- "Scooby-doo" is also British naval divers' slang for "civilian sport scuba diver".
Scooby-Doo is a long-running animated series produced for television by Hanna-Barbera Productions from 1969 to 1986, 1988 to 1991, and from 2002 to the present day. Originally broadcast on CBS (1969–1976), and then on ABC (1976–1986, 1988–1991), it is currently broadcast on the WB Network during the Kids WB programming block. Repeats of the older seasons, as well as second-run episodes of the current series, are broadcast frequently on Cartoon Network in the USA and other countries.
Though the format the show and the cast (and ages) of characters have varied significantly over the years, the most familiar versions of the show feature a Great Dane named Scooby-Doo and four teenagers: Fred "Freddie" Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers (from whom the contemporary reggae artist Shaggy took his name). These five characters make up "Mystery, Inc," an organization that drives around the world in a van called the "Mystery Machine," and solves 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 (usually a criminal of some sort attempting to scare people away so that he/she could commit crimes). Later versions of the show featured different variations on the supernatural theme of the show.
Creation and development
Starting in 1968, a number of parental watchdog groups 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 action cartoons such as Space Ghost and The Herculoids, and virtually all of them were cancelled by 1969 because of pressure from the watchgroups. Members of these watchgroups had begun to serve as advisors to Hanna-Barbera and other animation studios to ensure that their new programs would be safe for children. In 1968, then-CBS executive in charge of children's programming Fred Silverman was looking for a show that would revitalize his Saturday morning lineup and please the watchdog groups at the same time. The result was The Archie Show, based upon Bob Montana's teenage humor comic book Archie. Also successful were the musical numbers The Archies performed during each program (one of which, Sugar Sugar, hit #1 on the Billboard pop chart in September 1969). 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 sort of 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 bongos). When "The Mysteries Five" weren't performing at gigs, they were out solving spooky mysteries involving ghosts, zombies, and other supernatural creatures. Ruby and Spears couldn't decide whether to make their dog a large goofy Great Dane or a big shaggy sheepdog. 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 big shaggy sheepdog, Hot Dog, in their band).
Takamoto consulted a studio colleage who happened to be a breeder of Great Danes. After learning all of the characterisitics of a prize-winning Great Dane from her, Takamoto preceeded to break every rule, giving Too Much spots (no Great Dane has spots), bowed legs, and a double-chin, among other abnormalies.
By the time the show was ready for presentation by Silverman, a few more things had changed: Geoff and Mike were merged into one character called Ronnie (later re-named Fred), Kelly was renamed to Daphne, Linda was now called Velma, and Shaggy (formerly W.W.) was no longer her brother. Also, Silverman, not being very fond of the name Mysteries Five, had rechristened the show Who's S-S-Scared? Using storyboards, presentation boards, and a short completed animation sequence, Silverman presented Who's S-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 presentation artwork was far too frightening for young viewers, and, thinking the show would be the same, decided to pass on it.
Now without a centerpiece for the upcoming season's programming, Silverman turned to Ruby and Spears, who reworked 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 an ad-lib he heard in Frank Sinatra'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-rechristened the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The new and improved show was re-presented to CBS executives, who greenlit it for production.
Ratings success and follow-ups
Main entry: Scooby-Doo series guide.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was a major ratings success for CBS, and they renewed it for a second season in 1970. In 1972, 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. After two seasons of the New Movies format, the show went to reruns of the original series until Scooby moved to ABC in 1976.
On ABC, the show went through almost yearly format changes, including the additions of characters (Scooby-Dum from 1976 to 1977 and Scrappy-Doo from 1979 on) and the subtraction of others (Fred and Velma were absent from the series between 1980 and 1983 and in 1985, and Daphne was missing from the show between 1980 and 1982). After its sixteenth season on the air and its thirteenth first-run season of new episodes during the 1985–1986, ABC cancelled Scooby-Doo. H-B reincarnated the Mystery Inc. gang during their junior high days for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (ABC, 1988–1991), and the original version of the gang was updated for the 21st century for What's New, Scooby-Doo? (Kids WB, 2002–present.)
Reruns of the show have been in syndication since the mid-1980s, and have also been shown on cable television networks such as TBS Superstation (until 1989), and USA Network (as part of the USA Cartoon Express from 1989 to 1994). In 1993, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, having just recently ended its network run on ABC, began reruns on the Cartoon Network; the other versions of Scooby-Doo joined it the following year and became exclusive to Turner networks such as the Cartoon Network, TBS Superstation, and TNT. When TBS and TNT ended their broadcasts of H-B cartoons in 1998, Scooby-Doo became the exclusive property of both Cartoon Network and sister station Boomerang.
Telefilms and direct-to-video features
From 1986 to 1988, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced Hanna-Barbera Superstars 10, a series of syndicated telefilms featuring their most popular characters, including Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons. Scooby-Doo, Scrappy-Doo, and Shaggy starred in three of these movies: Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987), Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988), and Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988). In addtition, Scooby-Doo and Shaggy appeared as the narrators of the made-for-TV movie Arabian Nights, originally broadcast by TBS in 1993 and later released on video as Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights.
Direct to video features
Starting in 1998, Hanna-Barbera (by then a subsidiary of Warner Bros.), began producing one new Scooby-Doo direct-to-video movie a year. These movies featured a slightly older version of the original five-character cast from the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! days, and disregards the later Scrappy-Doo years as non-canonical. The movies include Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999), Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000), and Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001). The success of these movies led to Scooby's return to Saturday morning, What's New, Scooby-Doo?, and Hanna-Barbera continued the series of Scooby movies with Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire (2003), Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico (2003), and Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster (2004).
