By 1969, Hanna-Barbera was in a world of trouble. They had dominated the film short industry with Tom and Jerry in the 40s, the 50s had brought them their own studio with hundreds of successful shorts (while introducing millions of fans to the likes of Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and Top Cat, to name a few), and "The Flintstones" had been their major breadwinner throughout the 1960s.
But now they were searching. Television had moved beyond the short sketch comedy that H-B's shorts had complemented nicely, and was now looking for full shows. Hanna-Barbera's market was slowly shifting towards children, but many people said the studio just wasn't in touch with what kids wanted. Series after series failed to impact the ratings.
Veteran voice actor Daws Butler suggested making a show about a gang of teenagers. He himself had taken this idea from the son of a friend, who had recommended Enid Blyton's Famous Five series about four kids and a crimefighting dog. The writers took his idea and fleshed it out, making the kids more representative of the new hip teenaged generation. The studio asked Butler to provide the voice of the dog for the show.
Butler did his best, but it just didn't click. Other actors were called in: Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, Frank Welker (who eventually won the job of Freddy), and Bill Scott all gave it a try, but the studio wanted a voice that wasn't over-the-top - but still distinctly doglike. Eventually, they turned to Don Messick, who had voiced Astro on "The Jetsons."
When he started that jowly-cheeked "ruff ruff" speak, I knew we had it. It was sensational!
Scooby-Dooby Doo, Where Are You?
We got some work to do now
Scooby-Dooby Doo, Where Are You?
We need some help from you now
I see you
Pretending you got a sliver
You're not fooling me
Cause I can see
The way you shake and shiver
You know we've got a mystery to solve
So, Scooby-Doo, get ready for your act
Don't hold back
And Scooby-Doo, if you come through
You're gonna have yourself a Scooby Snack
That's a fact
Here are you
You're ready and you're willin'
If we can count on you
I know we'll catch that villain.
Theme, "Scooby-Doo Where Are You?"
The show was a modest success, but in those days, that was all Hanna-Barbera needed. The gang of five (Freddy, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and the one and only Scooby Doo) went from town to town, consistently finding impressively disguised petty thieves with enough elaborate machinery and free time that one can't help but wonder if a well-advertised garage sale wouldn't've cleared up some of those financial worries ...
First, the characters:
- Freddy Jones (Frank Welker), the ascot-wearing, tough-talking but slightly dunder-headed ringleader. He always drove the Mystery Machine, and whenever the gang split up, he ended up with the ladies. Smoove move, Fredster.
- Daphne Blake (Season 1: Stefanianna Christoperson, others: Heather North), the wide-eyed, danger-prone (Jet-Poop) yet underestimated redhead. Often the fear negotiator of the group, offering Shaggy and Scooby Scooby Snacks until they agreed to do her bidding. Yowza!
- Velma Dinkley (Nicole Jaffe), bookworm, lesbian icon, and all-around investigator. From her catchphrase "Jinkies!" to the inevitable dropping of her glasses (guaranteed mistaken identity hilarity to ensue!), Velma was always the practical one, and she always knew who the villain was before everyone else (albeit 20 minutes after you figured it out.)
- Norville Rogers (Casey Kasem - yes, *THAT* Casey Kasem), aka Shaggy, fraidy-cat, symbolic pothead (Exhibit A: his never-ending appetite), and Daphne's cousin. His raspy "Zoinks!" and his expert Abbot & Costello scene-stealing shenanigans with Scooby made him a fan favorite throughout the show.
- The lovable "Rooby Rooby Roo!" Scooby Doo, voiced by Messick. As if a talking Great Dane weren't enough, this dog frequently proved it was the best actor of the bunch, feigning sickness, tiredness, fear, and anger with equal bits machismo and cornball. He was at his best when his inadvertent heroism and/or clumsiness would net the bad guy in the end.
The particular incarnation "Scooby-Doo, Where are You?" actually had two birthdates:
- The first lasted two seasons, 1969 and 1970. In 1971, the first season was shown in achronological repeats.
- The second reappearance of the gang was in 1978, where it showed at the perfect Saturday morning hour of 8 in the morning. This section only lasted one season, although it is important to note that all of these episodes continue to live on in syndication on Cartoon Network.
The Episode Guide
Season 1 (1969)
What a Night For a Knight
While walking home from a movie, Shaggy and Scooby spot the Black Knight and an abandoned truck belonging to a missing archaeologist. The gang ends up at the museum where the scientist worked and are chased by the Black Knight. An exciting biplane adventure reveals the Black Night to be the museum's curator, whose night hobby is art theft.
Hassle in the Castle
Note to self: Heavy Fog + Boat = Haunted Castle. After crash-landing on an uncharted beach, the gang sees the ghost of Vasquez the Pirate searching for his legendary lost treasure. The "ghost" turns out to be a magician scaring people off so HE can search for the treasure. Much fun is had by all as the wizard explains to the cops how he nearly decapitated Freddy with one of his many tricks!
