The Scooby-Doo Show: Scared a Lot in Camelot
It may not come across here because of the nature of what I'm writing about, but I love everything which is spooky. I actually think this love was in part initiated by Scooby Doo, because I watched the original show on repeat as a child. What doesn't it have? Haunted castles, witches, headless horsemen, hidden treasure, old dark houses, hidden passages, haunted fair rides, spooky locations, criminals, swamps,. disguises, you name it. Scooby Doo manages to include literally all the conventions of the mysterious/old dark house genre at once and make them fun. In the seventies here there were a lot of repeats of old films on daytime TV and I think Scooby Doo together with The Ghost Train, Ask a Policeman, and Oh Mr Porter and sealed my fate of spending my life loving weird stuff. As the winter comes on I invariably move to old dark house films, and would give Scooby Doo the credit of being amongst that category of viewing.
As a child in Britain the other thing that came across loud and clear in Scooby Doo was how American it was. My mother told me off for saying I had a hunch (just like Velma). It's interesting how it reflects parts of US culture which can be very obvious to outsiders but would be embarrassing for US citizens or not noticed, most obviously gluttony in the shape of eating HEAPS of hamburgers and so on. Was it possible that there could be a place where you would find so much food on the table at once? Scooby Doo reflects the American dream with a twist of corruption and greed which really ought to make it uncomfortable viewing and probably makes it even more relevant now. It was alright for us, watching it smugly on the other side of the Atlantic, it wasn't about us and we know you drink tea, you don't throw it in the bay.
I have never read an account by someone from the US or anyone else, which says Scooby Doo is uncomfortable viewing, and I think the thing which stops it being uncomfortable is those pesky kids. We know that the kids are alright, the evil caretaker will be unmasked and everything will be alright so that Shaggy can eat 24 pizzas. In fact what prompted this post is that I have literally just found out that the characters (not the plot, which seems completely unrelated) were based on a TV show I had never heard of, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Apparently this show was the first to have a lead character who was an actual teenager and who reflected the beatnik culture of the time. This character, Maynard G Krebs, became Shaggy, while Dobie Gillis became Fred, Zelda Gilroy became Velma and Thalia Menninger became Daphne. Obviously they also stuck with the outrageous names motif. Krebs literally sounds exactly like Shaggy (yoiks! I loved the slang as kid as well):
'The Krebs character, portrayed by actor Bob Denver, begins the series as a stereotypical beatnik, with a goatee, "hip" (slang) language, and a generally unkempt, bohemian appearance. He is always banging out a modern jazz beat with his hands, to music in his head, and he also plays jazz piano and bebop trumpet. His abhorrence of conventional social forms is signified by comical reactions to three words: "work", "marriage", and "police". For example, whenever the word "work" is mentioned, even in passing, he yelps "Work?!" and jumps with fear or even faints. He serves as a foil to the well-groomed, well-dressed, strait-laced Dobie, who also hates to work, and the contrast between the two friends provides much of the humor of the series.' Source
I also have another possible connection for Scooby Doo, which as far as I can see is something I've come up with myself (I like to call my ideas original research as you know). If you have ever seen the 1972 film Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, in which six studenty friends dig up a corpse called Orville - truly a plot worthy of Scooby Doo in itself - the characters' costumes may seem familiar. Since the film was made after the original broadcast of Scooby Doo Where Are You I would suggest that the costumes may have been influenced by the costumes in Scooby Doo. I will grant you that the general intention was to show fashion of the time, but they just seem too close and the genre too similiar. It's too much of a coincidence.
The particular episode I've decided to focus on is Scared A Lot in Camelot, from The Scooby-Doo Show of 1976. Now I know for a fact that I remember seeing these when originally broadcast here, for the simple reason that I remember them and they are honestly part of me. It's really strange watching something which is woven into your psyche. This incarnation was also the last before the introduction of Scrappy Doo, which I also remember and still like and watch the show. The reason I haven't seen The Scooby-Doo Show until now is that it is a nightmare to get hold of if you want hard media. It's on the various streaming services and I think the whole series is available as a Blu-Ray. But its issue as a DVD has been spread across a number of sets with different names because at various times the episodes were broadcast under the titles of The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour (I think that was how I saw them because I remember Dynomutt), Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics, Scooby-Doo Where Are You, and Scooby's All-Stars. In fact the whole series isn't available as a DVD but since lockdown all sorts of things are tucked away in corners of the internet if you know where to look. I love TV archaeology. Actually there's a helpful guide if you want to know how to obtain a whole run of Scooby Doo here.
Scared a Lot in Camelot features Shaggy's Uncle Shagworthy who has bought Camelot castle and moved it to New England. He even brought the spider's webs. So we have a castle, a curse, ghosts, and a disappearing uncle, and so the stage is set for another wonderful adventure. Delightfully, Uncle Shagworthy is exactly like an older version of Shaggy and is described as a gazillionaire so obviously has no money worries. It turns out he keeps all his treasures in the fridge.
The reveal is an interesting double one here, where the baddies are wearing two false heads which are removed, and the solution is actually something of a blinder.
Just one thing. How did the team make a show featuring a man called Shagworthy without constant fits of hysterics? I happen to know that shag carries all the meanings in US English that it does in British English, I looked it up.