You may think you know Scooby-Doo, but unless you’re a die-hard fan, there’s a good chance you haven’t even heard of half of the movies and you probably haven’t seen most of the TV shows. That’s nothing to be ashamed of –after all, the series has been running for almost 42 years straight. So for those of you who haven’t caught up on decades worth of episodes and movies, here’s a run down on the different incarnations of the franchise in honor of Scooby’s September 13th birthday.
Image via abibrooks [Flickr]
Whining Sometimes Does Help
I know a lot of our readers take issue with how overprotective many parents have become in the last few decades, but if you like Scooby-Doo, then this is one time you might be able to forgive them. As it turns out, the idea for the show arose after parent organizations, particularly Action for Children’s Television, began protesting the violence of Saturday morning cartoon shows. The pressure was so high that many of the most popular Hanna-Barbera shows, including Johnny Quest, were cancelled due to the protests.
As a result, CBS was scrambling to come up with a Saturday morning cartoon line up that parents would be able to get behind. The first successful new show was The Archie Show, which was based upon the Archie comic book. One of the most popular parts of the show was the musical numbers performed by The Archies during each episode. To capitalize on this idea, Hanna-Barbera was hired to come up with a show that would feature a teenage rock group that solved mysteries between gigs.
Image via informatique [Flickr]
Mysteries Five Was Just Too S-S-Scary
The first version of the show was called Mysteries Five and it featured five teens, Geoff, Mike, Kelly Linda, W.W., and their dog Too Much –who played the bongos in their band. Eventually it was decided that Too Much should be a Great Dane. The character designer, Iwao Takamoto, then consulted a Great Dane breeder to learn more about the breed’s distinguishing characteristics. He then promptly ignored almost everything he learned, designing Too Much with overly bowed legs, a sloped back and a double chin, making him look much more humorous than the real dog breed.
By the time the show was ready for review, Geoff and Mike were merged into a character who eventually became Fred, and Kelly, Linda and W.W. were all renamed to “Daphne,” “Velma,” and “Shaggy” respectively. The show’s title was also changed to Who’s S-S-Scared?
When CBS saw the storyboards for the show, they thought the artwork looked to spooky for young viewers and decided to pass on it.
The creators quickly scrambled to come up with something more acceptable and soon decided to make the show funnier by focusing on Shaggy and Too Much and decided to drop the rock band angle of the show. The CBS executive in charge of the children’s lineup was listening to Frank Sinatra’s song “Strangers in the Night,” on a way to one of the development meetings when he was hit by the singer’s scatting “doo-be-doo-be-doo.” And thus Scooby-Doo was born and the show was quickly retitled Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! When the newest incarnation of the show was presented to CBS, it was immediately approved.
Image via TheNixer [Flickr]
Have you ever thought that a certain Scooby Doo character’s voice sounds vaguely familiar? You’re probably right. Many of the original voice actors from the show have loaned their voices to other productions throughout the years. Most notably, Scooby Doo’s voice was provided by Don Messick, who also voiced Astro from The Jetsons, Boo Boo Bear and Ranger Smith from The Yogi Bear Show, Muttley from Wacky Races, and Papa Smurf from The Smurfs. He also voiced Scrappy Doo after the character’s first year in the series.
Regular cartoon viewers may also recognize the voice of Fred, who was performed by Frank Welker. Welker also was responsible for the voice of Slimer in The Real Ghostbusters, Doctor Claw in Inspector Gadget, Hefty Smurf in The Smurfs, a variety of characters in both the G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons, Garfield in post-2005 Garfield cartoons, and he even does the voice of Nibbler in Futurama.
Of course, Shaggy’s voice is also pretty well-known to most readers –he was performed by radio DJ Casey Kasem (pictured).
The gals on the show were not performed by such successful voice actors, but it is worth noting that Daphne’s voice changes after season one because the original voice actor, Indira Stefanianna Christopherson married and retired in 1970. Her replacement, Heather North, voiced Daphne for over 25 years, retiring in 2003.
Image via Alan Light [Flickr]
A Working Format
While Scooby Doo may be a classic these days, the idea really wasn’t all that original. The original episodes were largely based on the sitcom Dobie Gillis and the radio show I Love a Mystery. In fact, each character directly related to Dobie Gillis characters, Fred as Dobie, Velma as Zelda, Daphne on Thalia and Shaggy on Maynard. Shaggy even looks like a cartoon version of Maynard, featuring a similar hairstyle and a goatee. The premise was also very similar to the Famous Five book series where four kids and a dog would set out to solve a mystery that was almost always created to divert attention from the villain’s true goal. Sound familiar?
Of course, Scooby-Doo’s success led to it becoming an influence on other Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1970’s, most notably, Josie and the Pussycats and The Funky Phantom.
