“Inside a cave off the coast of Maine, Chuck and Nancy find a mysterious chest containing the halves of a strange ring. When joined, the ring forms the word Shazzan. With this magical command, they are transported back to the fabled land of the Arabian Nights. Here they meet their genie Shazzan. Shazaan presents them with Kaboobie, a magical flying camel. Shazzan will serve them whenever they call, but he cannot return them home until they deliver the ring to its rightful owner. And thus begins their incredible journey.”
Each episode of Shazzan plays out in pretty much the same way. Two minisodes consist of Chuck and Nancy trying their best to get out of a sticky situation. When they fail, they call on Shazzan who rescues them and gives a warning about leaving, which turns out to be a waste of breath since the kids get recaptured in fairly short order. Shazzan appears again, the bad guy gets his comeuppance, the kids thank Shazzan, and everyone goes on their way.
Shazzan tanked pretty quickly, due in large part to the rather dark nature of the show. Though designed as Saturday morning kids fare, there is a surprising amount of retribution and death present. Shazzan has no problems using his magic to turn a wizard into a bird or send someone into another dimension, if they mess with his “little masters.” There’s even a time or two when the bad guy is actually destroyed. I’m guessing that’s why the show didn’t catch on. Of course, it could also be due to naming the camel “Kaboobie.” What do I know?
My only problem with Shazzan is when it doesn’t adhere to its own mythology. Most times, Shazzaan shows up in a bolt of lightning; occasionally he appears in some other way. The kids originally had to say what they were calling Shazzan for, but later they just call his name. I wish they had been more consistent with this and the other magical gifts — the rope, invisibility cloak — Chuck and Nancy possess. For example, it’s never explained how these items always made their way back to the kids after they are continuously left behind.
I admit, these are adult issues and not something the average kid would pick up on. Nor would I expect a kid to wonder about the core premise of the show. However, if Shazzan can’t use his magic to get Chuck and Nancy home but shows up whenever they’re in trouble, it raises a couple of questions. Why didn’t he just stay with them the entire time? Better yet why didn’t he just whisk them away to the lair of The Wizard of the Seventh Mountain (the owner of the ring) in the first place? It’s never stated that Shazzan couldn’t transport them, and he is in fact seen transporting people all over the place during the show’s 10 episodes, so we know he has that power. Yes, that would defeat the purpose of the series, but with just a bit more thought the overweight could have been easily remedied. For example, the wizard they need to find could have been missing, forcing them to travel the world in search of him.
But again, I’m an adult nitpicking on Saturday morning TV. I actually enjoyed the show, and got a real kick out of Shazzan who cracks himself up with every trick he performs. Plus, the voice of Kaboobie the camel (supplied by a pre-Scooby-Doo! Where are you? Don Messick) is hilarious.
As for the look of the show, it’s another classic offering from the mighty world of Hanna-Barbera animation, whose palette and drawing style are reminiscent of other H-B shows like Josie and the Pussycats, The Jetsons. While the standard definition 1.37:1 full screen transfer and Dolby 2.0 Mono mix won’t blow your socks off, I enjoy vintage style of these old school animated shows. The sound effects are legendarily recycled from various H-B series and you can easily spot which elements are going to be animated based solely on the color differentiation from the background art.
Warner Archives’ Shazzan: The Complete Series only offers us one extra, a brief featurette called “The Power of Shazzan” This quick bunch of interview clips recalls fond remembrances from current animators and comic book creators.
While I’m not convinced today’s kids will find anything to endear them to Shazzan, it’s a nice bit of nostalgia for Hanna-Barbera fans.