Scooby Doo and WWE: the megapowers collide

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 17th December 2013.

As kid growing up in the eighties, one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday morning was to wake up early and watch cartoons. Nowadays, I much prefer to sleep in and miss Saturday morning altogether. My favourite animated series was Scooby-Doo and if it was listed in the TV guide, I’d make sure that I was glued to the box for every minute.

Sure it was super formulaic. There’s a mysterious figure haunting a location, usually a mine, theme park or film set. Scooby and the gang arrive in the Mystery Machine to investigate. Chaos ensues. Insert a whacky chase scene. The criminal is collared and unmasked to reveal that it was Old Man Smothers / McGillicutty / Jackson all along. The famous phrase is uttered. “And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids.” Roll credits and theme tune.

I guess the simplicity of the formula appealed to my young brain.That would also explain why I also loved similarly simple shows such as The Famous Five, Murder She Wrote, Hey, Hey It’s Saturday and A Current Affair.

My absolute favourite episodes were the ones which saw the Scooby Gang team up with guest stars, in particular Batman and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Produced in 1972, the “Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair” and “The Caped Crusader Caper” see Batman and Robin work alongside Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne to battle the dastardly Joker and Penguin. I was a huge fan of the sixties camp incarnation of Batman, starring the legendary Adam West, so this was the coming together of two of my most beloved franchises. It’s also worth nothing that the quality of acting is not much different between the animated and live action Batman. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment to the voice actors of the cartoon or a brickbat for Adam West’s thespian skills…

As a child, I had no idea who the Harlem Globetrotters were. I still don’t. They seem to be some sort of basketball team who specialise in doing tricks but aren’t very good at playing an opposing team, kind of like the Parramatta Eels. Amazingly, they were also sleuths who like to solve mysteries. In “The Mystery of Haunted Island” and “The Loch Ness Mess” they team up with the Scooby Gand to investigate locations being haunted by mysterious figures… I won’t bother. You know the rest.

It was with some trepidation that I discovered recently that the latest Scooby-Doo animated movie sees the titular Great Dane work alongside another of my loves…wrestling.

Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery sees the Scooby Gang investigating the world of professional wrestling. Despite my initial reservations that these two worlds colliding might be a mistake, I’m think I’ll keep an open mind. After all, there are plenty of masked men in the WWE to be revealed. And quite a few steroid smugglers I’m sure. Scooby snacks anyone?

Many WWE Superstars will be lending their likenesses and voices to the project, including renowned Shakespearean actors Triple H, John Cena, Kane, The Miz, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella and the chairman of the board, Mr McMahon.

In March next year, Scooby-Doo! Wrestlemania Mystery will be unleashed on the world, direct to DVD. Hopefully the Scooby Gang will solve some of WWE’s greatest mysteries, such as, “Why didn’t the referee see that?” and “How is it possible to be beaten up that badly and not get a single bruise?” I might finally also get an answer to the most commonly asked question whenever I admit to liking professional wrestling, “How on earth can you watch that garbage?” Jinkies!

Published in: on January 7, 2014 at 16:46  Leave a Comment  
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Classic ABC Filler Music Videos

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 23rd November 2010.

In my column last week, I took a trip down memory lane, or in my case, Olola Avenue, Castle Hill, and reminisced about my favourite ABC kids afternoon programs from the eighties. That little adventure awoke another remnant of a memory.

During the late seventies and eighties, the ABC wasn’t the slick operation it is today. There were no promotional ads for upcoming shows, and so the couple of minutes left between programs were filled with early music videos. These videos ran repeatedly whenever there was time, and so I guess over many viewings, they became the basis of my love for music, or at the least, one hit wonders.

All of these music videos are burnt into my brain. I remember the tunes, the words, and pretty much every detail of the music videos. If only I knew the names of the songs.

A little research online gave me the names and artists of each music video, with the exception of one elusive clip. This one was an instrumental, kind of a sea shanty, and the video featured a bunch of women doing some sort of traditional dancing in a white room, while the musicians looked on. Ten points to you if you already know the answer.

And now, direct from 1980 or so, via my rather poor memory, are those pesky music videos that eluded me for so long.

Bright Eyes was the theme song from the 1978 animated film Watership Down, based on the Richard Adams book of the same name. Art Garfunkel, of the little known musical duo Simon and Garfunkel, performed the song in his famous falsetto. The song was composed by Mike Batt, who was also responsible for discovering Katie Melua and writing The Wombles hit novelty albums.

Even today, Bright Eyes haunts me. The book is depressing and sad. The tune is depressing and sad. The video, which features cute animated rabbits happily hopping around fields and then being caught in snare traps and dying, is depressing and sad. As a six year old, the sombre nature of the music video was certainly not lost on me, and I’d often be found sitting in silence, thinking about “those poor Bright Eyes rabbits.”

Love Is All was a popular single from the rock opera concept album, The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshoppers Feast, which was composed by Roger Glover, of Deep Purple fame. With glass shatteringly high lead vocals from Dio frontman, Ronnie James Dio, the animated music video features a cavalcade of animals singing and dancing.

On review, the video is not just animals singing and dancing. The video has serious psychedelic overtones. That’s not just a frog playing a guitar leading the animal parade. That’s a frog that turns into a shrub which then sprouts five singing frog heads. I’m sure some serious drugs were involved in the making of the album and video. Not that I’m complaining. Anything is better than the dead rabbit song.

OK, so I’m sitting in a car with a close friend chatting about these mysterious videos. I mention the elusive mystery one and she pops up with the answer immediately. “Oh that’s Portsmouth, by Mike Oldfield,” she says. Sure enough, there was the video on YouTube, just as I remember it, except for the multiple musicians watching the dancers. Only Mike Oldfield appears in the clip, playing different instruments in different shirts, obviously over multiple takes.

And thus another one of my life’s great mysteries has been solved. If you know of any other music videos from that era, drop me a line via my website. And whatever you do, avoid Watership Down.