October 16, 2011

Halloween specials: A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

Halloween specials: A Pup Named Scooby-Doo

Next in the Halloween special series is one of the several episodes of “Scooby-Doo” to center around Halloween specifically.

Background

The late 80s gave us “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo,” one of the most popular Scooby spinoff series to date. Here, the kids are in junior high, per the 80s animation fad of making shows about younger versions of adult characters. The show also featured a very cartoonish take on everything, with Tex Avery-style wild takes, a simplified animation style, and various cartoonish gags.

The gang’s hometown, mostly unnamed previously, also gains its longest-lasting name here, “Coolsville.” More recent material has gone with “Mystery, Incorporated”‘s Crystal Cove, but I still see Coolsville sometimes pop up.

A previous 80s spinoff had already declared the Blake family as being wealthy. However, “Pup” cemented such for Daphne’s background to this day.

Fred in particular gains a fuller personality for the first time. Before this series, Fred was the generic Hanna-Barbera “leader of the teenage gang,” without a real “hook” otherwise. In “Pup,” Fred’s a goofy, not-overly-bright guy who believes in all sorts of bizarre conspiracy theories involving aliens. Fred also constantly (and mistakenly) blames a neighborhood bully named Red Herring (get it?) for all the crimes. Elements of this version of Freddy have stuck through every Scooby-Doo spin-off since “Pup.” This usually manifests by portraying Fred as either obsessed with something (traps in “Mystery Incorporated”) and/or slightly goofy (“What’s New Scooby Doo”).

Plot

In the episode “Ghost Who’s Coming to Dinner,” the gang goes trick-or-treating on Halloween. Along the way, they stop by a seemingly haunted house owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. To the gang’s surprise, the Johnsons’ house is actually haunted, by what turns out to be a real ghost. (I guess this chronologically makes this the first “real” supernatural creature the Scooby-Doo gang ever met.)

However, while the ghost in question’s a friendly ghost, there’s also a second ghost haunting the place, who’s decidedly less so (“Boobeard,” the ghost pirate). Of course, the gang investigate the goings-on at the house, in typical fashion.

Mrs. Johnson’s voiced by Isabel Sanford. Sanford is well-known to TV viewers as Louise “Wheezy” Jefferson on “The Jeffersons.” This episode originally aired in 1988, three years after “The Jeffersons” was canceled.

On TV/home video

“A Pup Named Scooby Doo” has sometimes aired on Cartoon Network, though it hasn’t appeared there for some years.

The entire series, including this episode, is available on DVD. “Ghost Who’s Coming to Dinner” can be found on “Pup”‘s season one box set, plus a stand-alone DVD release.

(Updated 10/1/17)

Tags: animationHalloweenHalloween specialsMediaScooby-Doo