Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Scooby...

I couldn't do an animation blog without including Scooby-Doo and for all the jokes and spoofs the series has gotten and still receives every so often, it's a series that will continue to thrive in one form or another. I am partial to the original versions that aired into the mid 1980's. The child version, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, was entertaining as well. I was not that fond of the last versions primarily because the 2002 revival changed the series charm and the dialogue made the characters self-aware with jokes about their own pop-culture identities and it often departed from the formula. The formula being: four kids and their dog travel the country in their van solving mysteries. Although that formula is cliched and although the series is the basis for numerous spoofs because of it's formula-based stories, when it's all said and done, it's Scooby-Doo and what more is there to expect?

Scooby-Doo hit the CBS-TV airwaves in 1969 and it ran for two seasons: 1969-1970, 1970-1971. The show's full name is Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and according to the show's producers the show was a combination of all sorts of teenage programs all rolled into one. The Archies was one inspiration...Fred representing the 'Archie' character while Velma represents the 'Betty' character...Daphne representing 'Veronica'...and Shaggy representing 'Jughead'. Also, Dobie Gillis is often cited as an inspiration because of the show's teenage approach. The beatnik character of Maynard Krebbs being an inspiration for Shaggy. The live-action drama, The Mod Squad, was another inspiration for the show as those teenagers traveled around in a bus solving mysteries. Ironically, too, is Scooby's full title was inspired by Car 54, Where Are You? an early 1960's comedy series about two police officers. The Scooby-Doo 'name' was thought up by Fred Silverman after listening to Frank Sinatra's hit song "Strangers In The Night". At the end of the song, Sinatra sings "doobie doobie doo...doh doh dah dah dah..." and so Silverman christens the dog, "Scooby-Doo", and it's main theme song carries the famed "Scooby doobie doo" lyric. The series that became Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? went through a series of tests and had various character changes and name changes before it hit the air. The kids travel in a van decorated with flowers, a symbol of the late '60s hippie culture, and they call it The Mystery Machine.

The series returned to the air with new episodes in 1972 under the name The New Scooby-Doo Movies and this series teamed the gang with a special guest each episode. Actors and actresses voiced animated versions of themselves. This series is one of the more talked-about and a lot of the episodes have been issued on DVD. Several of the episodes have never been released on DVD because the actors/actresses involved signed contracts back then allowing them partial owership over the episodes they appeared in. This version of Scooby ran until 1974. There was no more new Scooby produced for CBS afterwards. The series went into re-runs on that network and it was ultimately canceled. Fred Silverman had left CBS and went to ABC-TV at this time and he bought the Scooby show after CBS dropped it.

New Scooby shows started to air on ABC in 1976 and new episodes would continue to pop up throughout the rest of the decade and into the early 1980's. Scooby's nephew, Scrappy-Doo, became a big part of the series at the turn of the decade. Scrappy is one of the most hated characters because of the way the character breaks up the coward formula that Scooby and Shaggy both share...Scrappy's catch-phrases are "Puppy Power!!" and "Let me at 'em!!". He's also prone to saying "splat!" when describing what he wants to do with criminals and ghosts. Two ensemble programs, Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics and Scooby's All-Stars, aired in 1977-1979. These programs spoofed the Olympics and ABC sports. Scooby was the captain of the Scooby-Doobie team. Yogi Bear was the captain of the Yogi Yahooey team. Mumbley was the captain of the Really Rottens team. The series was 90 minutes in length and it featured a half hour Scooby cartoon from previous seasons, a new Scooby half hour adventure produced exclusively for this series, plus the half hour Laff-a-Lympics segment.

After these programs went out of production, Scrappy was introduced in 1979 and further adventures would consist mainly of Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy solving mysteries in short-subject adventures, usually two eleven minute adventures each episode. There was one season where Scooby and the gang, including Scrappy, all solved mysteries together in a formula similar to the original concept...but by 1981/1982 Fred, Daphne, and Velma were written off the show. Daphne made a return in 1983 episodes...but the series had drifted so much from the original concept of four teenagers and their dog solving mysteries. There was even a version that focused on Scrappy in the wild west with a character named Yabba-Doo, Scooby's brother.

After four seasons of producing short-subject episodes, 1979-1983, there was a new half-hour adventure with Scooby in 1985, The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo which featured Vincent Price. This series left the air in 1986. ABC ended it's 10 year run of Scooby cartoons in 1986 and the series went into syndicated reruns thereafter, never to return to network TV with new episodes ever again.

But...that wasn't end of Scooby...

Scooby and the gang returned three seasons later in 1989 in child form. Inspired by the success of The Muppet Babies and other cartoons that came along after that show debuted in 1984 which featured kid-versions of adult characters, Scooby and the gang were brought back in child form on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. This series ran for two seasons, 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 before going into re-runs. ABC continued airing the show for two more seasons, consisting of re-runs during 1991-1993.

After this series was taken off the ABC schedule in 1993, Scooby was off network TV for good, or, as of this writing, 11-12-08. It's a safe bet to say the series won't make a return to network TV. Network TV refers to the channels owned by CBS, NBC, or ABC. Cable TV is another story however...

Scooby made a return to animation in 2002 on the cable TV network, The WB. What's New, Scooby-Doo? debuted in 2002 as a result of the success of the Direct-to-Video Scooby films of the mid to late 1990's. This series had a longer run than any previous version, remaining in production through 2006. This series marked the return of the core line-up: Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby solving mysteries. These episodes, as I touched upon at the start of this blog, were borderline satire on how pop-culture views Scooby and it's characters blending into self-awareness and parody instead of sticking with the original formula. The characters were patterned, visually, the way they appeared in the late 1990's Scooby video movies. The animation was did in the Warner Brothers style, instead of the classic Hanna-Barbera style. During the run of this 2002-2006 series, a live-action version was released to theatre's. It became a box-office hit as did it's sequel. A network known as The CW aired an updated Scooby cartoon patterned after Scooby's appearance in the live-action movies. This series was called Shaggy and Scooby-Doo: Get a Clue and it was a parody of Austin Powers movies. That series lasted two seasons.

Some of the catch-phrases:

"Scooby-Doo!! Where are you???"- often said by Shaggy in the early versions and used in the main theme in most versions of the show; Scooby's a cowardly Great Dane.

"Would ya do it for a Scooby snack?"- this line was most often said by Velma trying to coax cowardly Scooby into being brave. A Scooby snack is simply a dog treat but humorists tend to tie it in with a drug reference.

"Scooby doobie doo!!"- this was said by Scooby in a rush of excitement or at the close of each episode.

"Zoinks!!"- Shaggy

"Jinkies!"- Velma

"Jeepers!!"- Daphne

Fred never actually had a one word catch-phrase like the other three but he did use a line, or a variation of that line, on every episode...

"Let's split up and look for clues"

"Dum, Dum, Dum, Dum"- Scooby-Dum

"Puppy Power!", "Let Me at 'Em!", "Splat"- Scrappy-Doo

Last but not least...the villains would utter...

"And I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!!"

and another one was...

"And I would've gotten away with it if you kids and that dog hadn't shown up!!".

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