Cartoons are at their best when they combine captivating adventures with a delightful sense of humour, whether it’s comical situations, witty remarks or plain funny silliness. In 1969, concerns were raised in America about the excessive violence used in children’s cartoons and their negative impact on the younger generations; a response to that came from Hanna-Barbera Productions (now Warner Bros), in the form of Scooby Doo, the first series being Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and promising from the start to be a great success.
The cartoon is named after Scooby, a very amusing dog, who is part of a team of young adults cruising the world in their brightly coloured van, in search of mysteries to solve. The other team members are Velma Dinkley, Daphne Blane, Fred Jones (nicknamed Freddie) and Norville Rogers, referred to as Shaggy. They are a fun and curious bunch, and always manage to decipher the antics behind supposedly unexplained phenomena.
Scooby, a Great Dane, is actually Shaggy’s pet , and their personalities and goofy mannerisms make them remarkably similar. Although they are the least willing to confront any kind of apparitions or monsters, they are ironically the ones most prone to such encounters. They are both highly apprehensive and their classical stance is shaking in fear, Scooby having jumped into Shaggy’s arms. Although Scooby can talk, he does it in his own way, as he tends to pronounce all words as if they began with the letter R. Shaggy is the perfect depiction of a 1960s hippie, as the nickname suggests, which refers to his hair.
Just like Scooby, who is often offered Scooby snacks (biscuits) he is constantly hungry and blames it on his anxiousness. Some have however connected that to the munchies. Freddie is the leader of the group and organizes the investigations, as well as building traps used for capturing crooks, whilst Daphne, who always accompanies him, is known for her looks and sense of fashion, but also proneness to danger. Their other friend, Velma, is an intellectual and often makes use of her vast knowledge and foreign language skills. The way she usually gets into trouble is by losing her glasses, as her sight is quite meager without them.
The recurrent feature of the animations (including movies) is that the paranormal activity the group investigates (often getting the opportunity unexpectedly) is nothing but a charade put up by interested parties, for instance to attract or scare tourists. Many times it’s people pretending to be ghosts or other kinds on unearthly creatures, by wearing a costume or making strange sounds. There is always a different impersonation mechanism the team discovers and their methods are innovative (sometimes based on luck though, rather than skill).The suspense consists of keeping the viewer in doubt, whether the phenomena might actually be real, as the characters don’t seem to be convinced themselves of it’s falseness until they have definite proof. In some productions though, real ghosts and monsters were introduced, therefore diverting from the initial theme.
Some might argue that Scooby himself is not the protagonist, as the team members have a fairly equal part to play in their adventures, yet it’s his presence that makes the group unique.