Special Features
Scooby Doo Turns 50!

By AL J. Vermette


     Chances are if you grew up loving scary, creepy
things, monsters and ghosts much like I did, then I'm sure
you were a fan of Scooby Doo.  It doesn't even matter
when you grew up over the last 50 years, you at some
point turned on the TV set and watched this show and all
of the incarnations it spawned. It was and still is 50 years later, a milestone in not only children's television
programming, but all of us that grew up watching Scooby Doo remember that this was maybe the very first
scary thing we ever saw.  For this then five year old future horror writer and publisher, Scooby Doo left an
impression on me that has never gone away.  And I'm sure it’s the same for many of you too!

     On Saturday morning September 13th 1969, a new TV
series hit the airways that would forever change the world.  
That show was Scooby Do Where Are You and it was unlike
anything that came before.  Created by Joe Ruby and Ken
Spears and produced by the Hanna-Barbera company of
children's television, Scooby Doo, unlike their other series,
The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Wacky Races and Yogi Bear,
Scooby Doo took a very different approach and gave the
series an added element of something scary.  Although still
very much a kids comedy for the Saturday morning lineup of
cartoons, Scooby Doo was more akin to who done it mystery than the sitcom of the Flintstone's or The
Jetson's.  It was the story of four teenagers and their dog who solved mysteries each episode where the
bad guy would use scary disguises to hide their criminal acts, be it a ghost, werewolf, mummy, ghoul or
other frightening identity.

     When the series was first pitched to Hanna-Barbera, the CBS
network thought it would be too scary for little kids to see.  This is
mainly why all the monsters in the show always turned out to be not
creatures of the supernatural but bad guys in costumes trying to
scare away potential nosy seekers.  Originally the series was to be
titled Mysteries Five which would have worked and then it was later
called Who's S-S-Scared.  It was the head CBS TV network, Fred
Silverman who on a plane flight dreamed up the name of the dog
when hearing the Frank Sinatra song, Strangers In The Night, and
heard the throwaway line scooby dooby doo.  He liked the way it
flowed and asked the people developing the new series to change
the name of the dog to Scooby Doo.  Before that, the now famous Great Dane that we all know and love
had a very different name early on in the making of the series.  The cowardly dog was once going by the
name "Too Much" a take on Hot Dog from the Archie cartoon and comic books.  The name of Too Much
didn't seemed to work well and it was changed as was all of the cast members.  In the beginning all four of
the human cast, like their dog, had names you wouldn't know today.  The names of Fred Jones, Daphne
Blake, Velma Dinkly and Shaggy Rogers were once cast with other names like Fred being named Ronny,
Daphne being Kelly, Linda became Velma and Shaggy was called W.W.?  Yeah!

     In fact, much of the show was in the very beginning a mirror of what was big at the time, The Archie's, a
group of kids who played in a band and hung out at the malt shop. (hey, this was the 60’s okay).  For
Scooby Doo, the idea of the kids playing in a band and on the side sort out and solve mysteries was the
base of the project, but later the band idea was dropped and only having the kids drive in their van dubbed
The Mystery Machine to all locations where monsters are scaring townspeople.  

     Now you have to understand that this was something completely unheard of back then.  Monsters in
children's television was never....ever done before.  In fact unlike today, monsters were nearly never seen
in a television series let alone a kids show.  Hell, this was even five years before the first prime time horror
based series Kolchak: The Night Stalker pioneered the TV horror genre.  Since kids like myself love
monsters, the Scooby Doo series was much loved and is still watched today.

     Under the title of Scooby Doo Where Are You, the show made its debut on the 13th of September
1969 and ran for 3 seasons with 41 episodes, in that first incarnation of what would become a franchise
that would run on for the next 50 years.  The great success of Scooby Doo Where Are You would lead
Scooby and the gang into all new series starting with The New Scooby Doo Movies that ran from 1972 to
1974.  This was followed by The Scooby Doo/ Dynomutt Show 1976 to 1979 and in the years that followed
A Pup named Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo & Scrappy Doo, Be Cool Scooby Doo, The 13 Ghosts of
Scooby Doo and maybe the best since the original Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.  In over the 50 year
span of Scooby and the gang, there are 13 series that came and went, so very good.....and....well others
not so much. Many of the shows drifted away from what made Scooby Doo so wonderful and ahead of its
time.

