In the fall of 1969, CBS and Hanna-Barbera Productions launched an animated half-hour comedy starring a cowardly but lovable Great Dane who traveled the world with his four human friends to solve spooky mysteries. Everyone involved was banking on the show's success, but nobody could have predicted that Scooby-Doo would become one of the most durable and popular cartoon characters of all time.
The history of Scooby-Doo and his gang -- Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy -- is a fascinating one. With the help of two creative forces behind Scooby-Doo who span the character's entire career -- Iwao Takamoto, vice president of creative design for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc. (which is now owned by Warner Bros.), and Eric Radomski, supervising producer of the most recent series, "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" on the CW Network -- we offer a behind-the-scenes look at these venerable characters.
The Birth of "Scooby-Doo"
Like most cartoon characters, Scooby-Doo did not spring forth fully formed. The first series, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!," went through many developmental changes and alterations along the way -- in fact, the first passes at the show did not even star a dog.
The impetus for "Scooby-Doo" came from Fred Silverman, who was then the head of children's programming for CBS. Silverman was looking for a different kind of animated show. He wanted one that, among other things, employed full half-hour episodes instead of the shorter cartoon groupings that were the Saturday morning norm. To achieve his goal, he called on Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, whose namesake company, Hanna-Barbera, was responsible for the majority of all animation on television.
SCOOBY-DOO and all related characters and elements are trademarks of
and copyright Hanna-Barbera.
The gang solves a mystery in the first series, "Scooby-Doo,
Where Are You!" See more pictures from children's television shows.
Where Are You!" See more pictures from children's television shows.
"Fred came in and talked to us about doing a full beginning-to-end story that had enough time to have a little substance to it," said Takamoto. "He wanted to have a true half-hour show instead of the tricky breakdown kind of stuff that we had been relying upon and he had been programming for a couple of years." Silverman also wanted something within the mystery format, similar to the old radio show "I Love A Mystery."
Two young writers, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, got the assignment of developing the show, which they initially conceived as a straightforward mystery/adventure centered on five teenagers. Eventually a dog character was added, but only as a comic-relief sidekick. As development progressed, the emphasis was shifted away from serious thrills and toward comedy. The dog began to play a larger role, eventually becoming the titular star of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" Earlier working titles included "Mystery's Five" and "Who's Scared?" The original "Scooby-Doo" premiered on September 13, 1969. It was an immediate hit.
"Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!"
"Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!"
The latest series in the Scooby franchise, "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!," contemporizes the classic characters in both tone and appearance. "The request from Warner Bros. was to stimulate the Shaggy/Scooby brand," said Radomski. "Comedy is king in Saturday morning cartoons, so [show developer] Ray DeLaurentis pitched a 'Dumb and Dumber' approach for the show -- 'Dumb and Dumber' being the epitome of 'buddy comedies."
That model also meant that the rest of the gang -- Fred, Velma, and Daphne -- now had to take a back seat to the primary comedy team of Shaggy and Scooby. "Attempting to include the rest of the gang in a show like this would have been difficult and cumbersome," Radomski said. The three do, however, show up occasionally in cameo guest-appearances.
This is not the first time Shaggy and Scooby have been separated out from the group -- they were on their own throughout many of the 1980s shows.
Similarly, the graphic style of the show has been altered. The designs of Shaggy and Scooby are a bit simpler, and they no longer have whites in their eyes (known as "dot eyes" in animation). "The contemporary art direction for the characters was chosen specifically to distinguish this series from all of the previous incarnations," Radomski said. "Also, the obvious graphic approach is a reflection of the popular digital aesthetic so prevalent in animated shows today. The 'dot eyes' seemed to blend well with the overall graphic simplification we were going for."
One thing that has not changed is the universal appeal of "Scooby-Doo." "The 6-to-11-[year-old] demographic is definitely the target of the CW Network," Radomski said. "But I never allow it to restrict my team from making shows that appeal to a much broader audience. There is no better compliment than hearing that older siblings and parents are watching and enjoying our shows, too."
"Scooby-Doo" and education? It's an interesting subject -- and we cover it in the next section.
'Scooby-Doo' and Education
Many Saturday morning shows have been designed to be educational as well as entertaining. "Scooby-Doo," in any of its incarnations, is not among those shows. Young viewers have always been invited to exercise their brains by following the "Scooby" gang around as it finds clues and puts them together into a solution, but the emphasis of "Scooby" has never been anything other than entertainment. The newest version of the show, "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!," is no different. While the program introduces such topical complications as global warming and jungle deforestation, it is not done in an instructional manner.
