September 22, 1998, was a special day. It was the day Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island was released. It was the movie that rekindled my childhood love of Scooby-Doo. From the iconic opening numbers to Scooby and Shaggy's passion for food to the monsters that always turn out to be men in masks, Scooby-Doo inspired my love of creepy stories and mysteries.
Next year, Scooby and the gang turn 50. In celebration, let's revisit the top 3 TV show versions of the beloved franchise.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
You can’t do a list of the best Scooby-Doo shows without including the original. Everything we love about Scooby started with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: an epic theme song, incomprehensibly silly villain plots, masks, traps, the gang, constant eating, and more. Sure, a laugh-track for a cartoon is silly, but it still takes me right back to watching it as a child. And let's not overlook the gorgeous, extremely creepy backgrounds.
As a kid growing up in a mostly TV-deprived household (we only had 2 channels when we had TV at all!), one of the things I loved most about going to my grandparent's home was that we got to watch reruns of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? If I run across this classic, today, I will definitely kick back and watch.
What's New, Scooby-Doo?
What's New, Scooby-Doo? is one of the most reverent takes on what made Scooby-Doo Where Are You? such a classic. The theme song is just as epic and gets stuck in your head just as easily. All the old tropes are there, as are many of the original voices. Even the animation style is similar. But the show also has a few things that set it apart in the best possible way.
First, it has been modernized just enough for current children to enjoy. Fred has ditched his notorious ascot and both Velma and the villains frequently use computers and other high-tech gadgetry that weren't even thought of in the original show. But, best of all, the show recognizes how silly many of its own tropes are. Most of the fun of What's New, Scooby-Doo? is watching the characters play off their own tropes, like Fred always wanting to split up or set a trap, and so on. Almost every episode has a solid, laugh-out-loud moment, often when its poking fun at itself.
A marathon of What's New, Scooby-Doo? was running on cable when I was laid up with a broken leg. The laughter and constant winking at the audience was just what I needed to get through the pain and boredom. It is a gem of a series.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated
Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated is both the weirdest and most controversial addition to this list. The show is a strange update to the Scooby Gang, adding a continuing storyline, forgoing the epic, lyric-filled theme song, and going full-on crazy by the end, not to mention the relationship drama between the characters (I'm sorry, but Velma is a terrible girlfriend) and how each character is turned into a bit of an exaggerated caricature of themselves. Also, for most of the series, it hard to tell exactly where it fits in with the rest of the Scooby stories. It feels like a weird, duck-out-of-water mismatch with all the other things we've seen from the gang over the years.
So what makes it one of the best? The end! The beautiful, glorious, end! There are some great episodes before they get there ("Stand and Deliver," which includes voice work from the incredible James Marsters as the Dandy Highwayman, one of the best Scooby villains with quite possibly the best payoff joke at the end) comes to mind, along with too many others to count, and there are some brilliant nods to Scooby-Doo of yore and other Hanna Barbara shows (the sidekick episode is one of the best as is the cameo appearance of Scrappy-Doo), but it is the very end of the show--the last five minutes of season two, in fact--that change this weird one-off into a masterpiece and elevate it above so many others. I won't spoil it, but for any Scooby fan, it will bring actual tears to your eyes. I've seen it 3 times, and it sill makes me a bit emotional
Do you agree with my picks? What is your favorite Scooby-Doo show? Comment below!