Monday, September 15, 2014

Scooby-Doo and 45 Years, Too...part 2...

Earlier this year I published a blog about the Scooby franchise turning 45 this year. This past Saturday (September 13, 2014) was the exact date that Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? made it's premiere on Saturday morning television...45 years to the day!

It aired on CBS-TV for 2 seasons (1969-1971) and then in reruns for another season. The gang returned in all-new episodes for the 1972-1973 season, titled The New Scooby-Doo Movies. These episodes ran roughly 45 minutes (an hour including commercials). This is the version that has the gang meeting celebrities, both fictional and non-fictional. This incarnation ran 2 seasons also (1972-1974). After 2 seasons of Saturday morning reruns on CBS, the network soon dropped the series.

According to commentary from Fred Silverman from various interviews he's given about Scooby, once CBS dropped the series he picked it up for the ABC Saturday morning schedule. Fred Silverman had been instrumental at CBS in bringing Scooby to television in the first place...and how ironic that after moving to ABC he'd be instrumental in bringing the character back to the spotlight once more in a new series in the fall of 1976. In that series Scooby shared top billing with a new character, Dynomutt (a/k/a Dog Wonder) on an hour long series called The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Adventure Hour. Dynomutt ineptly solved crime with his super-serious, super hero partner/master, Blue Falcon.

In the meantime, Scooby would remain an ABC staple for the rest of it's Saturday morning network run (not counting cable-TV and off-network syndicated reruns) until the removal of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo from the ABC Saturday morning line-up in the early '90s. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo had ended production of new episodes in 1991 (after having debuted in 1988). Since the mid '90s Scooby reruns have aired on various cable-TV networks and beginning in the late '90s direct-to-video Scooby animated movies started appearing for retail purchase. All new half hour television episodes returned in 2002 in the appropriately named What's New, Scooby-Doo? and that series remained in production through 2005.

A live action theatrical series of films based on the Scooby franchise became financially popular...coexisting with the direct-to-video animated movies and the TV series that aired in the latter half of the 2000s. In 2010 a more adult/romantic fan-fiction interpretation of the characters took center stage in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. That series ran another 3 seasons (it's final episodes airing in 2013). The erratic scheduling of this series caused hat would have been a 2-season series to stretch into 3 seasons. There are 52 episodes of this incarnation (26 for season one, 26 for season two). However, Cartoon Network aired the show erratically and placed it on several hiatuses...causing significant air-date gaps (there would be a period of several months sandwiched between the airing of episodes). The final first-run episodes that aired in 2013 had actually been produced as early as 2011/2012.

Since the end of that series and the 45th anniversary date of Scooby's debut this past Saturday, the franchise lost one of it's legendary vocalists, Casey Kasem. From the debut of the series in 1969 through 1991 and once again from 2002 until 2005, Casey voiced the character of Shaggy Rogers (the most popular character on the series aside from Scooby himself). While it's a fact that Casey didn't voice Shaggy during the final two incarnations of the series (Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated) and previously had left the role in the mid '90s during the direct-to-video animated film era (Scott Innes, among several others, took over the role in the interim), Casey nonetheless remained strongly connected to the franchise. Casey returned to the role of Shaggy in 2002 and retired from the role after What's New, Scooby-Doo? ended production. He had a recurring role as Shaggy's uncle, Dr. Albert Shaggleford, in Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! (2006-2008), transmitting messages/clues to Shaggy and Scooby while he was on the run.

It's interesting to point out that in several episodes throughout the history of the series there have been rich relatives of Shaggy appear and ultimately be the focal point of a mystery. My guess is because Shaggy is suppose to represent a beatnik/hippie and be turned off by material possessions, what better way to invoke comical irony than to have Shaggy come from a long line of millionaires?!?

One of the earliest episodes to feature a rich uncle of Shaggy's is "The Loch Ness Mess", a 1972 episode guest starring The Harlem Globetrotters. In the episode the gang meet up with the Globetrotters while driving through the New England countryside and they all make their way to the mansion of Shaggy's uncle, Nathaniel, and are ultimately caught up in a mystery involving a sea serpent and the ghosts of Paul Revere and his 2 partners in crime. In a 1976 episode the gang visits another rich uncle of Shaggy's, appropriately named Shagworthy. He's also described as an eccentric millionaire that had a castle imported from England to the United States stone by stone. He's gone missing and is ultimately found by Scooby and the gang. This mystery is played out in the episode "Scared a lot in Camelot" (the villains are The Black Knight and Merlin).

In the Mystery Incorporated series Casey voiced Shaggy's father, Colton Rogers, in several episodes. Casey retired from the entertainment business not long after that series and of course, as you all should know by now, he passed away several months ago at the age of 82.

The voice cast throughout the history of the Scooby series is rather large and prolific.

The original voice of Scooby, Don Messick, passed away in 1997. He had been the voice of Scooby since 1969 and he remained the voice of Scooby through the end of A Pup Named Scooby Doo in 1991.

As previously mentioned, Casey Kasem passed away this past June and he had been the voice of Shaggy the longest (1969-1991, 1995, 1997, 2002-2009).

Frank Welker's voiced the teenaged Fred since 1969. The only animated depiction of Fred that hasn't been voiced by Frank is the child version of the character on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Frank became the official voice of Scooby beginning in 2002...a role he continues to play.

Prior to 2002, Scooby had been voiced in animated cartoons by Scott Innes starting in 1998 (Don Messick retired in 1996 following a career ending stroke). After Frank took over as Scooby in 2002, Scott continued to voice Scooby in a series of video games through 2006. Scott had also been the voice of Shaggy following Casey's departure from the role in the mid-late '90s. Scott voiced Shaggy in video game releases through 2009. Shaggy's current voice actor is Matthew Lillard (2010-present).

The female half of the gang, Daphne and Velma, don't have as many voice actresses in their history so it won't be as confusing/convoluted as the previous paragraph might appear to some.

Daphne's voice originally was supplied by an actress named Stefanianna Christopherson during the program's first season (1969-1970). Heather North became the second voice actress of Daphne in 1970 and she held this role on various Scooby incarnations through the early 1980's. She returned to the role in 2 direct-to-video Scooby animated movies in 2003: Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire and Scooby-Doo! and the Monster of Mexico. Kellie Martin voiced the child Daphne in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Mary Kay Bergman voiced Daphne in direct-to-video animated movies from 1997-2000 and her replacement, Grey DeLisle, has voiced Daphne ever since.

Velma's original voice actress is Nicole Jaffe (1969-1974). Pat Stevens became the second voice of Velma in the mid '70s (1976-1979). After this, Velma's appearances (as well as Fred and Daphne) became sporadic. Velma's next voice actress happened to be Marla Frumpkin for brief, non-recurring appearances through 1984. The child version of Velma on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was voiced by Christina Lange. B.J. Ward became the next voice actress associated with Velma. She voiced the character in the string of direct-to-video animated movies in the late '90s (1997-2001). Mindy Cohn (Natalie from the 1979-1988 sitcom, The Facts of Life) became the next voice of Velma in 2002. She's been the voice ever since.

Aside from those that gave voice to Scooby and the four teenagers there have been other voice artists that have contributed to the franchise...one in particular, John Stephenson. I'll spotlight his contributions on the next Scooby 45th anniversary blog entry that I post later today...be on the look-out for it!!

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