In this fifth incarnation of Hanna-Barbera’s Scooby-Doo, the series format changed even more radically than just having the addition of Scrappy-Doo. This time out, the series would switch from the standard 30-minute mystery to three seven-minute shorts that would feature Scooby-Doo, his nephew Scrappy-Doo, and Shaggy with the rest of the Mystery Inc. missing in action. Another radical change was the switch from the “Dude in a Mask” to actual supernatural beings, and love it or hate it, one has to admit that the Network needed to shake things up to prevent the show from becoming stale. How effective these changes were is certainly up for debate.
For those of you who found the inclusion of Scooby’s pint-sized nephew in the last show a tad annoying, you’ll be horrified to know the creators of this particular run of cartoons doubled down on even more screen time for this obnoxious little twit as Fred, Daphne, and Velma have been jettisoned in favour of the trio of Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Scooby, and Scrappy-Doo (Don Messick). Between 1980 and 1983, the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo show was first packaged as The Richie Rich/Scooby-Doo Show and then later as The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour. We find that Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy-Doo seemed to have settled down as temporary stand-ins at the Fearless Detective Agency for Shaggy’s Uncle Fearless, until eventually teaming them up with Scooby-Doo’s western brother in Scrappy-Doo and Yabba-Doo. Needless to say, these multiple changes didn’t bode well for this run of Scooby-Doo.
The very first short, “A Close Encounter With a Strange Kind,” definitely set the tone for the set of stories that would make up the bulk of the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo adventures. Not only is it the first instance of dropping Fred, Daphne, and Velma from the series, but it’s also not the first time changing from the “Dude in a Mask” format to actual monsters. In the case of this episode, it’s a pair of real extraterrestrials that resulted in there not really being a mystery to solve. So that’s disappointing, and part of this could stem from the fact that you can’t really get a mystery off the ground and then solved in under seven minutes, but more likely it was a case of the show wanting to focus on our three leads running around and having wacky adventures. I guess uncovering a real estate scam just wasn’t felt to be all that necessary.
In the first two seasons of Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, our trio of bumbling morons could be found almost anywhere in the world, from Scottish castles to Egyptian pyramids, but when the third season rolled around, there was a slight alteration in the format by giving our trio a home base in the form of the Fearless Detective Agency. Now, you’d think that with them being part of a detective agency that would bring the mystery aspect back to the show, but you’d be wrong. The seven-minute format continued to prevent any semblance of a mystery from happening and I don’t care how many times Scrappy exclaimed, “Gee, Uncle Scooby, we’ve got a real mystery on our hands,” it was never the case. Most of these short episodes feature Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy being hired to guard or hunt down a particular item, often stolen by some nefarious thug, but the exact nature of the criminals involved was never really in question.
After their brief stint working as private detectives, the third season decided to mix things up by introducing another relative of Scooby-Doo in the form of his brother Yabba-Doo (Don Messick), a western incarnation of our cowardly canine, but unlike his famous brother, this “cowboy” canine is incredibly brave and will stop at nothing to protect Tumbleweed County from any number of nefarious villains. Under the banner of Scrappy-Doo and Yabba-Doo, these shorts focused on the mentor relationship between Scrappy and his Uncle Yabba-Doo, but the problem here was that with Scrappy-Doo in the cast, we’d already had our fill of overconfident canines. Thus, the addition of Yabba-Doo didn’t bring anything fresh to the series. They’d have been better off bringing back Scooby-Dum rather than this escapee from a Roy Rogers movie.
• The appearance of actual aliens in “A Close Encounter With a Strange Kind” would be revisited again in the animated feature Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders.
• The episode “Scooby’s Fantastic Island” perpetuated the idea that dinosaurs and cavemen lived together.
• In the episode “Moonlight Madness,” Shaggy is turned into a werewolf, something that would occur again in the TV movie Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf.
• In “Sir Scooby and the Black Knight,” though our trio runs into a talking skeleton, there is nothing supernatural about the knight they encounter; he is just a Scottish dude who likes to lounge around in full plate armour.
• In the episode “A Fit Night Out for Bats,” our heroes need a lack of a reflection in a mirror to determine if Sylvester is a vampire despite the fact that he’s dressed like Dracula.
Scooby-Doo fans with little interest in Scrappy-Doo will find very little enjoyment during this era of the Scooby-Doo show, and the truncating of the stories down to seven minutes in length pretty much kneecapped any thought of this incarnation bringing us any fun or interesting mysteries to solve. Add to that the fact that Fred, Daphne, and Velma were given the boot for this outing, and it puts this series at the bottom of the pile.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo (1980-1982)
Series Rank - 4/10
Lovers of Scrappy-Doo may find some entertainment value in this run of the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo show but as most of the writing on display was devoid of any humour – even at seven minutes in length these shorts got tiresome quickly – and with Fred, Daphne and Velma missing in action there isn’t much to recommend here.