In this sixth incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise, the creators once again altered the format. Now, it would no longer be a half-hour show consisting of three seven-minute shorts, but, instead, a half-hour show consisting of two eleven-minute shorts. This kind of decision-making is what truly sets some television executives above the rest. On the plus side, Daphne Blake was returned to the cast after a three-year absence, and in the second season, the series was renamed The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries and Fred and Velma were allowed to guest star in a few episodes. So that was nice. Unfortunately, Scrappy-Doo would remain a thorn in the show’s side for a few more years to come.
The plots found within The New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show would maintain the solving supernatural mysteries element, only now, the quartet would consist of Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Daphne (Heather North), Scooby-Doo, and Scrappy-Doo (Don Messick), and they would be solving such mysteries as reporters for a teen magazine. Without Fred and Velma, we find Daphne in the role of the sole skeptic and, in keeping with the horror comedies of Abbott and Costello, she doesn’t see the actual supernatural shenanigans and puts any claims of such things to be byproducts of Shaggy and Scooby’s overactive imaginations. The first season mostly paired Scooby-Doo with his cowardly compatriot Shaggy, while Scrappy would be hanging out with his equally level-headed partner Daphne — we wouldn’t want those two wet blankets ruining Scooby and Shaggy’s fearful fun. However, skeptic or not, Daphne was occasionally forced to confront the bizarre head-on, such as a rampaging dinosaur in the episode “The Dinosaur Deception.” More often than not, though, such a mystery would be solved by revealing the typical guy in a suit, or in the case of that aforementioned episode, a guy in a robot dinosaur illegally mining silver.
While most of the mysteries our crime-solving quartet tackles in this season would follow the “Dude in a Mask” format of the original Scooby-Doo series, on rare occasions they would cross paths with actual supernatural beings. In the episode “Who’s Minding the Monster,” we get one of the more bizarre instances of this when Daphne wants to prove that the Frankenstein monster is real because of her job as a resident skeptic. Shaggy and Scooby not being too keen on hunting for the monster volunteer to babysit for the Draculas. How does this make sense? They know of Frankenstein’s monster but not who Dracula is or that he’s a vampire. Even stranger is that Dracula looks to be married to the Bride of Frankenstein and their baby is a werewolf. What in the holy hell were the writers on this show smoking?
In 1984, season two changed the title to The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries and continued with the same format of The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, with two 11-minute mysteries per half-hour. Along with this name change came the return of Fred Jones (Frank Welker) and Velma Dinkley (Marla Frumkin) — though with very limited appearances — but the show would still feature the gang encountering various crooks posing as ghosts or monsters. Fred and Velma would appear in a combined total of six episodes, but not always together. In the episode “A Night Louse at the White House,” Velma invites Daphne, Shaggy, and the two dogs to the White House, but she apparently doesn’t invite Fred. Was there some behind-the-scenes strife between these two characters? In the episode “Happy Birthday, Scooby-Doo,” we learn that Velma went on to become an apprentice research scientist for NASA while Fred became a mystery writer. I’m not sure what possessed the writers to choose that vocation for Fred when there had to be something more suited to his character. Maybe Velma’s academic success ruffled Fred’s failed career as a writer. What evidence do I have that Fred was a failed writer? Well, unless the books were about “How to trap a monster,” I’m not sure how good they’d be. That all said, it was nice to see Velma and Fred even if only in cameo form.
• In the episode “Scoobygeist,” Daphne locks everyone inside a supposed haunted house for the night, a nice take on William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill.
• A school dance in “The Creature Came From Chem Lab” is almost called off due to monstrous shenanigans, which would make for a good plot for a Footloose sequel.
• In “No Thanks, Masked Manx,” Daphne’s rich parents make their first appearance, and a cat burglar at a masquerade party pays homage to Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.
• Daphne seems remarkably blasé about there being actual magic in “Wizard and Warlocks” when a Dungeons and Dragons convention brings larping to a whole new level.
• “Who’s Minding the Monster” was when the gang first encountered the real Dracula, but they will, of course, forget all about this when they run into him in The Reluctant Werewolf.
• Working as paparazzi in “Scooby’s Peep-Hole Pandemonium,” our quartet exposes the publisher of Peep-Hole Magazine to be the culprit, but even though the “Mummy” in this mystery turns out to be a dude in a mask, the gang also encounters a real werewolf, Frankenstein’s monster, and a vampire.
These two seasons collect an odd batch of mysteries that are sprinkled in random actual supernatural creatures, along with the standard dude-in-a-mask criminal plots, which in hindsight makes Daphne’s skeptic nature rather ridiculous; once you are hired by Dracula, how can you doubt the supernatural? But the writers seemed to have had a lot of fun referencing classic movies from almost any genre, which can be fun for older fans to spot and can almost make one forgive the logic lapses. Unfortunately, we still have Scrappy-Doo to contend with and his “Puppy Power” shtick will forever grate on my nerves. Any time he’s on-screen, my enjoyment is lessened by a factor of five. Overall, the blend of the classic formula of a bad guy under the mask and real monsters made this run of the show a little more interesting than the previous run.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
The New Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show (1983-1984) – Review
Series Rank - 5.5/10
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries bring a lot of fun and goofy adventures but Scrappy-Doo continues to be an exasperating little twerp, on the other hand, seeing Daphne leading the group was a nice change and at least we did get Fred and Velma back for an occasional visit or two.