Article by: Jason Wilson
September 13, 2009 marked the 40th Anniversary of Scooby-Doo and those meddling kids of Mysteries, Inc. The occasion was marked by a simultaneous DVD release and airing of the newest live-action movie “Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Begins” on Cartoon Network. While many of us have enjoyed following the antics of these four crazy kids and their silly Great Dane…very few of us really know where they came from.
The show, which was created to fill a spot on CBS’s Saturday morning cartoon programming, was written by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears for Hannah-Barberra Productions and was heavily influenced by the radio program “I Love a Mystery” and the show “Dobie Gillis”. The original concept of the show was to feature five kids; Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda and Linda’s younger brother “W.W”. When not playing gigs as the band “Mysteries Five” (which was also the title of the show) along with their dog “Too Much”, the kids would solve mysteries involving ghosts, zombies and other supernatural creatures.
While trying to decide whether to make “Too Much” a large cowardly dog, or a small feisty dog, the decision was made to make him a large cowardly Great Dane. So character designer Iwao Takamoto, after consulting with a Great Dane breeder, created a character that was quite contrary to breed standards with bowed legs, sloped back and other off-breed characteristics.
Several changes were made prior to being presented to the studio. The characters Geoff and Mike were combined and renamed “Ronnie”, who would later be changed again to “Fred” at the request of Fred Silverman, executive in charge of children’s programming at CBS. Other name changes include Kelly being renamed “Daphne”, Linda became “Velma” and “W.W” transformed into “Shaggy”. Shaggy was no longer Linda’s brother. Not fond of the name “Mysteries Five”, Silverman changed the name to “Who’s S-S-Scared?”
Unfortunately, when the show was presented to the CBS executives, they passed on it, fearing that the artwork was too spooky for younger viewers.
Silverman went back to Ruby and Spears, who transformed the show into a much more comedic series. They dropped the band element from the show and after being inspired by Frank Sinatra’s “doo-be-doo-be-doo” at the end of the song “Strangers In The Night”, Silverman changed “Too Much” into Scooby-Doo. The show’s title was changed to “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” and resubmitted the idea to the CBS executives.
This time, they accepted the show and its first episode, “What a Night for a Knight”, aired on Saturday, September 13, 1969 introducing the world to Fred “Freddie” Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers and their dog Scooby Doo. Those meddling kids of Mysteries, Inc. (which they were never to referred to as in the original series) have been solving crimes ever since, in one form or another.
The show could be seen on CBS until it moved to ABC in 1976 and remained there until being cancelled ten years later. The characters were reborn in 1988, in child form, for the series “A Pup Named Scooby Doo”, which ran until 1991. And in 2002, Mysteries, Inc. was revived once again on the Warner Brothers’ network, The WB for the series “What’s New Scooby Doo?” In 2006, the characters moved to The CW under the title “Shaggy & Scooby Get a Clue!” They have also been featured in several live-action movies.
“Scooby-Doo – Mysteries, Inc.”, a new series for the Cartoon Network, will begin airing in 2009. This brings me back to the beginning of my article and “Scooby Doo: The Mystery Begins”. This live-action film tells the story of how four completely different kids from Coolsville High School and one Great Dane named Scooby Doo became the mystery solving team of Mysteries, Inc. The cast is tremendous and their portrayals of these well-known characters are astonishing!
I have been a fan of Scooby Doo since I was a kid and when I had kids of my own, I was sure to introduce my children to the show. As an avid Halloween and Horror Movie buff, I have found that the show makes it a lot easier to teach kids about costumes and makeup. It helps eliminate fear that could be created by the props I have lying around my house, the costumes people wear for Halloween and if they happen to catch a peek during my late night horror movie fests. They understand the concept of “disguises” a lot more than other kids I have spoken to that have not seen the show.
So, my hat is off to the people that keep Mysteries, Inc. alive for children to enjoy. There needs to be more shows like this, which help explain away the “bumps in the night”.