After the success of Filmation’s adaptation of Archie Andrews and the Riverdale crowd, CBS Executive producer Fred Silverman wanted more stories that would make the parent groups happy. Originally envisioned as a group of musicians called Mysteries Five, the show underwent numerous changes (I’m not going over it all, use this fanwiki article) until became the show we know and love today…Scooby-Doo Where Are You! Since then numerous shows and incarnations have come forth and for the month of October I want to look at the many, MANY intros of this franchise. As in previous versions of this subseries of the My Favorite/Not-So-Favorite Intros series I will not be looking at theatrical movies, TV movies, or other media. It’s just the TV series, because their intro has to grab your attention as you spin through channels, or at least had to as we take in media differently these days thanks to channel guides and streaming options.
So put yourself in the mind of a kid on Saturday morning. You’ve had your cereal and now it’s time to watch cartoons. Suddenly on your screen comes a show about a talking dog and his four human friends. And this is the intro you see.
Now someone out there is going “wait, something looks wrong because that’s not the theme song I know, and even the title card seems different”. I’m possibly paraphrasing. Well, that was the theme song for the pilot episode “What A Knight For A Knight”. While the show usually featured the title card of the gang running underneath the episode title this was how it originally looked. This was changed for the syndicated airing and was only relatively recently restored in the name of nostalgic accuracy for home video and modern airings. It’s not a bad theme song and I kind of wish they had kept the unique title cards for each episode. Not many shows do that, sadly. However, while this song would go on to be used as background music, kept only for the title cards, the rest of season one would give us the same visuals and the more iconic theme song that later shows would reference in one form or another.
How do you do a mystery show for kids? Murder is out of the question, and murder tends to be the majority of mystery stories for adults. (With all the murder mysteries set in New York City I’m surprised anyone is left. Then again, if Cabot Cove, Maine can keep a population count every time their local mystery novelist goes out of town, anything’s possible.) First you break out other crimes. Robbery, revenge that doesn’t involve death, putting a rival out of business, hiding a smuggling operation, and yes, Sholly Fisch, sometimes they want to take land because it will be worth something or the government plans to put a new train through or something. I didn’t have to sit through every issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up being told that was the only crime the gang have looked into. Yes, I’m still annoyed by that because I finished reviewing it recent enough.
To make it more interesting for kids the gang investigated false haunting. Ghosts, monsters, and other such disguises meant to scare people away or into doing what they wanted. Some kids like the spooky stuff. Usually that isn’t me but this show offered comedy and mystery solving. What I really liked about the show, and what the DC Comics run I just mentioned failed to understand, was that creating a detective story the kids get to try to solve before the meddling kids did is also one of the ingredients of the show’s success. Pull that away…well, we’ll get to that as this series goes on.
This intro does a good job of showcasing the mystery, the spooks, and the humorous moments of the show. However, it does so using clips from the show, which is always a bummer for me, especially in animation. Also, what do you do the next season? Reuse the same clips or swipe new ones? In Where Are You‘s case you apparently do both.
Personally I think they should have stuck to the season one clips. In both cases you’re spoiling all the monsters of the season, while awkwardly pushing Mr. Hyde into the bookcase and having Scooby run into the medicine man when the legs are still the robot. At least surprise the kids this season.
As for the change in theme song, I understand why they did it. Season two added a music sequence into the chase scene, swiping an idea from The Monkees though I’d have to research if this was the first show to do so. They were originally going to be a teen rock band after all. The company La La Productions did the chase scene songs, which would disappear from the franchise (not counting the occasional musician guest appearance episode both famous and fictional) while the chases past this would just be Shaggy and Scooby using their tricks and occasionally bringing the others in, or one of Fred’s traps going wrong. Otherwise the chase songs really didn’t return until A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and have been part of Scooby shows and movies ever since. Yep, you’re nostalgic for a bit that happened in one season and not for years after. The laugh track disappeared before you think too, though even I think they should have ended that here.
Knowing why they changed the theme song however doesn’t mean I like the change. The original version had more of the spooky element without going as far as the instrumental. Not a lot, but just enough to feel closer to the tone of the show. Again, I know why they changed it but if I had to choose, the more iconic version from most of season one is the better choice of the three.
Next time (I’ll be peppering these throughout October) the gang get to meet celebrities from our world. Prepare for famous guests, a longer episode, and the cheapest quality animation of the franchise. Which if you already don’t like the ways Hanna-Barbera cut corners you’re really not going to like.