The History of Scooby Doo
Scooby-Doo is an animated series produced for Saturday morning television in several different versions beginning on September 13, 1969 until the present. Over the years, the series has had several names and characters. The original 1969 series was called “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” It was created for Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears and character designer, Iwao Takamoto.
Hanna-Barbera produced numerous spin-offs and related works until being absorbed in 1997 into Warner Bros. Animation, which has handled production since then. Although the format of the show and the cast (and ages) of characters have varied significantly over the years, the most familiar versions of the show feature a talking dog named Scooby-Doo and four teenagers: Fred "Freddie" Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers.
These five characters (collectively known as “Mystery, Inc.”, but never referred to as such in the original series) drive around the world in a van called the “Mystery Machine,” and solve mysteries typically involving tales of ghosts and other supernatural forces. At the end of each episode, the supernatural forces turn out to have a rational explanation, typically criminal plots involving costumes, latex masks and special effects intended to frighten or distract.
Scooby-Doo was originally broadcast on CBS from 1969 to 1976, when it moved to ABC. ABC aired the show until canceling it in 1986, and presented a spin-off, “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo,” from 1988 until 1991. This series focused on the Scooby gang as children.
“What's New, Scooby-Doo?” aired on the WB Network during the Kids' WB programming block from 2002 until 2005. The current Scooby-Doo series, “Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!,” airs Saturday mornings on The CW network.
Repeats of the original series (“Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”), as well as second-run episodes of “What's New, Scooby-Doo?,” are broadcast frequently on the Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the United States and other countries.
The Birth of Scooby Doo and the Scooby Gang
Scooby was born in the 1960s. In 1968, a number of parent-run organizations, most notably Action for Children's Television (ACT), began vocally protesting what they perceived as an excessive amount of gratuitous violence in Saturday morning cartoons during the mid-to-late 1960s. Most of these shows were Hanna-Barbera action cartoons such as Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and The Herculoids, and virtually all of them were canceled by 1969 because of pressure from the parent groups. Members of these watchgroups served as advisers to Hanna-Barbera and other animation studios to ensure that their new programs would be safe for children. There was an additional motivation, an animated version of the Beatles had put on by a competing network and was beating the pants off the CBS Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
Fred Silverman, executive in charge of children's programming for the CBS network at the time, was looking for a show that would revitalize his Saturday morning line-up and please the watchgroups at the same time. Silverman had recently scored big with “The Archie Show.” Silverman was eager to expand upon this success, and contacted producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera about possibly creating another show based around a teenage rock group, but with an extra element: the kids would solve mysteries in between their gigs. Silverman envisioned the show as a cross between the popular I Love a Mystery radio serials of the 1940s and the popular early 1960s TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
Hanna and Barbera passed this task along to two of their head storymen, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, and artist/character designer Iwao Takamoto. Their original concept of the show bore the title “Mysteries Five,” and featured five teens (Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, and Linda's brother "W.W.") and their dog, “Too Much,” who were all in a band called “The Mysteries Five” (even the dog; he played the bongos).
When “The Mysteries Five” were not performing at gigs, they were out solving spooky mysteries involving ghosts, zombies, and other supernatural creatures. Ruby and Spears were unable to decide whether “Too Much,” who later became Scooby, would be a large cowardly dog or a small feisty dog. When it was decided that it should be a large cowardly dog, the choices were narrowed down to a large goofy Great Dane or a big shaggy sheepdog. It was all pretty fluid at this time, and the name of the show for a period was also "Who's Scared."
After consulting with Barbera on the issue, Too Much was finally set as a Great Dane, primarily to avoid a direct correlation to The Archies (who had a sheepdog, Hot Dog, in their band). Ruby and Spears feared the Great Dane would be too similar to the comic strip character Marmaduke, but Barbera assured them it would not be a problem.
Takamoto consulted a studio colleague who happened to be a breeder of Great Danes. After learning the characteristics of a prize-winning Great Dane. Takamoto proceeded to break most of the rules and designed “Too Much” with overly bowed legs, a double chin, and a sloped back, among other abnormalities. In other words, the dog we know and love as Scooby-Doo is the poorest specimen of a Great Dane. Of course, that is why we love Scooby.
By the time the show was ready for presentation to CBS executives, a few more things had changed. Two of the characters (Geoff and Mike) were merged into one character called “Ronnie.” Ronnie later became “Fred," at the direction of Silverman. The character Kelly was renamed to “Daphne,” Linda was now called “Velma,” and Shaggy (formerly "W.W.") was no longer her brother.
Using storyboards, presentation boards, and a short completed animation sequence, Silverman presented “Who's Scared?” to the CBS executives as the centerpiece for the upcoming 1969–1970 season's Saturday morning cartoon block. The executives felt that the show was far too frightening for young viewers and, thinking the show would be the same, decided to pass on it. On the plane ride back to Los Angeles, Silverman decided to rename the dog to Scooby Doo, rename the show, and make Scooby the star. Silverman believed these changes would take the focus away from frightening parts of the show.
