If you were an American child of the 1960s, I can’t emphasize how awesome Scooby Doo, Where Are You? was when it debuted on Saturday Morning TV in 1969. It was radically different from anything that went before. The animation was top-notch and the storylines more complicated than animals chasing each other around with hammers. The colors were super-groovy and saturated greens, purples, pinks, and reds, with darker, more threatening tones for the supernatural backgrounds. The characters were more realistic, with their own catchlines and quirks, and reflected the hippy age that was occurring all around them with miniskirts, munchies, rock music interludes, and a psychedelic van.
Like a lot of kids I went cuckoo for Scooby-Doo. When the American moon launches became a yearly thing, I imagined myself in the NASA control center, parked in a chair before one of those little TVs on the console, watching, you guessed it, Scooby-Doo. Paradise.
The genesis of the cartoon, and later media franchise, is a fascinating one. A young watcher of the show might have thought it completely original, but it actually has older roots dating back to 1940s radio serials and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis – the character of Shaggy based on Bob Denver’s depiction of Maynard G. Krebs in particular. That most people today know of Scooby and not Dobie Gillis is a tribute to the creators of the show, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.
The Scooby gang have been through many changes and incarnations through the years, but the basic idea remains the same: Freddy, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy hear of some creature or haunting and try to find out what’s going on. Wacky hijinks ensure. They set a trap to catch the supernatural being (which is inevitably botched up somehow) and unmask them as a regular person… a disgruntled neighbor, a smuggler trying to drive people away, a magician having his last hurrah. The villain is arrested and the kids celebrate. End of story.
Later shows mixed it up with new characters, including the much-derided Scrappy-Doo, and at some point the gang stopped uncovering fake monsters and began mixing it up with real ones. The latest movie out of the franchise, Scoob! Uses computer animation to tell the story of how the characters found each other and teamed up, saving the world from Cerberus, the giant three-headed dog.
Since the shows, at least the first seasons, stuck to the same formula, new plots are surprisingly easy to generate. Here’s a few.
|During a Chinese New Year celebration Scooby is frightened by firecrackers and runs away to a deserted restaurant haunted by a Chinese shaman who later kidnaps Shaggy’s childhood friend.
While camping, the gang finds an abandoned nursery school haunted by a glowing atomic monster who is blackmailing the local reporters.
A mummy haunting an underground nuclear laboratory terrorizes Daphne’s scientist uncle and dams the local creek, leading to a near-meltdown.
A closed mental hospital in the Rocky Mountains is haunted by the ghost of an insane cowgirl who has blocked the roads during ski season. It turns out she is really a neighbor searching for lost treasure.
Daphne helps a reporter doing a story on a natural history museum haunted by a ghoul who is really an old homeless magician.
An evil Egyptian God has been stalking a freight train depot so the kids investigate.
The kids determine to find out the truth about whispering shadows at Scooby’s veterinarian’s office.
The local police chief asks for the gang’s help regarding a Civil War battleground haunted by the corpse of a Confederate general pickled in nitrate.
While on vacation in Mexico, a creepy automaton of a Mexican wrestler hypnotizes Freddy’s cousin Verne. The controller turns out to be a foreign spy using the wrestling ring as a base.
After hearing screams, the gang enter a ruined mine haunted by a humanoid bat.
The gang’s car breaks down near a spooky flaming pirate ship, where Freddy finds an old map to a buried treasure chest. But they are followed by a floating skull who warns them to go away.
Shaggy tries to re-visit his favorite childhood restaurant but instead finds a ruined waterpark haunted by the glowing spirit of a silent movie star.
A wealthy skeptic offers a prize to anyone debunking strange lights at a renovated art museum. The lights are torches carried by werewolves, one of which disguises himself as the owner of the kid’s favorite malt shoppe. When Velma loses her glasses there, she can smell the difference without being distracted by her eyesight, and the gang comes up with plan to capture the villains.
At a spooky circus the gang encounter a flaming opera singer and later, at a local TV studio, a faceless flamenco dancer. Daphne helps a reporter get the scoop but her best friend disappears in a burst of maniacal laughter.
A greedy businessman tries to buy an abandoned amusement park deep in the woods. The kids investigate and find the skeleton of a friendly medieval knight and a creepy automaton of a clown who warns them to go back.
A town offers a reward to anyone who can stay the night at a spooky hospital. The kids need money for a school trip so they take the dare, but they are terrorized by life-sized Kachina dolls with disembodied voices. The creatures are later revealed to be their school’s clique of gossips.
An Aztec mummy kidnaps Shaggy’s childhood friend and flees to an abandoned 747 in a desert boneyard. After hearing voices, Shaggy disguises himself as an archaeologist to investigate while the gang sets a trap for the kidnapper.
The ghost of a vengeful astronaut terrorizes a paper mill, and the wealthy owner offers a prize to anyone debunking the haunting. The kids determine to find out the truth in the strange mist near the once-bustling airport. After hearing screams, the gang enter an excavation tunnel and confront the villain who turns out to be the new landlord.
A new subway line is haunted by a pack of devil dogs and their evil master. Since the haunting is disrupting the filming of a Hollywood movie, the local police chief asks the kids for help.
A rundown supermarket is haunted by poltergeists who warn the customers they are trespassing on sacred ground. Meanwhile Scooby finds the half-finished song of a missing rock star near the dog food aisle by the Scooby Snacks. What is going on?
A blind cyclops looking for his missing eye abducts Shaggy. Meanwhile a giant floating eye terrorizes customers at a department store. The gang investigates, but Freddy’s skeptical cousins interfere after reading an article in a local paper.
Velma finds an antique doll that looks like her, but it is possessed by the spirit of a ghoulish mime.
A creepy fortune-teller steals a safe full of money and kidnaps the manager of a drydocked battleship that has been turned into a Naval museum. The kids investigate, and the thief turns out to be Daphne’s old photography teacher.