Sunday, August 3, 2014

RR Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

Here's a blast from the past!

Let's jump into the Mystery Machine with the Scooby-gang, and solve some mysteries!

Name: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! 
Created by Joe Ruby & Ken Spears
Original run 1969-1978
Genre Comedy/Horror/Mystery/Adventure animated series

Who doesn't know the show's premise? I believe everybody knows about Scooby-Doo, one way or another.

This long running Hanna-Barbera series has been adapted into so many different shows, movies, video games & other pieces of merchandising over the years, while the original show from the 1970s still continue to make kids dream all over the world ever sine.

And it all started with this original show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, created by Joe Ruby & Ken Spears in the late 60s. (I also still wonder to this day why the exclamation mark, wouldn't "Where Are You?" make more sense?)

And the original show wasn't even going to feature Scooby himself in it at all!

The show first aired in 1969, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was created by Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Ruby and Spears. At the time, Hanna-Barbera wanted to produce a much calmer non-violent cartoon for childen, so kids around the US could watch something different to better appeal to parent groups who were strictly against all these superhero cartoons of the 1960s.

On the first drafts, it was originally going to be titled Mysteries Five. Which was later changed to Who's S-S-Scared? before we ended with the now more familiar "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!". Along the way it also went through several changes. It was originally basically inspired by The Archie Show and would have followed this music group composed of 4 teenagers at first. A coward dog was added due since the show was deemed to frighting at first.

It was quickly established as a fairly typical Saturday morning cartoon, following four teenagers - Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Norville "Shaggy" Rogers and their great dane dog named Scooby-Doo. On the road they would solve all these supernatural mysteries.

Series creators Joe Ruby and Ken Spears supervised all the episodes and established a roughly pretty simple very formulaic structure for every episode of the show.

The Mystery Inc. gang is driving on the road aboard their Mystery Machine mini-van. Whenever they arrive at the new destination they get some trouble (the van overheating, a flat tire, etc.), and so they are forced to enter this large propriety (a mansion, a motel, a ski lodge..) where the local place is having a problem with a supposedly monster (a ghost, vampires, etc.).

The gang would split. Fred and/or Velma would find the first clues, Daphne would get into some kind of danger, Shaggy & Scooby would find some food... and the monster!

Then a chase!

Some clues lead to the conclusion the monster was no doubt a fake. They would set a trap (designed by Fred). And finally the monster is captured - accidentally - when Scooby and Shaggy fail to follow the plan.

"And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!!~"

The monsters were always some kind of supernatural or alien creatures. They ranged from killer ghost to witches, UFOs, zombies, etc. But always turn out to be some kinda of wronged guy in a cheap rubber mask nobody would notice to be a costume at first. (So I suppose the gang was open to the idea of the monsters finally turning out to be a real one... like monster/ghost chasers?)

The mysteries were never too difficult to actually solve - the show was aimed at children!

There always mostly only was the one suspect introduced in each episode, and despite that they tried to also throw in a couple of easy to spot red herrings.

The bad guy was running an entire elaborated sham for money or to get their hands on some kind of treasure.

The bad guy chased the gang, before the gang chased the monster back.

While nostalgia plays no doubt a big role in way many, many people still love Scooby-Doo dearly to this day, you can't ignore the great chemistry that was between these characters.

The cast was diverse enough (despite being all-white and basically hippies) and fun, a large enough appealing group. They all had great dynamic between them and interacted well together (even though it always felt like Fred was looking for a way to stay with Daphne while sending the rest of the group away).

Scooby and Shaggy were the heart of the show, brothers in the face of danger... or food!

The characters owed a lot to Iwao Takamoto first. Takamoto was the main designer on the show, and he did a lot of great work on the fantastic environments of this series. For the most part they still hold up quite well to this day compared to any of the other aspects of this show. There always was a great creepy atmosphere from the backgrounds alone!

But the characters also got a lot from their respective voice actors over the years.

The blond, buff and brave Fred Jones was voiced by the great talented Frank Welker. The redhead beauty Daphne Blake who always ended up getting in some kind of trouble while still looking good was voiced at first by Stefanianna Christopherson and later on Heather North. The nerdy Velma Dinkley, super smart and the brains of the team was voiced originally by Nicole Jaffe and later Pat Stevens.

Shaggy the "beatnik" of the group was fantastically voiced by Casey Kasem, who also did several more voices on the show.

And finally Scooby himself was imortalized by the great Don Messick who also did a lot of background voices here and there.

Little known fact, the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Scooby-Doo's first animated series, only ran for two "real" Seasons, and a later additional short 3rd Season.

