SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU!: Let’s Split Up and Search for This Ape-Man Who Eats Hamburgers

Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! Episodes 1-7 – 1969 – a Hanna-Barbera cartoon – Starring Don Messick, Casey Kasem, Frank Welker, Nicole Jaffe, Indira Stefanianna.

I had two favorite cartoons as a kid: SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! and Starblazers. SCOOBY-DOO had that great cast of distinct characters, the cool mysteries, and that sense of belonging you get in shows about friends. Despite their differences, I always felt like Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby were pals and not just thrown together to fill out the most parts of the show’s intended demo.

SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! is also awesome for the practical life lessons it imparts on children, lessons that are much more useful than Sesame Street‘s insistence on teaching kids how to read and count. Among the most important:

1. There’s always a natural solution to a supernatural mystery.
2. The guy who comes up with intricate plans for no obvious reason is probably a douche.
3. There’s always time and room for more food.
4. Redheads are useless.
5. Nerdy girls who take off their glasses do not become hot. They become blind.
6. If you hang out with a stoner and a dog, you can always partner up with the ladies and they’ll never complain. Even if you’re a total douche.
7. Constantly traveling by van leads to bad posture. Especially when running.
8. There’s always a secret room or passageway.
9. Cops totally appreciate it when you solve their mysteries for them.
10. You can bribe stoners with dog food.

Saturday morning cartoons tend to be rather formulaic, of course, and WHERE ARE YOU! follows a simple enough pattern: the gang stumbles into a mystery, the gang splits up to search for clues (with Fred assigning himself Daphne, partnering up Shaggy and Scooby, and passing Velma back and forth), the gang gets chased by the monster of the week, Fred designs an elaborate trap, and they somehow catch and unmask the bad guy.

The great thing about writing up quick reactions to Saturday morning cartoons is that, for the most part, you don’t have to spend a lot of time rehashing the plot because the plot is always the same.

Episode 1: “What a Night for a Knight”
Monster: The Black Knight
Life Lesson: Breaking and entering is totally cool if you’ve decided to inject yourself into a missing person case in which the prime suspect is a ghost.

Shaggy and Scooby find a suit of armor sitting behind the wheel of a pick-up truck, so they do their civic duty and deliver it to the museum, where they find out the archaeologist is missing. So they do what anyone would do and come back after hours to break into the museum and search for clues. The gang discovers the whole thing is a ruse for a museum employee to sell fake art.

Episode 2: “A Clue for Scooby-Doo”
Monster: Captain Cutler’s Ghost
Life Lesson: Never trust a scary old woman studying witchcraft.

A glowing ghost in early deep-sea diving garb is causing all sorts of problems, but it’s all a cover for the supposedly-dead Captain Cutler and his witch wife to steal yachts an resell them. Right. Because there’s a huge market for stolen yachts. This is a classic episode, though, that has a good mystery and awesome villain with a better-than-usual reveal.

Episode 3: “Hassle in the Castle”
Monster: The Vazquez Castle Phantom
Life Lesson: If you’re looking for buried treasure, scaring people away with ghost stories totally works as long as meddling kids don’t interfere.

This episode has one of those go-with-it scenarios where the villain – in this case a magician wanted for crimes in several states – sets up this massively elaborate scenario in order to search for hidden treasure, even though he’s searching for the treasure in a decrepit castle on Haunted Isle.

Episode 4: “Mine Your Own Business”
Monster: The Miner 49er
Life Lesson: Don’t give your map to the stoner and expect to get to your intended destination.

Another of the classic Scooby-Doo villains makes his debut here as the Miner 49er is haunting a run-down town. The culprit is the handyman at the one hotel still operating. There’s a great bit where Velma or Daphne says how beautiful the rooms are, even though you can see that all the walls in the hotel have cracks in them. There’s a great secret passageway reveal as the gang finds the hidden tunnel inside the safe of the hotel. This episode is the first to employ the stilts maneuver in order to get you to think the bad guy is going to be the really tall hotel owner and not the really short handyman.

Episode 5: “Decoy for a Dognapper”
Monster: Geronimo’s Ghost
Life Lesson: Show dogs are totally snobs.

Here’s an episode where they shoehorn the ghost angle in almost as an afterthought. As the episode starts, Scooby is out for a walk and he sees a fancy show dog coming at him. Lovestruck, Scooby picks the dog some flowers, but she totally blows him off, not even bothering to look at him. Scooby mopes, the dog gets kidnapped, and he convinces the gang to go search for her. When they’re driving out there they come across Geronimo’s Ghost, because of course a dognapper is going to use Geronimo’s Ghost in order to hide a bunch of kidnapped dogs.

Episode 6: “What the Hex Going on?”
Monster: Elias Kingston’s ghost
Life Lesson: If someone mysteriously ages, they’re the bad guy.

On a visit to a college pal, their friend’s uncle appears to age about 40 years. There’s a ghost trying to get the family riches, but it’s not a real ghost. It’s the uncle all fussied up with fancy make-up.

Episode 7: “Never Ape an Ape Man”
Monster: The Ape Man
Life Lesson: If your uncle wants you in his movie, he’s either a. out of money, or b. out of actors.

Daphne’s uncle invites the gang to be in his latest movie because there’s an ape man chasing off his workers. There’s not much of a mystery here as we’re only introduced to one person who could be the ape man (unless, you know, it was really an ape man), but the kids catch him anyway because that’s what they do.

The formula is a good one and seven episodes isn’t enough to turn me against the show. You don’t necessarily want to watch them all back-to-back-to-back, but watch a couple of them at a time and they still offer a lot of enjoyment.

__________

SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU! Review Index:
Episodes 1-7: Let’s Split Up and Search for This Ape-Man Who Eats Hamburgers
Episodes 8-13, 15: You’re the First Clam Dog I Ever Heard Of
Episodes 14, 16-21: How was the Magic Show at the High School, Freddy?
Episodes 22-25: How Can You Have Heads and Tails on a Slice of Bologna?

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