Happy birthday Scooby-Doo! Fifty years ago this weekend at 10:30 am on Saturday morning, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You premiered on CBS. The show was an instant hit with 65% of the Saturday morning audience tuned in each week to watch Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, Velma, and a Great Dane called Scooby, investigate a new mystery.
The original show was thirty minutes in length and stayed that way until 1972 when it was expanded to one hour. The new version was called The New Scooby-Doo Movies and featured a guest star (fictitious and real) helping the gang solve a mystery. This version ran until 1974 and then reruns of the original show aired until 1976 when the show left CBS.
Scooby moved to ABC and was partnered up with a new show to form The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour. The following year the show became Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. In 1979, The title changed again to Scooby’s All-Stars.
1979 was a big year for Scooby and not just because of yet another title change. The forty episodes produced between 76 and 78 went into syndication as The Scooby-Do Show and ABC aired a prime time special called Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood. That same year, a new character was added to the gang.
Scrappy-Doo, Scooby’s nephew shared top billing in the new show Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. The series was a hit and differed from past versions in that the bad guys were actual supernatural beings and not humans with a mask on. Mystery Inc. continued on in various incarnations during the eighties on ABC including the last version on the network, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The show was a hit and featured the gang as youngsters in their hometown of Coolsvills. This version stayed on the air until 1991.
In the late eighties, Hanna-Barbera Productions who owned the series started to make Direct to Video Scooby-Doo movies. Like the show with Scrappy, these movies also featured real supernatural villains. In the early nineties, Scooby reruns started to air on the Cartoon Network and Hanna-Barbera was sold to Turner Broadcasting. The reruns brought a resurgence to the franchise.
In the late nineties, Warner Animation (Turner had merged with Time Warner) began producing direct to video Scooby-Doo movies. The success of the reruns and the movies led to a theatrical live-action film that came out in 2002. Scooby-Doo was a hit at the box office and earned $130 million in the USA. A less successful sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed came out in 2004.
The Great Dane returned to Saturday mornings in 2002 when The WB started to air What’s New, Scooby-Doo. That show was replaced with Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! which ran for two more seasons on The CW. In 2010, The Cartoon Network premiered Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, which aired for three years. It was followed by Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! which aired for two years and was also seen on The Cartoon Network. The Boomerang streaming service introduced Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? in June of 2019.
The original audience for Scooby-Doo in 1969 was the youngest of Generation Jones and the oldest of Generation X. During these last fifty years, the series entertained not just the kids of those generations, but also the Xennials, the Millennials, Generation Z and now the youngest group, which some call Generation Alpha.
Scooby-Doo has never gone away in the fifty years since it hit the airwaves. We all know what a Scooby snack is. Say Shaggy and Velma, and everyone knows who you are talking about. Scooby-Doo merchandise has earned a few billion in the five decades since that first Saturday morning. Scooby is as beloved by the youngsters as much as he was and is by our generation.
Although we have to share Scooby with other Generations, the series is inherently ours. In a time when we did not have videotapes, DVDs or 24 hours of access to cartoons on TV or online, Scooby-Doo reigned supreme. It is with all of this history, longevity and enduring popularity, that we at Generation X Rewind proclaim that Scooby-Doo is the greatest Saturday morning cartoon series of the Gen X era.