Later this year, Cartoon Network plans to unleash a horror upon us.
The network who built an empire on the fleeting attention span of man-children is hoping to cash in on the nostalgia factor by introducing former Saturday mainstay into his heavy rotation of reruns.
Thus, a new era of Scooby-Doo is upon us.
Unfortunately, this one looks to be a smoldering pile of garbage that makes the movies look like Downton Abbey.
To start with, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo gives the time-tested, stoner-approved characters a bit of a crappy-animation makeover. While still in their traditional garb, the elongated jawlines of Fred, Shaggy and Scooby and the wide-eyed terror that is Daphne do little to reassure long-time fans.
Producer Zac Moncrief has been attempting to calm down the betrayed masses by describing the latest incarnation as a “comedic ensemble.”
But news of Scooby’s diminished role and limited dialogue did little to quell the masses.
The 46-year-old Great Dane has grown a lot in recent years. From a cowardly pooch with food issues to a super sleuth with sarcastic wit, the great Scooby-Doo and his gang of loyal mystery-loving teens have held to their fanbase for almost five generations.
In the past, successful Doo-overs have maintained true to the main characters while updating other elements, and least successful ones have included horrible, horrible sidekicks that will forever scar the conscience of Generation-Xers for years to come.
Here is a look at the hits and misses:
The original run introduced the groovy gang to the Saturday morning sect. While the animation was little to write home about, the show had a heart. It quickly captured an audiences while spawning a thousand rip-offs using the following formula:
(e.i, The Funky Phantom, Jabberjaw, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Fangface, Goober and the Ghost Catchers…the list goes on.)
In the early years, there were no pot jokes. Just the goofiness of watching Shaggy and Scooby eating lots of crap and running away from assholes in rubber masks. And it was wonderful.
The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972)
As the popularity of Scooby began to catch on, CBS began to look at their four-legged canine star as a cash cow, and began searching for ways to make Scooby bigger and better.
In these hour-long segment, “celebrities” began joining in on the mystery-solving fun, including Sandy Duncan! Cher! Don Knotts! The Harlem Globetrotters! The Addams Family!
Basically, The New Scooby-Doo Movies were to precursor to Dancing With the Stars in what passed as a “star.” But it didn’t screw the original formula, so it was forgiven.
The Scooby-Doo Show/The Scooby-Doo-Dynomutt Hour (1976 – 1978)
The show jumped over from CBS to ABC, but kept most of the same exact format, only now Scooby has a slow-witted hillbilly cousin named Scooby-Dum who occasionally shows up. He doesn’t really add to the show, nor does he diminish it.
The show itself is was teamed with Dynomutt’s half-hour toon, because talking dogs need to stick together.
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1979-80)
My only goal in life is to find a single person on this earth that was okay with Scrappy-Doo.
There are thousands of internet writers, comedians and pop-culture enthusiasts out there more talented than myself with lots to say on the subject.
Basically, this was the jumping point for five-year-olds to learn that you can hate something outside of a food group or a color.
Oh, also half of the Mystery Gang were MIA. They realizing that having to share screen time with this shitstain was even too much for two-dimensional characters who lived out of a van, so they split.
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983-85)
Because ABC wasn’t done destroying the precious love a child has for a toon figure.
Personally, I think the Alphabet hated kids, and this proves it. With more Scrappy-Doo.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (1985-86)
Featuring Daphne, the least effective member of the Mystery Gang, Shaggy, Scooby, the insufferable Scrappy and adorable little scamp Flim-Flam, a genius kid added to the show to help solve mysteries, boosts ratings and help toy sales. It safe to say at this point that once beloved toon series went completely off the rails.
Everything was just…wrong. Daphne wore a purple jump suit, sported mall hair and suffered through a bad brow lift. Shaggy was wearing pink. Scrappy-Doo still fucking existed. It was harsh.
Even the dismembered head of Vincent Price couldn’t save this badly animated shit-storm
Many people I know don’t remember this version at all because everyone checked out and then successfully repressed the memory.
But I remember. I must live on to tell the tale.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (1988-91)
Somewhere in the ‘80s, ABC realized they screwed the pooch on Scooby, so they went back to the drawing board and came back with A Pup Named Scooby Doo.
Setting the show in the junior high school years of the gang, the pint-size heroes and their adorable little puppy would solve mysteries around Coolsville in a series would eventually lead the way for Warner Bros. cult classics such as Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.
And by lead the way, I mean all the writers jumped ship and started writing Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs.
What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (2002-06)
After a small 17-year hiatus, the gang was back in action, and this time with Natalie from Facts of Life.
The great, late Casey Kasem returned to voice the perpetual stoner, Shaggy, while Mindy Cohn took a seat as Velma. Cohn’s contributions to the toon are immeasurable, as she elevated Velma with new heights to pop culture.
And it was good. It looked good. It sounded good. It felt good. A fan base breathed a collective sigh of relief.
The show itself returned to the roots of the show: the gang solving groovy mysteries in a van with the help of a dog who may or may not be stoned. The only twist with that the kids were brought into modern times with tracking devices, cell phones and the Interwebs.
Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue! (2006-08)
After finding success with a Scooby-Doo franchise after many years of ups and downs, network execs decided to do what they do best: fuck everything up.
Once again, the series when through a major overhaul in the premise. This time, Shaggy became a teenage millionaire after his uncle kicked the bucket. He and Scooby had to battle a kooky evil inventor named Dr. Phibes and I totally lost interest while typing this sentence who please feel free to look it up on Wikipedia if you want to know more.
Also, they looked terrible. This is what animation looks like when all the love is gone and only the paycheck remains.
|“Fuck it. This private school isn’t going to pay for itself.” – All the animators on this shitshow|
Whatever. At this point, long-time fans of Scooby have gotten use to the flux in quality. Just want it gets good, it gets really, really, really bad.
Luckily for us, the best was yet to come.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (2010-2014)
The creme de la creme of all the Scooby cartoons. Dare I say, even better than the originals.
Set in Crystal Cove, the “Most Haunted Town In the World,” Scooby and the gang took on a new concept unseen in all their years of mystery solving: humor. Not just slapstick humor, or puns, but honest-to-God-great-writing-humor.
Fred had a fetish for traps. Shaggy is fully aware of his co-dependence on a dog. Scooby is sarcastic and capable of lengthy speeches. Velma is angsty as fuck. Daphne is forced to compete with her five older, more accomplished siblings. And pop culture references are flying a mile a minute. From The Terminator to The Room, the writing on the show is funny, slick and meant to appeal to all audiences.
Another new element to the show was the concept of the season-long story arc. While each episode did focus on a single mystery, there was an overall mystery that was to be solved at the end of the season. A Buffy-esque “Big Bad” that needed to be fought.
If you haven’t seen Mystery Incorporated yet, you are living a life half lived.
Go. It’s on Netflix now.
Watch it. It’s amazing.