Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tooniversary: Scooby & Scrappy-Doo (1979)

ABC overhauled its Saturday morning lineup in 1979. Super Friends was cut back to a half-hour with the World's Greatest series, which was mostly loose adaptations of literary classics (i.e. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). The main attraction was the 90 minute Plastic Man series, which included season 2 of Fangface. Marvel Comics' Spider-Woman made her debut in what would be the last DePatie-Freleng series sold to ABC. And, then, they gave Scooby-Doo a nephew. Nice anniversary present.

Yes, Scooby was marking his 10th anniversary, and it was year 4 at ABC. With ratings falling due to the Laff-a-Lympics format and the oversized anthology series the previous 2 seasons, ABC was ready to send Scooby off to the kennel. Enter Scrappy-Doo, Scooby's pint-sized, pugnacious nephew, who was the diametric opposite of Scooby. Brave instead of scared, and more willing to aggressively pursue clues.

While ratings spiked initially, ABC suits mistook that spike for the public falling in love with the puppy. The apathy shown to Scrappy in subsequent years, including his being cast as the villain in the 2002 live-action movie, a fan-service bow to the haters on the internet, spoke contradictory volumes. Due to that misread, Fred (Frank Welker), Daphne (Heather North), & Velma (Marla Frumkin, who took over for Pat Stevens 2/3 of the way into the previous season) were written out, though Daphne would return a few years later, and Shaggy (Casey Kasem) would take Scooby & Scrappy here, there, & everywhere, finding real monsters along the way. However, this was more of a comical, not quite campy, reboot that hardcore fans of the franchise just weren't digging. Personally, I think some of the haters were pissed off that sexy Daphne was given what ended up being a 3 year vacation, and that the absence of the rest of the team during those three years was never explained.

Also, after the first season, Don Messick (Scooby) took over as Scrappy, as Len Weinrib left Hanna-Barbera for the 2nd time after a salary dispute. Weinrib, though, would still be heard from, as his DFE-produced Time For Timer shorts were still airing at the time. It's said that they had Messick dub over Weinrib's lines from the first season for reruns, but I can't be sure about that.

In 1982, the series was reformatted, coupled with Ruby-Spears' The Puppy's Great Adventures, a spin-off from Weekend Special, and one of the three shorts in the first half introduced another of Scrappy's uncles, Yabba-Doo (Messick again), whose name had more in common with The Flintstones, since it was part of Fred's catchphrase. Yabba & Scrappy's adventures were out West in a little place called Yucca Flats, which is where Scrappy was dropped off in the 2002 movie's flashback segment. Hopefully, Scrappy saved up his frequent flyer miles.

Due likely to fan demand, Daphne was brought back in season 5, retitled, The New Scooby & Scrappy-Doo Show, only to be renamed again as The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries the next season, a sign that the Doos' luck was running out after all. Yabba, though, was gone after 1 season.

Hewey1972 gives us a season 1 open:

Subsequent Scooby-Doo projects haven't shown Scrappy much love at all, again playing to the internet. Can Scrappy be rehabbed as a heroic character? Sure. It just requires a writer who can address the misplaced hate in a positive way, and the best way to do that is have Scrappy redeem himself. A mature, older Scrappy, seeking to make amends for his past mistakes, would be a good place to start. What do you guys think?

 Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

My Scrappy hate has cooled a great deal over the years, but I will still blame TPTB for introducing him when they could have beefed up the original gang and storylines. I know it wouldn't be until the late 80s/90s before animated shows would get more respect (in the form of more mature storylines and intelligent premises), but it was a disservice to phase out the rest of the gang just for the sake of Scrappy hijinx.

I'd be open to Scrappy reappearing if the character weren't the center of everything and perhaps not a regular. State Farm had him in a pic with Uncle Scooby in one of their ads, so they seem to have forgiven him!

hobbyfan said...

The story goes that they needed something to juice the ratings, since Scooby's numbers had dropped in the three years since he moved to ABC. Someone decided to put more emphasis on him with Shaggy & Scooby, at the expense of the rest of the gang. They ran with the three of them alone for three seasons (1980-3) before bringing Daphne back.

My take is this. There's a ton of stuff that can be classified as "untold stories" where they could've had Fred, Daphne, and/or Velma going it alone. That alone would be enough fodder for the next series.

However, as long as CN is run by know-nothing morons who crapped on the last series, a new Scooby is likely to either sink or swim based on how the PTB see it.

Marshalsify said...

hobbyfan said...

Eh? Care to enlighten me with more than a link?