It may be surprising to learn, then, that one of the reasons for the creation of the original series, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!," was to satisfy the growing demand for an alternative to action-oriented cartoons that were increasingly being dubbed as "violent."
Exaggerated cartoon "violence" had been a staple of animation practically since the medium was invented -- though in the early years, nobody took it very seriously. This was in part because cartoons of the 1930s, '40s, and '50s were not specifically made for children -- they instead were aimed at a general theatrical audience. Only when cartoons went to television did they attract the label of "kid's stuff."
But in the mid-to-late 1960s, the television networks were increasingly taking heat for "violence" in children's programming, notably in action adventure series such as "Jonny Quest," "The Herculoids," and "Birdman." Fred Silverman, who was the head of children's programming for CBS, was looking for a show that would not include guns of any kind, extreme cartoon gags involving sticks of dynamite or frying pans as weapons, or even physical combat. "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" was designed with plenty of opportunity for slapstick, but there were never any overtly violent acts, not even fighting. Even today, nearly forty years later, with "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!," the villains are vanquished more by trickery and wits than with a tangible threat.
In fact, the only time Scooby-Doo and the gang ever made network executives nervous was early on in the development period, when the initial treatment for the show was judged as too scary for a young audience. Of course, the ghost, ghoul, or monster the gang happens to encounter is usually not a supernatural creature at all, but rather a human criminal in disguise. Inevitably, the gang exposes him or her.
Now that we have the background on the cartoon, how about details on the stars themselves? In the next section, we cover Scooby, Shaggy, and the entire gang.
The primary characters from the original series, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!," are known collectively as "Mystery, Inc." They have remained remarkably intact over the past four decades, although there have been a few notable additions to the core company. Here's a look at each "Scooby-Doo" character:
Jovial and fun-loving, and just human enough to be understood, Scooby-Doo is by nature a chicken-heart. When pressed, however, he always comes through with a sense of whimsical bravery. If this Great Dane cannot run away from a villain, he will try to trick him or her by using an outrageous disguise. Perhaps his most pronounced characteristic is his passion for "Scooby Snacks," or just about any other kind of food.
Norville "Shaggy" Rogers is Scooby-Doo's closest friend. A carefree, beatnik-ish teenager, Shaggy shares Scooby's cowardliness, his whimsy, and his ravenous appetite. In the long run, he can always be counted on to overcome his fear and confront danger with a hearty cry of "Zoinks!"
Handsome, blond, stalwart, and a bit square, Fred is ostensibly the leader of Mystery, Inc., and the gang's anchor, striving at all times to keep everyone focused on the latest task. He is also the biggest skeptic about ghosts and monsters, and he is always searching for a natural explanation to the seemingly supernatural goings-on.
Short, bespectacled, and tomboyish, Velma is the brains of the Scooby gang. More often than not, she puts clue-and-clue together to come up with a solution to the mystery. Because of her bookish nature, Velma is a veritable font of knowledge, though her youthful innocence is best reflected by her favorite expression, "Jinkies!"
"Danger-prone Daphne" has a knack for falling into trouble and requiring rescue. A beauty queen-type and fashion plate, Daphne comes from a wealthy family -- in fact, it is her father's money that outfits the gang with such equipment as the Mystery Machine, the 1960s-era hippie van that provides Scooby and company their transportation.
If one were to shrink down Scooby-Doo physically and inject him with a double-dose of courage and feistiness, the end result would be Scrappy-Doo, Scooby's diminutive nephew. Whereas Scooby tries to run away from danger as rapidly as possible, the impetuous Scrappy dives into it headlong.
Scooby's country cousin is not the smartest pup in the litter, but he is an endearing character. A near-double for Scooby-Doo, despite his buck teeth and pork-pie hat, Scooby-Dum dog-speaks with a thick southern drawl.
Dr. Phineus Phibes
Take one part Bond villain and one part Dr. Strangelove, add a bionic hand and a very bad toupee, and you have Dr. Phineus Phibes, the gang's primary nemesis in "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!" His efforts to take over the world with the help of a scientific formula developed by Shaggy's uncle are constantly thwarted not only by Shaggy and Scooby, but by the complete incompetence of his henchmen.
Robi is the robotic butler invented by Shaggy's Uncle Albert to work in his mansion. While very well-meaning, Robi is a real klutz who insists upon calling Scooby "Ruby-Roo," since that is the best he can translate from Great Danish.
"Scooby-Doo" is a fascinating combination of traditional and cutting-edge production methods. In the next section, we explain how they do "Scooby-Doo."
