Scooby Doo

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An everyday tale of a crimefighting dog

Scooby Doo

Scooby Doo and the rest of his gang just qualified as children of the sixties, which is a little surprising given that Shaggy is obviously a hippie.  However the cartoon canine did not arrive on our screens until 1969.

 Fred Silverman was the Head of Daytime Programming at CBS at the time and he wanted a new show that could move away from the tired Superhero formula and take them into an area of comedy and adventure.  Silverman drew inspiration from a 1940’s radio show called “I Love Mystery” and a television sitcom called “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” which ran between 1959 and 1963.  The former featured three detectives who travelled the world solving crimes and mysteries and the latter concerned a scatterbrained teenager and his friends.  It isn’t hard to see how these elements were combined in Scooby Doo, Where are you?

 Silverman approached the already famous Hanna-Barbera with his idea, and they assigned writers Ken Spears and Joe Ruby to devise the characters, plots and story lines. Designer Iwao Takamoto was also involved at this very early stage.

  Originally the show was to be called “Mysteries Five” but later this working title evolved into “Who’s scared?” The original premise was that four teenage detectives would travel around America in a van; the Mystery Machine; and solve mysteries.  The teenagers were accompanied by a Great Dane, but he was not a prominent character at this early stage.

 The pilot for the show was presented to CBS president Frank Stanton with the idea that the show would air as a new Saturday morning cartoon in the autumn of 1969, but Stanton had immediate concerns with the artwork which he considered to be just too frightening.  The show was rejected.

 Silverman was not ready to give up on his show yet, and as he flew back to Los Angeles he was struck by a phrase being sung by Frank Sinatra on the in-flight headphones.  The song was “Strangers in the Night”, the phrase was “Scooby dooby doo”.   Using the phrase as inspiration, Silverman re-jigged the basic idea for his new cartoon. He changed the title to Scooby Doo, Where are you? and recast the cartoon Great Dane as the star of the show. 

 The new cartoon immediately took on a more comical element and became less frightening and mysterious.  A basic format for the plots was devised and this rarely changed: The gang travel in their Mystery Machine. They meet up with a ghost or monster that results in a curse. The gang are then chased around with some really groovy original music in the background.  They find clues that leads to the uncovering of the monster or ghost. In almost every show the villain always states "I would have gotten away, If it weren't for those kids and that dog!" A satisfied ending in every episode was guaranteed when Scooby replies
"Scooby-Dooby-Doo-oo-oo!!"

The next stage was to cast the now famous voices for the characters.  Don Messick became Scooby Doo, and DJ Casey Kasem became the voice of Shaggy.  Frank Weller was cast as Blond Fred, Nicole Jaffe was the original Velma and Heather North provided the voice for Daphne.  Casey Kasem has revealed that when he was asked to voice Shaggy, he was told to play him as a “hippie”.  Kasem could not imagine what a “hippie” was supposed to sound like and so he decided to imitate Richard Crenna’s character from an American sitcom called Our Miss Brooks.  Although Crenna recognised the impression, jokingly requesting royalties, apparently nobody else did !

 Ben Raleigh is reported to be one of the writers of the original theme tune.  He had previously written some songs for “Tin Pan Alley”.  The theme song was not recorded until the Wednesday before the Saturday airing of the first episode.  Larry Marks, a music executive and studio singer, sang the theme and all of the background parts.

 Scooby Doo was an immediate success and continued in this format until 1972 when CBS decided to shake up the format a little and the Scooby Doo movies were created.  These featured the voices of Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway, the Addams family and Laurel and Hardy among others. 

 In a recent interview, Don Messick the voice of Scooby summed up the canine’s charm; "I've loved Scooby from the inception, and so has everyone else. I think it's because he embraces a lot of human foibles. He's not the perfect dog. In fact you might say he's a coward. Yet with everything he does, he seems to land on his four feet. He comes out of every situation unscathed. I think the audience - kids and more mature people as well - can identify with Scooby's character and a lot of his imperfections."

 In 1976 after seven years with CBS, Scooby switched channels and moved over to ABC.  The new show was called the Scooby Doo/Dynomutt Hour and featured two other canines called Scooby-Dum and Scooby-Dear! The late 70’s was a good time for Scooby as in 1977 he had the first two hour Saturday morning cartoon show in network history (Scooby’s All Star Laff-alympics)and in 1978 Scooby’s All Stars was aired. This was a shorter version of the All Star Laff-alympics.  Scooby completed the 1970’s with a television special Scooby goes to Hollywood and in the same year the infamous Scrappy Doo character was introduced.

 After 33 years, only one original cast member is still voicing the same character. Frank Welker has played Fred Jones from the start and does to this day. He is among the hardest working voice actors in the business and often provides such oddities as an off-screen cat screech for movies.  Among his latest work are the barks and growls of Max in the live-action Grinch film. A few different women have played Daphne, and even more have played Velma. And when Don Messick, voice of Scooby, died on 31st October 1997 of Altzheimer’s, his role was taken over by Scott Innes.

 With the emergence of the Scooby Doo Movies, featuring for the first time real actors as the famous characters, Scooby will go on to appeal to a whole new generation of children, and after all, that’s not bad going for a dog of 33 (and that’s 231 in Dog years!) Incidentally the movies were filmed on Australia's Gold Coat at the Movieworld Theme Park, and the bedford van that was used as the mystery machine is on permanent display there. 

TRIVIA

  • Fred usually drives the Mystery Machine, but Daphne’s father bought it.
  • No-one has been able to identify what kind of van the Mystery Machine is
  • In 1970, Scooby-Doo merchandise came to the toy market. The first two items created around this Hanna-Barbera character were sports balls and balloons.


SCOOBY PROFILE
ARRIVED- September 13, 1969
REAL NAME- Scoobert
AGE- 7 (in human years)
SPECIES- Dog-Great Dane
FEATURES- Blue collar with gold diamond with initials SD in the center
HAIR- Brown with black spots
HEIGHT- 12 paws high
WEIGHT- 70 lbs
RESIDENCE- The doghouse behind Shaggy's house
FAVORITE FOOD- Scooby Snacks
OCCUPATION- Unwilling ghost chaser

OnLine resources
http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/scooby/

http://home.earthlink.net/~srhughes/scooby/history.html

http://www.yoinks.com/


Karon Hollis


Page Last Updated Sunday, February 13, 2005 at 12:29:25