By Tom Keogh
Chuck Jones and other great studio animators sneered at the cheap look
and lazy craftsmanship of Hanna Barbera's television cartoons in the
1960s, but there's no question HB's original, 35-year-old Scooby-Doo,
Where Are You! is enduringly beloved. The Complete First and Second
Seasons includes all 25 stories first broadcast from September '69 to
October '71, a growth period in which canine hero Scooby's voice (by Don
Messick, who also voiced The Jetsons's pup, Astro) was gradually
refined from murky garble to Scoob's more familiar,
"Rrroowwrr"-inflected, human-like speech. This set also
represents the pre-frills Scooby-Doo: no guest appearances by Don
Knotts or Batman, no Scrappy-Doo--just adventure and occasional bubblegum
pop tunes by Danny Janssen and sundry co-writers (e.g., "Pretty Mary
Sunlite" in the episode "Don't Fool with a Phantom").
Watching all the shows back-to-back reveals evolving complexity in the
scripts. Over time, Scooby-Doo's creators added multiple bad guys
in cahoots with major villains, and developed sub-plots, backstories, and
even appealing allies and friends of Mystery, Inc., a traveling band of
young debunkers of supernatural phenomena. Riding around in their
psychedelic Mystery Van, preppie leader Fred and his friends--haughty
Daphne, brainy Velma, quasi-hippie Shaggy, and Shaggy's best pal, Scooby,
an excitable Great Dane--chase down and are chased by alleged ghouls who
generally turn out to be venal humans running various scams.
Included here is Scooby-Doo's premiere, "What a Night for a
Knight," in which the gang looks into the disappearance of a noted
archaeologist and end up in a "haunted" museum. The fun "Go
Away Ghost Ship" finds our heroes helping a shipping company daunted
by the apparent ghost of pirate Red Beard, while the silly classic "A
Tiki Scare Is No Fair" concerns a Hawaiian vacation for Mystery, Inc.
disrupted by a witch doctor.
||Scooby-Doo on DVD!