This famed franchise is celebrating 50 years since the first episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? aired on CBS, September 13, 1969; with the Saturday morning cartoon launching an incredible and still on-going marathon. It has spun multiple spin-off series, original animated and live action films, consumer products and much more. Now, some likely to state that Scooby-Doo, is not horror and has no place in the genre or even the realm of any discussion, however, that’s a mistaken approach, first the opening of the original series contained the spooky Victorian Mansion, then and most importantly it involves a group of teens who either take a short cut, breaks down, get lost, or run into ghosts, ghouls, and monsters, sounds like many plots of slasher or paranormal horror flicks. I personally grew up with Scooby, as well as The Munsters, Addams Family, Dark Shadows and often at horror cons, a Mystery Machine does appear, for the fans. Oh, the truly curious according to the pedigree site, Great Danes which is what Scooby is, in this year of 2019 his age in human years equals 365, WOW!!!
Scooby, has guaranteed the standing of the show as a popular franchise ranking just behind Batman and highly entertaining with children 2 – 12, at that pre-teen year many start to drift over to the television horror movies, before craving the real flicks of the genre by 15-years old. The show spanned other cartoons shows Josie and the Pussycats, The Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy, Goober and the Ghost Chasers.
It all started with Fred Silverman, then head of daytime TV at CBS, in the late 60s, who approached animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera with the project to direct it while they used many writers from 1969 to 1970, among them Bill Lutz who was onboard for all the episodes and then Joe Ruby and Ken Spears the next two with the longest tenures of 17 shows. Lutz later worked on The New Scooby-Doo TV-series for 16- episodes and prior to his career on this series did work on 4 teleplays for The Addams Family (TV Series); while both Ruby and Spears later worked heavily on the “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated” series and one feature horror film Rumpelstiltskin (1995). However, the reason behind the actual creation is more rooted in outside force. In 1968 many parent organization formed to apply pressure to networks, namely the producers to return to wholesome entertainment and less excessive violence. It formed a treatment based from the Archie show but titled as Mysteries Five and featured five teenagers and their bongo playing doggy, when not doing a gig they solved spooky crimes. Although, no greenlight for that conjuring, it led to a re-titling and history was born for Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? One must note perhaps another reason for the creation came from intel that ABC was developing its own animated series entitled The Hardy Boys which premiered a week before Scooby and then aired at the same time in opposition, remember its 1969 and there was no such thing as a VCR or DVR.
As some might recall, the original series contain four meddling kids, clearly defined roles the leader of the team and determined detective Fred and Daphne was considered danger-prone, slightly weak though this later changed, clever and highly intelligent Velma, Shaggy as a starving gymnast motivated by his love of food, and their Great Dane Scooby-Doo, similar to Shaggy but with some bravery thanks to his Scooby-snacks. The first episode was on Saturday, September 13, entitled “What a Night for a Knight,” in which the Mystery Gang investigated an archaeologist’s disappearance and faced off against a sentient suit of armor from England that comes alive. However, it’s who portrayed the character behind the scenes that shows the talent pool for this show. Namely Frank Welker, who at 22-years auditioned for both Scooby and then Shaggy, but was offered the part of Fred, who he still provides the voices for all these years later. Velma’s role was secured by Nicole Jaffe and Casey Kasem (RIP 2014) earned the part for Shaggy while Don Messick got Scooby, the role for Daphne did change a few times, however Indira Christopherson who obtained the role in the beginning. In addition, the actors started creating catch phrases that they ad-libbed into the roles, as the cast were assembled in to one room rather than the customary solo voice over rooms (likely to keep costs down), which helped to have everyone work together and have more chemistry. For example, the characters Velma and Shaggy often used Jinkies and Zoinks repetitively. By the way, those changes to the character of Daphne occurred first in 1990s and then again in 2000s, namely she loss the sense helplessness and replaced with the ability to defend herself, although her character occasionally displayed some abilities even earlier in the franchise however, this time more profound as to reflect women more proper in society. Although, many fans of the show, wanted her klutziness to re-emerge and hence in the 2000s that did return as not have her seem ‘little-miss-perfect’ and superior to Velma.
The format never changes, each episode started with the gang running scared from the creature and then working to solve the mystery, captured the ghoul and stop the wrong-doer with some sort of pre-dated MacGyver trap. It worked well to keep them evolving into syndication and other variations. In 1972, one-hour episodes were created under the title The New Scooby-Doo Movies gave new breath into the franchise, and lasted through 2-years and 24 episodes featuring a real or fictitious guest star helping the gang solve mysteries, including the Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and the Pussycats, and Speed Buggy. Some of the celebrities that would appear included Sandy Duncan, The Addams Family, Cass Elliot, Phyllis Diller, and Don Knotts. After this series ended, the original reruns returned to the CBS and stayed until the option ran-out in 1976.
