Before I began Vaka Rangi, I was toying with the idea of doing projects of similar size and scope for other pop culture phenomena. I posted most of these “pilots” to this blog’s sister site Soda Pop Art, if anyone’s interested in some of the things I write about outside of Star Trek. One of the projects I’ve considered doing off and on for the past three or four years is a comprehensive critical history of the Scooby-Doo franchise, which, in my opinion, is one of the most frequently misread things in pop culture. And, when I was planning the between-season material for the gap between the end of the Original Series and the beginning of the Animated Series, there was one show from 1969 I knew was an absolute no-brainer for me to cover.
Unfortunately, I’d already written about it.
So yes, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is getting a Sensor Scan post sometime after “Turnabout Intruder”. But as it’s part of a larger project I’d still like to write someday and as its sociopolitical and ethical roots really date backto 1968, the production history of the show has its own post, which you can read below.
This essay then, as well as the planned one on the show-as-aired, is a revised, remixed, expanded and otherwise tweaked version of a piece I already posted to Soda Pop Art about a year ago. Because of that, I’m not comfortable making this an “official” Monday/Wednesday/Friday post (even though it’s certainly long enough to be one) and you’re free to skip ahead and go read up on Scooby-Doo over there if you like. Or if you’d prefer to wait to see the strangled way I try to connect this all back to Star Trek, you can certainly do that as well.
The year was 1968.
Hanna-Barbera, long having proven itself one of the major pillars of the children’s television animation genre they helped create, was under fire from Parental Rights and moral guardian activist groups who were complaining that their Saturday Morning Cartoon market, at the time dominated by sci-fi action serial inspired offerings such as Space Ghost and Jonny Quest, were too violent and scary for children and demanding their programming be changed to reflect more “suitable” content and topics. Despite being Exhibit A, Hanna-Barbera were far from the only studio targeted by this campaign, and one of the earliest, and most influential, responses was Filmation’s The Archie Show, which reconceptualized the Riverdale high kids from the popular evergreen comics as a teen pop band and centered around themes of teenage relationship and parent drama.
With the complaints by parental watchdogs echoing in their ears, Hanna-Barbera set to work trying to come up with a show that would both please the activists and serve as a tentpole series for their upcoming season. While all this was going on, Fred Silverman, then head of CBS’ children’s television department, contacted producers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears with an idea he had for a new show that combined elements from I Love A Mystery and Armchair Detectives, two popular radio serials from decades past.…