'Scooby-Doo' Animation Process
As was the case with all television animation in the late 1960s, "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" was created through a process called "limited" or "planned" animation, which was devised a decade earlier by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Unlike full animation, limited animation does not require an entirely new drawing for every frame of film. Only the part of the character that absolutely has to move -- say, an arm or head or leg -- actually moves, while the rest of the figure remains stationery. This is accomplished by splitting up the character onto different "cels" -- sheets of acetate or celluloid onto which the figures are painted and then photographed. The bottom cel may contain the character's body, while the cel laid over it contains the arm or head, or whatever part is required to move.
Many of the early Hanna-Barbera characters wore neckties or collars so that the separation between the body cels and the head cels would not be apparent, and their faces were often designed to have muzzles so that the mouth could be animated on a separate cel. But in "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" none of the characters had that kind of facial separation.
Iwao Takamoto, vice president of creative design for Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Inc., said, "When I designed the dog and the teenage characters too, I got more flack from the animators because of the fact that none of them had those muzzle lines. That influenced the animation because it became a little fuller."
"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" would set the standard for a more full-style of television animation than had been offered before. While the television animation of today has progressed considerably since the earliest days of limited animation, the method of creating a show remains essentially the same:
Each half-hour episode is written in script form.
The script is rendered visually on a storyboard, at which time additional gags are included.
The original voice cast of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" included the late Don Messick as Scooby-Doo and deejay Casey Kasem as Shaggy, as well as Frank Welker, the only cast member who remained with the franchise. In the current "Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" he not only voices Fred, which he has done since 1969, but he has now taken on the role of Scooby-Doo, too.
The episode is "laid out," or broken down, into shots on paper. This phase of production includes staging the action and designing the "sets," props, and any new characters the episode requires.
The director passes the work onto the animators, who draw the scenes and lip-sync the mouths of the characters to the voice tracks. Today, virtually all television animation use overseas studios, and the style is much less limited than it used to be. The studio for "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!" is Digital eMation, Inc., based in Korea.
Ink and Paint
In years past, the animation drawings were traced with ink and then painted (on the back) onto clear sheets of acetate; today the drawings are scanned into a computer system and inked and colored digitally.
Animation is largely "pre-edited," meaning there will not be different takes of a shot presented to the editor for intercutting. Still, there may be a need for some editing. Post production also includes adding in the music and sound effects.
"The animation itself [in 'Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!'] continues to be traditionally created by hand," said supervising producer Eric Radomski. "The balance of the production -- character color, background paintings, film compositing, editing, music and sound effects -- are digitally created, and occasionally we will incorporate some 3-D camera effects."
Writing and breaking down a story for a half-hour episode takes about four weeks on average. Starting from the final script stage, it takes about six months to put the episode through the production process. Of course, the production of the episodes overlaps -- many are in one stage or another of the process at any given time.
Now that we've covered the nuts and bolts, let's look into the myths and realities about "Scooby-Doo." They're on the next page.
'Scooby-Doo' Myths and Facts
Rumors and myths abound regarding Scooby-Doo and his friends. Some of these have been presented in books as unequivocal facts, but the truth is, they fall more into the realm of urban legend.
Myth No. 1: The name "Scooby-Doo" was inspired by Frank Sinatra's recording of "Strangers in the Night" ("...dooby, dooby doo..."), which CBS exec Fred Silverman heard while traveling on an airplane.
Verdict: Probable. Silverman swears this is true, and the story has been told so often, it just might be.
Myth No. 2: The show's core characters represent the typical students from five Boston-area colleges: Preppy Fred represents Amherst College; rich kid Daphne, Mt. Holyoke; brainy Velma, Smith College; hippie Shaggy, Hampshire College; and "party animal" Scooby, University of Massachusetts.
Verdict: False. "While I hate to affect the regional pride of these Bostonians, I have to say that there is no truth to it," said Iwao Takamoto, who designed the characters. What the proud people of Beantown seem to recognize is a deliberate plan to give each kid a kind of archetypal universality.
Myth No. 3: The granddaddy of all Scooby-Doo rumors is that Shaggy and Scooby represent stoners, which is why they constantly have the munchies while driving around in a flower-power van. According to the rumor, this was a deliberate in-joke by the animators that flew over the heads of the network brass.
Verdict: False. Widespread, but still false. Dozens of arguments could be offered as to why no self-respecting middle-aged Hanna-Barbera artist or writer in 1969 would even think of jeopardizing the success of the show with such a joke, but the easiest refutation is to go to the source. "It's not true," Takamoto said. "The creative team never brought that into play in our thinking about this show. It wasn't until much later that this sort of rumor began to surface." Besides, Takamoto added, one of the key creative players in the development of Scooby-Doo was a network executive, which means that Silverman would have had to have been in on the joke himself or uncharacteristically unaware.
