Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tooniversary: The New Shmoo in Wail of the Banshee (1979)

While Al Capp's L'il Abner never made it to television, a character from the strip ultimately did, but, oh, how Hanna-Barbera screwed up.

The New Shmoo introduced television viewers to an armless, pasty white creature who was befriended by some kids, which meant, of course, that this would end up being another Scooby-Doo copycat from the studio, as if they hadn't made enough of those already.

However, viewers were few, and NBC, panicking, decided to fuse the series together with Fred & Barney Meet The Thing, which led to Shmoo returning for a 2nd season and joining Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden) & Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) in the Bedrock Cops shorts. H-B had also obtained a license that same season (1979) for Casper, and the results there were just as bad. Everyone was tuning in over at ABC and/or CBS, leaving NBC in the dust again.

Following is the episode, "Wail of the Banshee":

Simply put, Shmoo was not being used as expected. H-B saw something cute that kids could warm up to, but cute doesn't always translate into ratings and/or success.

Rating: C.


Goldstar said...

Aside from the Shmoo, the closest that Hanna-Barbera came to bringing "Li'l Abner" to television was with one of the original characters created for H-B's "Laff-A-Lympics", Daisy Mayhem, whose name is a parody of "Li'l Abner"'s Daisy Mae, although personality and attitude-wise, the character more closely resembles another "Li'l Abner" character, Moonbeam McSwine.

On the subject of "The New Shmoo", I'm planning to do a Retro Box segment on "Fred and Barney Meet the Thing" on my blog next month, where I'll mention the addition of the Shmoo in the shows' 2nd season.

hobbyfan said...

Actually, Goldstar, if memory serves, Shmoo was added about 2 months or so into the first season, which is why I said the two shows were fused together.

I think we can say Daisy Mayhem is an amalgam of Daisy Mae & Moonbeam McSwine. Ah, I remember her well. Too bad she didn't get much use after Laff-a-Lympics ended.

magicdog said...

I remember this - believe it or not, I had never heard of Li'l Abner, so at the time, I thought the Schmoo was an original character!

What exactly is a schmoo exactly? At least he was quite useful in this episode.

I thought he was adorable in this series (a total fusion of Scooby Doo & Goober & The Ghost Chasers) and I certainly didn't appreciate his relocation to the Fred & Barney series!

This show seems rather prescient in many ways:

Nita appears to be the first regular Hispanic character in an American toon.

An impossibly small car is used to travel (not unlike the [not so] Smart cars of today).

A bad guy named Barack!

Granted the toon is derivative and devoid of excitement, but I've certainly seen worse!

hobbyfan said...

Nita was not the first Hispanic regular on a cartoon. The Archies had welcomed a kid named Carlos in the 1977 Archie-Sabrina Hour, also on NBC, but he didn't last long, as I don't think he appeared in the comics.

Not sure if there were any Hispanic youth on Kid Power in '72, though.

magicdog said...

I don't even remember Carlos so take that for what it's worth. He obviously wasn't popular enough to warrant association with the gang in most people's minds.

Kid Power - maybe, but I hadn't seen THAT show in forever.

hobbyfan said...

Back to your earlier point. I think the villain's name might've been Barak. As for Shmoo, well, he's classified as indescribable, and let's leave it at that. Today, they'd have Frank Welker make the sound effects for him......

-DS- said...

Weirdly enough, Fred and Barney Meet the Schmoo was not the show where Fred and Barney met the Schmoo. It was just a rename of Fred and Barney Meet the Thing, with reruns of the stand-alone Schmoo series added.

The Bedrock Cops shorts (where Fred and Barney did actually meet and team up with the Schmoo) was from a separate show, the Flintstone Comedy Show.

hobbyfan said...

@ -DS-: I think Fred & Barney may have only "met" Shmoo in added blackout skits once New Shmoo was added to expand the hour-long Fred & Barney Meet The Thing into the 90-minute Fred & Barney Meet The Shmoo. A year later, Shmoo would wind up in Bedrock, but, for now, the Bedrock Cops shorts are nowhere to be found.....