Silverman had Ruby and Spears rework the show to make it more comedic and less frightening. They dropped the rock band element, and began to focus more attention on Shaggy and “Too Much.” According to Ruby and Spears, Silverman was inspired by the ad-lib "doo-be-doo-be-doo" he heard at the end of Frank Sinatra's interpretation of Bert Kaempfert's song "Strangers in the Night" on the way out to one of their meetings, and decided to rename the dog "Scooby-Doo" and re-rechristen the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
The birth of the Scooby gang is clearly influenced by “I Love a Mystery” and “Dobie Gillis.” Mark Evanier, who would write Scooby-Doo teleplays and comic book scripts in the 1970s and 1980s, identified each of the four teenagers with their corresponding Dobie Gillis character: “Fred was based on Dobie, Velma on Zelda, Daphne on Thalia and Shaggy on Maynard.” The similarities between Shaggy and Maynard are the most noticeable; both characters share the same beatnik-style goatee, similar hairstyles, and demeanours.
The revised show was re-presented to CBS executives, who approved it for production.
Scooby-Doo television series (The CBS years)
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! made its CBS network debut on Saturday, September 13, 1969 with its first episode, "What a Night for a Knight." Seventeen episodes of Scooby-Doo were produced in 1969. The series' eponymous theme song was written by David Mook and Ben Raleigh, and performed by Larry Marks.
The influences of I Love a Mystery and Dobie Gillis were especially apparent in these early episodes; Mark Evanier, who would write Scooby-Doo teleplays and comic book scripts in the 1970s and 1980s, identified each of the four teenagers with their corresponding Dobie Gillis character: “Fred was based on Dobie, Velma on Zelda, Daphne on Thalia and Shaggy on Maynard.” The similarities between Shaggy and Maynard are the most noticeable; both characters share the same beatnik-style goatee, similar hairstyles, and demeanours.
The roles of each character are also strongly defined in the series: Fred is the leader and the determined detective, Velma is the intelligent analyst, Daphne is danger-prone and vain, and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo are cowardly types more motivated by hunger than any desire to solve mysteries. Later versions of the show would make slight changes to the characters' established roles, most notably in the character of Daphne, shown in 1990s and 2000s Scooby-Doo productions as knowing many forms of karate and being able to defend herself.
The plot of each Scooby-Doo episode followed a formula that would serve as a template for many of the later incarnations of the series. At the beginning of the episode, the Mystery, Inc. gang bump into some type of evil ghost or monster, which they learn has been terrorizing the local populace. The teens offer to help solve the mystery behind the creature, but while looking for clues and suspects, the gang (and in particular Shaggy and Scooby) run into the monster, who always gives chase. Shaggy and Scooby are always then used a “live bait” to trap the monster in some Rube Goldberg-type plan hatched by Fred.
Although Fred's plan never works, the monster is caught by accident (usually caused by Scooby, Shaggy, or both). Once the monster is captured and after analyzing the clues they have found, the gang determines that this monster is simply a mere mortal in disguise. Upon learning the villain's true identity, the fiendish plot is fully explained, and the apprehended criminal would utter the famous catchphrase, or a variation thereof: “And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for you meddling kids!”
In 1972, after 25 half-hour episodes, the program was doubled to a full hour and called “The New Scooby-Doo Movies,” each episode of which featured a different guest star helping the gang solve mysteries. Among the most notable of these guest stars were the Harlem Globetrotters, the Three Stooges, Don Knotts, Sonny & Cher and Batman & Robin, each of whom appeared at least twice on the show. Hanna-Barbera musical director Hoyt Curtin composed a new theme song for this series, and Curtin's theme would remain in use for much of Scooby-Doo's original broadcast run. After two seasons and 24 episodes of the New Movies format from 1972 to 1974, the show went to reruns of the original series until Scooby moved to ABC in 1976.
The ABC years
On ABC, the show went through almost yearly format changes. For their 1976–1977 season, new episodes of Scooby-Doo were joined with a new Hanna-Barbera show, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, to create The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour. (It became The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Show when a bonus Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! rerun was added to it in November 1976.) This hour-long package show later evolved into the longer programming blocks Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics (1977–1978) and Scooby's All-Stars (1978–1979).
New Scooby episodes, in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! format, were produced for each of these three seasons. Four of these episodes featured Scooby's dim-witted country cousin Scooby-Dum as a semi-regular character. The Scooby-Doo episodes produced during these three seasons were later packaged together for syndication as The Scooby-Doo Show, under which title they continue to air. For the Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics and Scooby's All-Stars programming blocks, Scooby-Doo was packaged alongside Laff-A-Lympics, a new Hanna-Barbera cartoon featuring many of its characters in parodies of Olympic sporting events. Scooby-Doo appeared on the show as the team captain of the "Scooby Doobies" team, with Shaggy and Scooby-Dum among his teammates.
