The first incarnation of ‘Scooby-Doo’, ‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?’, launched in fall of 1969 and was a huge hit. Hanna-Barbera even started making several other cartoons that borrowed the concept of a group of teenagers solving mysteries with a mascot of some kind. In 1972, the time came to refresh the concept, so Scooby got his first of many reinventions. ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’ extended the episodes to an hour-long, and in each tale, Scooby and Mystery Inc. would team up with a guest-star or guest-stars.
‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?’ started off pretty dark and moody, but after parents groups started going after cartoons that they felt were too intense or violent, the episodes began emphasizing comedy over danger. That continued on ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’, which even featured a laugh track to play up the lighter tone.
Some guests were real celebrities who provided their own voices for their animated counterparts. Laurel and Hardy were deceased, so their voices were provided by impersonators. The Three Stooges were technically still alive, but elderly, so they were also voiced by others. The Harlem Globetrotters were real people, but they didn’t supply the voices of their cartoons. HB had produced a ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ cartoon which aired from 1970-72, and the voice actors from that series reprised their roles on ‘Scooby-Doo’. The gang also teamed up with characters from other Hanna-Barbera cartoons– ‘Jeannie’, ‘Josie & the Pussycats’, and ‘Speed Buggy’.
Batman and Robin, voiced by Olan Soule and Casey Kasem respectively– reprising their roles from Filmation’s ‘Adventures of Batman’ cartoon from 1968– appeared in two episodes, which motivated HB to create an entirely new series featuring them and other DC superheroes. That show, ‘Super Friends’, premiered the next year in 1973. The Addams Family were also featured on an episode of ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’, with most of the cast from the live-action sitcom voicing their characters. Once again, HB created an ‘Addams Family’ cartoon series that debuted in 1973, although on that series, only Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) and Ted Knight (Lurch) returned to voice their characters. On an interesting note, on ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’ and ‘The Addams Family’ cartoon, Jodie Foster voiced Pugsley. Yes THAT Jodie Foster.
The real celebrities that Scooby and the gang encountered were Jonathan Winters (comedian, actor), Don Knotts (best known for playing Deputy Barney Fife on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’), Phyllis Diller (comedian, actor), Sandy Duncan (best known for playing Peter Pan on stage), Sonny (Bono) & Cher (singers, variety show hosts), Davy Jones (singer best known for The Monkees), Jerry Reed (country singer, actor), Tim Conway (comedian, actor), Don Adams (actor best known for ‘Get Smart’), Cass Elliot (singer best known for The Mamas and the Papas), and Dick Van Dyke (actor best known for ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ and ‘Mary Poppins’). Knotts was the only real celebrity to appear in two episodes.
Mark Hamill‘s first acting job was voicing Corey Anders, the teenage “master” to Jeannie, on the cartoon ‘Jeannie’, and he provided his voice here as well.
Joe Besser provided the voice of bumbling genie Babu on ‘Jeannie’ and on this series. However, many years before, he had served as the third member of the Three Stooges with Moe Howard and Larry Fine. However, on ‘Scooby-Doo’, the final line-up of the Three Stooges was used, Howard, Fine and “Curly Joe” DeRita. So HB mainstay Daws Butler (Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Huckleberry Hound) voiced Larry and “Curly Joe” with Pat Harrington as Moe.
As for the core voice cast, the same actors returned from ‘Where Are You?’– Don Messick as Scooby-Doo, Casey Kasem as Shaggy Rogers, Nicole Jaffe as Velma Dinkley, Heather North as Daphne Blake, and Frank Welker as Fred Jones. After these two seasons, Jaffe got married and retired, so this is the final version to feature the original Velma.
This was also the last season of ‘Scooby-Doo’ to air on CBS. It migrated to ABC in 1976.
For syndication, these hour-long episodes were chopped in half and aired on consecutive days. While this version of ‘Scooby-Doo’ was successful, in syndication it became a bit of an oddity, as the guest-stars had all become fairly obscure by the ’80s. Most kids had no idea who they were!
But the show still left an impression, and the latest version of ‘Scooby’, ‘Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?’ which is available on Boomerang, features the gang teaming up with stars of today… that kids ten years from now won’t recognize. Unlike ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’, ‘Scooby-Doo And Guess Who?’ is only 30-minutes long. So far celebrity guests have included NBA player Chris Paul, comedians/actors Wanda Sykes, Ricky Gervais, Jim Gaffigan, Penn & Teller, and Kenan Thompson, pop singer Sia, and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who has actually already co-starred with Scooby and Mystery Inc. on an episode of ‘Batman: The Brave & The Bold’. Fictional guest-stars include Batman, Wonder Woman, Sherlock Holmes, and Steve Urkle from the ’90s sitcom ‘Family Matters’, voiced by Jaleel White. The gang teamed up with the ghost of Abraham Lincoln in an episode that also featured the cast of ’70s HB series ‘The Funky Phantom’. The Wanda Sykes episode also featured HB characters Magilla Gorilla and Mr. Peebles.
Mark Hamill voiced The Joker in the Batman team-up, “What a Night, For a Dark Knight!” and as stated, he voiced the character, Corey Anders, in the ‘New Scooby-Doo Movies’ episode “Mystery in Persia.” Hamill voices a cartoon version of himself in the Season 2 episode “The Sword, The Fox, and the Scooby-Doo!” So his career has come full-circle! (What’s ‘Star Wars’?)
Season 2 episodes will reportedly also include appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, George Takei, pop singer Halsey, scientists Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and The Flash.
Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang have also teamed up with various characters and real celebrities in other projects, including direct-to-DVD movies like ‘Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery’ with various WWE wrestlers, and ‘Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost’ featuring celebrity chefs Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.
Due to licensing issues, ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’ is the one season that isn’t available in its entirety on home video. On earlier releases, the opening title sequence had to be edited to remove any guests whose likenesses were not free to use. Episodes have been released on multiple DVD releases, but at this point, the only episode that isn’t available at all on DVD is “Wednesday Is Missing” guest-starring the Addams Family. The boxed set is therefore entitled, ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection’.
Scooby-Doo and his friends will be teaming up on the big screen on May 15, in the computer-animated movie ‘Scoob!’.
Do you remember ‘The New Scooby-Doo Movies’? Who were your favorite guest stars?