Plot: Jabberjaw might be a great white shark, but he is only dangerous when it comes to the drums, as he hammers out some rock music to roaring crowds. He is just a laid back, hip shark who happens to play the drums for The Neptunes, a rockin’ quartet that never disappoints their fans. The group is all humans aside from Jabberjaw, but the four friends are close and his sharp teeth never concern his band mates. As the group tours, they travel to various underwater cities to rock out and in the process, wind up in some strange situations. It seems like each new town has some kind of bad guy on the loose and without fail, The Neptunes somehow end up involved in the hijinks. But they always manage to solve the case in time to rock and roll, with the lovable Jabberjaw drumming his fins to the bone!
Entertainment Value: The “teens who solve mysteries with their pet” genre of cartoons skyrocketed with the success of Scooby-Doo, but few of the clones managed to be as outrageous as Jabberjaw. As if a great white shark who solves crimes isn’t outlandish enough, he also plays drum in a teen rock band and oh yeah, it takes place in the futuristic, underwater world of 2076 (so one hundred years in the future at the time, as the show was released in 1976). As wild as all that sounds, the show itself mostly stays in line with the genre and puts our heroes into a mystery, lets them unravel it in wacky ways, then celebrate with some music. As you should be able to tell, this is fluff humor and the show never tries to do more than provide a little entertainment, which there’s no harm in that. Jabberjaw is a lively, memorable character from the Hanna-Barbera crew and remains a popular figure, despite the show lasting only sixteen episodes. But that is more of a testament to Jabberjaw as a character and this bizarre premise more than the show itself, I think. The episodes are formulaic, as expected and if you’ve seen episodes of Scooby-Doo, then you know how the formula operates.
The voice talent involved is good, with names like Frank Welker, Janet Waldo, Barry Gordon, Tommy Cook, and Don Messick involved. So if you’re a fan of animation and especially old school cartoons, these are voices you know and love, which adds a lot to the experience. The animation on the other hand is rather simple and even crude at times, but not that far removed from similar shows of this period. But the lack of detail is evident often, especially in regard to people’s faces and backgrounds. So don’t expect a visual feast, though the animation does still retain that old school charm, despite the simplistic presence. Jabberjaw might not be on the same level as some of Hanna-Barbera’s elite tier properties, but it is a unique spin on a well worn theme and remains memorable even decades after it was broadcast. The quirky premise goes a long way to balance out the thin stories and lackluster animation, as where else can you see a great white shark solve crimes and rock out in a band? At the end of the day, Jabberjaw is the greatest show ever made about a hard rockin’ detective shark and to me, that is reason enough to recommend this series.