Frank Welker – Scooby-Doo, Fred Jones, various
Casey Kasem – Norville “Shaggy” Rogers
Grey DeLisle – Daphne Blake, various
Mindy Cohn – Velma Dinkley
For more information on the history of Scooby-Doo, check out the post here.
The early 1990s were a quiet time for the Scooby-Doo franchise, and a period of some sweeping changes.
|Shaggy's love of meat drove off Casey Kasem.|
Scooby’s ratings had suffered a serious decline. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo came to a conclusion with no new incarnation to follow for the first time in two decades. The Scooby made-for-TV film series that had been running concurrently since 1987 also ended with 1994’s Scooby-Doo! in Arabian Nights; again, with no plan for a follow-up. Casey Kasem, who had voiced Shaggy since the beginning, had left the role in 1995 over a dispute with the producers of having Shaggy appear in a Burger King commercial (Kasem was a vegan and wanted Shaggy to at least be portrayed as a vegetarian). Don Messick, the original voice of Scooby, decided to retire from the role as his quitting smoking made him unable to achieve the rasp needed to do the voice properly. He ultimately retired from acting altogether after a stroke in 1996, and died from a second one in 1997.
Behind the scenes, Turner Broadcasting System had purchased Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991 in order to gain access to their library and begin their own network: Cartoon Network. The studio was renamed Hanna-Barbera Cartoons and began producing new content exclusively for Turner networks while the back catalog filled up the majority of Cartoon Network’s—later sister station Boomerang’—air time. In 1996, Turner merged with Time Warner and Hanna-Barbera became part of Warner Bros. Animation, before being absorbed entirely in 2001 following William Hanna’s death.
|Johnny Bravo meets the Scooby gang.|
Conspicuously absent at this time was any new Scooby content. However, the various Scooby shows were shown regularly in reruns on the Turner networks and saw a significant surge in ratings. This was capped off by the warm reception to the 1997 Johnny Bravo episode segment “Bravo Dooby-Doo”, which featured a crossover with the Mystery, Inc. gang. This would be Heather North’s last outing as the regular voice for Daphne Blake, briefly retiring from acting until 2003 when she would return, along with original Velma Nicole Jaffe, for two direct-to-video movies.
Warner executives wanted some new projects based on Hanna-Barbera’s existing properties and decided to give Scooby a shot with a one-off direct-to-video film. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was released to home video on September 22, 1998. It was written by Glenn Leopold, who had worked on the franchise since 1979’s Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, based off of his unused SWAT Kats script. Jim Stenstrum served as director, and the driving force behind making the monsters encountered in the film real; a fact that was heavily promoted in the film’s marketing (and ignored the prior television series where this occurred). With very little oversight from Warners, the film’s crew was allowed full creative freedom and made it significantly darker in tone than the previous TV entries, as well as gave the characters a design update.
|Fred discovers that's not a mask.|
Frank Welker was the only original cast member to return, voicing Fred once again. Initially, voice director Kris Zimmerman felt that Welker’s voice had gone down an octave and Welker could no longer do the same voice, which Welker disputed as Fred’s voice was practically his natural speaking voice. Upon review, it was determined that the production crew was misled by the fact that Scooby reruns were time-compressed and sped up slightly, altering the vocal performances. Kasem was offered a chance to return, but as there were scenes already made of Shaggy eating crawfish he declined and was replaced by Billy West. Scott Innes was hired as the voice of Scooby, and Mary-Kay Bergman took over the role of Daphne. B.J. Ward reprised Velma from Johnny Bravo.