The show originally first aired on CBS from 1969 to 1976.

This covered the first two seasons for a total of 25 episodes.

It was later moved to ABC which started making some new material along the old reruns.

This second run of these last 9 episodes from 1978-79 compose the official 3rd Season of the show.

They would start making new material in the form of The New Scooby-Doo Movies along a rebranded "Where Are You!" under the title of "The Scooby-Doo Show".

ABC would continue to air the original show until it was finally canceled in 1986, and replaced by a first spin-off featuring the characters as children, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, from 1988 to 1991.

Sure, it wasn't brilliant at times.

The show suffered from limited animation, like most Hanna-Barbera productions. But they tried making it fun and captivating enough you could ignore that fact.

It was always fun following the clumsy Scooby-Doo along his best pal, the nervous Shaggy. And the lovely Daphne and smart Velma. Going around the country in their groovy van, solving mysteries.

There were some questionable decisions like the very cheesy Scooby Snacks sequences which were downplayed over the episodes (and years in the later spin-off/sequel series).

The annoying laugh tracks would be removed from later syndications in the 1980s, but it has since been added back in the original series' re-releases.

Some rock songs were added on Season 2. Chase scenes had great rockin' music from the time, produced by La La Productions also behind the music from Josie and the Pussycats, basically self-produced stock songs performed for the show by Austin Roberts.

The show quickly got a fantastic reception at the time, much better than any previous Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Josie and the Pussycats or Captain Caveman. Just look at the quantity of material still produced around Scooby & the gang to this very day!

It marked entire generations and has since become a landmark in Western animation!

Overall, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a well worth Recommended iconic cartoon that still holds a dear nostalgic value to most.

Despite the cheap animation budget, the questionable laugh track and redundant episodes formula. Despite all the recycled animations and the cheap production values, it turned out to become one of the most memorable and the best Hanna-Barbera productions that still hold pretty well to this day.

It's a great memorable show with great characters. Everybody's likable enough, with Fred perhaps being the only dullest of the bunch.

Fun stories for children and adults alike to enjoy! Who doesn't enjoy watching what hijinks Scooby and Shaggy will get into each week? There's always fun little stuff even adults can enjoy here and there!

The stories are never much developed or serious. It always involves a case of missing proprieties, people seeking revenge or payments for what they think they deserved. A ghost curse in some little obscure town. Or even meeting several Universal Classic Monsters!

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a well-known all-time favorite  classic cartoon! A landmark cartoon series!

There's been several follow-up animated series, a couple of live-action motion pictures, all sorts of merchandising objects, video games and a lot more!

Following the success of the original series Hanna-Barbera - and since then its successor Warner Bros. Animation - have produced many follow-up animated series, spin-offs, direct-to-video films and even theatrical features. Always playing on different variations on the original theme or adding gimmicks to more or less success such as the infamous nephew Scrappy-Doo.

Following the original years on the CBS, Hanna-Barbera produced several one-hour episodes with all kinds of guest stars, real or fictive, from the likes of Batman & Robin, to the Harlem Globetrotters or even the Addams Family, etc.

Then the original show started getting repackaged when it was brought onto ABC (from 1976 to '93). The crew at Hanna-Barbera finally made some new episode, which would be the above-mentioned Season 3.  They placed these new episodes along another Hanna-Barbera show to create The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour. That was followed by Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, basically more reruns the 1969 show. Finally all these original episodes would be repackaged once more as The Scooby-Doo Show to continue to air for a decade.

Finally some new material finally aired in 1979 where they added Scooby-Doo's nephew Scrappy-Doo introduced along this new series that ran from 1979–1980 under the new title Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, which would get restored to full half-hour episodes under a second title The All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show in 1983, closer in tone to the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! episodes.

This 2nd version of a Scrappy-Doo show would be the final one following the original formula, no more proper follow-ups would replace it and from then one all-new shows have been their own new animated Scooby-Doo series, using their own set of rules, always shaking up the concept and twisting the formula while providing actual new material from now on.

The first new show after that was The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo in 1985 and then followed by A Pup Named Scooby-Doo in 1988.

Since then there's been several telefilms, new incarnations of the original concept or reimagining of the show, direct-to-video films along continuous reruns of the original Where Are You! over the decades, and the same goes for all these shows all over the entire world!

There's been 2 theatrical big-budget live-action films, and two smaller direct-to-video ones. Several video games and much more!

Nowadays the new cartoons are produced directly for Cartoon Network with the most recent iteration being Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which aired from 2010 to 2013 and a new planned series is already announced for this fall, Be Cool Scooby-Doo!

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Felixes!

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