I preferred Disney movies and shows from ABC’s TGIF lineup to anything Saturday morning had to offer.
So I wasn’t too impressed about five years ago when my editor at UAB asked me to talk to a student who drove a Mystery Machine.
That was back when I thought I was on the fast track to a job at The New York Times or at least The Montgomery Advertiser. A fluff piece on Scooby-Doo’s van was a waste of time for an aspiring snob like myself.
If I had that story to do over today, I would have the owner take my picture with the Mystery Machine and probably ask for a spin around the block.
Serious college journalist that I was, I interviewed the girl at the office and let our photo editor have the fun of actually seeing a piece of classic cartoon history.
She told me that it is impossible to buy a “real” Mystery Machine because the Hanna-Barbera artists based the drawing on several makes and models of vans.
She also had a cute story about when she stopped for gas while dressed as one of the characters on Halloween.
Some kids who saw Daphne step out of the Mystery Machine at the local quick-stop started jumping up and down yelling, “I knew it was real!”
Fast forward to the present. The young lady who was too cool for cartoons is now married to Shaggy and raising Scooby-Doo.
Zac definitely has a hippie vibe going on, but I didn’t realize how much he looked like Shaggy until he told me that was his new nickname at work.
He and Wyatt made a great Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for Halloween.
I pulled out Wyatt’s outfit so often in the weeks leading up to the big day that he will now point to himself if Zac and I ask, “Where’s Scooby?” when the TV is turned off.
The disc of the 2002 feature film “Scooby-Doo” has rarely left our DVD player in the kitchen since we put it in one day while having a family meal.
Wyatt went through a phase where he wouldn’t let us be in the kitchen for more than five minutes without bringing us the remote and pointing to the TV.
We have also started trying to catch episodes of “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” on Cartoon Network’s Boomerang channel each night. I was surprised to learn via Wikipedia that the original series ran for only two seasons and included just 25 episodes.
I should have researched that a little before buying the boys “Scooby-Doo, Where are You! The Complete Third Season” on DVD a few weeks back.
As it turns out, those episodes actually aired as “The Scooby-Doo Show” in 1978, nearly 10 years after “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” debuted.
The characters and plot lines are the same as the original series, though. Although I was disappointed in the new theme song at first, it quickly grew on me.
I also bought a couple of seasons of “What’s New, Scooby-Doo?” Zac was hesitant to watch this 2002-era series at first because they weren’t the episodes he had grown up watching.
However, I think he would admit now that Scooby and the gang are as awesome in the 21st century as they were in the last one.
Not everyone agrees. A New York Times columnist wrote in 2002 that “the show’s mysteries are not very mysterious, and the humor is hardly humorous. As for the animation — well, the drawings on your refrigerator may give it competition.”
For the record, Scooby has starred in 11 TV series totaling nearly 300 episodes as well as more than a dozen direct-to-video films and four live-action films in the past 42 years.
His critics can say what they want. That cowardly Great Dane has some serious staying power.
A few weeks after Halloween, my boss sent me to Curry Elementary School for a story. I discovered to my childlike delight that Scooby-Doo is their theme for the year.
When the gym teacher pulled out a cardboard cutout of the Mystery Machine, I jumped behind it for a picture faster than you could say, “Scooby snack.”
So my opportunity to drive the Mystery Machine came back around to me at just the right time. The circle of life is always at work.
But that’s another cartoon for another column.