While folks argue whether Chanel (a 21-year-old dachshund who passed away in August) was really the world's oldest dog, a famous cartoon pooch will turn 40 on Sept. 13.
Yes, Scooby-Doo and his Mystery Inc. chums (Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy) are celebrating their 40th anniversary and still going strong in the "solving supernatural crimes" biz.
Who would have thought there would be such staying power for a cartoon created mainly to placate parent groups demanding less violence on Saturday mornings? I'm sure the parents had good intentions, but the slapstick antics and happy endings have left generations of kids with some na*ve notions about dealing with the real world. ("I'm not worried about you, Mr. Mugger. Any second now a big vat of cookie dough will appear out of nowhere and dump on you. Uh...any second now...Relp! Relp!")
The serendipitous rescues weren't the only things making "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?" so unrealistic. Considering all those six-foot subs that Scooby and Shaggy inhaled, the mummies should have been running in terror. ("No! No! These are bandages, not toilet paper!")
The owners of the Scooby franchise have worked mightily to keep the shows up to date. Unfortunately, they sometimes get carried away. It used to be the fake ghost or fake abominable snowman would reveal some intriguing motivation for the ruse. Now everyone explains the plot with, "Because Ted Kennedy would have wanted it that way." Zombies threatened a work stoppage unless they were included in health care reform. And ever since the Mystery Machine van was traded for a cramped fuel-efficient vehicle in the "Cash For Clunkers" program, our heroes' tempers have run high. ("Fred, I'm definitely finding some clues that you need a cold shower.")
Despite cosmetic touchups by the animators, there are signs that Scooby is finally showing his dog years. 1. He won't go anywhere without his AARF (American Association of Retired Fetchers) card. 2. He demands large-print death threats from villains. 3. He can no longer hear a dog whistle, but he can hear those doggone kids playing on his lawn. 4. He takes along a portable fire hydrant for frequent emergencies. 5. A great-great-great-great-great grandson he never knew existed turned up at the doggie door. 6. He saves bones for replacements, not for gnawing.
How do the writers feel about Scooby's advanced age? Judge for yourself, with this Freudian slip that nearly made it into an episode. ("We won't reach Loch Ness until dawn, Scoob, so why don't you get put to sleep, er, I mean, get some sleep?")
What do you get an animated Great Dane for his 40th birthday? Scooby's cartoon friends at Hanna-Barbera considered buying him a spa treatment at the Hotel For Dogs but ultimately decided to chip in and get him the GPS coordinates for the dark alley nearest Michael Vick's house. That's the gift that keeps on giving -- a 911 address, that is. ("Wrong kind of dog fight! Ouch!")
My five-year-old son eats, sleeps and breathes Scooby-Doo, so I spared no effort in crafting this week's column. Okay, the truth is, I actually just sort of rewrote my "Dick Cheney's Submission To The Dark Side of The Force Turns 40" column. And I would have gotten away with it -- if not for those meddling kids and that mangy mutt!
Note: The clueless Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail and Scooby Snacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.