Friday, March 29, 2013

Rein-Toon-Ation: The Scooby-Doo Show (1976)

After 8 years on CBS, Scooby-Doo moved to ABC as part of a revamped Saturday morning lineup that saw Scooby's creators, Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, return to Hanna-Barbera after a 4 year absence, during which time they'd worked at DePatie-Freleng and 20th Century Fox, the latter on a live-action primetime series (Planet of the Apes), and develop two series for their original employers in Jabberjaw & Dynomutt, the latter of which was coupled with Scooby in a hour-long block.

The format was pretty much the same, with Mystery Inc. at a random location to solve a randomly developing mystery. You might as well have been stocking up on color-by-numbers books, since they were actually more entertaining.

However, the producers added to Scooby's family by introducing two cousins--Scooby-Dee, an aspiring actress, and Scooby-Dum, a Mortimer Snerd-inspired dullard who was about as sharp as stale cheese. Unfortunately, Scooby-Dee wasn't used as often, as there were only one or two movie-centric stories out of the 40 episodes produced over three seasons. Dum & Dee, oh by the way, seem to have faded into obscurity in recent years, since the writers of the DTV movie series have not seen fit to bring them back.

Following is the open used in syndication during the 80's. Shaggy (Casey Kasem) tries to sing. Stress tries.

Now, while most people seem to think the franchise jumped the shark with the debut of Scrappy-Doo in 1979, it may have actually happened with Scooby-Dum. Like, did you really think a great dane with the IQ equivalent of an average person's shoe size actually fit in with his cousin and his friends? The sad part is, when Scrappy---and later, Yabba-Doo---came along, Dum & Dee were sent far, far away, and so we never saw the whole Doo family together until much later.

Rating: B-.


magicdog said...

I agree that the series was faultering before the arrival of Scrappy - and this is proof.

Scooby Dumm always got on my nerves as a kid, and why did Scooby Dee enunciate so well whereas her kin didn't? Personally I don't miss their presence.

This was the time in which TPTB could have gone in a slightly different direction. They could have gone into more realistic clue hunting (not unlike Clue Club) and having done tests on what they found. Instead they went for the easy out.

Looking back, I can't help but think this ep is a rewrite of sorts of the Impossibles' short, "The Bizarre Batterer". Same basic plot (star player goes missing), different sport.

hobbyfan said...

I'd have to look up the Bizarre Batterer to see if you're right about that.

The feeling I get is that they had a winning formula, and got complacent. In 1976 alone they introduced Clue Club AND Jabberjaw, and the former was easily the better show, since it fight right in with primetime crime dramas of the day like Barnaby Jones and Hawaii 5-0. That complacency ultimately has hurt, though few will ever cop to it pre-'79.