Zombie Island proved a hit in sales and earned two award nominations in 1999. Warner Bros. commissioned additional direct-to-video movies in what would become an ongoing series; although only the first three follow-ups would maintain the same continuity as Zombie Island. Because Scooby was now a viable property, Warner Bros. became increasingly involved in micromanaging the films’ productions, driving out the production crew. WB would slowly bring the series back to the status quo of the original programs while toning down the things that made Zombie Island so successful. Innes would take over Shaggy from West with the second film, assuming double-duty with voicing Scooby, and following Bergman’s death her favorite student, Grey DeLisle, would take over as Daphne for the fourth. Around this time, the first live-action film was also in production and set to hit theaters the following year.
|The gang is back with a new look and modern technology.|
With all this new love for Scooby, it was time to look into creating the ninth incarnation of the franchise. Originally announced as a joint venture between Kids’ WB and Cartoon Network called All-New Scooby-Doo!: The Animated Series, What’s New, Scooby-Doo? was the first series not produced by Hanna-Barbera, but instead by Warner Bros. Animation, as well as the first time the entire Mystery, Inc. gang had been together regularly in their teenage forms since 1980. It also completely abandoned the Hanna-Barbera sound library in favor of newer, more realistic sound effects. The ironically named What’s New was a return to the classic mystery-solving format of the franchise, with the Mystery, Inc. gang travelling around to various locations and encountering criminals in disguises trying to frighten people away from their crimes (although, occasionally, a villain would slip through with a sympathetic motive).
|A real dead-head behind the wheel.|
What’s New, Scooby-Doo? debuted on The WB as part of the Kids’ WB programming block on September 14, 2002. Welker was given the additional duties of voicing Scooby after the producers’ first choice, Marty Grabstein, was too busy recording for Courage the Cowardly Dog. Kasem returned after the producers made Shaggy a vegetarian, and would be the final series in which he’d voice the character even though he’d continue to do so in the subsequent animated films. Mindy Cohn also succeeded Ward as the permanent voice for Velma. While the character designs took inspiration from the original Hanna-Barbera models, they were refined by Scott Awley and Scott Jeralds to make them look less two-dimensional. Fred and Daphne also received slight changes to their attire; with Fred losing his ascot and given a blue stripe across his torso and arms, and Daphne no longer wearing her green scarf and her dress having a new design. The characters’ personalities received some tweaking, as Velma’s intelligence was elevated greatly, Fred was dumbed-down slightly in an attempt to give him more of a personality, and Daphne was no longer danger-prone or the damsel in distress and became a woman of action who could take care of herself. Shaggy and Scooby, who became the prominent faces of the franchise for a time, had the focus taken off of them and put onto their friends for a majority of episodes (although they do have a starring role without the others in the episode “Camp Comeoniwannascareya”).
|The Hex Girls: Dusk, Thorn and Luna.|
In a first for the teen incarnation of the franchise, there were recurring characters and locations seen in multiple episodes. Amongst them was Elliot Blender (Kimberly Brooks), a spoiled genius that often lost to Velma in contests; Melbourne O’Reilly (Steve Blum), an Australian adventurer and explorer and one of Fred’s heroes; Gibby Norton (voiced by and modeled after Eddie Deezen), a nerd who had an unrequited crush on Velma and often tried to impress her by being the mystery’s villain; Mr. B (Jeff Bennet), who owned a group of mischievous puppies known as the Secret Six: Maize, Knox (both Jennifer Hale), Jingle (Colleen O’Shaugnessey), Flax (Dee Bradley Baker), Bling-Bling (DeLisle) and 14-Karat (Welker); and Professor Laslow Ostwald (Dave Foley & James Arnold Taylor), an inventor. Crossing over from the 2nd and 5th animated films were the Hex Girls: an all-female eco-goth rock band comprised of lead singer and guitarist Thorn (Hale), drummer Dusk (Jane Wiedlin) and keyboardist Luna (Brooks). Additional character designs were handled by Strenstrum, Susan Crossley, Dexter Smith, Tim Maltby, Phil Bourassa, Hyunsook Cho, Joe Sichta and Kathi Castillo.
