ByTyler Elizabeth Turner, writer at
South Park goth kid. Horror Junkie. Stephen King wannabe. (Twitter @TETurner96)
Tyler Elizabeth Turner

Since its humble beginnings in 1969 with the classic Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, our favourite Great Dane has been stripped and re-styled countless times. Mystery Inc. has fought monsters in a range of different scopes, breaching both the big and small screens as well as featuring in the gaming universe, comics and more. The premise is simple and has remained the same for going on half a century, yet show-runners have always found new and invigorating ways of retelling the familiar tales, enabling the gang to enjoy their teens for an astonishingly long length of time.

However, is it possible that they have strayed a little too far from the original elements that form the Scooby Doo we all know and love, or are viewers just too reluctant to embrace the new age?

Why We Love Tradition

'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]
'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]

Given its longevity, it is only natural that the vast majority of fans would regard the original incarnation Scooby Doo, Where Are You! as being the best. Since it has been knocking around the longest, it will undoubtedly have had the most airplay due to re-runs, meaning that generation after generation has been exposed to it as if it were new. No matter which era you were born into, Scooby Doo, Where Are You! is seemingly everyone's"'first."

Perhaps it is possible that — due to the formulaic structure of traditional Scooby Doo — some viewers have fallen into an impenetrable comfort zone. Even if you haven't seen a certain episode (though, lets be honest, we've seen them all countless times!), you are comforted with a familiar structure where you know exactly what to expect. Maybe this is partially the reason why some viewers are unwilling to accept newer, more experimental methods of storytelling.

Contemporary Clangers

'Be Cool, Scooby Doo' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]
'Be Cool, Scooby Doo' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]

Some newer incarnations stay fairly true to the original series and pay it a respectable homage, whereas others can be a little harder to endure for an older audience. When comparing newer renditions of Scooby Doo to the classics, it becomes clear that there is a divergence between the ways in which the tales are told. While there has always been a strong comedic element to Scooby Doo, it is clear that in more recent years the show has dropped the witty in favour of the wacky.

Be Cool, Scooby Doo is a prime culprit of this. Although it showcases a plethora of ghosts and ghouls as expected, it portrays them in a nonsensical manner which strips the show of its spookier element. This new adopted style can be found in a range of contemporary children’s television programmes, so it’s not surprising that writers are pandering to what is popular, though it unfortunately makes for less diversity and alienates the creepy kids in the process.

Shows That Got It Right

'Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]
'Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]

However, it is most certainly not fair to tarnish all newer adaptations with the same brush. In fact, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated — perhaps one of the greatest incarnations of Scooby Doo to date — was born in the teenies. Having first bounded onto our screens at the turn of the decade in April 2010, the show enjoyed a lifespan of three years and put out two seasons before ending in the same month of 2013.

Unlike most of its predecessors, Mystery Incorporated's episodes follow on from one another in order to tell a series long story, as opposed to the stand alone episodes showcased by other incarnations. This added a level of complexity to the show that was previously lacking, giving it a more mature demeanour that could be appreciated by a wider audience. It also plays respectable homages to the franchise's beginnings as well as incorporating quirky pop culture references, including nods to Twin Peaks and Adam Ant.

Final Thoughts

Scooby Doo has undergone many makeovers over the years, but without them the show may not have enjoyed the same long lifespan. Without change, there can be no growth, and it would be considerably harder to keep stories from running dry. Perhaps we just all hold our first Scooby Doo on a pedestal and subsequently disregard the newer renditions which, quite frankly, are not aimed at older viewers. If it works for a contemporary audience, then why knock it?

What's your favourite incarnation of Scooby Doo?


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