When I was child, I enjoyed childish things. Like Scooby Doo and The Monkeys. I loved Scooby, it introduced me to the concept of mysteries and crime fiction, something I love to this day. I liked Velma’s irrepressible nature and her insistence on the rational. There are no ghosts. There must be something behind all this. A man in a mask. And through hard work and improbable traps, you can get to the bottom of it. Oh, and we would have got away with it, too if it weren’t for you meddling kids. Meddling kids and their triumph over conniving adults.
But when I became a woman, I put away childish things. Until my own child became big enough to demand television. And it was to my great delight that Scooby Doo is played endlessly on certain satellite channels and my even greater delight that my son loves to watch Scooby, too. The original Scooby shows are still fantastic and one of the few cartoons that I can sit through without becoming annoyed. Sometimes I watch them. And sometimes I just let them flow over me, as comforting as a cradle song, while I do something else. There’s something wonderfully nostalgic about watching episodes about a man in a mask with an impossibly contrived scheme to bootleg records. Yes, actual LPs which were copied laboriously in a secret, creepy cave studio and then smuggled across a river by a henchman in ghost pterodactyl hang glider contraption. Oh, the days before peer to peer file sharing. If you wanted a copy of Dixie Chicken live, you’d have to make a shady deal with a man who talked pterodactyl – Veek! Veek!
But these kids channels don’t just show the original Scooby and the series that followed in the original format. They show new modern Scooby, where Fred no longer sports a cravat. They show a bizarre and poorly drawn spin-off which features only Shaggy and Scooby living in the home of their rich uncle with a robot butler that’s forever getting them out of scrapes. And they show Scooby movies with complicated plots and commissioned soundtracks.
Yes, they show those originals and they also show – on occasion – the ones with Scrappy Doo.
It sends a shiver down my spine.
Yesterday, there was a Scooby marathon and after they’d run out of the original and the next series and the movies, they showed some Scrappy Doo episodes as well. Like every Gen-Xer, I hate Scrappy. Scrappy is evil. Scrappy is symbol of all things rotten. And so Scrappy cannot be shown. My son did not understand, but the channel was changed.
But watching Scrappy again as an adult as I did on one occasion not too long ago, I realise it’s not Scrappy’s fault. Scrappy’s introduction to the show coincided with a complete change in format. Instead of mysteries, it was random running around with ‘real’ supernatural elements. No more looking for clues. No more solving puzzles using ‘logic’. No more nuance of personality from Fred and Velma and Daphne. It might as well have been a different show. And we Gen-Xers, only being young’uns at the time, didn’t see that they were dumbing the show down in a misplaced effort to salvage the ratings – instead we blamed Scrappy – who from an adult perspective isn’t as annoying as I remember. It’s the whole show that’s annoying. It’s a betrayal of Scooby and a betrayal of us as the audience. There was no mystery to engage with, we were only being served up dross in the form of Scooby snacks to consume passively. It was perhaps the first time we were aware of the entertainment industry treating us like morons – and we could never forgive the messenger. The live action Scooby movie even played on this – casting Scrappy as the ultimate villain (sorry for the spoiler, but honestly the film is pretty wretched).
The boy is only 3, so he screamed and wailed when I insisted that no further Scrappy shows can be watched in my house. So long as I pay for the roof which shelters the tv that I bought receiving the satellite signal that I subscribe to there will be no Scrappy.
(Photo credit: fallentomato )