There’s no denying that Hanna Barbera have created some wonderful cartoons over the years. Scooby Doo and The Flintstones must surely be the cartoon studios two best loved series. However, Hanna Barbera are also guilty of a large amount of internal copy-catting. For The Flintstones there was The Jetsons (luckily The Jetsons was actually quite good though) but when it comes to the basic premise of Scooby Doo – a group of teenagers and their mascot investigating mysteries – things get a little out of hand. Some were good (e.g. Captain Caveman) whilst overs were terrible (e.g. the introduction of Scrappy Doo).
The New Shmoo was one of these teenage investigation cartoons, and lies somewhere in the middle as far as quality is concerned. Here we had three teenagers called Nita, Mickey and Billy Joe, who were accompanied by the Shmoo, a weird white creature that could change it’s shape. It’s normal state looked something like a pure white sea-lion, but it could transform into whatever object it felt would be useful at the time. The Shmoo was voiced by Frank Welker, who always specialised in making unusual sounding characters. He is credited as being Santa’s Little Helper in The Simpsons, and was also the voice of Stripe, the evil Mogwai from Gremlins.
The character of The Shmoo was based on a similar character created by US cartoonist Al Capp for his “Li’l Abner” comic strip in the 1950’s. Apparently the “New” part of the cartoon’s name was in order to distinguish it from it’s original source.
For the most part The New Shmoo was fairly standard fare. The kids, who were writers for Mighty Mysteries Comics, would arrive somewhere just in time to investigate some strange occurrence. Shmoo would help out by transforming into various different objects to assist the team in solving the mystery. I remember enjoying the Shmoo at the time, but nothing really sticks in my mind about any of the teams adventures, and it isn’t a cartoon that has been repeated on TV much over the years either.
The series didn’t perform particularly well and only a few episodes were made. However, Hanna Barbera still believed in the character, and he (she? it?) reappeared along with Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in Fred and Barney Meet The Shmoo, which was basically an excuse to sandwich episodes of The New Shmoo and another cartoon called The Thing between new cartoons starring The Flintstones characters. Another later series called The Flintstones Comedy Show also featured a short segment called Bedrock Cops, in which The Shmoo helped them out – minus the rest of the Mighty Mysteries Comics gang.