On Saturday morning in 1969, CBS and Hanna-Barbera debuted Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? The iconic cartoon dog and his mystery-solving pals, who were based on characters from the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, were a hit and over the years they have gone through a number of format and title changes. The New Scooby-Doo Movies found the gang joined by guest stars, both real (Jonathan Winters) and fictional (Batman and Robin); by other dogs (nephew Scrappy-Doo and cousin Scooby-Dum); and they have even gone after real ghosts.
During the 1980s, the unfortunate trend of babyfication infected the animation landscape. The Muppets were Patient Zero and Scooby-Doo was one of its victims. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo aired from 1988 to 1991 and featured the return of voice actors Don Messick (Scooby) and Casey Kasem (Shaggy). The series was previously made available on DVD in volumes that offered four to five episodes. The Complete First Season was released last year and this set presents the remaining 17 episodes of its run.
In this incarnation, the characters are younger versions, which creates a paradox because they appear in the present with Velma using a computer to help her solve crimes. They are also different because they are sillier. For no apparent reason, Fred usually thinks the culprit is a kid named Red Herring, and Daphne is a spoiled rich kid.
These alterations are derived from the most drastic change in the series, which is the sense of humor. Tom Ruegger, who developed the series, has a very wild and crazy style that brings to mind the old Looney Tunes. He infused the same wackiness in his other cartoons for Warner Brothers, such as Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Pinky and the Brain.
A special feature offers a bonus episode “Party Arty” from the Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! series that aired on Kids’ WB from 2006 through 2008. Losing the mystery aspect, this show has Shaggy inheriting his uncle’s fortune and he and Scooby work to foil the villainous schemes of Phineas Phibes.
Kids may well like the silliness Pup has to offer, but Gen-Xers and others who grew up on earlier versions will barely recognize the show and likely be disappointed.
Judge for yourself: