Monday, October 31, 2011

Toon Legends: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969)

He is Hanna-Barbera's last iconic creation of the 60's, introduced in 1969. 42 years later, Scooby-Doo has logged plenty of miles with his Mystery, Inc. teammates, with no signs of slowing down.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? was meant as a complement to The Archie Comedy Hour in luring teens & young adults to CBS, even though the two were produced by different studios. Originally conceived as a musical-mystery-adventure series in the same vein as Archie's Filmation stablemate, The Hardy Boys, over on ABC, the series underwent a number of revisions in pre-production before CBS finally bought the show. Scooby, in fact, got his name after Fred Silverman, then the head of programming at CBS, heard the scatting at the end of Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night".

While the current Mystery, Incorporated series, presently on hiatus on Cartoon Network until the lamebrains there decide to begin the next slate of episodes, has rebooted the franchise and alienated some long-time fans in the process, it's good to know the classic series remains accessible, even if the formulaic plotting became tired rather quickly.

Titro99 uploaded the season 2 open, performed by singer-songwriter Austin Roberts, using a faux British accent.

The differences between the classic series and the current one are easily identifiable. Team leader Fred (Frank Welker) was clearly defined as such from day one. Beginning with the 2002 live-action movie, the character was gradually dumbed down such that the current reboot has him as a trap-happy knucklehead who took forever to realize his true love was his leggy teammate, Daphne Blake, not his obsession with traps. In contrast, Daphne has gone from being the prototypical damsel in distress to being more self-aware and savvy, and, as shown in the movies, can do her fair share of butt-kicking. Velma, Shaggy, & Scooby have remained basically the same straight through.

Luckily for old school fans, WB continues to produce a direct-to-video movie in the traditional format on an annual basis, so fans disenfranchised by the current series have a safe haven to turn to.

Scooby spent 7 seasons at CBS before moving to ABC in 1976, and spent 10 there before getting yanked off the air with the cancellation of the 13 Ghosts series in March 1986. The franchise was revived with A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, which lasted 3 seasons on ABC from 1988-91, and it would be 11 years before Scooby would return to Saturday mornings with all-new material.

Understandably, for Halloween, Boomerang scheduled a marathon of the classic series today. Hope you've had a chance to catch up.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

My favorite cartoon growing up!

Sure, when I watch it now, it seems both dated and formulatic but much of the format survives in cartoons in the present day.

The current series, "Mystery Incorporated" borrows heavily from the original series, and I think it succeeded the most with its spooky atmosphere. Joe Ruby & Ken Spears even admitted SDMI is much closer to what they originally wanted to do had the money and time been available back in '69.

What's also amazing about this series is how it has endured over the generations. You can safely let kids of any age watch and not worry about anything inappropriate and surely someone will get a laugh out of it.

I find it funny how all sorts of legends have been build up around the show or crazy guesses as to what the gang does off screen (Shaggy being a stoner and Velma living an "alternative lifestyle" being the most prevelent) and you have to wonder how a kid's show could inspire that.

Ultimately, I favor this incarnation since it started everything leading to the present, but SDMI is close to it since it deconstructs much of what SDWAY built up.

hobbyfan said...

"Deconstructs"? Demolishes is more like it, but we've discussed the Mystery, Inc. series in the past, and I've stated my case as that is concerned. The original series, as you noted, Magicdog, is age-appropriate, but then, back then, you couldn't push the envelope on a Saturday morning show.......

As for the so-called "urban legends" about the original series, the one I have the most trouble with is the supposition of Velma's "alternative lifestyle". There is no evidence at any time in the course of the franchise's 42 year history that suggests this. Such suppositions are the product of small minds with little else to do on a slow day. As for the claim of Shaggy being a stoner? Nonsense!

Does being scared compel someone to eat more? That would be a better topic to debate in re.: Shaggy, don't you think?

Scoobyfan1 said...

Not much needs to be said about Scooby Doo Where Are You in my mind, other then it's one of my favorite Scooby series, and I still love it.

Definitely a classic, and well deserved of that honor as well.

hobbyfan said...

Amen to that.