The latest addition to Warner Archive’s MOD component of the Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection is none other than Snorks: The Complete First Season. And I have to say, it’s about friggin’ time! So often those nostalgic television series from our childhood turn out to be absolutely unbearable when revisited as adults. Captain N: The Game Master springs to mind as one such series that tragically failed to live up to my nostalgia-steeped memory of it. Having been thus scorned by nostalgic memories many times before, I often revisit those beloved childhood memories of sitting in front of the television for Saturday morning cartoons with great reservation. But I was thrilled to find that Snorks, truly one of my childhood favorites, holds up even after so many years away from it.
Snorks, which initially aired on NBC from 1984 to 1989, relates the myriad adventures of fun-loving teenager Allstar Seaworthy and his pals, members of an isolated underwater race of sentient beings known as Snorks (so called presumably because of the tube-like “snorks” on top of their heads). The Snorks’ civilization, whilst admittedly vastly different from our own by mere virtue of being underwater, resembles human society in many ways. Chief among the differences, however, is that, rather than relying on fossil fuels as we do, the Snorks draw the energy used in the operations of Snorkland from a natural resource, the steam siphoned off of a nearby volcano. All this provides a unique and exciting backdrop for the otherwise stock adventures the Snorks embark on in each episode. Indeed, the underwater escapades of Allstar and crew in this season include treasure hunts, investigations into forbidden landscapes and legendary monsters, the formation of a garage band, and numerous races against rival Snork, “Junior” Wetworth. Yet, despite the standard fare that each story offers, the world of the Snorks is just different enough from our own to make each recycled tale feel somehow fresh.
I honestly have very few qualms with the series, although many shrug it off as little more than an undersea version of Smurfs. Most notably, however, I find the theme song in the first season tragically forgettable. Theme songs should be catchy. They should get stuck in your head so that you’re thinking about the product even when you’re away from it. That’s just the nature of the medium. To this day, I can still sing every word of the Ninja Turtles theme song, for example, and I can at least hum the tune to the Spongebob Squarepants theme without having to reach for it, in spite of my general lack of familiarity with the series. Yet, the brief and uninspired first season theme for Snorks is easily gone within an hour of viewing, and even though I’ve powered through the first season in a matter of two days, I can’t for the life of me at this moment recall how it goes. (The theme song on subsequent seasons of the series, “We’re the Snorks,” certainly shows a marked an improvement, but it too is hardly memorable.)
Another complaint I have is strictly aesthetic in nature. The rippling water transitions used in the series too closely resemble the rippling transitions that typically indicate a narrative’s temporal shift in to a flashback. While this would seem to be a minor complaint, it is significantly upsetting to the viewing experience, since we, as media-inundated beings, are conditioned to recognize such transitions as flashbacks. Thus, the use of the ripple here is inevitably jarring each time it is used.
On a final note, the first season features a bit of series-contextualizing narration prior to the lackluster theme. I had never encountered this narration before sitting through this release, and I find it incredibly troubling as a preamble to this otherwise feel-good program. You see, the episodes herein open with a random sailor relating the travails of one Captain Ortega, drawing his information from the late Captain’s log. Therein, Ortega described how his ship had been attacked and sunk by pirates and how he ultimately met the Snorks as his ship sank beneath the waves. This sequence, although perhaps inadvertently, establishes the context in which we must view the Snorks’ adventures as foregrounded in piracy, mass murder, and one sailor’s descent into madness after having encountered our title characters. Now I don’t know about you, but nothing says family-friendly adventure time to me quite like murder and mental collapse!
The two-disc, first season set, now available through WarnerArchive.com, collects all 13 episodes of the series’ first season, and it is a thoroughly solid purchase, I must say. And I, for one, can’t wait for Warner Archive to release additional installments so I can make the entire series a part of my own child’s regular Saturday morning viewing as it was mine.