Did the Scooby Gang Need a Backstory?


Thanks to Netflix, I discovered Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. This animated series ran from 2010-2013 and followed the Scooby gang in their hometown of Crystal Cove, known for its history of eerie supernatural events. Trivia on the IMDB states in developing this series that the producers went back to the 1968-69 development art, which included information like the Scooby gang’s ages, their parents, and home and school life that never made it onscreen. While each of the 52 episodes stands alone, there are intra-episode story arcs: like the locket Daphne finds, the mysterious and helpful Mr. E, and the developing romances between Fred and Daphne and Shaggy and Velma.

Admittedly, we see this more and more in the animated TV world. I wonder, however, if the Scooby gang needed a backstory or intra-episode story arcs. Amazingly, all the kids’ parents are super-annoying. Fred’s dad is the mayor of Crystal Cove and has plans Fred Jr. will follow in his footsteps. Daphne’s ultra-rich parents don’t like her hanging around with Fred and the rest of the gang because she needs friends and love interests closer to their social standing. Velma, whose figure and overall looks get an update, has parents preoccupied with their ownership of the Crystal Cove Museum. In the first episode, Shaggy’s parents meet him at the jail where he and his friends are being held after their latest mystery, which winds them up in trouble with the law. They tell Shaggy they are worried about this “mystery phase” and strongly suggest he find new friends.

This all leads me to the episode, “Gatorsburg,” where the Mystery Machine breaks down (well, has it’s engine stolen) and the teens call their parents asking for a lift. Three of the four sets of parents are way too busy to help out, and Shaggy’s parents don’t answer the phone because it is still-life night and the Mrs. is painting a portrait of the Mr. This forces the gang to stay in Gatorsburg overnight and solve another mystery, but doesn’t this make their parents about as useful as the invisible adult characters in Charlie Brown who are so insignificant their words only come out as sounds (want, want, want, wah)?

Different Scooby-Doo adaptations give the characters different backstories, so why bother? In the new movie, Scoob!, Shaggy Rogers meets a talking stray Great Dane, who is hiding from a bicycle cop on the Venice Beach strip, for taking off with a block of lamb from the Greek restaurant. When the officer confronts Shaggy about owning the pup, he asks the boy what the dog’s name is. Looking at his box of snacks and after a bit of back and forth, he tells the officer the dog’s name is Scooby Dooby Doo.

Just like they did when they created the How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie starring Jim Carrey, it appears children and teens like their comic book, story book, and animated characters to have a past and to be able to outwit their parents. I can’t say I am a fan of it. Give me the original versions of these classics that just told the present-day story and ended in half an hour.

What do you think? Should the characters have backstories? Do you like some backstories more than others? Is there a backstory for a favorite character that bugged you?