When CBS broadcast What A Night For A Knight, the debut episode of Scooby Doo! Where Are You?, on 13 September 1969, it premiered to a topsy turvy world. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated, the Manson family were still at large and if you hadn’t yet figured out times were changing, then a controversial new film called Midnight Cowboy, the first X-rated movie to win Best Picture, would change your mind.
In contrast, the members of Mystery Incorporated seemed to have stepped out of a different decade. Fred Jones, the group’s self-appointed hero/leader, would’ve been more familiar to teenaged viewers as the square-jawed protagonist who battled Blobs, mad scientists and rubber-suited monsters at the Drive-in every Saturday night.
His supposed girlfriend, Daphne Blake, had the token damsel-in-distress role while her considerably less attractive (and feminine looking) classmate Velma Dinkley, a near-sighted bookworm, could lecture for hours on such topics as runic symbols, palaeontology, Viking history etc. Rounding out the gang, and providing comic relief, were Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, a cowardly beatnik, and Scooby Doo, a talking Great Dane.
Even after 12 different series, 2 big budget feature films, plus a slew of straight-to-DVD titles as well as specials, spin-offs and spoofs, the show has barely departed from the blueprint laid down 5 decades ago. Shaggy’s bell-bottoms, the Mystery Machine, and the climactic unmasking are still present and correct, proving that some formulas never grow old.