|Flashing back to A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.|
The series was written by Jordana Arkin, Chris Brown, Bill Canterbury, Jonathan Collier, Bill Culverius, Nahnatcka Khan, Dwayne McDuffie, Tom Minton, Tom Sheppard, Mark Turosz, Matt Wayne, story editors George Doty IV, James Krieg and Ed Scharlach, and Hanna-Barbera co-founder Joseph Barbera, who also served as a producer for the series. A lot of wink and nods were made towards the past entries in the Scooby franchise, such as having the characters appear in their A Pup character models in the episode “A Terrifying Round with a Menacing Metallic Clown” and the use of a laugh-track and Scooby’s werewolf form from Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf in “A Scooby-Doo Halloween”, as well as some fourth wall-breaking jokes poked at the long-established formula that What’s New revived.
|Simple Plan as they appeared on the show.|
The series’ theme was performed by the band Simple Plan, who also appeared as themselves in the episode “Simple Plan and the Invisible Madman”, and had three of their songs, “I’d Do Anything” and “You Don’t Mean Anything” and “The Worst Day Ever”, featured on the show. The theme was written by Rich Dickerson and Gigi Meroni, who composed the rest of the series’ music. Each episode’s chase sequence featured either an original or a licensed song by typically an indie, punk or alternative band (increasingly so following the first season). Along with Lotto Animation, who also handled the opening titles, the series was animated by Wang Film Productions and Dong Woo Animation Co., Ltd.
“There’s No Creature Like Snow Creature” (9/14/02) – Rumors of a snow creature reach the gang on their skiing holiday, but Velma and Fred end up out of commission for the mystery.
Song: “It’s a Rad, Rad World” – Sebastian Robertson
“3-D Struction” (9/21/02) – A trip to a museum in Costa Rica leads the gang to investigate a dinosaur that emerges from the film shown there.
“Space Ape at the Cape” (9/28/02) – An alien egg hatches at NASA and threatens the current shuttle mission.
“Big Scare in the Big Easy” (10/5/02) – While the gang stays in New Orleans, two ghosts re-enact their Civil War battle and drive off the other guests of the housing estate.
“It’s Mean, It’s Green, It’s the Mystery Machine” (10/26/02) – Investigating why the Mystery Machine has seemingly come to life leads the gang to its original owners.
Song: “I’d Do Anything” – Simple Plan
“Riva Ras Regas” (11/2/02) – The gang wins a contest to meet Lindsay Pagano in Vegas, but end up having to investigate the ghost of a magician that haunts the venue.
Song: “Here I Come Vegas” – Lindsay Pagano
“Roller Ghoster Ride” (11/9/02) – Scooby and Shaggy win a contest to design a new roller coaster for a theme park, but a ghost is intent on sabotaging all the rides there.
“Safari, So Goodi!” (11/23/02) – The gang goes on an African safari where they discover the animals all turning yellow and acting strangely.
Song: “Hatari Safari” – Rich Dickerson
“She Sees Sea Monsters by the Sea Shore” (11/30/02) – The gang’s island vacation is interrupted by a sea serpent.
“A Scooby-Doo! Christmas” (12/13/02) – The gang ends up in a town that doesn’t celebrate Christmas due to a headless snowman terrorizing them.
Song: “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” – Heavy Trevy
“Toy Scary Boo” (2/1/03) – The gang investigates a toy store where the toys take over.
Song: “Scooby, Scooby-Doo” – Rich Dickerson
“Lights! Camera! Mayhem!” (2/15/03) – The gang gets VIP passes to a Hollywood studio where a production comes under siege by the Faceless Phantom.
Song: “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” – The Ramones
“Pompeii and Circumstance” (2/22/03) – The gang encounters a zombie gladiator in Pompeii who seems to be connected to illegal waste dumping in Mt. Vesuvius.
“The Unnatural” (3/22/03) – The ghost of the homerun record holder tries to stop Luis Santiago from breaking it.
“Big Appetite in Little Tokyo” (9/13/03) – While in Tokyo, Shaggy eats a mystically-zapped pizza that causes him to turn into an ever-hungry giant.
“Mummy Scares Best” (9/20/03) – On an archaeological dig in Egypt, the gang encounters a mummy that can turn people into zombies.
“The Fast and the Wormious” (9/27/03) – Fred enters a cross-country race which ends up pitting the gang against a giant worm.