Deviations from Scooby-Doo formula in these films
A number of these Scooby-Doo telefilms and direct-to-video feature the gang encountering actual supernatural beings. In Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988) (set during the early-1980s Scooby and Scrappy-Doo series), Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy-Doo sign up as gym teachers for Miss Grimwood's school for girls, only to find is actually a school for GHOULS, where the trio end up teaching the daughters of the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, The Werewolf, The Mummy and The Phantom of the Opera. In Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998), the gang (who had disbanded) reunite for one last mystery, they accidently stumble upon an estate in Louisiana owned by a trio of malevolent cat demons, who steal the life-force of living people to stay young, and their zombie slaves. Also, in Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost (1999), the gang are invited to Oakhaven by a famous horror writer, Ben Ravencroft, where they discover that the ghost of his ancestor, who was persecuted as a witch, is haunting the town. Though the witch ghost is initially revealed to be a fake, it turns out that his ancestor really was a witch, and Ben uses her spellbook (rediscovered with the aid of the gang) to bring her back from the grave.
Live-action Warner Bros. feature films
A live-action feature film version of Scooby-Doo was released by Warner Bros. in 2002. The cast included Freddie Prinze Jr. (Fred), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Daphne), Matthew Lillard (Shaggy) and Linda Cardellini (Velma). Scooby-Doo was created on screen by CGI special effects. Scooby-Doo was extremely successful, with a domestic box office gross of over $130 million. In March 2004, a sequel followed entitled Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, which earned $84 million at the U.S. box office.
The Scooby influence
The show is responsible for many pop-culture catchphrases, such as "Scooby Snacks" and "if it weren't for you meddling kids I'd have gotten away with it" (alternatively, "I would've got away with it if it wasn't for those pesky kids!", sometimes with "...and their dog!" added for emphasis), traditionally said by the culprit when caught. The question of Velma's name (Velma or Thelma) has even been the subject of Internet polls.
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 movie.) Even South Park paid homage to Scooby-Doo in an episode entitled Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery. TV Funhouse poked fun at the Pup Named Scooby Doo depiction of the characters at a younger age with its own, even younger-aged version, Fetal Scooby Doo. In 2002, the online comic Sluggy Freelance featured a weeks-long guest strip culminating in the reincarnation of the Scooby Gang from other comic characters.
There is a long tradition of subtle inclusion of adult themes in children's media, especially cartoons. Here are some conjectured adult themes in the Scooby-Doo television series.
Scooby Gang as "Potheads"
It is often mentioned that there appear to be veiled drug references in the series. The Scooby gang do bear some resemblance to potheads, and the authors of the show have admitted to allowing some degree of ambiguity to develop around this issue, while never explicitly showing any of the gang taking drugs. This can be considered fanon.
- Shaggy and Scooby always being hungry.
- Their passion for 'Scooby snacks'—could these really be just dog biscuits? (this was referenced in the song "Land Of a Million Drums" by OutKast featuring Killer Mike and Sleepy Brown, featured on the Scooby Doo movie soundtrack)
- The mystery machine being covered in pictures of flowers.
- The gang's inability to solve the obvious cases (excepting Velma).
- An episode of the series Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law on the Cartoon Network (which now owns the characters) featured Shaggy and Scooby being arrested for "possession" while laughing uncontrollably in a smoke-filled Mystery Machine. However, they were innocent of the charges, and the show made no explicit references to cannabis.
- The paranoia experienced by Shaggy and Scooby, despite the fact that they had both been involved in the foiling of dozens of so-called spirits. Yet in each new episode they experience fear right up to the moment of the unmasking of the villian.
- Shaggy always said "like" to the extreme, e.g. "Zoinks! Like Scoob, let's get outta here!!"
- Scooby and Shaggy were always the ones in the back of the van, although it was suggested that the two were too busy eating.
Fun Lovin' Criminals built on this rumor, releasing a song about being "wacked out on Scooby Snacks."
Sexual relationship between Daphne and Fred
Daphne and Fred almost always pair off to 'look for clues' together at some point in the show. In the Scooby-Doo film, this idea is self parodied.
Velma a lesbian?
Fans have long speculated that the frumpy, no-nonsense and not-very-feminine Velma is a lesbian. The reasons for this suspicion basically boils down to two points:
- Velma is quite butch, both in manner and dress, especially when compared with Daphne.
- She is never shown with a boyfriend (at least not until the motion picture).
It has often been suggested that Velma has a crush on the clueless Daphne. Additionally, Velma has a considerable fan base among real-life lesbians, who see her as one of their own. The idea of Velma as a lesbian is parodied in the 2001 motion picture Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Cartoon Network seems to deny this, and offered Velma to be the girlfriend of Johnny Bravo, a hero of another (more recent) show bearing the same name. The offer was well-presented in at least two Cartoon Network's self-made stub animations.
Original TV series
- Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969–1972, CBS)
- The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972–1974, CBS)
- The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (1976–1977, ABC)
- Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics / Scooby's All-Stars (1977–1979, ABC)
- Scooby and Scrappy-Doo (1979–1980, ABC)
- The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show (1980–1981, ABC)
- The Scooby-Doo/Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour (1982–1983, ABC)
- The All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983–1984, ABC)
- The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries (1984–1985, ABC)
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985–1986, ABC)
Spin-off TV series
- 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 live action theatrical releases
Orignal Scooby-Doo series / General
What's New, Scooby-Doo?