The ABC network, hired Fred Silverman as president of entertainment in 1975, and he also worked to overhaul the Saturday morning cartoons, who interestingly enough approached Hanna-Barbera to begin creating a new version of the Scooby-Doo show, as he knew the rights were ending on CBS where he previously worked. Hence Scooby lived-ion once more with The Scooby-Doo Show and Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics that showcased Scooby’s country cousin Scooby-Dum, that Daws Bulter would voice. In 1979, the ratings begun to slip for Scooby once more, it was nearer the end of a decade and generation of children were moving on for new entertainment interest, therefore the introduction of Scrappy Doo, Scooby’s nephew, needless to say the results had a mix reaction with some fans dropping the letter ‘S’ from Scrappy name.
Scooby-Doo did change with the times, and received a major upgrade in 1998 with Scooby-Doo: Zombie Island, a direct-to-video release that reunited the gang and with Frank Welker once more supplying the voice for Fred and even had Adrienne Barbeau involved as the voice of Simone. It also marked Warner Bros. Animation taking over for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, after the final involvement with Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights (1994). The story created a more well-mannered production that appealed to the original fans and very entertaining to younger children. It successfully worked to give a rebirth to the franchise, which suffered greatly in the late 80s and throughout most of the 90s. In 2002 Scooby-Doo finally received the big screen attention, starring Freddie Prinz Jr. (Fred), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Daphne), Linda Cardellini (Velma) and Matthew Lillard (Shaggy); which to modest box office success, and produced a sequel, then later that same year the lovable pooch and gang return to the small screen with What’s New, Scooby-Doo which lasted 3-seasons. All this leading to countless video flicks throughout the 2000s, before waiting nearly 9-years to return once again with a new TV-series called Scooby-Doo and Guess Who, that features Lillard as Shaggy. And another trip the big screen awaits in 2020 called Scoob!
While the television, video, and big screen all led to highs and lows, one thing that kept Scooby going successfully, came from the fans, namely through merchandising. Just like George Lucas knew with Stars Wars, so did others learn of this vast chasm to explore. Milton Bradley made the first board game for the series in 1973, and from there it grew with every possible thing one can think of whether you wear, eat, play, or use it there’s a Scooby product. And now that the 50th has occurred, there’s a stuffed Scooby Doo appearing, as well as figurines at stores like Hot Topic has a puzzle and Hallmark even released a Haunted House Ornament and special one to honoring turning 50. People build different versions of famed Mystery Machine, as there is no true consensus of which model it takes after, though some believe the 1972 Ford E200 Econoline Van best fits the design. Even Gold Key Comics began publication in 1969 and then 2016 DC comics launched Scooby Apocalypse set in a post-apocalyptic world, still popular. Even as the article was written, and you read the merchandising still sells and heavily collected such as cereal, figurines even real Scooby Snacks for your dogs. Lastly is a new Blu-ray Scooby Doo Where Are You: The Complete Series (Limited Edition) that includes Welker’s Journey with Scooby, An Encyclopedia and many featurettes.
This is a great and long trip through 5-decades, that received multiple Emmy nominations, revisiting a character in the early point of fun horror, where friendship is found in every episode, who doesn’t like a mystery, it let a child’s imagination run rampant and enjoy themselves without worrying about the conflicts in life. The Scooby and Shaggy relationship exists with many pet owners, the playful attitude and yet there to comfort and even help. The episodes that contain animated forms of celebrities always cute, from Three Stooges to Jonathan Winters, and seeing the transition of animation from the 60s to now, always incredible to view the process evolving. The influence of this Icon and show still occurring in the today’s movies and television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer refers to the group as Scooby Gang, Supernatural had a Scooby natural episode that aired on March 29, 2018. The music industry didn’t miss out either, though parodied in this music video:
Therefore, why not explore again in this wonderful avenue of animated children’s horror and comedy, be honest many of you have recalled some fond memories already of watching this franchise.
Franchise Films/ Series
Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (1969) (TV Series)
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972) (TV Series)
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (1976) (TV Series)
Scooby’s Laff-A Lympics (1977) (TV Series)
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979) (TV Series)
The Ri¢hie Ri¢h/Scooby-Doo Show (1980) (TV Series)
The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Puppy Hour (1982) (TV Series)
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983) (TV Series)
The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984) (TV Series)
Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987) (TV Movie)
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988) (TV Series)
Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988) (TV Movie)
Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988) (TV Movie)
Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights (1994) (TV Movie)
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999) (Video)
The Scooby-Doo Project (1999) (TV Short)
Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000) (Video)
Scooby-Doo: Classic Creep Capers (2000) (Video Game)
Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001) (Video)
Night of the Living Doo (2001) (TV Short)
What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (2002) (TV Series)
Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004) (Video)
Aloha, Scooby-Doo! (2005) (Video)
Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy? (2005) (Video)
Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! (2006) (Video)
Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! (2006) (TV Series)
Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! (2007) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King (2008) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Samurai Sword (2009) (Video)
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare (2010) (Video)
Scooby-Doo and the Spooky Swamp (2010) (Video Game)
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? (2019) (TV Series)
Scooby-Doo: Return to Zombie Island (2019) (Video)
Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost (2019) (TV Movie)
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)