In Praise of Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine

The author and friends in the Mystery Machine, Great America theme park, CA

“Zoiks!” said ten-year-old Scooby-Doo fan Mark Speed, 40, of London, England (pictured, centre).  “I remember the original 1969 series.  Those were amazing times.  I had watched Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon back in July of that year, but to me the real televisual event of the year was Scooby-Doo — at last we had a superhero with real human flaws, even though he was canine.  We were petrified of the monsters, and so was Scooby.  Often, he was so scared he would even end up jumping up into Shaggy’s arms and they would both — to quote the theme song — ‘shake and shiver’.  I could certainly empathise: the episode with the ghost in the deep-sea diving suit had me running from the room.  But with some temporary courage from the consumption of Scooby Snacks, plus a little serendipitous accident-prone chase on foot, he and Shaggy would always end up beating the smart members of the team — Velma (often incorrectly called Thelma) Dinkley, Freddie Jones and Daphne Blake — to solving the mystery.  The monster would always turn out to be the old caretaker, who’d have been wearing an elaborate mask.  There was a certain soothing predictability to it.  They were simpler times.”

“But that’s not so true of more recent episodes,” said Scooby-Doo aficionado Zoe Falk (pictured, right, partially obscured), aged nine (nearly 10), of Forestville, CA.  “For example, in the episode with the dragon there was no villain to unmask.”

Both Zoe and Mark saw Scrappy-Doo as an unnecessary and unwelcome addition to the team.  “I just didn’t like him, and I was glad to see him go,” said Zoe.  “It was great that he was exposed as evil in the first movie,” added Mark. “He sucked.  Badly.”

One element of the show that has remained constant has been the Mystery Machine.  “I’ve never seen it emit any exhaust in 37 years,” said Mark.  “It’s not just a Mystery Machine — it’s a Clean Machine. Scooby-Doo and the team deserve to be recognised as early pioneers of zero-emissions vehicles.  It’s so great finally to be photographed in it.  The only mystery that remains is why the non-cartoon world is only just getting around to adopting the Hannah-Barbera studio’s pioneering non-polluting technology some four decades after it was developed.  I know we owe a lot of technology to the Apollo Moon Shots, but it would appear that Scooby-Doo delivered the really important environmental breakthroughs.  It was tens of billions of dollars cheaper, and a lot more fun too.”

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