     The New Scooby Doo Movies followed directly after Where Are
You in 1972, where the gang would meet famous people real and not
so real like Don Knotts, Sandy Duncan, Laurel & Hardy, Batman &
Robin and even the Addams Family and Harem Globetrotters.....
What?  Yeah some of these shows made you think what the f*** they
were thinking! Even as a child in ’72, even I had to pass on that one.
Another what the f*** moment was bringing in that damn Scrappy Doo
dog that like just killed it for many of us fans.  It was weird, dumb and
I don't know what they were thinking.  Another weak moment in the
franchise was The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo where most of the main
cast we gone and only Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Daphne were in the
series.  Fred and Velma were nowhere in sight and it was just sad.

     Another low point in the series was A Pup Named Scooby Doo
where the cast although there were all....well kids and Scooby a puppy.  
Again who knows what someone was thinking.  For Shaggy & Scooby
Get A Clue, only the two said characters are in the show as Fred,
Velma and Daphne are all missing from this series from 2006.  There
were a few Scooby Doo films that did this to, kick the others to the way-
side and I never understood why.  But someone thought it a good idea.  
What made the first 1969 series work so well was the four kids and
their dog solving mysteries and one of the highlights of this was in
2010 with Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated.  Here the gang was
back as this was a throwback to the show that started it all.  In this new
series, the gang are up to their old tricks hunting monsters that may turn out to be bad guys in costumes
but it’s done true to the original but with a lot of new twists and turns that had me watching every episode,
and at the time I was in my 40’s.  Yeah this show was good!  Another good series was What's new Scooby
Doo with the gang doing what they do best.

     Scooby Doo and friends were not just content to be on TV series but also
branched out into feature films, be it mostly direct to video and DVD, some
good.....and so not so good.  One I would have to say is silly as it is but
Scooby Doo & Batman, The Brave & The Bold crossover does look good.  
Okay I'm a fan of both okay!  And was not the first time the Scooby Gang and
Batman crossed paths, as they did in 1972 for the New Scooby Doo movies
46 years ago.  In other animated features, Scooby meets the band Kiss and
even members of Wrestle Mania in 2014.  There is even a Scooby Doo Lego
movie!   The best of these films though are Scooby Doo on Zombie Island and
Scooby Doo and The Witch's Ghost that featured an all-girl vampire rock band
called The Hex Girls.  In all, there are to date 37 animated Scooby films and
then there are the live action!

     There are two live action theatrical films starring Scooby and the gang.  
The first was the 2002 release and a 2004 sequel Scooby Doo 2: Monsters
Unleashed.  Both films did a good job capturing the soul of the series plus there was two more live action
movies made for TV.  The first being Scooby Doo The Mystery Begins in 2009 and Scooby Doo Curse of
the Lake Monster 2010.  There is even a spin-off live action direct to DVD movie called Daphne & Velma
and is a prequel before they meet Freddy, Shaggy and Scooby.

     The lasting impact Scooby Doo has made upon the
world can be seen everywhere.  There was a Scooby Doo
Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean are pulled
into a cartoon world where they meet Scooby and the
Gang that this time was not a Scooby crossover like with
Batman and others but a full episode of the hit series
Supernatural.  And it was so good!  Other lasting moments
are in the first two live action features with Buffy star Sarah
Michelle Geller playing Daphne who on her own show
Buffy The Vampire Slayer her group was called The
Scooby Gang.  Ironically this was before the first movie
that she would play in.

     For 50 years, Scooby Doo has been a part of everyone's childhood and most likely he and the gang
will go on for yet another 50 wonderful years. It’s hard to think what the world would have been like without
this franchise of TV shows, films animated and live action, crossovers and other pop culture.  Happy
Birthday Scooby Doo, may you and the gang see another 50 years!
For article on Scooby Doo
Turns 50!,
click here

For article on Fangoria:
The Rise, Fall and Rebirth
of the Legendary
Magazine,
click here

For article on 1979: The
Year of the Vampire,
click
here