A retrospective view of “Scooby Doo”


Photo Courtesy of screencrush.com
Photo Courtesy of screencrush.com

Jeff Turner

Scooby Doo, Where Are You? is an irrefutable staple of pop culture. It is also, something many children this generation watched growing up, despite the original show being well before their time. Those producing the show got the message, and it has seen many incarnations, before settling in with Warner Bros. It even established a canon, with an umpteen number of spinoffs, and got two (bad, like, really, really bad) movies. So what was the appeal?

The appeal is quite simple actually. It was about a bunch of kids going on adventures with their dog, and there was usually some creep involved, and there were definite hijinks. The main kid and his dog are kind of goofy, and it’s funny because it is. That’s always the worst, “it’s funny because it is” until the person complaining joins the club! Then it clicks. It usually has to do with what someone watched as a kid. There’s a lot of appeal to the idea, why wouldn’t want to go out with their friends and solve mysteries? Just purely off the pitch, the idea sounds fun!

It was always weird how they used laugh tracks, especially when one considers that laugh
tracks weren’t present in any of the Warner Bros cartoons or Tom and Jerry or anything of the
like. Hanna-Barbera, who produced the show during its initial run, used laugh tracks for most of their programming.

Critics were rarely in love with the series (such as the movie, for example). One person with whom it earned favor with, though, was Carl Sagan. Sagan pushed hard against paranormal and supernatural ideas, and often liked it when, by the end, the monster or ghost had been unmasked as a hoax.

Also noteworthy: The Doo in Scooby-Doo was not initially going to be there. One of the producers was listening to a Frank Sinatra song and was intrigued with one of the lines: “dooby dooby doo.”

With the exception of the third act, where it just loses its way altogether, the movie was about as close to a direct adaptation as one could get. It was also awful. Unequivocally so. Its marketing budget was off the wall though, the studios invested so much money in this move: it was on billboards, there was a deal with Dairy Queen where they even had a tagline (“DQ something different”). That was where the movie made most of its money, as despite a lukewarm reception from critics, it was a hit. It raked in about 80-90 million dollars in profit. The director, Raja Gosnell, later used this model for his Smurfs film, to an even larger profit of over 300 million.

One fun and pretty ridiculous fan theory regarding the original series is that the characters are actually living in an economic depression: because many of the villains are exceptionally smart and yet can’t find a job, many of the locations seem run-down, and they’re mainly doing it for financial reasons.

Scooby-Doo really doesn’t require much thought, and is a good choice for those hoping to just stay at home and chill out on Halloween night.


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