Image via prayitno [Flickr]
Revitalizing A Classic
Image via fuzzcat [Flickr]
While Scooby-Doo episodes and movies are still being made, the original series as we know it ended by 1978, a few years after the show switched networks, moving from CBS to ABC. That was by no means the end of the iconic character though, instead, ABC launched Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo in 1979 to help bolster the show’s slipping ratings. After the first year of the series, Fred, Daphne and Velma were dropped from the show and the series was changed to comprise of three seven-minute-long adventures, rather than one half-hour-long story. Another big change –in the Scooby and Scrappy series, the supernatural villains were actual ghosts, not criminals in costumes.
The show changed formats again in 1983, when Daphne was brought back in and the show was adapted into two eleven-minute mysteries per show. Velma and Fred periodically appeared in these episodes, but not all the time.
In 1985, the show was completely reworked to become The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which featured Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy working alongside with the new characters of Flim-Flam and Vincent Van Ghoul (the cartoon version of Vincent Price –who did voice the character). The show depicted the characters traveling the world to capture the 13 most terrifying ghosts on earth.
The network stopped playing new Scooby-Doo episodes for the next two years after the final episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo in 1986. But in 1988, they brought out an entirely new incarnation of the show called A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, which featured the original characters as junior high students. The show was much more comedic than the originals and was heavily inspired by classic cartoons by Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. This show was a success and managed to last until 1991. This would mark the end of new Scooby-Doo shows until the 2000’s.
While new episodes of the show weren’t being released, reruns were being played constantly at first on a variety of networks and then exclusively on Cartoon Network and Boomerang after 1998.
After the live-action movie came out, the Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. felt it was time to bring Scooby back and they launched a new version of What’s New Scooby-Doo? in 2002. First-run episodes were played on Kids’ WB on Saturday mornings and then reruns were played on Cartoon Network. The show is largely similar to the original version only it includes modern technology and cultural icons, making it easier for modern kids to relate to.
In 2006, this new incarnation of the show was replaced by a new show, Shaggy & Scooby Get a Clue! The plot involved Shaggy inheriting money and a mansion from his rich uncle who went into hiding after fearing that villains were trying to steal his secret invention. The main enemy is named Dr. Phibes and is based on Dr. Evil from Austin Powers and Vincent Price’s character from The Abominable Dr. Phibes. While Scooby and Shaggy usually foil the plots alone, Fred, Daphne and Velma periodically make guest appearances.
The most recent version of the show, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is unique in that while each episode contains its own mystery, the show is a serial built upon the ultimate discovery of one great secret.
Image via JD Hancock [Flickr]
Scooby the Movie Star
No matter how old you are, if you’ve ever been a fan of Scooby-Doo, then you’ve almost certainly seen at least one of the movies. That’s because they started making movies featuring the character all the way back in 1972 and there have been tons of flicks since then.
The first Scooby-Doo movies were created for television by CBS. Each one starred celebrities (real or imaginary) as guest stars. Guests included Josie and the Pussycats, Sandy Duncan, Phyllis Diller, The Harlem Globetrotters, the Three Stooges, Don Knotts, The Addams Family and Batman & Robin.
In the mid-eighties, Hanna-Barbera created three more movies, this time featuring just Scooby, Scrappy and Shaggy. These flicks were similar to the early Scrappy-Doo episodes and featured the gang running into real monsters and ghosts.
As the show halted production in the early nineties, so did the movies, but they started back up again in 1998 with the direct-to-video films Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost, Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders and Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase. These films were notably darker than many of the other animations and the characters faced real supernatural villains instead of criminals pretending to be monsters. Since then, more animated films have continued to be added to the lineup almost every year, some featuring real monsters and some featuring detective stories.
The Scooby-Doo movie that most people are familiar with (although many fans wish they could forget it) is the full-length live-action version released in 2002. This movie featured some of the top teen stars at the time, including Freddie Prinze, Jr. as Fred and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne. Scooby was a computer animation. The movie was such a success that they released a sequel two years later.
In 2009, Cartoon Network premiered a live-action prequel to the films called Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins. It did not feature any of the original cast, but this same crew was also used in another made-for-tv movie in 2010, Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.
Image via thisiscow [Flickr]
After so many years of cartoons and movies, it’s not surprising that the characters have gone through a number of changes. One of the biggest differences occurred when Daphne, originally inclined to be nothing more than kidnap fodder, started to perform karate and other defense techniques in the late 90’s movies.
Another change, Shaggy became a vegetarian after the 2002 television series because Casey Kasem, a dedicated vegetarian, demanded that Shaggy follow his way of eating. So much for his habit of eating anything under the sun.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo gave the characters a little bit of a background story, including the fact that they all hailed from Coolsville, something that stayed in effect throughout the years.
In Scooby-Doo, Mystery Incorporated, the characters were first able to explore romantic feelings between one another, but it’s hard to say if this should count towards the regular story line because creators considered this a reboot of the other shows and the characters have different names of their parents.
Image via World of Oddy (Flickr)
Do you dig Scooby-Doo? And if so, which version is your favorite? Personally, I loved the original series, but I could never stand Scrappy-Doo, even so, I’d take a billion Scrappy episodes over the live-action movie.
Sources: Wikipedia #1, #2, #3