July 05, 2014


Mystery Inc.: Velma, Shaggy, Scooby, Fred and Daphne.

            Those meddling kids and that dog! Always sticking their noses where they don’t belong and foiling the plots and schemes of evil people who enjoy cosplay a little too much. Chances are, you either saw one or several of the eleven (yes, eleven and soon to be twelve) incarnations of the franchise brand new or in the constant reruns played on various networks. Or maybe you’ve seen any of the numerous direct-to-video movies that have been steadily released since the 80s. Regardless, chances are you’ve heard of Scooby-Doo and the kids of Mystery Incorporated. But, how did they come to be?

A boy and his dog and their love of food.
Fred Silverman, the executive in charge of daytime programming for CBS, sought to revitalize their Saturday morning line-up after taking a beating in the ratings from ABC’s The Beatles. Silverman wanted to try and duplicate the formula, and after the success of Filmation’s The Archie Show on both TV and the Billboard charts he asked their rivals, producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, to create a show involving teenaged musicians who solved mysteries between gigs. 

Just a light snack.

            Writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, along with artist and character designer Iwao Takamoto, conceived of Mysteries 5. Mysteries 5 was the name of a band comprised of Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, W.W. and their bongo playing dog, Too Much. The characters were modeled after the Archie characters, right down to Too Much being a sheep dog like Hot Dog. Ruby and Spears pitched the show to Silverman, highlighting that the teens would solve spooky mysteries involving the supernatural between their gigs. However, Silverman rejected it.

The Mystery Machine.
            Ruby, Spears and Takamoto went back and began working on revisions to the show. Too Much was changed to a Great Dane. That was their original choice of breed but ultimately rejected for fears of being too similar to Marmaduke. Takamoto ensured to design Too Much to be the complete antithesis of a prize-winning Great Dane to make his very appearance funny. Ruby and Spears also chose the teenaged characters from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as the models for their characters. Mike was dropped and the personalities altered, and with them the characters’ names: Geoff became the defacto-leader Ronnie, and eventually Fred at Silverman’s request; Kelly became the lovely and often damsel-in-distress Daphne; Linda became the intelligent Velma; and W.W. became the always-hungry beatnik Shaggy. Inspired by Frank Sinatra’s scat at the end of “Strangers in the Night” Silverman had them change Too Much’s name to Scooby-Doo. About the only thing to remain the same was the name of their van: The Mystery Machine.

Ghosts, monsters and demons...oh my!
              Ultimately, the musician angle was dropped and greater focus was put on the cowardly antics of Shaggy and Scooby as they journeyed with the others in their van around the country and ending up involved in one spooky mystery after another. To contrast the goofy antics of the kids, the crew made the threats they faced realistic and scary. Silverman liked the revisions and, after changing the name of the show to Who’s S-S-Scared, presented it to the network for the upcoming season. Unfortunately, CBS President Frank Stanton felt that the monsters featured were too scary for young viewers and decided to pass on the show. Silverman had the creators tone down the supernatural elements and focus more on the comedy elements and renamed the show Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! after the dog, whom he felt was becoming the star of the show. Those changes allowed the show to be approved for production.

            In 1969, Scooby-Doo was introduced to the world, and would go on to lead a franchise lasting over four decades and counting. 

For more on the history of Scooby-Doo, check out this video here.

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