“High-Tech House of Horrors” (10/4/03) – The gang investigates a house of the future attraction at a future fair where a teenager disappeared.
“The Vampire Strikes Back” (10/18/03) – The gag heads to the recording of The Hex Girls’ latest music video in Transylvania where a vampire is on the loose.
Song: “Petrified Bride” – The Hex Girls
“A Scooby-Doo Halloween” (10/24/03) – The gang goes to spend Halloween with Velma’s relatives but some scarecrows are eager to spoil the fun.
“Homeward Hound” (10/25/03) – The gang heads to a dog show which comes under attack by a cat creature that steals the puppies of the former winner.
Song: “Now I Wanna Be A Good Boy” – The Ramones
“The San Franpsycho” (3/20/04) – The gang visits Ryan Sheckler at the Grind Games in San Francsisco, but the games end up terrorized by the ghost of a former Alcatraz inmate.
“Simple Plan and the Invisible Madman” (3/22/04) – When the gang’s and Simple Plans’ vans are wrecked, they’re forced to stay in a ghost town where something invisible stalks the band.
“Recipe for Disaster” (3/23/04) – The gang heads to the Scooby Snack Factory which is besieged by spies and a monster.
“Large Dragon at Large” (3/24/04) – A dragon terrorizes a Renaissance fair in Scotland.
“Uncle Scooby and Antarctica” (3/25/04) – The gang encounters a fish-like creature while trying to return a penguin to Antarctica.
Song: “Southbound” – MxPx
“New Mexico, Old Monster” (3/26/04) – An ancient bird terrorizes the Native American reservation that the gang visits.
“It’s All Greek to Scooby” (3/27/04) – Shaggy buys a mysterious amulet that causes a centaur to chase him.
“Fright House at the Lighthouse” (1/29/05) – While visiting Fred’s uncle the gag tries to stop a ghost from messing with local ships.
“Go West, Young Scoob” (2/5/05) – The gang visits a western town where the robot inhabitants have gone berserk.
“A Scooby-Doo Valentine” (2/11/05) – It looks like the gang may be responsible for disappearances on Lovers Lane.
“Wrestle Maniacs” (2/12/05) – Fred enters a wrestling competition haunted by the twisted ghost of a former wrestler.
Song: “All Twisted” – CIV
“Ready to Scare” (2/19/05) – The gang visits Daphne’s cousin in Paris only to learn she’s been abducted by a gargoyle from the Notre Dame cathedral.
“Farmed and Dangerous” (2/26/05) – Visiting Mr. B and the Secret Six puppies leads the gang to learn it was built over an ancient graveyard.
“Diamonds Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend” (3/5/05) – At the Emperor Cup game between the US and Russian ice hockey teams, a former Russian hockey player makes off with the trophy.
Song: “I’ll Search Forever” – Rich Dickerson
“A Terrifying Round with a Menacing Metallic Clown” (3/12/05) – Shaggy’s mini-golf tournament is terrorized by a giant metallic clown.
Song: “Something Special” – CIV
“Camp Comeoniwannascareya” (3/19/05) – Scooby and Shaggy volunteer at a summer camp that’s haunted by a slimy creature.
“Block-Long Hong Kong Horror” (3/26/05) – The gang joins Shaggy in Hong Kong to get his rubber duck repaired at the same time the city is terrorized by a dragon.
Song: “Hong Kong Holiday” – E.G. Daily
“Gentlemen, Start Your Monsters!” (4/2/05) – Fred competes in a car race that ends up hosting a skeleton driver in a monster truck.
“Gold Paw” (4/9/05) – The gang visits the Secret Six at Fort Knox, which is haunted by a creature made of gold that turns whatever it touches into gold.
“Reef Grief!” (4/16/05) – A coral monster interrupts Shaggy and Scooby’s Australian sandcastle building contest.
Song: “New Planet” – Smash Mouth
“E-Scream” (7/21/06) – Velma tries to relax while the others enjoy a video game convention, but she stumbles upon a virtual-reality game that has come to life.