Thursday 9 July 2015

zoinks, jinkies and denouement

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon franchise Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? was conceived in response to parental concerns that the particular Saturday morning line-up, which consisted of Space Ghost, the Herculoids and Tom and Jerry, was too violent. Producers were initially infatuated with the idea of doing a spin-off of the Archie syndicate that featured a teen band who happened to slip off fight crime and solve mysteries in between gigs. The whole concept still needed re-working because these bandmates (with a cowardly mascot) were in pursuit of actual ghouls—rather than some villainous human disguised that those meddling kids would unmask at the end of each episode—and came across as rather too scary. The second, familiar version had its cast of characters drawn directly from the old-teenagers portrayed on the series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis—Norville “Shaggy” Rogers voiced by DJ Casey Kasem and based on the template of beatnik Maynard G Krebs (Bob Denver, later of Gilligan’s Island fame) and Velma Dinkley is lifted from the tomboyish Zelda Gilroy (portrayed by Shelia James Kuehl presently a member of the California State Senate) as a couple examples.
It’s strange to think how all supernatural and superstitious elements were debunked by the show’s finishing scene—excepting the canine sidekick who was retained from the original proposal, of course, and one that could talk (I don’t recall a musical inclination, the Archies’ dog played the bongos)—and I suppose that expectation, moral placated fretful parents. The title character was named reportedly after the scatting verse at the end of Strangers in the Night rather than Detective Chief Inspector Walter Dew, who investigated the Jack the Ripper murders and some other gruesome crimes in turn of the century London, plus cases cat-burglary and forgery. It would not have even occurred to me to connect these two sleuths and wonder, had not I learned that the Inspector, in pursuit of a fugitive, had once travelled under the name Mister Dewhurst. It made me think of some of the reoccurring distant relations (this series was keen on extended families, too, it seemed and everyone had their pedigree) like those who lived on Doo Manor, or cousin Scooby-Dee, Dixie-Doo or Sandy Duncan.