In the mid 1960s parents were complaining that there was too much violence shown on Saturday morning cartoons. They formed organizations to protest and reform the line-ups. CBS responded with a new show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Fred Silverman, in charge of children’s programming, was looking for a show that would take into account concerns of parents, and be successful with children. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera were contacted to create the show and they called on writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, along with character designer, Iwao Takamoto.
Scooby-Doo was originally based on existing cartoon series that featured teenagers in a band. Other influences were the radio show, I Love A Mystery, and the television show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. It was Silverman’s idea for the kids to solve mysteries in their free time as they traveled the country in their van, The Mystery Machine. The show’s name was initially Mysteries Five – the band’s name. There was supposed to be five teens, and the dog was to be a small, supporting character.
The dog’s name was initially “Too Much,” and it was a toss-up as to what species he would be (small or large). At first, the dog was to be either a German Shepherd or a Sheepdog, but as character development progressed, he became a Great Dane. Takamoto took the basic form of a Great Dane, and added bowed legs, a double chin, and a sloped back to the character. Too Much was also given a funny voice, done by Don Messick.
When the team showed the storyboards to CBS for the 1969 season, the final characters were Fred, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy, along with Too Much, the dog. The show was renamed Who’s S-S-Scared? by Silverman. The CBS executives thought the storyboards and animation were too frightening for children, and the show was rejected.
The team went back and reworked the show, adding comedy and cutting down on the frightening parts. The teenagers were changed to young adults and the band concept was nixed. Instead, they would be a group of detectives named Mystery, Inc. Also, the focus of the show was changed so that Shaggy and the dog, Too Much, were to play a central part in the plots. It has been said that Silverman was listening to Frank Sinatra’s song, “Strangers in the Night” and heard the phrase “Doo-be-doo-be-doo” which inspired him to rename the dog Scooby-Doo and name the show, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
CBS executives approved the new concept and Scooby-Doo premiered on television on Saturday, September 13, 1969. From the very beginning, Scooby-Doo and his friends were very popular. People loved the funny situations that Shaggy and Scooby-Doo got into. It was also fun to try and figure out who the villain was from the clues that were provided. The end of each show always showed the gang solving the mystery and catching the crook. One of the most famous lines in animated television comes from the end of each episode, as the villain says, “And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”
Scooby-Doo ran for two seasons on CBS before it was changed to an hour long show called, The New Scooby-Doo Movies. The new episodes revolved around the Mystery, Inc. gang meeting up and solving mysteries with various celebrities who guest starred on the show. Some of the most memorable celebrities adding their voices to the animation were Phyllis Diller, Don Knotts, and the Harlem Globetrotters. After two seasons, reruns of the original format were shown until Scooby-Doo moved to ABC in 1976.
Once on ABC, new episodes of Scooby-Doo Where Are You! were produced, but they were joined with various other shows such as Dynomutt, Dog Wonder. This became the The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Show. In 1979, Scrappy-Doo was added to the cast, and the show was reworked and renamed Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. In 1980, Fred, Daphne, and Velma were completely cut from the show to focus more on Scooby, Scrappy and Shaggy! Although children liked this version, people who had watched the original series hated this major change.
Scooby-Doo continued going through changes as the years went on, but in many people’s opinions, it never caught the magic of the original series. The original Scooby-Doo Where Are You! episodes have been in syndication since 1980 and ran on cable network channels, while new shows and formats continued to be made. In 2002, the Kids WB station ran What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, which was the closest to the original series of any show since 1978.
For more than 40 years, the many incarnations of the show have entertained adults and children alike. Scooby-Doo and the Mystery, Inc. gang are a part of pop culture and animated television history. Although the show has gone through major changes and incarnations over the years, one thing has remained the same: Scooby-Doo has always been the star of the show. Even through all of the changes, his popularity never waned. Generations have watched the adventures of this zany dog, and laughed at the many scrapes he gets himself into.