FROM JASON’S ANIMATION-LADEN 1980S — There were The Smurfs, Centurions, Silverhawks, Transformers, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Dinoriders, Battle Beasts, and M.A.S.K.
There were actually a lot more. I’m not even getting into the Disney Afternoon line-up. Truth is, I spent practically half my youth in pajamas on the living room rug, balled up on a beanbag in front of the family television.
But more than any other cartoon, my little brother and I watched Scooby Doo, Where Are You?
It was hard to avoid — there were re-runs every weekday morning, it could usually be found on some channel right after school, and it was impossible to start a Saturday morning without Scooby (and Garfield and Friends) with some Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops.
Scooby blinded me with science
It wasn’t until yesterday, though, as I flipped to Cartoon Network in the morning (I work nights), that I realized just what kind of a great lesson ol’ Scoob and the gang taught to young thinkers. Even though Shaggy and Scooby would panic every single episode over the monster of the week, Fred, Velma, and Daphne would always use skeptical thinking to prove that here be no ghosts.
That was the message again and again: Use logic. Reason through the puzzles. Think for yourself. Let your brain — not your adrenaline — be your guide. There’s always a rational explanation. That, of course, was all chucked out the door with the new direct-to-video (and Cartoon Network) Scooby movies, which put the gang in danger from ACTUAL vampires, ghosts, monsters, zombies, and witches.
There’s no arguing that Scooby Doo was formulaic. The gang would wander into a strange situation and become tangled in danger when a “ghost” or “monster” appeared. They would try to track down the phantom, only to find after a few Hardy Boys-esque chases that the culprit was really just Farmer Jenkins or Mr. Weatherby using some elaborate costume and 1960s technology.
In his book The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan even praises the show for its dedication to the scientific method and inquiry. He goes on to say that there needs to be an adult equivalent to Scooby Doo to hammer home the principles of skepticism.
It’s a dichotomy I’ve never understood: My super-religious parents and extended family always thought Scooby Doo was the greatest show ever. They were so happy that it was clean and taught kids how to see through fakery. They never bothered turning that spotlight on their own beliefs.
Had they done that, they might have discovered that god is just a dressed-up myth trying to scam the gullible, too.
Everybody knows that the voice of Shaggy was legendary disc jockey Casey Kasem, but few realize that Fred was done by Frank Welker, voice of Optimus Prime and two-thirds of the Decepticons.
The Mystery Machine was a 1968 Chevy Sportvan 108.
Scooby Doo, Where Are You? was originally going to be titled The Mystery Five. Hooray for the marketing department at Hanna-Barbera.
Each of the characters have last names: Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Scooby Doo, Freddy Jones and Norville “Shaggy” Rogers.
There are only 25 episodes of the original CBS cartoon, but there are also 24 hour-long episodes, 40 of the ABC version, 49 of Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo, and more than 100 other spin-off shows (including the WB and CW remakes running today).