Over its nearly 50 year history, there have been many iterations of Scooby-Doo. We’re here to tell you that The New Scooby-Doo Movies is the BEST one.
Doesn’t ring a bell?! Possibly because it’s one of the earliest versions of the show you know and love, and may have been segmented and renamed in syndication over the years. But in a nutshell: The New Scooby-Doo Movies was Hanna Barbera’s very 70’s-variety-show influenced gambit to make the Mystery Machine gang’s adventures more cinematic and, well, star-studded. Premiering in the fall of 1972, it was the only Scooby-Doo series that ran for a full hour; it aired Saturday mornings on CBS for two seasons, a total of 24 episodes. And in each of these eps, Scooby and the gang were joined by a special “guest star” – or several! – that ran the gamut from famous comedians of the era, to popular rock and roll stars, to fictional faves from other cartoon series that made for awesome crossovers.
To celebrate the BluRay release of the entire New Scooby-Doo Movies run, we’re looking at some of the highlights of this grooviest of Scooby shows in today’s Friday Five! (Note: The only reason the Sonny & Cher episode is missing from this list is because there are no good clips of it on YouTube, seriously that’s the BEST one…)
The Three Stooges
Okay, so some of the guest stars of this show weren’t precisely of the same decade – they went back a little further than that! See, once upon a time there was this thing called syndication which basically filled all the off-hours of the day with old TV and movies because Netflix wouldn’t be a thing for 40 more years. That meant that a lot of Golden Era comedians were well known to kids because they were on the television all the time; Laurel & Hardy appeared in The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and so did those slapsticky buffoons the Three Stooges. Gotta say, cartoon Larry, Moe and Curly make a lot more sense in cartoon form, in a strange way.
And here you thought Marcia Brady was the only one who got to pal around with a Monkee! Yep, ’round about the same time he made his legendary Brady Bunch guest appearance, the cutest of The Monkees also stopped by to visit the Scooby-Doo gang and, well, we won’t go into details of the plot because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What matters is this clip features Davy Jones singing to a HORSE-SIZED FROG to try and keep it from attacking himself, Daphne and Velma. It doesn’t really work, but then again it doesn’t not work? They don’t get eaten, just chased through a cave by A HORSE-SIZED FROG. Man, I love the 1970’s.
Here’s a case where, had this particularly Scooby-Doo series premiered later in the decade, it would have been a perfectly groovy match of guest-star and era. It wasn’t until 1979 that Don Knotts joined the cast of Three’s Company as Mr. Furley, the landlord whose polyester suits and ascots screamed “How do you do, fellow kids?!” well before that was a meme. Which is to say, he hadn’t yet played the one character whose wardrobe would have perfectly suited joining up with the Mystery Machine crew for some spooky hijinks. And so, we get Don Knotts as a guest star basically decked out as his most famous character at that point, Deputy Barney Fife from The Andy Griffith Show. (Did know one think to draw him as The Incredible Mr. Limpet?)
Josie and the Pussycats
And here is where we get into those nifty cartoon crossovers, starting with a big Hanna-Barbera blowout! The early 70’s was also peak era for all things Archie Comics (Archie and pals, as well as Sabrina the Teenage Witch had their own animated series back then), but Josie and the Pussycats was probably the most popular with the Saturday morning set. So it made perfect sense to bring them into a Scooby-Doo mystery… and then you realize it means the coolest thing ever, Casey Kasem times two! Yep, the DJ and voice-over legend is well known for being the voice of Shaggy, but turns out he also played snooty Alexander on Josie and the Pussycats. And now that we get another look at him, he looks an awful lot like Shaggy if he were a rich jerk. He’s like Bizarro Shaggy. It’s a little weird.
The Addams Family
And here’s a crossover so layered, it’s basically a triple crossover – from comics, to sitcom, to cartoon and back! Many many years before The Addams Family became a box-office blockbuster, it started life as Charles Addams’ series of cartoon strips; it then first leapt to life as a half-hour comedy in the 1960’s, where the Addamses battled the Munsters for the title of spookiest family on TV. What’s so nifty about their appearance in The New Scooby-Doo Movies is that their animated likenesses are similar to those of the original comic strip… but their voices are the cast of the sitcom! That is indeed Carolyn Jones (Morticia), John Astin (Gomez), Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester) and Ted Cassidy (Lurch), and the rest. A match made in haunted-house heaven.