A Clue For Scooby-Doo
While Scooby goes surfing, he runs into the ghost of Captain Cutler. A mystery ensues, and the gang discovers a secret cove where Captain Cutler (still very much alive) is hijacking ships and looting them for fun and profit.
Mine Your Own Business
Traveling into an old mining town (one of the grooviest things you could do in 1969!) they discover the evil Miner 49er is scaring away business. After obscenely long chases through repeated backgrounds of mines, it's revealed to be Hank, the main hotel in town's concierge, who has found oil and wants it all for himself.
Decay for a Dognapper
A serial dognapper leads the gang to disguise Scooby as a prized dog: when Scooby is taken, the gang narrowly saves him from doom on a train track. Eventually, they meet an evil witch doctor in a deserted Indian village (!) who warns them. They, being the meddling kids that they are, ignore him and eventually reveal the dognapper to be one of the original owner "victims" who wanted to win. Best In Show's got nothing on this guy.
What the Hex is Going On?
Visting friend Shannon Wetherby's mansion, they learn her Uncle Stewart has been hexed to grow old before his time. When Shannon is kidnapped, they fear the worst. All's well that ends well, however, as it is revealed Uncle Stewart was faking so he wouldn't have to share the will.
Best gag: Scooby waking the gang with a bugle.
Never Ape an Ape Man
In one of the most surreal Scooby-Doo adventures, Daphne's uncle J.J. Maxwell is a movie director. He hires the gang as extras in his picture about an ape gone wild. Unfortunately, the ape man in his movie is accosted by a real ape, who ends up in his place. Chaos follows. There's no real mystery here, per se, but it certainly is fun watching Scooby's anthropomorphic tail tap him on the shoulder to let him know someone's behind hi.
Foul Play in Funland
The gang is out searching for clams on the beach (all pot having been thoroughly smoked) when Daphne notices the lights of nearby Funland have come on. They investigate, and soon find a robot lurking about the place. The robot goes a tad nuts, and after things are defused, Sarah Jenkins, the owner's daughter, admits she messed with Charlie (the robot) because "robots should not be in parks with children."
The Rage Backstage
One of the best episodes ever, if only for its use of metapuppets - twice the group runs into what appear to be normal people who operate puppets, but when they return, they find out that the people were actually puppets themselves. Creepy! It's all about a scary theater phantom, who turns out to be your average bank robber trying to make a hideout.
Bedlam in the Bigtop
If you weren't scared of clowns before, this pretty much settles that debate. A clown with the powers of hypnosis is ruining the circus! He even gets Scooby to walk the tightrope. Eventually it's revealed to be a rival circus owner. How gauche!
Factoid: Don Messick was holding out for more pay at this point, so over half of Scooby's lines were delivered by Daws Butler. It's very obvious.
A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts
In one of the great monsterfests, Franken Castle is imported "brick by brick" from Transylvania. Apparently, the monsters came with it, as the gang's visit is interrupted by Frankenstein's monster, Count Dracula, the Wolfman, and a ... gypsy? Another non-mystery thriller, and a particular favorite for the "mistaking-Frankenstein's-menacing-growl-for-a-hungry-stomach" bit.
Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too
To complete the homage to 1930's horror, this episode features a mummy brought over from Egypt. When he escapes and begins turning museum personnel into sandstone, the gang investigates. Turns out it's one of the assistants, who is trying to stash some secret loot.
Which Witch Is Witch
One of the more ingeniously written episodes. Lost on the backroads, the gang encounters a zombie! Investigating further, they also meet a witch who threatens them. More chasing and hilarious sight gags (the zombie in a wig) ends up revealing that the zombie and witch robbed an armored car many years ago, sunk it in a swamp, and were now retrieving it. Too bad those pesky kids intervened!
Spooky Space Kook
"Out of fuel!" The gang stops at local farmhouse for help, but the farmer thinks they're reporters there about the "ghost spaceship" (as opposed to a non-ghost spaceship.) Chased by the Kook, it finally turns out the Air Force is interested in building an airfield nearby, and the farmer's neighbor is dressed as the Kook to scare him off so he can make the real estate killing. Devious!
Go Away Ghost Ship
More ship hijacking! C.L. Magnus, shipping magnate, is losing business because the evil ghost Red Beard, whom his ancestors tracked down 300 years ago, is back for revenge. They end up on Red Beard's ship, where the MOST ASBURD COMEDY ever goes on. Ghost pirate stew, tickling with eggbeaters, a liverwurst duel, plungers, a jackhammer mistaken for a pogo stick, and a pile of tires all play an important part in this episode. You can tell once the writer(s) got cooking, there was no stopping them. Eventually, it's revealed Magnus *is* Red Beard, hijacking his own ships for the insurance.
Best gag: The improv creation of "ghost pirate stew" - Cobwebs, seawater, stove ashes, soap, and .. chains.