Ultimately, the fact that so many people develop legends around these drawn characters, even to the point of wanting to identify with them, is a testament to the degree to which Scooby, Shaggy, and the the rest of the gang have been taken to heart by viewers over the years.
Scooby and the gang have starred in myriad television series and movies. On the next page, we offer a rundown of their screen appearances.
'Scooby-Doo' Television Shows and Movies
Here is a listing of the various incarnations of "Scooby-Doo" since it burst onto the scene in 1969.
"Scooby-Doo" Television Series
"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" / 1969-73 (plus rerun seasons) / CBS
The original mystery-based series.
"The New Scooby-Doo Movies" / 1972-74 / CBS
Guest stars included animated versions of Sonny & Cher, Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke, and Don Knotts, all of whom provided their own voices.
"The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour" / 1976-77 / ABC
Shorter Scooby-Doo (and family) episodes ran along with those of "Dynomutt, Dog Wonder."
"Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics" / 1977-78 / ABC
Scooby hosted virtually the entire Hanna-Barbera stable of characters in comedic athletic competitions.
"The Scooby-Doo Show" / 1978-79 / ABC
The original mystery format in new episodes.
"Scooby and Scrappy-Doo" / 1979-80 / ABC
More half-hour mystery adventures, only this time with Scooby's pugnacious nephew, Scrappy-Doo.
"Scooby-Doo Classics" / 1980 / ABC
As the title implies, reruns of earlier episodes.
"The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show -- and Scrappy Too!" / 1980-81 / ABC
Half of this hour-long show was devoted to seven-minute cartoons featuring Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy-Doo. Episodes were rerun in 1984-85 as "The Scary Scooby Funnies."
"Scooby, Scrappy and Yabba-Doo" / 1982-83 / ABC
The emphasis was on comedy in this show, which featured another of Scooby's cousins, cowpoke Yabba-Doo.
"Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show/The Puppy's New Adventures" / 1982-83 / ABC
Scooby and Scrappy were half of this hour-long series, which also featured the unrelated adventures of "Petey the Puppy." Episodes were rerun in 1984 as "Scrappy-Doo."
"The Best of Scooby-Doo" / 1983-84 / ABC
This show featured reruns from "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" and "The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour."
"The All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show/The Puppy's Further Adventures" / 1983-84 / ABC
Scooby, Scrappy, Shaggy, and Daphne returned in new adventures that ran with more "Petey the Puppy" episodes.
"The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries" / 1984-85 / ABC
Scooby, Shaggy, and Daphne were back as the core team in new mystery episodes.
"The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo" / 1984-85 / ABC
For the first time, the spooks were real, in this half-hour series featuring Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Shaggy, and a warlock named "Vincent Van Ghoul," voiced by Vincent Price.
"Scooby's Mystery Funhouse" / 1985-86 / ABC
Rerun episodes from several previous series.
"A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" / 1988-91 / ABC
A radical change in the Scooby franchise, in which both Scoob and his friends were depicted as grade-school kids. Solving mysteries was still on the agenda, though the comedy was hipper and the look more stylized.
"What's New, Scooby-Doo?" / 2003-2004 / KidsWB
This series represented a return to the original spirit with the complete gang, but it was updated for the 21st century.
"Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" / 2006 / KidsWB
Shaggy and Scooby are back on the case, but the adventures now have a science-fiction flavor.
"Scooby-Doo" Television Movies/Specials
"Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood" / 1979 / ABC
"Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers" / 1987 / Syndicated
"Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf" / 1988 / Syndicated
"Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School" / 1989 / Syndicated
"Night of the Living Doo" / 2001 / Cartoon Network
"Scooby-Doo" Direct-to-Video Movies
"Scooby-Doo and the Witch's Ghost" / 1999
"Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders" / 2000
"Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase" / 2001
"Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the Vampire" / 2003
"Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico" / 2003
"Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster" / 2004
"Scooby-Doo in Where's My Mummy?" / 2005
"Scooby-Doo: Pirates Ahoy" / 2006
"Scooby Doo" Theatrical Feature Films
"Scooby-Doo" / 2002 / Warner Bros.
"Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" / 2004 /Warner Bros.
Both of these are live-action films with digitally animated Scooby-Doo and monsters.
As you've seen, Shaggy and Scooby now host their own show, "Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" On the next page, we offer a full episode guide.
'Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!' Episode Guide
Here's a guide to the episodes of the newest "Scooby-Doo" series, "Shaggy & Scooby Get A Clue!"
