Thursday, July 30, 2015

RR A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

Do you remember a fad back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when every cartoon seemed to revolved around baby versions of famous characters? After the Muppet Babies they kept churning out baby-versions like The Flintstone Kids, Tom & Jerry Kids, Tiny Toon Adventures - heck I'd even count The Rugrats to go after a similar subject.

After Scrappy-Doo ruined all the fun, somehow Hanna-Barbera thought what we really needed was to see Scooby-Doo as a pup.

Scooby-Doo - where are you?! Right here:

Name: A Pup Named Scooby-Doo  
Created by Tom Ruegger
Original run 1988 - 1991
Genre Comedy/Adventure/Mystery animated series

Throughout the 1980s Scooby-Doo was put into all kind of situations, which mean by the end of that decade Scooby-Doo cartoons shared barely any links to the original series. It was time to go back to basics - while providing a new fresh take at the same time if possible.

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo is officially the 8th incarnation of Scooby-Doo, but it's really the 4th real revision of the show following Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.

This 1988 show was developed by future Tiny Toons and Animaniacs creator Tom Ruegger and it aired on ABC for four seasons until 1991. 

By the end of the first season, much of the production staff including Ruegger himself left Hanna-Barbera for Warner where they would contribute to revive the Warner Bros. Animation studio, beginning with Tiny Toon Adventures

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was imagined as a much more comedy take on Scooby-Doo.

The gang were now portrayed as Junior High kids. The series finally brought Fred and Velma back (they had been taken out of Scooby-Doo shows in the 70s some time after Scrappy-Doo's introduction). A Pup Named Scoobs returns Scooby to the classic formula from the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! series. With our heroes now seen running the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency instead of the "future" Mystery Inc., solving supernatural mysteries in their town of Coolsville. The villains are once more depicted as ghosts and monsters who turn out to be bad guys in rubber masks.

The show follows the various adventures Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred and Velma get into each week.

Each character has a well defined personality, more so than is past cartoons. They actually have some different personality traits where prior versions were far simpler and "static" if you will. 

Each new episode some ghoul or creature causes some havoc, Scooby & the gang propose their services and end up solving the mystery. You know, classic Scooby-Doo. Strangely we even see Shaggy and Scooby-Doo hire the Scooby-Doo Detective Agency once, and they apparently have to pay their friends for some reason! At first, Fred always blames this kid appropriately named Red Herring (because, of course he's named red herring), but that annoying stereotypical 90s bully is always innocent - expect that one time Fred didn't accuse him!

The classic musical sequences return. We get these comedic montages of all the characters running around, pausing to dance around vintage-style pop rock. And Scooby Snacks are back too (poor Scooby even seems dangerously addicted to those in this show..)!

The tone is definitively a lot more wacky and comedic, knowingly playing Scooby-Doo's usual tropes. 

Season 1 was composed of 13 episodes that aired in 1988. Season 2 lasted for 8 episodes in '89. After that Season 3 only lasted for 4 episodes in '90 and a final 4th Season of 5 episodes in '91.

The shows featured all kinds of ghouls, monsters and demons. We got very silly ones like a giant hamburger, a molten cheese monsters, etc. But also the ghost of Al Capone set on a revenge against a TV station, a samurai ghost after a sword, an ice demon, "Chickenstein", an alien slug, a phantom clown, an evil cook.. You get the idea!

Scooby and Shaggy even had their own superhero persona they use whenever they need a boost of courage, after their favorite comic we get to see in one of the very first episodes taking place in a comic convention, Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt!!

The show saw the characters slightly updated to the 90s (although, not to the same extant they would be in What's New, Scooby-Doo? in the 2000s). 

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo brought Scooby back to the same original formula, with the only real change being the characters being portrayed younger and with it a lot more  humor. It's a more comedic lighter cartoon with a ton of jokes, sight gags and more slapstick than ever. 

Despite the Junior High School cast, the whole gang is and acts basically the same as their older incarnations. They stayed relatively similar. The show also gets pretty fun whenever we get a glimpse into their personal life, what their family and life look like. It's always fun to get a little look at that part the original show completely avoided through A Pup Named Scoob'.

There are a ton of running jokes, much of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo's humor rely on repetition. How Daphne is always avoiding getting her hands dirty, Velma only starting to talk late into the episodes with a first "Jinkies!" as they get first clue, how the villains would have all gotten away with it, too, if not for those pesky kids and that puppy, characters breaking the fourth wall all the time, etc.

The show stars a pretty decent cast of voice actors. Carl Steven as our self-appointed leader Fred Jones, Kellie Martin as Daphne, Christina Lange as Velma, the inimitable Casey Kasem as Shaggy (and all kinds of other additional voices) and Don Messick as Scooby-Doo (and other voices as well). On a sad note, this would be the last series to star Don Messick as the voice of Scooby-Doo, by this point Messick and Casey Kasem were the only two remaining voice actors from the original Scooby-Doo show.

A Pup Named Scooby-Doo was a pretty fun series.

A really enjoyable funny show, taking a much more comedic route that would remain in much of the later future Scooby-Doo productions.

I really like the nods to 1950s culture since this show's supposed to tale the childhood of the original Mystery Inc. gang that would star in th 1969 series. (Sort of matching the age the characters would have then.)

The show has a real appreciation for 50s rock culture. From the rock and roll-style chase sequences in the style of the original Scooby-Doo, Where are You! The show has some really fun music composed by veteran John Debney, really groovy!

All in all it remained constantly decent. With a pretty good art direction, decent animation for the usual flair at the time, even including some neat little sequences here and there.

The series was entirely released on DVD into 7 standalone volumes as well as "complete seasons packs". With the 13 episodes of the 1st season getting their own separate release, while the 17 remaining episodes of the 2nd, 3rd & 4th Seasons on a separate set.

Overall, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo is a pretty good show. It was a lot better than it had any rights to be, considering the premise!

With some really decent animation and quality. Great chara design while remaining faithful to the classic show and making its own thing at the same time. The show has a fun stylized wacky/exaggerated look going on (think classic Looney Tunes rather than traditional Hanna-Barbera cartoons). And despite the premise it turned out easily one of the better incarnations of Scooby-Doo out there. Always funny and entertaining, Recommended to any cartoon fans! It's simply a great show!

Sure, it doesn't offer anything new really and it's a bit silly and generic, but compared to some other Scooby-Doo shows (past and present) this was a much needed breath of fresh air for the characters, bringing the show back to its roots and one of the better exemples of the generic "turning characters into children" formula overused back then (Muppets Babies, etc).

Shortly after that, Scooby-Doo and the gang would be put on hold never to be seen the following decade (all the way through the "cartoon renaissance of the early 1990s). It took a live action film to bring the characters back in the following iteration - What's New, Scooby-Doo? in 2002.

The show would be referenced in What's New, Scooby-Doo? once, in a flashback episode showing Velma's 5th birthday. And the series would receive a sort of spiritual sequel/tie-in in the form of a puppet-animated direct-to-video film Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map in 2013!

I give it:
2 / 3 Felixes!


  1. Nice review man. I already pointed this out but a nice mention to Scott Menville (Robin) of voicing Red Herring since it was his early voice roles.

    But you seem to forget Frank Welker who's also one of the original cast and he's the last one of the original show who's still working.

  2. I remember this show. It was cute. Even though I thought that Fred looked weird.

    1. He always looked more like a kid Archie than Freddie to me here.