A Night of Fright Is No Delight
Scooby's off-screen heroism pays off as Colonel Beauregard Sanders leaves him part of his fortune in his will - if he can spend one night in the haunted mansion. The relatives all turn up missing (and are later shown dead in coffins!) due to a mysterious chain-rattling phantom shadow - until Scooby and the gang notice this ghost leaves a lot of human clues. It's revealed to be Sanders's old butler, trying to make off with the money himself. The money, it turns out, is Confederate money. And those dead bodies? Just dummies, folks.
Show on a budget: At one point, a clue suggesting "FEED the organ" turns out to mean play F-E-E-D on the pipe organ in the study. Velma clearly plays an arpeggio instead, but the secret passage reveals itself all the same.
That's Snow Ghost
Mr. Greenway, the local ski resort owner, warns the vacationing gang about a Snow Ghost in the area. The gang investigates, and finds out Mr. Greenway is using a local logging factory to smuggle jewels into Canada and dresses as the Snow Ghost to scare away would-be meddlers.
Best gag: Scooby coming up with a cast and gurney on cue to fake a broken leg and avoid investigating duties.
Season 2 (1970)
Nowhere to Hyde
The gang runs into a jewel thief - the ghost of Edward Hyde! Later they meet Dr. Henry Jekyll, great-great-grandson of the original Dr. Jeykll. Although all of the clues point to his mysteriously masculine Eastern European housekeeper Helga, it turns out Jekyll is just putting on an act as an excuse to be a thief.
Mystery Mask Mix-Up
Finally, some hippie culture! While the gang watches fireworks on Chinese New Year in San Francisco, Daphne buys a strange golden mask - but wait! It's ancient, and some hooded zombies want it back. On with the chase (set to Davy Jones's "I Can Make You Happy") before it's revealed that the mask has smuggling info on it - and was sent to the wrong store.
Fun with stereotyping!: Scooby and Shaggy dressed as Chinese waiters, complete with buck teeth and "flied lice" accent.
Jeepers, It's the Creeper
Heading to the barn dance, the group stumbles on a bank robber. Here we are introduced to the best villain in Scooby history: The Creeper! How does he walk through walls to rob a locked bank? Ahh, the trick is he has a trained monkey inside who unlocks it for him. Silly monkey, you can't outsmart Scooby!
Scooby's Night With a Frozen Fright
While fishing Scooby makes the big catch - a frozen caveman! Put on display, it gets a lot creepier when the caveman thaws and goes AWOL. Of course, it turns out one of the museum's curators just wanted the REAL caveman for his private collection.
The Haunted Horse Hang-Up
A gasoline shortage again forces the gang into harrowing distress. Passing the haunted mansion of the Headless Specter, the Mystery Machine overheats, and they head up to the house for water. A rendezvous with the Specter leads to more Davy Jones-themed screwball chase scenes and the discovery that the specter is the grandson of the owner, who was looking for treasure and didn't want to be bothered.
Velma: The non-material embodiment or essence or organism that is seen as a specter, wraith or apparition has been scientifically proven to be a sheer myth. In other words, there is no such thing as a ghost!
Shaggy: Yeah, but do the GHOSTS know that?
A Tiki Scare Is No Fair
The group apparently saved up enough money for a fun trip to Hawaii, but it's cut short by the appearance of Mako Tiki tia and an evil witch doctor. Their tour guide vanishes, and the gang gets to bottom of things - turns out diamond smugglers nearby just want to scare off the kids.
Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Werewolf?
Stumbling upon the open grave of Silas Long ("half man/half wolf"), Scooby and Shaggy are frightened by the man, apparently back to life and in full lupine form. Eventually the clues lead to a nearby sheep rustler, who floated the sheep down river in inconspicuous barrels to a partner at the other end.
Don't Fool with a Phantom
Noted for the first appearance of the successful chart hit "Pretty Mary Sunlight," this show featured Scooby and Shaggy doing their "Toffee Twist" on a popular TV dance show. But when the lights go out and the studio's safe is robbed, the gang goes on the case. A huge glowing wax phantom menaces them, but of course it's only the greedy host of the show himself, eager to retire. Ahh the curse of celebrity ..
Season 3 (1978)
For now, these'll just be teasers. As I catch them on the air, I will fill this in.
Watch Out! The Willawaw!
A Creepy Tangle in the Bermuda Triangle
A Scary Night with a Snow Beast Fright
To Switch a Witch
The Tar Monster
A Highland fling with a Monstrous Thing
The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face
Jeepers, It's The Jaguaro
Make a Beeline Away from That Feline
The Creepy Creature of Vulture's Claw
The Diabolical Disc Demon
Scooby's Chinese Fortune Kooky Caper
A Menace in Venice
Don't Go Near the Fortress of Fear
The Warlock of Wimbledon
The Beast Is Awake in Bottomless Lake
Here are the other Hanna-Barbera productions based on Scooby Doo (and the gang, in varying degrees):
- http://www.execulink.com/~joelb/scooby/episodes - episode guide