With the recent passing of animation pioneer William Hanna, it seems almost fitting that All Things Yankovic honors his memory by shedding light on a lost teaming between Weird Al and one of Bill's most beloved creations.
About a year ago I came upon a Scooby-Doo web site that listed all of the celebrities that appeared on The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the 1972-1974 Saturday morning series in which Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang met up with the likes of Dick Van Dyke, The Addams Family, and Batman and Robin to solve crimes. For reasons then-unknown the web site said that the twenty-seventh, and final, episode guest-starred Al!
And before you say it had to have been a joke rather than a coincidence because of the episode number, as I had thought, then consider this: Two seasons of the show were produced, and each season contained thirteen episodes. This means that Al appeared in an episode that wasn't a part of either season of the show. If it wasn't a joke, then it was bizarre indeed!
Equally puzzling is the fact that the series was produced in the early 1970s, a good ten years before anyone knew who "Weird Al" Yankovic was.
The first thing I did was e-mail Cartoon Network and ask them if they knew of this mystery episode. Below is their response:
"Wierd Al has never appeared on Scooby Doo. And stop writing to us about the logo bug. It's staying there. Get used to it. Don't forget to watch June Bugs in June."
Thinking maybe the original web site was just joking around, I did some research in the Library of Congress's copyright database at their site. Sure enough, the entry "Scooby-Doo; guest Weird Al Yankovic" was registered on February 25, 1985!
For the next eleven months, I looked at every Scooby-Doo fansite, talked to every fan and collector of the show I could get a hold of, and even wrote an unreplied letter to Hanna-Barbera to try to get some more information. Alas, everyone thought I was making this up.
Finally in January, a gentleman named Michael Reaves sent me an e-mail response to a post I made on one of the Internet Scooby boards. Mr. Reaves informed me that he knew all about the episode as he was the one who wrote it! I had this verified by looking his name up on the IMDb (he is credited with writing many mid-80s Hanna-Barbera productions), and then had his e-mail address confirmed with animation historian Jerry Beck.
Here is the letter Mr. Reaves sent:
"This is the lowdown on the Scooby episode you're asking about. In 1984 ABC wanted us to do a new Scooby show for Saturday morning. We proposed a continuation of the Scooby Movies, but ABC wanted us to go back to the basics and do generic mysteries with just Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy. We eventually talked them into including Daphne so that the show had a strong female lead. They even suggested to base the look of the show on Michael Jackon's Thriller video! We hated this idea, and so we twisted ABC's arm to let us do a pilot of the Scooby Movies so we can show them the concept would still work. ABC told us it has to be only a half hour instead of an hour.
"The reason Weird Al got involved with this is because the Eat It song just came out. ABC had to approve the celebrity guest. We talked them into okaying Weird Al after showing them the video, especially the end which as you may know made fun of Thriller. Weird Al was cool to have in the studio. He and Casey Kasem hung out a lot between recording the tracks.
"ABC didn't like how the episode turned out, so the new series became The Scooby-Doo Mysteries with Scrappy, etc. Still ABC was stuck with an extra episode they paid for, so they showed it with one of the Mysteries episodes during their afternoon Superstar Movie program.
"The reason it doesn't show up with the other Scooby Movies episodes is because of the difference in length. I think HB stuck it with the 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which was the last Scooby show we did and was pulled from ABC after about two weeks."
Thanking Mr. Reaves profusely and finally knowing where to start looking for this oddity, I once again e-mailed Cartoon Network and asked them when The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo episodes were going to be shown again. They told me that although they had no plans to show that particular Scooby series, Cartoon Network UK was currently airing it!
I e-mailed a friend of mine in Manchester and asked him to keep an eye out for it and to have a blank tape ready. About a week later, he told me he got it on tape and even included a screen shot of it in the e-mail (seen on the All Things Yankovic home page)!
He sent me the PAL video in mid-March, which I had to convert to NTSC. This is not an easy thing to do when almost every video and camera store won't copy it as soon as they see the lovable and strictly-copyrighted mug of Scooby-Doo show up on the screen. I finally found a store to make a viewable, albeit blurry, NTSC copy of the episode on March 28th.
I asked my brother to make a couple of screen captures from the episode, and I am pleased to share the images and information on here for the first time anywhere (not even Bermuda knew about this one when first asked!).
The episode is pretty bland, even for Scooby-Doo. Someone stole all the pies that were being prepared for the First Annual Weird Al Eat-It-All Pie Contest....along with the prize money. Scooby plays the accordion for a few seconds at the end, but the show is rather light on the music side. All of the Weird Al jokes and references involve food and food puns. I won't spoil the end of the big "mystery" since it's only a matter of time before the 13 Ghosts episodes start airing on the stateside Cartoon Network (although I should at least mention the criminal's reason, "I like pie!").
So keep checking the "Al on TV" page, as I'll announce Al's Scooby appearance as soon as it comes up!
Extra special thanks to Michael Reaves, Jerry Beck, and everyone at the Scooby Snax message board for their help in uncovering this real mystery, and of course to Brian for sending me this most coveted TV appearance!!!
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