Watch this space, you poor doomed motherfuckers

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Flex
    December 1, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    A post of this length and depth deserves a bigger response than what I'm about to do, but nonetheless, allow me to go on record saying that this:

    "a show about programmatic characters who represent ideals tossed into a nightmare-scape of German Expressionism."

    is just about the greatest description of a show ever. That it happens to accurately encapsulate Scooby Doo is an excellent bonus.


  2. Josh Marsfelder
    December 1, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    Well, thank you for that. I will confess I was rather proud of that thesis myself. 🙂

    The moment I realsied what the show's eery atmosphere was actually trying to tell me I knew I had to write something praising it up and down. This is pretty much my idea of great television.


  3. brownstudy
    December 9, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

    I sort of thought of Daphne and Fred as the Mom and Dad of the group, with Fred as sort of the Zeppo Marx of the group: he's a bit of a lox, but there's a spirit and completeness when he's there than if he wasn't. As "crazy" as the others might act, Fred was always the grounded white male who was the responsible one.


  4. brownstudy
    December 9, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

    "who was the responsible one to the authorities" I should have said. (Though it's been decades since I last saw Scooby-Doo!)


  5. b. Touch
    December 10, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

    Ruby and Spears did interviews for the web radio show Stu's Show (you can find their two episodes on the show's Archives page), where they discuss how the original version of "Mysteries Five" was based almost directly on The Archies of "The Archie Show", and the second version (the one that became "Scooby-Doo, Where are You!") was based on "Dobie Gillis".

    The character similarities between "Scooby" and "Dobie" more or less begin and end with each character being the same "type" and the "Scooby" characters being designed to vaguely resemble the Dobie characters (with Velma and Shaggy far more resembling Zelda Gilroy and Maynard G. Krebs than Fred and Daphne resemble Dobie and Thalia. Velma wears Zelda's oversized sweater, Shaggy Maynard's baggy sweatshirt, and Fred Dobie's sweater-collard shirt combos, albeit with the addition of an ascot). However, I think the intent of Ruby, Spears, and Silverman was to stray this far from the source material (after all, I'm sure H-B didn't want the problems that they had with "The Flintstones" with Jackie Gleason strongly contemplating a lawsuit). The "Dobie Gillis" gang was never seen as a four-person unit as it was, only a three-person unit (Dobie, Thalia, and Maynard or, more commonly, Dobie, Zelda, and Maynard). The relationships are also highly different, of course. with Zelda being madly in love with a disinterested Dobie, Dobie madly in love with an only mildly interested Thalia, and Maynard being far more of a close friend to Dobie than Shaggy is to Fred.


  6. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

    Part of this might be due to the passage of time and countless reboots distancing us from the cultural context into which she was originally introduced

    I initially read "countless reboots" as "countless robots." It almost made sense….


  7. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

    1968, the year that marked the final collapse of youth counterculture in the United States

    Growing up in southern California in the early 70s, I can testify that the counterculture was alive and well for quite a while after its "final collapse."


  8. Josh Marsfelder
    December 22, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

    Once again, I'm speaking in terms of generalizations here. Certainly there were enclaves that kept up the spirit, but in terms of mainstream acceptance 1968 was pretty much it. Phil made much the same argument in his own article on the year.


  9. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

    In any world that subscribes to our model of logic, lawmakers and lawkeepers who are regularly and embarrassingly upstaged by a group of inexperienced young adults who can do their job better than them and effortlessly so would be sacked in a heartbeat

    Of course the real world we live in just is a world in which lawmakers and lawkeepers are regularly and embarrassingly upstaged by inexperienced young adults. And only a few of us are trying to sack the lawmakers and lawkeepers, whereas most people instead respond by trying to arrest the upstagers. So I'm not sure who the "our" in "our model of logic" is.


  10. BerserkRL
    December 22, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

    I know that's a widespread view, but I'm not convinced. In the early 70s the imagery and motifs of the counterculture were everywhere, eagerly being co-opted in advertisements and so on. It pervaded the mainstream, not just "enclaves."


  11. Josh Marsfelder
    December 22, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

    This was, of course, a joke. However, the "upstaging" I was referring to was "doing their job better than them" whereas what (thankfully) happens in real life is the youth point out the injustices of organised and institutionalised oppression.

    Which, incidentally, is what the rest of the essay is about 🙂


  12. Josh Marsfelder
    December 22, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

    Well, if nothing else, Hunter S. Thompson would probably disagree with you 🙂

    Perhaps we could make an argument about the co-opting of countercultural imagery and motifs by corporations and government agencies trying to appeal to the youth combined and contrasted with an actual decline in the ethos of the counterculture?


  13. Daru
    January 28, 2014 @ 2:47 am

    I loved this as a kid and have kind of undervalued it as an adult. I really do have to admit that nowadays I would find it hard to get past the overwrought humour that feels shoved down my neck. BUT I you have honestly opened my eyes to what the show holds, especially this earlier incarnation. With all of the ideas you have proposed in your essay I will enjoy some of these episodes in a new light, I definitely feel it would be rewarding to see it through your ideas.

    I will never watch anything with Scrappy Doo in it though.


  14. Josh Marsfelder
    January 28, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    Prophets, I'm going to be defending the Scrappy-Doo era to absolutely everyone, aren't I?

    Regardless, I'm happy I was able to change your mind even a little bit about the original show. I'd suggest paying the closest attention to the first season, and in particular the first half of the first season, if you're interested in giving it another look.


  15. Marshalsify
    April 23, 2015 @ 10:57 am


  16. Josh Marsfelder
    April 23, 2015 @ 11:51 am

    Well, this is certainly fun, isn't it? I doubt it's ever going to get WB's attention, but I'm of course all for more Scooby shows that go against accepted fan dynamics, especially if they play around with Daphne and Shaggy's relationship.

    The petition doesn't bring it up, but going along with a revival of the mid-80s dynamic, I'd also like to see a revival (and honed maturation) of the mid-80s style of postmodern humour.


  17. Angela
    November 19, 2017 @ 11:48 pm

    You just blew my mind, in so many good ways! I am currently going deep down the Scooby Doo rabbit hole. I started to watch everything Scooby related earlier this year. I was so thrilled to re-connect with a beloved cartoon character, as I was healing from a fractured arm. I started to become obsessed, as I reconnected with how good the show made me feel way back in a miserable childhood. I knew there were deeper spiritual/cultural nuances in the shows that explained why I identify so much with this show. Your comment below hits home:

    “This is a show about wayfinding. The gang are travellers making their way through the ruins of modernity, bound together by only their sense of social justice, their desire to help others and their loyalty to and love for each other. ”

    This is brilliant:-)


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