Something of a cult classic, Scooby Doo, Where Are You? was originally the brainchild of Fred Silverman, who, as the head of CBS daytime programming in 1969, wanted a cartoon series that would be a departure from the superhero genre and delve into the area of comedy.
What Silverman envisioned was a cross between a popular 1940's radio programme 'I Love A Mystery' which was about three detectives, and a 1959 sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, about a scatterbrained teenager and his friends. Silverman presented his idea to Hanna-Barbera who in turn assigned the task to writers Ken Spears and Joe Ruby. What the writers came up with was a story of four teenage detectives who travelled the country in a van (called the Mystery Machine), solving mysteries and getting out of dangerous situations. A Great Dane accompanied the foursome on their travels but was not a leading character. The show's first working title was Mysteries Five before being presented to Frank Stanton, president of CBS, as Who's Scared?, a new Saturday morning cartoon for the fall of 1969.
However, Stanton rejected the show on the grounds of the artwork being too scary and unsuitable for it's intended, young audience. The same night that the show was rejected Fred Silverman took a flight back to Los Angeles, and, whilst relaxing to the sound of Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers in the Night' through his earphones, the line "Scooby-dooby-doo" struck him with sudden inspiration. It was there and then that Silverman decided to call the programme Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and make the dog the star of the show.
And so the idea was developed with Scooby taking the lead, accompanied by human companions Shaggy (a bumbling teenager who kept the star of the show well stocked in his favourite Scooby-Snacks), Velma (the brains of the team), Daphne (always the first in trouble) and Freddy (the leader of the group), as they travelled the country unearthing criminal goings on which more often than not involved the bad guys dressing up as ghosts or ghouls in order to commit their crimes. One way or another (and not always with Scooby's help as he was usually the first to run for cover), the gang managed to solve the mystery and put an end to the criminals activities. The series, which leant more towards comedy than mystery, premiered in September 1969 and became a massive hit for CBS, who, in 1972, changed the format in order to create The New Scooby-Doo Comedy Movies. After seven years with CBS, Scooby moved to ABC where he continued his adventures well into the 1980's. In these later seasons Scooby was joined by his pup nephew, Scrappy-Doo, and occasional guest spots from a whole host of his canine relatives.
Blessed with a perfect basic format, central characters who were simply but brilliantly designed, allied to expertly judged vocal performances, Scooby-Doo has gone on to become an iconic seminal cartoon series whose influence is subtly acknowledged by even such modern prime time genre classics as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alongside The Flintstones and The Simpsons, Scooby-Doo (made into a major motion picture) is regarded as one of televisions animated classics.
Published on January 27th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.