Over the past couple of years, Mark Evanier has been doing a great series of occasional posts about a widely-loathed character that he helped to create: Scrappy-Doo. (Specifically, he was assigned to write the first episode where the new character appeared, and as he explains, that created some controversy over whether he was writing a regular script or a pilot for a new Scooby-Doo series.) I don’t really hate Scrappy; when I watched Scooby-Doo as a child he was already part of the cast, so I was used to him, and had no idea I was supposed to hate him. (On the other hand, I was furious when new and crappy Smurfs were added to The Smurfs, starting with the politically-correct “Natural Smurf,” then transforming them into junior Smurfs, then Jonathan Winters as Grandpa Smurf… so I totally get why someone who grew up on Scooby-Doo would hate seeing Scrappy thrown into the mix.) Evanier, who doesn’t think Scrappy was the worst character he ever worked with, acknowledges that “there are some folks out there who, given the choice of seeing the execution of Osama bin Laden or Scrappy Doo, would opt for Scrappy and wonder why you even had to ask.” But the series is a great introduction to the process of writing for Saturday morning cartoons, as fraught with network notes, standards & practices caveats, casting problems and last-minute gimmicks as any prime-time show. So far he’s done five parts:
Part One, where the Scooby-Doo franchise is about to collapse and Joe Barbera comes up with an idea to save the show: add a spunky kid.
Part Two, where Joe Barbera describes his idea for the new character, which sounds a lot like a description of Henery the Chickenhawk.
Part Three, where the script is finished and the notes come in.
Part Four, where the voice casting process goes through at least nine other actors before settling on the final choice… who got replaced after one season.
Part Five, where Broadcast Standards & Practices decrees that Scrappy is too much of a dangerous rebel and must be “toned down.”
Evanier promises more instalments when he gets a chance. I hope so.
Here’s the intro for the Scrappy-ized Scooby-Doo (with the original Scrappy voice, Lennie Weinrib). And, y’know, seeing this again, I’m starting to think that maybe I do hate him after all. But still not as much as I hated Orbitty.
(My own favourite suggestion about Scrappy was that he’s the secret love child of Scooby and Velma.)