Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dog of the Geek: Scooby-Doo!

Scooby-gang-1969Breed: Great Dane

Original Appearances: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969, CBS)

Other Appearances: Way too many other TV shows to count, as well as countless comics, books, toys, records, and more!

Scooby's biography has been revised and altered way too often to make a whole lot of sense sometimes. According to the spin-off series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-1991), Scooby was adopted by Norville “Shaggy” Rogers as a puppy when Shaggy was a child – although given the natural lifespan of Great Danes, it doesn't seem likely that Scooby would've still been around when the Mystery, Inc. gang were teenagers/young adults and traveling the country in the Mystery Machine. Still, he is a cartoon character, so this could be ignored. Anyway, it was established in that show that Scooby's real name is “Scoobert,” with Scooby being a nickname (much like Norville's nickname of Shaggy is used). The Mystery, Inc. gang was formed in the city of Coolsville, and they were solving mysteries even as children. This series was played much more wild and wacky than the other Scooby productions. Anyway, by the time the gang had grown older, they'd purchased the Mystery Machine van (presumably repainting it themselves, although it was never established that was the case) and traveled the country, solving mysteries that involved an apparent ghost that always turned out to be a scam being done to cover some other nefarious activity. Though the later New Scooby-Doo Movies (where Scooby and the gang would team up with other cartoon characters or real-life celebrities), the gang continued to expose hoaxes. Eventually, some of Scooby's relatives were introduced, such as cousin Scooby-Dum. Where Scooby's continuity gets weird again is in the Laff-A-Lympics series, where he headed up a team of cartoon characters to vie against two other teams (mostly comprising of previously-existing Hanna-Barbera characters) in Olympics-styled events. There was no commenting at all that I'm aware of by Shaggy or Scooby about the oddity of dealing with the other anthropromorphic Hanna-Barbera characters like Yogi Bear. In the 1979 series Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, the much-hated Scrappy was introduced as Scooby's nephew. As this series progressed, Fred, Daphne and Velma were dropped from the show, and some real supernatural menaces were introduced. By 1983's All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, Daphne had been returned to the program, with appearances by Fred and Velma during the course of the show. In 1985, there was no more fake ghosts at all... they were real, as Scooby, Scrappy, Shaggy and Daphne traveled the world to capture 13 escaped ghosts in “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo.” There were also three movies, Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers (1987), Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf (1988), and Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School (1988) produced, with the original gang plus Scrappy, with real supernatural menaces.

It seems that when Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island (1998) was made, reuniting all the original Mystery, Inc. gang (thankfully minus Scrappy), it was decided that just about everything from Laff-A-Lympics onward was out of continuity, as it was established that the gang broke up some years back because they never could find any real ghosts. Daphne, a television reporter at that time with Fred as her assistant/director, decided to do a TV series called “Haunted America,” in which she'd finally find real ghosts. Fred called the gang back together to help out, but they still only encountered ghostly scams, until the gang encountered zombies and cat-people later in that film. Subsequent movies had other supernatural as well as alien creatures for the gang to contend with.

However, the continuity was revised again when the 2002-2006 series What's New, Scooby-Doo? aired, going back to the original format. Then again, the 2006 Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue varied the format again. The current series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is a complete reboot of the concept, although the original character designs are maintained.
The live-action movie's continuity is another matter entirely, which I refuse to even think about.

Scooby could speak clearly enough that humans could understand him, although of course most of his words began with the “r” sound (like predecessor Astro from The Jetsons). Scooby could also put on clothing as needed (despite the lack of opposeable thumbs), and had a voracious appetite.

Group Affiliation: Mystery, Inc.

Miscellaneous: Don Messick was the original voice for Scooby. Hadley Kay, Scott Innes, and Neil Fanning have also done Scooby's voice, with Frank Welker taking over the role (Frank was the original voice for Fred as well, and continues to do it to this day). The Scooby-Doo series was originally intended as a cross between the old I Love A Mystery radio serials and the TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and had the original title of Mysteries Five, with an entirely different cast. That group had a dog called Too Much, although it was undecided if the dog would be cowardly or brave. By the time Hanna-Barbera got around to presenting the show to Fred Silverman of CBS, most of the characters had been changed to the versions we're familiar with nowadays. Silverman never liked the original title, and renamed the show Who's S-S-Scared? But CBS executives felt the show would be too scary, and decided to pass. Too Much became Scooby-Doo after someone (either Fred Silverman, Bill Hanna, or Joe Barbera... different sources say different things) was listening to Frank Sinatra's recording of “Strangers in the Night,” at the end of which Sinatra improvised the “Scooby-doo-be-doo” bit. This inspired the change of the dog's name, and after some other format changes and a name change to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? the show was approved, and Scooby would go on to become what is likely Hanna-Barbera's most popular character ever.

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