In the late 1960’s, Hanna – Barbera Productions, along with legendary animator/artist Alex Toth, created several cartoon shows for Saturday mornings. One of my favorites is Shazzan! Long before the late, great Robin Williams voiced the genie in Aladdin, Shazzan was a genie who helped teen-agers Chuck and Nancy, who had become trapped in the age of the Arabian Nights. The intro to the show gives this explanation:
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” and with this magical command, they are transported back to the fabled land of the Arabian Nights. Here they meet their genie, Shazzan. Shazzan 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.
Shazzan is very large, being able to hold Chuck, Nancy and Kaboobie in the open palm of his hand. He is wise and jolly in nature, usually appearing with a cheerful “Ho-ho ho-HO!” and addressing the two children as his “little masters”. Chuck and Nancy each wear one half of the broken ring, which has to be joined to bring forth their magical servant. A frequent plot device is that the two teenagers became separated, most often by the act of a villain. They can not summon the omnipotent genie until they manage to find each other. Once Shazzan materializes, it is extremely bad news for the villain.
Shazzan is described in a commercial as the greatest of all genies. As such, he naturally shows off with all kinds of magical powers and appears able to do just about anything, from growing in size, to transforming or empowering others, or changing his own form to escaping situations commonly referred to as inescapable, to altering reality itself. This all may have made it seem like he can do anything and survive anything. However, that is not exactly the case. First of all, Shazzan is a genie, and has to be summoned with magical items. According to the common myth about genies, destroying such a magical item destroys the genie itself. Which means, if anyone destroyed the rings, Shazzan would also die.
In spite of this, his many enemies never try to destroy the rings; rather, they launch their attacks directly on this god-like, gigantic, immortal genie. Shazzan easily defeats them each time by transforming himself, them, or something else in the area into something else, though in some cases, the enemy seals their own fate somehow. There are also some things that make Shazzan disappear from sight, even if it is only briefly. For example, in the episode “1001 Tricks”, Shazzan grows the Jester to his size, and the Jester casts a spell that sends a meteor to crash down on Shazzan. He disappears from sight, and Chuck, Nancy, and Kaboobie are concerned. It is indicated that these things destroy Shazzan, but only briefly, as there are not many surefire ways to destroy a genie permanently. There are also some things that even Shazzan can not accomplish.
First of all, in an episode involving a pirate captain on a flying ship, the pirate captain sends Nancy to the underworld, where not even Shazzan can travel. As a result, Shazzan strikes a deal with the captain, offering him three wishes in exchange for Nancy’s return. Secondly, in one episode, Chuck and Nancy become trapped in the mythical land of Neverwas, and even Shazzan can not break through the land’s magic barrier without knowing its secret. In addition to all the magic Shazzan can drum up, Chuck and Nancy have magical items which include “Illusion Dust” (which naturally causes a momentary illusion), a magic rope (which will obey the command of the owner), and a cloak of invisibility (which turns the wearer invisible).
The show premiered in September of 1967 and ran for 36 episodes. The twin rings plot device would reappear in 1979’s Fred and Barney Meet The The Thing (also by HB) as the method by which teen aged Benjy Grimm turns into the Thing. The setting of ancient Arabia would be revisited a year later in the Arabian Knights shorts. The entire series is available on DVD fron the Warner Archives here: http://www.wbshop.com/product/shazzan-+the+complete+series+1000284170.do