” episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law the following year voiced by Maurice LaMarche. Kaboobie made an appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode “The Siege of Starro Part 1” as the animal B’wana Beast (Kevin Michael Richardson) rode on.

“The Living Island / Master of Thieves” (9/9/67) – Chuck and Nancy land on an island to give Kaboobie a rest and end up pursued by an evil hunter. / A thief plans to steal the rings and give them to his master.

“Valley of the Giants / The Black Sultan” (9/16/67) – Chuck and Nancy end up in a valley where a Cyclops lives. / Chuck and Nancy help a prince-turned-pig rescue his princess from an evil wizard.

“The Underground World / Demon in a Bottle” (9/23/67) – Chuck and Nancy are attacked by giant bats in an underground cavern. / Nancy and Chuck unwittingly free an evil demon from his bottle prison.

“Ring of Samarra / City of Brass” (9/30/67) – Chuck and Nancy have to avoid giant glass birds to save a princess and her kingdom. / Chuck and Nancy land on a ship to ask directions and end up captured by living brass statues.

“The Evil Jester of Masira / The Master Wizard of Mizwa” (10/7/67) – An evil jester steals a magic book to help him conquer the kingdom. / An evil wizard captures Chuck and Nancy in his garden.

“Demon in a Bottle Returns / City of the Tombs” (10/14/67) – The bottle demon returns for revenge and separates Chuck and Nancy. / Chuck and Nancy end up captured and taken to the City of the Tombs.

“The Young Rajah of Kamura / The Sky Pirates of Basheena” (10/21/67) – Chuck and Nancy save a young Rajah and have to protect his kingdom from an evil regent. / Chuck has to rescue Nancy from the Sky Pirates.

“The Forest of Fear / Sorceress of the Mist” (10/28/67) – Chuck and Nancy traverse a sinister forest to find the Magical Tree of Tureen. / A sorceress captures Nancy so that she can take her place.

“The Flaming Ruby / Keys of the Zodiac” (11/4/67) – A Maharajah wants to use Kaboobie for a theft. / An evil wizard’s minions resemble Chuck and Nancy, leaving Shazzan to prove their innocence in any crimes.

“Lord of the Shadows / The Diamond of El Rhapir” (11/11/67) – The Lord of Shadows sends his creatures to steal an item that will give him all-seeing powers. / Chuck and Kaboobie have to enter a mirror to resce Nancy from an evil magician.

“The Idol of Turaba / The Land of Neverwas” (11/18/67) – Chuck and Nancy follow a kidnapped girl to a city made of porcelain by a clay river. / Chuck and Nancy are captured by an evil ruler who wants revenge on a good wizard.

“The Three Horsemen of Mandragora / A Thousand and One Tricks” (11/25/67) – A sultan tricks Chuck and Nancy into unwittingly releasing evil horsemen. / Chuck and Nancy have to free the Rajah from his own palace.

“The Circus of Zahran / Baharum the Befuddled” (12/2/67) – The kids go to a circus whose ringmaster wants to conquer and rob the city. / Chuck and Nancy encounter a genie being controlled by the Master of Thieves.

“The Imopssible Quest of Nazir / A Pound of Evil Magic” (12/16/67) – Chuck and Nancy visit a sage for directions, unaware an evil wizard is posing as him. / Chuck and Nancy stumble upon a plot against the Viceroy of Rapport.

“The Maze of Mercuraad / The Magical Kingdom of Centuria” (12/30/67) – Chuck and Nancy get lost and are demanded by a guardian for payment to continue on. / The kids are captured by an evil queen who wants to make Shazzan her king.

“Nastrina of the Flames / Quest for the Magic Lamp” (1/6/68) – The kids get embroiled in a plot by an evil sorceress who wants to destroy Shazzan. / Chuck and Nancy have to help Aladdin get his lamp back from the Master of Thieves.

“Rachid, the Apprentice Sorcerer / Kahn of the North Wind” (1/13/68) – An evil sorcerer sends his apprentice to find Chuck and Nancy so he can get revenge on Shazzan. / Chuck and Nancy have to save their friend from an evil wizard.

“The Mirage Maker / Mysterio, the Mini Magi” (1/20/68) – The Mirage Maker captures a princess and Kaboobie to force Chuck and Nancy to do his bidding. / Evil imps are sent after Chuck and Nancy so an evil wizard can capture Shazzan.

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