“And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.”
~ Richard Nixon on Scooby Doo
Scooby-Doo is a children's cartoon produced by the twin animators Hannah and Barbara Productions, for the family company Productions Productions. First aired in 1960, it was famous for its gutsy tackling of sensitive issues such as bullying, war and "the gay". The cartoon revolved around the adventures of the gang of teenagers Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and their Great Dane, Scooby.
Uniquely for a cartoon, Scooby-Doo was filmed live. The Productions Productions production team chose to employ and film the antics of an array of two-dimensional men and women for the show; furthermore, the characters portrayed by these individuals were named after them. This, more than anything else, has given rise to the internet rumour that the show was filmed based on true events. Further discussion of this and other rumours --- fallacious and otherwise --- can be found at the bottom of this article.
Fred ( 31 October 1949 - 24 November 1995 ) was the leader of the gang, and always pulled the others together when times got tough ( roughly five times per episode ). He was always portrayed as a stern but fair leader; the only exception was in Episode 33, "The Ghost in the Shell", where he smokes some serious doobie and tells Velma that she needs to lighten up twelve times in a row.
In the end-of-season-three cliffhanger, "The Mystery of the Purple Cyclops", "Fred" is revealed to be a flamboyant homosexual named Clint who has been living a double-life all this time. However, in the episode at the start of season four, "Hey, Hey, It's The DEA", this double-life is revealed to be a triple-life as "Clint" is revealed to be an undercover agent for the government who shops the gang out to the Man.
Unfortunately, Fred got drunk at Thanksgiving and ended up thinking he was Batman and jumped off a building, thinking he could fly. He received serious injuries from the fall and died shortly after.
Velma (b. 7 January 1950) is the brains of the gang, and is always the one who does the thinking and pieces together the clues in order to solve the mystery. Her catchphrase is "I wouldn't eat that!".
Because Velma is kinda plain and ugly-looking, she is periodically picked on, beaten up and bullied by the others. This taunting culminates in her committing seppuku in Episode 95, "Velma Commits Seppuku".
Fred's girlfriend, Daphne, ( 23 February 1950 - 18 August 1980 ) is the glamorous and beautiful member of the team who always ends up getting kidnapped by the villains, and later rescued by the team. She is often used as the 'bait' for the 'hilarious' 'traps' that the 'team' set in order to 'snare' the 'ghosts'.
In Episode 88, "The Curse of Death And Treasure Island", Stephanie Threhasslewek -- the actress playing Daphne -- quit the team, and turned to prostitution. She then got into modeling after she was picked up by Heidi Klum, gained superstardom, and was found dead in a dumpster after her first movie role "Kangaroo Jack".
Shaggy ( 27 August 1950 - 2 June 1990 ) is the comic relief of the team. His style of dressing and manner of speech are obviously designed to parody the "stoner" hippies of the 1960s. He is Scooby's best friend, and the action generally follows the two of them as they stumble from misadventure to misadventure, returning periodically to the gang to sponge some more money from them.
Shaggy is comically lucky: while he always gets things wrong, the consequences always land on somebody else instead. For example, in Episode 47, "Mr. Soap's Cheesy Handshake", Shaggy eats a banana and casually throws the peel away, and as a result a nun has a heart-attack and dies.
However, his luck ran out and because of this fiasco, Shaggy was tried by the Coolville Court and was sent to the electric chair on June 2 1990.
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The Thirteen Lawyers are a suite of periodically recurring characters who are inserted into the cartoon whenever a legal situation arises. All dressed in pin-striped suits and fezzes, they are entirely indistinguishable except for their grossly distended fingernails and shoes. When the Thirteen Lawyers speak, they all say different ( and usually mutually contradictory ) things simeltaneously.
In episode 223 ( "I'm Going To Kill This Shitpot Series And There's Nothing You Bastards Can Do About It", aired without title ) a new character, Scrappy Doo, is introduced. Scrappy is a four-foot tall puppy with the face, hands and feet of a human and the ears of George Bush, and is characterised by his catchphrases "P-P-P-Puppy power!", "I'll splat him!" and "This'll fuck you up but good!". Voice actor Lemmon Pppritt was specially brought on for the task of bringing life to Scrappy, and - unexpectedly - chose to do so by screeching out all of his lines in a warbling falsetto.
This, combined with the scripts' new Scrappy-centricity, the renaming of the show to "The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show" ( later to become "The Scrappy Doo And Pals Show" ), and N. Rafferty's insistence that all employees kneel before a nine-foot tall gold leaf-plated statue of Scrappy Doo before starting work each day, was to lead to a great deal of resentment among the show's fans. It was this, combined with the show's cancellation and burning, that is believed to have lead to the downfall of Scooby-Doo.
In the first act, the gang, travelling in the Mystery Machine ( a time-travelling Volkswagen minibus which is bigger on the inside than on the outside ) come across a place supposedly haunted by a ghost. Often the "hook" used to pull them in is that the Mystery Machine breaks down and they need to stop for repairs, or that an old friend of Fred's requires their help, or ( as is the case in Episode 56, "The Mystery of Mystery Island" ) Shaggy's supply of crystal meth has run out, and they need to refill.
The gang then begin investigation of the area. They find clues, and -- inevitably -- Daphne becomes owner of the house, deserted amusement park, or wherever the episode takes place. This will happen through some sort of inventive misunderstanding, often involving the Thirteen Lawyers. At the end of the first act, the ghost will put in an appearance by sneaking up behind somebody and playing some sort of hilarious practical joke.
