When I was a little kid, the premiere episode of "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" was my very first critical indication that, on the whole, Saturday morning kids' programming was finally turning into total crap. Sure, it was pretty crappy already, but this unholy travesty was the last straw.
First, you had this big, stupid dog who was nothing more than a cheap rip-off of Astro from "The Jetsons" going around saying "Ooby-dooby-doo!" Then there was his subhuman sidekick, a total loss named Shaggy who was not only an obvious hardcore stoner with the permanent munchies but an absolute blithering moron as well. These wastes of oxygen traveled around the country in a van with a homely bookworm named Velma (okay, she was actually pretty hot--just check out your nearest cartoon porn site) and a couple of corncob-up-the-ass Barbie and Ken stiffs named...aah, who cares. They always looked like the coolest kids at church camp and dressed "mod" just in time to be totally out of it.
What did these blithering idiots do with their worthless lives? Well, they solved mysteries. Oh my, yes, ha ha, well, of course they did. A bunch of vomit-inducing teenagers and their mangy hound tooling around the country in a fruity-looking van called the "Mystery Machine" with no visible means of financial support whatsoever are just naturally going to be crackerjack mystery solvers. Come to think of it, maybe they should've started by solving the mystery of what the hell their freakin' problem was.
Anyway, these idiots solved the mysteries that were so incredibly lame that even the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew would've been embarrassed to touch them with a ten-foot pole. Although the show tried to pass itself off as spooky supernatural fun for kids, the anticlimactic rip-off solution to every mystery always involved some creepy old man in a ghost outfit or some kind of monster get-up, trying to scare people away from the old haunted lighthouse or the old abandoned carnival or whatever. And at the end of every show they always tried to make it seem like a big surprise that he wasn't really a ghost or a monster, like we're just gonna keep falling for that same old gag week after week.
When's the last time you dressed up in a monster suit and waved your arms around going "Oooo-ooooo!" and actually scared anybody away from anywhere? Maybe Vanilla Ice should've tried that when Shug Knight and his pals showed up at his crib that day--just dress up like a ghost and wave his arms around going "Whooo-OOO-oooo!" at them. Yeah, that would've worked. "YIKES! A G-G-G-GHOST!" I can hear them saying now during their frantic retreat. On second thought, Vanilla Ice most likely would've actually been a friggin' ghost within roughly, oh, thirty seconds.
Anyway, the next time the cops show up at your front door with a warrant, just dress up like a scary swamp creature and shamble outside screaming "Eeeee-AARRRGGGH!" It won't scare them away, but the video footage of them beating and tasering you into oblivion while they laugh their heads off might make the opening credits of COPS.
I won't go into the "Scrappy-Doo" and "Scooby-Dum" episodes because I just couldn't bring myself to suffer through any of them. I did watch some of those later "guest star" episodes, though, when the ratings were finally starting to sink so low that the producers would try anything. They actually called these "Scooby-Doo Movies", even though they were "movies" in roughly the same way that Vern Troyer is the Terminator.
The Don Knotts episode was okay--it's hard to go wrong when you've got Barney Fife as a guest star and Don himself doing the voice. But Jonathan Winters? I loved the guy but most of the kids watching the show in the 70s wouldn't have known Jonathan Winters from Nelson Rockefeller. I'm surprised Milton Berle and Jimmy Durante didn't show up, too. "Hey Mom, who the hell are these friggin' old geezers doing prehistoric vaudeville patter with Scooby-Doo?" And then there was the tragic Batman and Robin episode. Holy has-beens, that must've been a real wake-up call for poor old cartoon Batman.
I was always hoping the gang would find themselves at Spahn Movie Ranch one night and run into special guest star Charles Manson. "Gee, Scoob! Somethin' awful screwy's going on around here!" Shaggy would whine. "We'd better tell the police!" And then a voice from behind him would say, "It's not nice to snitch, Shaggy..." and Shaggy would scream "Zoinks!" as Charlie and the gang moved in for the kill. Of course, they'd probably unmask Manson at the end and he'd turn out to be the old Spahn Movie Ranch caretaker. "Curses! I'd have started Helter Skelter if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!"
(originally posted at Andersonvision.com)