Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pop Culture Anthropology ... Assignment #1

Instead of looking at dusty pottery shards, our artifacts are various bits of pop culture crap.

Why did the Scooby Doo cartoon abandon its popular original format in favor of guest stars like Sonny and Cher and the Harlem Globe Trotters?

Discuss.

12 comments:

Lori Armstrong said...

I often wondered what Mama Cass from the Mama's and the Papa's had to do with solving crimes...

And yet, if the Sonny and Cher episode were to come on right now, I'd drop everything and watch it.

Ah - did that earn me an A?

Bryon said...

Much as with crime fiction now, Scooby Doo's focus was not so much on the solution of the crime as how the crime affected our heroes and the comments it made on society. It only seems natural then that as the show went on, they needed outside commentators to discuss social issues because there's only so many times you can here some scary old guy say "And I would have gotten away with it to if it wasn't for those meddling kids."

And the Cloris Leachman episodes were my favorite.

pattinase (abbott) said...

All shows do this, don't they, figuring the cache of stars will mask the fact that ideas have dried up.

kieranjshea said...

Those were heady days in the bloody thunderdome of children's television, Vic, kids hungry for variety, competition fierce. What with Sid and Marty Kroft swapping bong hits and those lipstick dykes Josie and the Pussycats throwing some serious ass around, hosting guest stars like the Globetrotters seemed like a safe play.

Graham Powell said...

My guess: they ran out of plots after 5 episodes and needed some way to fill out half an hour. Hence, country cousin Scooby Dum and, later, the regrettable Scrappy Do.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Scooby-Doo needed something to distinguish it from "Speed Buggy" and "Jabberjaw," which were basically the same show, but with different groups of kids (and a dune buggy and shark respectively). Besides, all the grooviest kids dug Sonny and Cher.

Erik Jodko said...

I actually enjoyed the episode(s) featuring the Globetrotters. I wish I was that good as basketball.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

So who had the better cartoon series, the Globetrotters or Mohammed Ali?

"Hey. What? Globetrotters. Chicky-chicky-boom. Oh yeah!"

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Now watch the Adventures of Mohammed Ali!"

Victor Gischler said...

I guess it's just me, btu I always found the "guest star" era of Scooby Doo extremely lame and awful. Only Scrappy was worse.

Josie and the Pussycats "retooled" by goign to outer-space which I found much more tolorable than Sonny & Cher.

Steve Allan said...

Sonny and Cher and the Harlem Globetrotters in the '70's? Hey, we're not talking bottom of the barrel celebrities here. This was a pure draw for new audiences. Remember all the Friends episodes with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Jean Claude Van Damme? No different. Besides, the guest stars started showing up within the first few years of the show rather than down the road when the show moved to ABC and they were desperate for material and introduced Scrappy-Doo. (The best part of the movie was turning Scrappy into the villain.)

Granted the mysteries weren't that great to begin with, but what did I care? I was six when Scooby was in its prime - every mystery they solved baffled me.

Victor Gischler said...

Ah, but Steve, the level of writing (such as it was) fell off dramatically with the advent of the guest stars. The people running the show seemed to thuink it enough to have the characters stand around saying "Hey, it's the Harlem Globe trotters" or "Wow, it's Sonny and Cher."

The Friends episode with Brad Pitt was reasonably entertaining since they let Brad play a character (one of Ross's old high school pals.) It wasn't like they all stood around going "Holy ciow, it's Brad Pitt."

Trotting out celebs and letting them wave at the audience like they were on parade floats was lame.

And yet ...

I'm still glad that era of Scooby Doo existed. It's way fun to talk about how crappy it was.

Vg

jeff hotchkiss said...

Because there's no one better at solving monster mysteries than Phyllis Diller.

But I suppose it's just as likely that the gang so often happened upon celebrities as it is that Jessica Fletcher knew so many murderers or murder victims.