The second act always consists of Shaggy's extensive psychiatric councilling. There is comical doubletalk between him and his psychotherapist ( who always remains unnamed and off-camera; all we ever see of the psychotherapist is his enormous hat ) which seems to be building to a recovery on Shaggy's behalf, but is interrupted at the last minute, causing Shaggy to relapse. The reason for the interruption is different every episode. In Episode 6, "The Trouble with Tribbles", for example, the psychotherapist steps outside to get a cup of coffee and is gunned down by Mafioso goons.
In the third act, the gang move into their new property and begin tidying up the mess left after the housewarming party. The party itself always happens off-camera, before the third act begins. ( As the series went on, the references to the wild excesses that occured at the housewarming became more and more obscene; for example, in Episode 242, "The King in Yellow", Daphne complains at having to clean horse entrails from the living room. ) Hilariously, the ghost prevents the gang from properly tidying the house. At first, the gang blame Shaggy for this, but eventually - through Velma's keen deduction or Fred's ability to "mind-meld" - become convinced that they are being haunted, and set a trap to catch the ghost.
In the fourth and final act, the trap is sprung, but thanks to Shaggy's blundering fails to catch the ghost. They then start a |fucking retarded music montage in which they run away like pussies, which usually results in the fucking guy in a suit appearing right behind them. In desperation, the gang are forced to shoot the ghost with a handgun instead. At this point, the "ghost" is revealed to, in fact, be a former minor character in a costume. The gang abandon their new digs and flee as wanted murderers across the state line.
The Big Question
Many fans have wondered why the gang seem to be the only people in the world ever to wonder if the monsters are fake. Why does every other person believe the ghosts, phantoms and spectres encountered on a regular basis are real? Is everyone else the world an idiot? Couldn't somebody else piece together the puzzles for once? And why do the police always show up AFTER the criminal's been caught?
One attempt to answer this has been the novel, authored by Wendy Teasdale, "Scooby-Doo and the Illuminati." Set between Series 4 and 5 of the official series, Scooby-Doo and the Illuminati tells the epic story of the gang's discovery of a secret and shadowy conspiracy devoted to hiding all evidence of the gang's doings and wiping the minds of all those who encounter "monsters".
The position of this piece within series canon is hotly debated. The most contested points are:
- Given the events in Chapter 7, why is it that we never see the relationship between Fred and Leonard the Lawyer explored further - or even referred to - in Series 5?
- The character of Mary Jane Watson appears as an old friend of the gang and proceeds to seduce and marry Shaggy and save the gang's skin several times, despite the fact that she is never mentioned in the series or any of the officially licensed merchandise.
- In the animated series, no mention is made of Twinkle, the gang's flying pony.
Hannah and Barbara productions have not released any official comment on Scooby-Doo and the Illuminati, and have insisted that writer J. Lindisfarne was speaking metaphorically when he vowed to "shoot that goddamn stalker bitch right in the face" upon being presented with a copy of the manuscript.
A series as successful as Scooby-Doo inevitably attracts all manner of rumours and theories. Some of the most common are:
- The concept behind the series was based on a set of real-life events witnessed by Hannah and Barbara. FACT. Not only was Hannah a psychic investigator between the ages of 23 and 30, but production manager N. Rafferty was a ghost.
- Episode 276 was written as a result of bitterness between writer J. Lindisfarne and the censors. FACT. Many fans are confused by the sudden, ending to Episode 276. J. Lindisfarne later revealed in his autobiography "I'm Sorry for Scrappy-Doo, All Right?" that a long and bitter vendetta had existed between him and Lobo Morecock, head censor at Productions Productions inc. Knowing that episode 276 was the last to be broadcast, and that Morecock would be on the sauce that day celebrating not having to read another page of lines of "P-P-Puppy Power!", Lindisfarne inserted an entirely unsuitable ending and rushed the animators into producing it before Morecock could come round.
- Scrappy-Doo was inserted into the series as a poorly-thought-out attempt to bolster flagging ratings. MYTH. Memos from the Productions Productions Inc. production offices, where the productions of Scooby-Doo were produced, reveal that production manager N. Rafferty had insisted on putting Scrappy-Doo into the cartoon to deal with accusations from the Christian Right that the gang were "a bunch of no-goodnik hippies with no morals or responsibilities". In demonstrating that Mister Doo was capable of looking after a child, N. Rafferty hoped to prove these accusations false.
- Velma is a "huuuuuge dyke". MYTH. Following public uproar in response to "The Sign of Four", the guest-edited Episode 132, Hannah and Barbara Productions explained at a press conference that Daphne had been bitten on her inner thigh by a cobra, and that Velma was simply sucking the venom out.
- Freddy's absence from the series was not by choice. FACT. It was during the filming of Episode 102, "Cometh the Shoggoth", that other members of the cast became aware of Freddy's increasing abuse of the steroid Wisterol. Thanks to the help and understanding of the cast and crew Freddy was able to return to work until the "Evelyn Waugh's Country Cottage Rent Boy With His Bum Full Of Broken Glass Found Dumped In The Bins" Scandal of 1982 when he was rendered unemployable. Freddy now works as a choreographer in San Francisco and lives with his best friend Raul, his former cravat designer from the series.