Martinex1: A few years ago our illustrious hosts Karen and Doug launched a series of posts titled Saturday Morning Memories, and they generated some of my favorite conversations here at the BAB site. The period in which cartoons covered the sixth-day A.M. airwaves is unfortunately gone and gradually being lost to hazy memory. It is an inherently nostalgic time to reminisce about as it encourages memories of old television sets, fuzzy pajamas, bowls of cereal, and bartering siblings. There was a sheer joy to waking up first and quietly tuning in as the "big people" slumbered. Today I'd like to continue a bit of the tradition by sharing some details, intricacies, and perspectives about a particular cartoon genre (Scooby-Doo copycats); in the coming months I hope to be back with more thoughts about Saturday mornings.
One of the huge successes that originated in that era is of course the Scooby-Doo franchise. Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears ignited a trend in television when their Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon landed on the CBS morning schedule in 1969. The Hanna-Barbera production was originally designed to emulate the Filmation success The Archie Show that aired the previous year. The new show was originally going to be called "Mysteries Five" and follow the adventures of a band and their sheepdog (very much in the vein of the Archies).
During the push and pull of development, the gang of Shaggy, Fred, Velma, Daphne and Scooby slowly morphed into what we are more familiar. The musician aspect wasn't the only thing left behind as Scooby-Doo (first conceived to have the name "Too Much") became a Great Dane. The title also went through a couple of revisions including Who's S-s-scared? before resting on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! It makes a bit more sense now why the group is always traveling in their van the Mystery Machine, as they were originally I speculate a touring rock band. The formula of the show was really quite simple: the van breaks down or is stopped for some reason; the gang is left in an abandoned or creepy locale; the area is victim to a ghoul, creature or ghost; the group offers help to investigate; comedy and scares ensue; a trap is set but fails; the team captures the villain through luck or contrivance; and we get the "If not for you meddling kids..." line as the antagonist is unmasked and the mystery is solved.
The show generated not only some great dark visuals for Saturday morning fare, but also added to the cultural language with sayings like, "Zoinks!", "Jinkies!", and "My glasses. I cannot see without my glasses!"
Most people know that Casey Kasem was the voice of Shaggy, but here are a couple of trivia questions for you: What was the name of Scooby's brother? *(See below). And a much harder question: Do you know the main characters' full names? **(Also see below).
But that is not really where it ends, because the show itself spawned a gaggle of copies. The success of this initial short-lived series caused Hanna-Barbera to mimic its own formula and roll out some of my favorite cartoons. Along with The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972), a number of other similar (but sometimes obscure) toons arrived. Now, not all of these shows are exact replicas of the Scooby line, but they held some strikingly familiar characteristics and concepts. There were various permutations of: bands of teenagers (sometimes literally in a band much like the original concept), a communicative pet (sometimes replaced by a personified pal), mysteries to solve, villains to expose, spooky locales, snazzy vehicles, and catchy theme songs. See if you agree and recognize some type of pattern in these Hanna-Barbera Productions.