Friday, March 13, 2015

On DVD: Scooby Goes Hollywood (1979)

Ladies & gentlemen, I present unto you people's exhibit A as to why ABC ultimately changed the format for Scooby-Doo.

In the spring of 1979, ABC commissioned Scooby's 1st (and only) primetime special, Scooby Goes Hollywood, which allowed Hanna-Barbera the opportunity to parody some of ABC's primetime shows, including Charlie's Angels, Happy Days, & Donny & Marie, the latter of which was, I believe, ending its run around that time.

The plot calls for a little suspension of disbelief for hardcore Scooby fans. What looks like a normal episode of Scooby-Doo really has the gang on the set of their show, a la Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, if you will. Tired of retakes of hazardous stunts, Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and Scooby (Don Messick) decide the time is right to make a go at "the big time"---primetime, that is, and convince a network executive (Rip Taylor, The $1.98 Beauty Show) to let them screen a series of pilots that are actually the parodies I referenced. Each one is worse than the last. Take for example this excerpt, a pilot for Scooby Days.

Ironically, H-B would obtain a license for animated spin-offs of both Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley over the next two years. One interesting sequence has Fred (Frank Welker), Velma (Pat Stevens), & Daphne (Heather North Kenney, Days of Our Lives) recalling their first meeting with Scooby, a flashback that would be retconned out 9 years later with the introduction of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The trio then break into song, particularly a rewrite of the theme to the 1972-4 New Scooby-Doo Movies. Well, compared to Shaggy & Scooby's attempt at singing at the start, it's better than nothing.

This really wasn't my idea of a 10th anniversary salute to Scooby. A few months earlier, H-B & ABC served up another anniversary present in the form of, of course, Scrappy-Doo.

Where writers Duane Poole & Dick Robbins, two writers more closely associated with the Kroffts, failed was not allowing Shaggy to wear anything but his standard wardrobe. Would it have hurt for the ol' Shagster to break out a suit & tie?

Then again, H-B & ABC also whiffed on what would've been a real ratings blockbuster, pairing the Mystery Inc. team with the Super Friends, who could've stood the primetime exposure themselves. I would've taken that over this farce.

Rating: D-.


Scoobyfan1 said...

@Hobbyfan: Ugh, don't get me started on Scooby Goes Hollywood; not only do I not have the DVD, but I rarely watched it whenever it was on Boomerang, partly because it was in my mind incredibly dumb.

You mentioned having a team up between the Super Friends and Mystery Inc. as a primetime special, which would have been cool.

However, sometime back I thought of an idea that would have been an equally wonderful 10th Anniversary Special in prime time; ideally, I was thinking something along the lines of the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries TV episode The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom.

That episode(A two parter I believe) featured numerous cameos from then popular actors/actresses on then popular detective shows(Dennis Weaver as McCloud and one of Charlie's Angels, I forget which one though).

In my mind, a primetime special like that episode but featuring various teen sleuths from different Hanna Barbera shows(including Scooby and company) would have made for a fantastic 10th Anniversary special for Scooby Doo.

Of course such a special could also maybe feature animated cameos from some of ABC's then popular shows as well; something like that at least to me, would have made for a much better 10th Anniversary show then Scooby Goes Hollywood.

By the way, Scrappy Doo actually debuted first(in September of 1979), while Scooby Goes Hollywood debuted later(in December of '79 I believe).

magicdog said...

This could have been so much more!

I remember liking the idea that Scooby and the gang were just actors in a TV show, just as any live action series. It's the execution that went horribly wrong.

I do like Scoobyfan1's idea of the gang meeting up with other HB sleuths. Of course we didn't get that meet up until SDMI.

Maybe something good will come along for his 50th anniversary.

hobbyfan said...

@Scoobyfan1: The fact that Scrappy's not in this show led me to think this came before him. Then again, considering that season 2 of Scooby & Scrappy was more slapstick comedy on the order of this farce, well, that should take some of the blame off Scrappy's shoulders, shouldn't it now?

Aside from Laff-a-Lympics, Scooby never interacted with the Teen Angels, though Capt. Caveman would be part of that fever dream 32 years later on SDMI. Having the Teen Angels (H-B's answer to Charlie's Angels) appear in the "Scooby's Angels" skit would've been much more appropriate, but did Poole & Robbins think of that? Nope.

Of course, I've already done fan-fics at ToonZone where Scooby met some of the other sleuths, and if you think that was wack, stick around. A sequel is coming.

Silverstar said...

I remember spotting 'Scooby Goes Hollywood" as a kid when it came on in '79. I remember thinking, "Hey, a prime time Scooby-Doo special. This could be fun", boy, was I in for a surprise.

I remember how jarring the premise was to me, as the characters straight-up acknowledged that they were just characters on a TV show (I've never been a big fan of stories built around the shattering of the 4th wall); it was also the harbinger of what was to come: by this time Fred, Daphne and Velma had been branded 'disposable' and were more and more frequently getting tossed to the wayside in favor of the comic-relief characters of Scoob and Shag getting the lion's share of screen time. This is what ultimately led to those 6-minute shorts with just Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy emulating the Three Stooges, which was arguably the lowest point in Scooby's career.

And then there was that song that Fred, Velma and Daphne broke into. My jaw literally dropped to the floor.

The only one of the parody pilots that I remember was the aforementioned "Scooby Days", which caused me to groan even back then.

Goldstar said...

"Scooby Goes Hollywood" reminds me of one episode of ABC's "What's Happening!?" in which Rerun gets a job as an intern for ABC Studios for no other reason than it gave the writers an excuse to have the cast do parodies of other then popular ABC shows such as "Happy Days", "Three's Company" and "Mork & Mindy". ABC seemed to enjoy tooting their own collective horns back then.

hobbyfan said...

ABC was not afraid of letting some producers bite the hand that fed them, hence these parodies. Today, with Disney running the network, it might not work so easily.

Scoobyfan1 said...

@magicdog: so true, it could have been much more; it would be nice if there's something special done for Scooby's 50th Anniversary.

Unfortunately, between the WB writers unable to come up with original ideas that aren't just rehashes of older episodes/movies and Cartoon Network just not caring about Scooby Doo anymore and Boomerang not being available in as many households as CN, I just don't see Warner Brothers doing much for Scooby's 50th, which would be a total shame.

By the way, i'm glad you like my idea. I really need to write my fan fiction take on the idea I came up with that I mentioned.

Scoobyfan1 said...

@Hobbyfan: That's probably true. Having the Teen Angels would have been amazing as far as a cameo appearance in that special... but of course the writers would have never thought of that.

I did see that fan fic(which was amazing by the way); i'll definitely be looking forward to the sequel when it's written.

Someday i'll have to remember to write my own fan fic take on a meeting between all the HB sleuths like that Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys episode I mentioned(incidentally, I forgot that Casey Kasem was in it playing an actor who does a Columbo impression).

Also, I don't know if you know the website Deviant Art, but I have an account there as Scoobyfan1, and last night I composed a journal about Scooby Doo's past, present and future and what I think should be included and not included in future Scooby productions.

If I remember to, i'll post it as a blog on Toonzone as well.

hobbyfan said...

Y'mean Casey didn't just do Columbo as a 1-shot on the Dean Martin roast?

I'll have to look up that Hardys/Nancy Drew video. That could wind up here down the line.

I'm aware of DeviantArt. I thought it was just artwork by fans.