After the success of the initial run of Scooby-Doo? Where Are you?, Hanna-Barbera devised the second incarnation of what was arguably their most famous Saturday morning creation so far.
In an attempt to keep the successful characters fresh and in the public eye, Hanna-Barbera used one of the oldest TV tricks in history: guest stars. The New Scooby Doo Movies premiered in hour long episodes in 1972 and served not only as a way to keep kids entertained by Scooby-Doo and his friends, but also serve as the proverbial “backdoor pilot” for potential cartoons for next season.
Here are the top 5 best, weirdest, craziest guests on The New Scooby Doo Movies.
The Addams Family | “Wednesday Is Missing”
For modern audiences, The Addams Family probably has the second most name recognition of anyone on this list. Perhaps the oddest aspect of this episode is that the Scooby gang recognize the Addams family, as if they were celebrities. That sort of makes sense for Batman or Davey Jones; however it’s an odd twisting of worlds that the Addams exist in the same universe as Scooby-Doo but also still have a TV show and some celebrity status. I digress.
The episode is mostly about the Scooby Gang keeping the younger Addams safe while Morticia and Gomez are on vacation. The big bad is a giant vulture. Really this episode is worth watching because even for Scooby-Doo (or The Addams Family) it piles on the jokes. These two shows could compete in the Olympics for spooky puns, and in this episode, they both take the gold.
WEIRD/FUNNY MOMENT: Pugsley Addams digs a hole to China in his sandbox where he makes a new Chinese friend who has Fred’s voice and no accent.
The Harlem Globetrotters | “The Ghostly Creep From The Deep”
Two words: Pirate ghosts. Yes, that’s right. For whatever reason, the world’s most successful hoops team is menaced not by the Washington Generals, but by a pirate ghost. What is it with this show and the ghosts having jobs? Somehow transcending the barrier between life and death is not enough. Now we have to make sure kids know he’s familiar with knot tying and nautical law.
This episode is filled with re-used animation of various Globetrotters doing basketball tricks which were then used in the Globetrotters’ own Saturday morning series. Annoyingly, none of the actual Globetrotters provided their own voices.
WEIRD/FUNNY MOMENT: Redbeard’s Ghost refers to himself in the 3rd person as “Redbeard’s Ghost” because of course he would.
Batman and Robin | “The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair”
The best of many appearances Batman and Robin would make in this series and with Scooby-Doo over time. In this episode Batman, Robin, and the Scooby Gang face off against the Joker and Penguin who, for some reason, disguise themselves as skeletons. Actually, they only disguise themselves as skeletons halfway through the episode after Batman and everyone else already knows they are the culprits anyway. In the end, they aren’t even the primary villains of the piece. A little old lady is.
WEIRD/FUNNY MOMENT: This episode takes place IN Gotham City. Yes, it establishes firmly that the Mystery Machine is driving around in the same universe as Gotham and presumably Metropolis. The Scooby Gang are the ghost hunters we deserve.
Jonathan Winters | “The Frickert Fracas”
If you’ve never heard of Jonathan Winters before, he was basically the comedy progenitor to Robin Williams. He was highly improvisational, character driven, and so so funny. This episode, more than any of them, is a very thinly veiled backdoor pilot for some sort of Winters-driven cartoon series. They manage to jam in Winters as himself, as his friend/grandmother Maude Frickert, plus a few others.
The episode’s highlight is when the gang is trying to remember the name of Maude Frickert’s Chicken Restaurant franchise. It’s “Grandma Frickerts Fried Fricassee” I think, but it’s not really clear in the end. The villain is also a corrupt banker, so that was ahead of its time. They never explain in these shows how all the bad guys have so much experience with special effects and costuming. Most of the cosplayers in the world would kill for these skills. I mean, this guy is a banker!
WEIRD/FUNNY MOMENT: Jonathan Winters somehow convinces the gang to become unpaid farmhands for several days. This includes getting up at 4am. I guess anything beats sleeping in the van.
Davey Jones | “The Haunted Horseman of Hagglethorn Hall”
It seems Davey’s uncle left the shortest Monkee an English Manor (also a plot of one of The Monkees’ 58 episodes, so that’s creative) but the manor is, of course, haunted. Haunted by a six foot tall frog. This manor is actually a SCOTTISH manor, but it’s not in Scotland. It’s been moved–cobwebs and all, apparently–to the USA so the Mystery Machine doesn’t have to explain why it’s on the wrong side of the road.
The high points of this episode include an actual song by Davey Jones which was not released on record for 20 years. Like in The Monkees, the song was featured in a chase scene with lots of slapstick falling down.
WEIRD/FUNNY MOMENT: After Davey falls down a flight of stairs and into a suit of armor, Velma insists in helping Davey out of his “outfit.” Velma’s Freudian slip is worthy of a Daytime Emmy for writing.
These are just a few of the best guests on this classic show. Of course it would go on to have some other fantastic guests in its later incarnations, up to and including a bunch of WWE Wrestlers in Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery 2014.
What was your favorite Scooby-Doo cameo or guest star? If you watched the series, what celebrity voice (who didn’t guest) did the show get the most wrong? What was your favorite Scooby season or episode of all time? Scooby-dooby-doooooo us a favor and leave it in the comments. Haha! Ugh.
Special Thanks to Tim Powers, my good friend and Hanna-Barbera superfan, for filling in the blanks with me on this one. Check out his podcast at Deep Dish Radio.
Image Credits: Hanna-Barbera