I guess because it’s written in blood in a contract with some demonic force that every single year, Scooby Doo has to have a new movie released on or around the Halloween season. Truth be told, the movies sell well and Scooby Do around Halloween just makes sense. The long running series from Hanna Barbera has been one of the most influential franchises of all time, even bringing with is a wave of goofy, silly, god awful copy cats. They tried everything to duplicate the success of Scooby from talking mopeds, goofy ghosts, and even miniature detectives.
These are five of the worst Scooby Doo Knock Offs, and Four of the Best.
You’d think a series starring a wise cracking shark that sounds like Curly from “The Three Stooges” would tickle my fancy but I hate this series. I loathe it. For some reason there’s just something about the inherent laziness of the show that really grates on my nerves, whether it’s the inexplicable talking shark, or the gratuitous rock band inclusion. I can’t explain it, but I avoid this series like a plague. I do love the “Cartoon Groovies” music video from Cartoon Network that often played on TV, though.
BEST: Josie and the Pussycats
Despite the comic strip never really standing out among the plethora of Archie characters including Sabrina, Josie and the Pussycats held their own and rightfully garnered a series of their own. Like the “Archies” they were a band of young girls that performed rock music while solving mysteries. Along with them were original characters to fit the trend including a Shaggy type, a hunky Freddy type, and a nasty old cat. This is a hip, fast paced show, followed up with “Josie in Outer Space.” It’s where they all go to outer of space, you see.
WORST: The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan
There couldn’t be a more boring “Scooby Doo” clone than what is essentially a spin off of the Charlie Chan mysteries, a series of movies that I’ve never been a fan of. This animated spin off (sequel?) packed the screen with a huge family (they’re also a music band, because why not?!) of twelve Asian detectives of varying ages, and their trusty dog. They all are related to, and team with the titular detective Charlie Chan—uh–every now and then, and they solve mysteries and various criminals. Save for the diverse ahead of its time roster of characters, “The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan” stunk.
DC and Ruby Spears thought it would be a good idea to take one of the most powerful teams of the DC Universe and tack on two snot nosed teenagers and a dog, too. Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog didn’t have powers. Hell, they weren’t even from another planet. They were simply teenagers that wore capes and tagged along with heroes like Superman and The Flash without ever being told to bugger off. Thankfully the show would eventually write them off and focus on the heroes (wild concept, no?), but they’re still there if you re-visit the early episodes. You could argue that they’re canon. Even though, they contribute nothing except the Scooby Doo appeal.
WORST: The Thing
When you think of loose adaptations of material, always think about “The Thing.” Hanna Barbera took the character of the Thing from “Fantastic Four” and turned him in to basically a different kind of character. Here he’s the monstrous form of a young boy named Benjy Grimm who, when combining two magic rings (“Ring Thing, Do Your Thing!”), becomes The Thing. Benjy as the Thing helps his friends solve various crimes and foil numerous thieves, criminals, and mad scientists, all the while Benjy tries to survive life as a teenager. It’s a terrible, terrible show that mangles a pretty awesome comic book superhero.
BEST: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids
I guess by comparison to, say, “The Chan Clan,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids” was actually entertaining. It had so much potential to be better, if not confined to its Scooby-Doo trappings. There’s a group of teens that perform in a band (duh) that sounds a lot like Partridge Family, that are actually undercover agents that work for the government and use a super computer/super car where the solve mysteries, fight criminals, and mainly stop the bad guy of the week a la “Scooby Doo.” The theme song is catchy, if anything.
WORST: Casper and the Angels
So Casper is sent to the future with his cousin Hairy Scary to become the guardian and help people, rather than scare people. They team up with a group of young space police, two of whom known as the Space Angels, and solve crimes every week. Get it? It makes sense. I guess. Maybe. Every episode usually consists of some thieves stealing something priceless, or some kind of kidnapping plot. In either case, Casper whines endlessly, Hairy bungles things, and the animation is about as stiff and rigid as its budget saving contemporaries.
BEST: Dynomutt, Dog Wonder
“Dynomutt, Dog Wonder” is one of my favorite Scooby Doo clones and its also been widely accepted within Scooby Doo canon as part of its attempted extended universe. It featured prominently in the “Scoob!” animated movie last year, and the pairing of Dynomutt and Blue Falcon have made numerous cameos, and appearances on various contemporary Hanna Barbera cartoons. This includes Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, and 2 Stupid Dogs.
WORST: The New Shmoo
So this time, the Mystery Inc. group works for a comic book company while also solving various crimes and mysteries. They hang out in a tree house along with the Schmoo. The Schmoo is a character from the old “Li’l Abner” comics that gained a new found popularity in the seventies. It apparently didn’t warrant a quality TV series, only serving as the Scooby Avatar, this time in the form of an amorphous, weird, white blob that can take on all kinds of shapes and forms to help his team. The Schmoo is, of course, voiced by Frank Welker. Is there anything that man can’t do?