In 1979, Scooby's tiny nephew Scrappy-Doo was added to both the series and the billing, in an attempt to boost Scooby-Doo's slipping ratings. The 1979–1980 episodes, aired under the title Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, succeeded in regenerating interest in the show, and as a result the entire show was overhauled in 1980 to focus more upon Scrappy-Doo. Fred, Daphne, and Velma were dropped from the series, and the new Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo format was now comprised of three seven-minute comedic adventures starring Scooby, Scrappy, and Shaggy instead of one half-hour mystery.
This version of Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo aired as part of The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show from 1980 to 1982, and as part of The Scooby-Doo/Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour from 1982 to 1983. Most of the supernatural villains in the seven-minute Scooby and Scrappy cartoons, who in previous Scooby series had been revealed to be human criminals in costume, were now "real" within the context of the series.
Daphne returned to the cast for The All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show in 1983, which comprised two 11-minute episodes in a format reminiscent of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! mysteries. This version of the show lasted for two seasons, with the second season airing under the title The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries and featuring semi-regular appearances from Fred and Velma.
1985 saw the debut of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which featured Daphne, Shaggy, Scooby, Scrappy, and new characters Flim-Flam and Vincent Van Ghoul (based upon and voiced by Vincent Price) traveling the globe to capture "thirteen of the most terrifying ghosts and ghouls on the face of the earth." The final first-run episode of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo aired in March 1986, and no new Scooby series aired on the network for the next two years. Reruns of previous Scooby episodes, however, continued to air, both as part of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Funhouse package and under the New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show banner.
Hanna-Barbera reincarnated the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cast as junior high school students for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, which debuted on ABC in 1988. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was an irreverent, zany re-imagining of the series, heavily inspired by the classic cartoons of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett, and eschewed the quasi-reality of the original Scooby series for a more Looney Tunes-like style. The retooled show was a success, and lasted until 1991.
The Scooby-Doo Influence
Scooby-Doo has maintained a significant fan base, which has grown steadily since the 1990s due to the show's popularity among both young children and nostalgic adults who grew up with the series. The show's mix of the comedy-adventure and horror genres is often noted as the reason for its widespread success. As Fred Silverman and the Hanna-Barbera staff had planned when they first began producing the series, Scooby-Doo's ghosts, monsters, and spooky locales tend more towards humor than horror, making them easily accessible to younger children. "Overall, [Scooby-Doo is] just not a show that is going to overstimulate kids' emotions and tensions," offered American Center for Children and Media executive director David Kleeman in a 2002 interview. "It creates just enough fun to make it fun without getting them worried or giving them nightmares."
In recent years, Scooby-Doo has received recognition for its popularity by placing in a number of "top cartoon" or top cartoon character" polls. The August 3, 2002, issue of TV Guide featured its list of the "50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time", in which Scooby-Doo placed twenty-second Scooby also ranked thirteenth in Animal Planet's list of the "50 Greatest TV Animals". Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! ranked forty-ninth in the UK network Channel 4's 2005 list of the "100 Greatest Cartoons of All Time". For one year from 2004 to 2005, Scooby-Doo held the Guinness World Record for having the most episodes of any animated television series ever produced, a record previously held by and later returned to The Simpsons. Scooby-Doo was published as holding this record in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.
Subsequent television shows and films often make reference to Scooby-Doo, for example Wayne's World and the television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which Buffy and her monster-slaying friends refer to themselves as the "Scooby Gang" or "Scoobies", a knowing reference to Scooby-Doo. (Coincidentally, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played Buffy, later played Daphne in the live-action movies).
Even South Park paid homage to Scooby-Doo in an episode entitled "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery". The Kevin Smith film, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, included a scene where Jay and Silent Bob are picked up in the Mystery Machine while hitchhiking and both they and Mystery, Inc., get "high" off of "dooby snacks". A plethora of other media properties have referenced or parodied Scooby-Doo, among them the TV Funhouse segment of NBC's Saturday Night Live, the online comic Sluggy Freelance, the FOX animated series, Family Guy and The Simpsons, and the Cartoon Network programs, Johnny Bravo, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and The Venture Bros.
Shaggy and Scooby also appeared in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, complaining to Matthew Lilard about how they were portrayed in the live action films.
In addition to the television show, Scooby Doo and the gang have made numerous videos. These Scooby-Doo videos include:
* Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998)
* Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999)
* Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)
* Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001)
* Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003)
* Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003)
* Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004)
* Aloha, Scooby-Doo! (2005)
* Scooby-Doo! in Where's My Mummy? (2005)
* Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! (2006)
* Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! (2007)
Some facts for this article came from Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Scooby-Doo," which was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scooby-Doo on December 3, 2007.