Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tooniversary: Clue Club (1976)

After 8 seasons, Scooby-Doo & the kids of Mystery, Incorporated packed their Mystery Machine and left CBS for ABC in 1976. Scooby would last 10 years at ABC before finally getting a vacation. Meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera filled the void at CBS by tweaking the formula just a wee bit.

Unlike Mystery, Incorporated, the teens of the Clue Club remained in one unnamed city for the entire duration of their series. Further, the two boys & two girls (Larry, DD, Dottie, & Pepper) were all siblings, and had not one, but two dogs, Woofer & Wimper (voiced by Paul Winchell & Jim McGeorge, respectively), which provided the necessary comedy relief. Dottie, the youngest, was also a child prodigy and remained in the family garage, which the Club used as their HQ. Their parents were never seen, and the only parental figure that ever interacted with the kids was Sheriff Bagley (John Stephenson), who was to them what Commissioner Gordon has been to the Batman for eons, a trusted ally.

Unlike Scooby-Doo, Clue Club, which launched in August of 1976 for reasons we'll get to later, put more emphasis on procedural detective work, as Larry, Pepper, & DD not only hunted for clues, but interviewed potential suspects in the same manner the sheriff would. Larry (David Jolliffe) did most of the interviewing, as the eldest of the 4 sibs, but it was Dottie that put all the pieces together. Unfortunately, only 1 season of 16 episodes was produced. As we've documented before, the episodes were edited down the next year to emphasize Woofer & Wimper, Dog Detectives as part of the Skatebirds anthology series. The series was restored and returned to the schedule in 1978 for another run of repeats. It currently is in rotation on Boomerang as part of the Those Meddling Kids anthology block.

Clue Club's early bird launch in 1976 was because, in this writer's view, CBS felt they had a huge hit, and wanted to showcase it before the US Open tennis tournament, which would tie up the network's Saturday morning block for 2 weekends every year (and still does).

Here's the open:

This is what a detective cartoon is supposed to look like. Unfortunately, the formula's been lost at WB.....

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I used to like this series because of Dottie!

One thing this show got right was not only finding clues but examining, testing and identifying it in a lab setting. Dottie was so cool being the go to girl for putting the clues together to solve the mystery. I imagine she would have grown up to work in forensics or as an analyst.

After having viewed a few eps recently I got annoyed with the "monsters" that seemed to appear in costume, not unlike Scooby Doo. Considering the gang was working from a more scientific angle, we shouldn't have seen that. It seemed very out of place.

hobbyfan said...

I think some of the costumed crooks were there so people could see that Clue Club was another derivative of Scooby-Doo. The fact that it was family-based, as was the case with Devlin 2 years earlier, may have doomed the CC to a short run, but CBS wanted to max out its availability, hence the repackaging the next season.