Scooby Doo – How Did it Originate?

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Scooby Doo – How Did it Originate?

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Kitchen Decor

Laghima Pandey

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Scooby-Doo, an animated franchise, comprising of a multitude of animated television series produced from 1969 to the present day. This beloved children’s series entertains its audience with comedy and mystery at the same time. Scooby-Doo has been popular since its inception, especially with its producer, Mitch Watson. When asked about his favorite show he’s worked on, Watson said, “Mystery Incorporated is my favorite!” Although many people are fond of this cartoon, very few know about how the show got its name and where it originated.

The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was created for Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears and character designer Iwao Takamoto. This Saturday-morning cartoon series features four teenagers – Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, and their talking Great Dane, Scooby-Doo – who solve mysteries involving supernatural creatures through a series of shenanigans. 

The Birth of Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang

In 1968, some parent-run organizations, such as Action for Children’s Television (ACT), began protesting the amount of violence in Saturday morning cartoons. Most of these shows were Hanna-Barbera action cartoons, such as Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, and The Herculoids – all three were canceled by 1969, due to pressure from these parent groups. Fred Silverman, the executive in charge of children’s programming for the CBS network at the time, wanted a show that would revive this Saturday morning line-up. He contacted producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera about creating another show based around a teenage rock group, but with an extra element: the kids would solve mysteries in between their gigs. Silverman envisioned the show as a cross between the popular I Love a Mystery radio serials of the 1940s and the popular early 1960s TV show The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Hanna and Barbera passed this task along to two of their head writers, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, as well as artist and character designer Iwao Takamoto. Their original concept of the show bore the title “Mysteries Five,” and featured five teens (Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, and Linda’s brother, W.W.) and their dog, Too Much, who were all in a band called “The Mysteries Five” (even the dog; he played the bongos). Ruby and Spears were unable to decide whether Too Much, who later became Scooby, would be a large cowardly dog or a small feisty dog. When it was decided that it should be a large cowardly dog, the choices were narrowed down to a large, goofy Great Dane or a big, shaggy sheepdog. After consulting with Barbera on the issue, Too Much was finally set as a Great Dane. It was also decided that the name of the show would be “Who’s Scared.”

By the time the show was ready for presentation to CBS executives, a few more things had changed. Two of the characters (Geoff and Mike) were merged into one character named Ronnie. Ronnie later became Fred, at the direction of Silverman. The character Kelly was renamed Daphne, Linda to Velma, and Shaggy (formerly W.W.) was no longer her brother.

Using storyboards & presentation boards, Silverman presented “Who’s Scared?” to the CBS executives, as the centerpiece for the upcoming 1969–1970 television season’s Saturday morning cartoon block. The executives felt that the show was too frightening for young viewers and decided to pass on it. On the plane ride back to Los Angeles, Silverman decided to rename the dog, rename the show, and make the dog the star. Silverman believed these changes would take the focus away from the frightening aspects of the show. He had been inspired by the ad-lib – “doo-be-doo-be-doo” – that he had heard at the end of Frank Sinatra’s interpretation of Bert Kaempfert’s song “Strangers in the Night,” on the way out to one of his meetings, and thus, decided to rename the dog Scooby-Doo and re-rechristen the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!