Show 345-411: "Shags to Riches" (pilot)
After inheriting a fortune from Shaggy's Uncle Albert, Shaggy, and Scooby learn that they have been charged with tracking down the bumbling bad guy Dr. Phineus Phibes, who wants Uncle Albert's formula for nano-technology, which is hidden inside Scooby Snacks.
Show 345-412: "More Fondue for Scooby-Doo!"
Shaggy and Scooby thwart Dr. Phibes' plan to melt the glacier of Mount Zeryodelwietzen in Switzerland in order to ruin a conference on global warming to be held there.
345-413: "High Society Scooby"
Chaos reigns as Shaggy and Scooby crash a country club in order to save three world-renowned inventors from the clutches of Dr. Phibes.
345-414: "Lightning Strikes Twice"
From the safety of his spaceship, Dr. Phibes attempts to create an electrical storm that will cover the Earth for all time, and it is up to Shaggy and Scooby to save the world.
345-415: "Party Arty"
Dr. Phibes manages to slip a dangerous robot butler into Shaggy's and Scooby's mansion to replace their own "ro-butler," Robi, on the eve of an important mansion-warming party.
345-416: "Smart House"
Shaggy and Scooby fight an artificially intelligent computer virus that lodges into their mansion's advanced computer system (dubbed "Smart House"). They must prevent it from corrupting the country's weapons defense systems.
345-417: "Chefs of Steel"
During the taping of a cooking show, Shaggy and Scooby find themselves squaring off in the kitchen against the evil Chef Suki Sukihari and his mind-control hibatchi.
345-418: "Mystery of the Missing Mystery Solvers"
Shaggy and Scooby are called on to find the world's most famous detectives, all of whom begin disappearing at the Mystery Solvers of the Millennium Awards. As they track the trackers, they discover the event's host is not who he appears to be.
345-419: "Don't Feed the Animals"
Dastardly Dr. Phibes turns his attention to the rain forest, which he plans to destroy in his quest for a plant that promises immortality. Shaggy and Scooby team up with a pack of marmosets to fight him.
345-420: "Almost Ghosts"
Dr. Phibes uses an invisibility ray on two of his henchmen and sends them to steal a disintegration ray housed in a government facility. Joining the fray are Fred, Velma, and Daphne, who think they are chasing ghosts.
345-421: "Pole to Pole"
Shaggy and Scooby enter the "Polar Bear 3000" race across Greenland in order to stop Dr. Phibes from transporting a device that will knock out all electronic and telecommunications equipment on the planet.
345-422: "Big Trouble"
Out in the desert, Shaggy and Scooby once again battle Dr. Phibes, who this time has built a monstrous giant robot in his own image.
345-423: "Operation Dog and Hippy Boy"
Dr. Phibes assembles the world's most dangerous villains and charges them with getting rid of Shaggy and Scooby. Before the dust clears, however, Dr. Phibes ends up obtaining exactly what he wanted all along: Uncle Albert's top-secret formula.
What's in store for the Great Dane and his friends? Find out in the final section.
The Future of 'Scooby-Doo'
Given the sheer number of "Scooby-Doo" episodes, films, and videos, it seems there might be nowhere to take the franchise. But don't worry: As the current standout property in the Hanna-Barbera archive, there will always be more Scooby.
The cliffhanger ending to the final episode of season one of "Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue!" certainly offers evidence that a second season is being planned. "We would love to make more," said Eric Radomski, supervising producer. But those within Warner Bros. indicate that an effort is being made to push Scooby-Doo further into the realm of high tech.
Just imagine Scooby-Doo announcing that your cell phone is ringing. Or think about Scooby adventures showing up on your iPod. Scooby-related video games have, of course, been on the market for years, and there is every reason to believe that more are forthcoming.
Why is it that Scooby-Doo was such and instant hit when he debuted in 1969 and has continued to be one of the most endearing characters in the history of animation? A lot of it may have to do with his uniqueness -- there just isn't any other character quite like Scooby-Doo, who has truly human qualities but remains at all times a lovable dog.
Or maybe it is his timelessness. The Scooby of nearly 40 years ago is essentially the same Scooby today. Such is also the case with the members of Mystery, Inc., particularly Shaggy. No matter what our age, we have all, at one time or another, known a Shaggy.
When they created a talking Great Dane named Scooby-Doo all those years ago, they started a franchise -- and broke the mold.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michael Mallory is an internationally recognized authority on animation and the author of the book Hanna-Barbera Cartoons. He has written more than 300 articles on animation.