By Chaz Lipp
Article first published as DVD Review: Snorks: The Complete First Season on Blogcritics.
Somehow I missed out on Snorks, the Hanna-Barbera animated series that began airing in 1984. If you did too, imagine an aquatic answer to The Smurfs and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the show is like. Both of those Saturday morning shows were of Belgian origin. In fact, Snorks’s executive producer Freddy Monnickendam worked on The Smurfs as well. While the far more popular little blue guys lived on land, the multi-colored Snorks’ world is underwater. Just as the word “smurf” was used an all-purpose verb, so was the case with “snork” (i.e. “Let’s snork outta here!”).
Warner Archive has surely made a whole lot of ‘80s nostalgia buffs happy with their release of the complete first season, which aired from September to December of 1984. These 13 episodes, each containing two separately titled adventures, are spread over two discs for a total running time of 286 minutes. They certainly show their age (the decade-older Inch High Private Eye, also released by Warner Archive this year, looked better). The image is consistently littered with white and black specks. While not terribly distracting, it’s worth noting that these old cartoons have been slapped on disc without a great deal of care. Those with fond memories of the show will more than likely be able to accept the image as is.
As for the shows themselves, well, they’re pretty typical of ‘80s kiddie fare. The little backstory that opens each episode sets the tone. An unnamed narrator tells us about Captain Ortega and his logbook. Penned in 1634, the logbook tells of a battle between the crew of his ship and pirates. When Ortega was found 10 days after his ship went down, he deliriously spouted off about seabound creatures, “no bigger than his thumb,” that rescued him. Everyone thought Ortega was off his rocker, but of course he was telling the truth. Don’t expect a 17th century period piece, however. Snorks is definitely a product of the ‘80s, especially evident by its synth and drum machine-heavy score.
The recurring Snork characters are defined more by their skin color than personality traits. Helen Hunt’s stepmother B.J. Ward voices Casey Kelp, the primary female Snork. She’s pink and, for lack of a better word, nice. Her beau is the studliest of all Snorks, yellow-skinned Allstar Seaworthy (Michael Bell). Tooter is a Snork who communicates exclusively via non-verbal “tooting.” Veteran voice actor Frank Welker (well known among Transformers buffs for his voice work in the animated series as well as the live-action films and video games) provided said tooting.
Snorks: The Complete First Season is available from Warner Archive as a made-to-order DVD-R release. The show didn’t quite tickle the public’s fancy the way The Smurfs did, but if you’ve enjoyed any of Warner Archive’s other recent animated reissues, this one will likely be right up your alley.