This month marks the 50th year since a hungry Great Dane and a bunch of meddling kids started thwarting criminals in “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!,” a Saturday morning cartoon that almost didn’t get on the air because CBS executives worried it was too scary for kids.
To placate executives, the animators moved the show’s dog, originally more of a side character, front and center, renamed the show for him, and a legend was born. On Sept. 13, 1969, the characters solved their first mystery, involving a museum’s armored knight seemingly come to life. They’ve been going ever since, through various Saturday morning series, TV-movies, and even some live action films and an episode of the normally live action series “Supernatural,” in which that show’s characters entered the animated Scooby-verse.
“Scooby-Doo” quickly established a series of cliches it plays with in each episode — the teens in their Mystery Machine van stumbling across a mystery, their bumbling investigations, comical chase scenes, the search for snacks for Scooby and his equally ravenous human pal Shaggy, and, more often than not, the revelation that this week’s monster was actually a scheming human in a mask, often part of a real estate scam.
The latest incarnation, “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?,” made its debut in June, with Scooby and the gang meeting different celebrities each week, starting with Winston-Salem’s own Chris Paul. It runs on the Cartoon Network and the Boomerang streaming service. And beyond that series, a feature-length computer-generated theatrical film and a stage show are in the works.
Tony Craig, an artist from Albemarle, is one the animators on “Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?,” and has worked on episodes featuring such diverse guest stars as Urkel, Sia, Ricky Gervais and Sherlock Holmes. He is already working on episodes for season two, but cannot reveal who the next batch of celebrities will be. Craig has worked on various popular cartoons, including “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Animaniacs,” and “Disney’s House of Mouse,” and described Scooby as “one more notch in the belt of revisiting my childhood favorite cartoons.”
“I just think it’s amazing that a show that basically hits the same comedy and story beats in every episode can still entertain a new generation as well as bring back fond memories for adults,” he said.
To commemorate the series debut, on Tuesday Warner Bros. is releasing “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Series,” a Blu-ray boxed set. It is packaged in a box depicting a familiar haunted house from the series, with startled characters peering out from the windows, and includes all 41 episodes from the original run of the series — two seasons from 1969 to 1970, plus a third from 1978. They have been remastered in high definition, with extensive bonus features including several retrospective pieces, a look at the merchandise the show has spawned, and interviews, some new and some taken from previous releases.
The limited edition Blu-ray set also includes a companion booklet and a plastic Scooby key chain, as well as digital copies of the episodes.
One of the new featurettes in the boxed set is a profile of Frank Welker, who has voiced Fred in almost every Scooby series to date, starting back in 1969, and has been providing Scooby’s voice since 2002. He is one of the busiest voiceover artists in history, with more than 800 credits on the Internet Movie Database. Craig described Welker as “a really nice guy,” having first worked with him on “Timon & Pumbaa” and now on “Guess Who?”
Later this month, two alumni from the UNC School of the Arts will go head-to-head on the ABC game show “The $100,000 Pyramid.”
Anna Camp and Chris Parnell will compete on the Sept. 15 episode of the game show, the latest incarnation of a long-running series. Camp, best known for the “Pitch Perfect” movies, is one of the stars of the forthcoming NBC series “Perfect Harmony.” Parnell is perhaps best known for his roles on “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock,” and is also a popular voice actor on such animated shows as “Archer” and “Rick & Morty.”
The episode will also feature two other celebrities competing against each other, with Rosie O’Donnell taking on Leslie Jones.