The Mysteries Five

Whilst watching the video of the song, Sugar, Sugar by the Archies from 1969, I noticed that there was something about some of the movements of the large white dog and the sound effects that reminded me of a even more popular and much loved cartoon series made around the same time.  I  wondered if there was any connection between the two cartoon series.  Investigating a mystery is something that appeals to most of us and so with the help of the internet I  delved into the origins of The Mysteries Five.

The background to the creation of the The Archie Show was my starting point.   It was commissioned by CBS for a Saturday morning TV slot, to replace one of several shows removed from the schedule after protests from parents.  They had complained that the content of many popular shows had become too violent and related to war.  The protests became organised with the formation of Action for Children’s Televison which was similar to the National Viewers and Listeners Association in the UK.  In 1968 public opinion in America was becoming polarised over involvement in the Vietnam War and protests were mounting about that too.  Shows like Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and The Herculoids by animators Hanna & Barbera were all removed from the Saturday morning schedules and more family friendly and acceptable series were commissioned by the big networks like CBS.  One of the first of those new shows was The Archie Show.

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A still from The Archie Show courtesy of The Cartoon Scrapbook

Created by the animation studio Filmation in 1968, The Archie Show was a popular success within the first few weeks and throughout the series run that year and it continued to be made in various adaptions until 1977.  The success in the UK of the single Sugar, Sugar, in 1969 was really all I can recall of the Archies, as I don’t think the TV show was ever shown in full here.  But the show that came along a year later remains popular even now!

In 1968, Fred Silverman, director of  daytime programming for CBS, began to develop new ideas for a show to build on the success of The Archie Show.  He asked the animation studio Hanna & Barbera, to begin story, character and animation development.  The working title for the new project was The Mysteries Five.

Story writers Joe Ruby & Ken Spears began work on the project, with animator Iwao Takamoto joining them.  They began planning a series based around a group of five teenagers and a dog.  At first, like The Archies, the teenagers were all in a band and it was intended that they would perform songs in each show.  They also added another element to the show, inspired by the popular radio show of the 1940s I Love a Mystery  and the plan was to have the group investigate mysteries involving ghosts, zombies and things that go bump in the night!

The original names for the characters in The Mysteries Five were: Geoff, Mike, Kelly, Linda, and Linda’s brother “W.W.” and their dog was called Too Much.  They switched between ideas for the dog, but put forward their first proposals with Too Much as a large sheepdog, like Hot Dog from The Archies.   However, when Fred Silverman reviewed the first set of proposals he rejected a lot of the ideas.  Whilst he liked the idea of the mystery stories, he didn’t like much else.  They discussed their other ideas, including changing the dog to a Great Dane, but this raised a possible problem with the dog being too similar to the popular newspaper comic strip dog Marmaduke, who had been around since 1954.  After Joseph Barbera was consulted it was agreed to create the dog as a Great Dane, but they retained the name Too Much.

The second set of proposals the writers prepared was based around the TV sit-com The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, that had run on CBS from 1959-63.  With this set of ideas they moved away from The Archie show as the basis and dropped the number of teenagers from 5 to 4, loosing the Mike character, but keeping the dog, Too Much.  Whilst these ideas took shape the animator Iwao Takamoto began to create the dog character in drawings.  He asked an old friend with expertise regarding Great Danes for the pedigree standards of the breed and then broke the rules designing Too Much with bowed legs, a sloped back and a double chin.

By the time the team put their second set of proposals for The Mysteries Five to Fred Silverman, they had also renamed all the characters to Ronnie, Daphne, Velma and Shaggy.  Fred Silverman liked the new proposals, but still felt that more changes were needed.  He changed the proposed title to Who’s S-S-Scared?  The show was progressed to the centre-piece of the 1969-70 season and plans were made for making the series.  It has been suggested by some that the president of CBS, Frank Stanton, still felt that the material was too scary for children and that the idea almost never made it to the TV screens.  According to Ruby and Spears, some misunderstanding may have been due to the emphasis of the mystery elements over the humour in the storyboards that Joe Barbera used to sell the show.   Storyboards of the first three episodes also record the late change of the character name Ronnie to Fred – those storyboards were once available on the Cartoon Network website, but are now archived at Internet Archive (web.archive.org)

Hurried further development led to the comedy element being increased, which resulted in the focus of the stories being Shaggy and the dog, Too Much.  The rock band element was also dropped at this late stage and a final name change for the series was made.  Ruby and Spears, the writers, have claimed that Fred Silverman told them he was inspired by the closing words of Frank Sinatra’s recording of Strangers in the Night, when Frank sings “doo-be-doo-be-doo” and that it led him to rename the dog Scooby Doo.  As a result the show title became Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  Whilst that does sound possible, I can’t help wonder if The Archies had one last, but important influence on the successor to their Saturday morning slot on CBS – their hit song Feeling So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y.  D.O.O.) from 1968 (click here to go to a copy of the video on this blog).  Perhaps the mystery of what really inspired the name Scooby Doo may never be solved. (See update at end of this post for another suggestion too!)

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So that is the brief outline of how the Mystery Inc team were assembled – those loveable characters that have scared and entertained so many children and adults over the last 44 years.  Who could have known when those first few episodes were shown that they would go on to be such a huge global success, inspiring many sequels and similar style shows by both Hanna & Barbera as well as many by their competitors like Filmation too.  More recently there were live action Hollywood movies and the original shows, as well as the later rearrangements, are still shown on TV networks all over the world.

The very first intro sequence for Scooby Doo Where Are You? appears in the previous post, along with the more familiar version with a title song added.  The song version is the one that I know from watching the series for the first time, around 1972, when I believe it was first shown in the UK.  If I am browsing TV channels and happen to come across an old episode I find it very hard not to sit back and enjoy the simple scares, jokes and fun of Scooby Doo and the gang!

This article was written with a lot of background detail coming from Wikipedia and their sources.  Throughout the article I have given links to the source articles for the various facts I discovered.  If you want to check the details or learn more then follow those blue links to the original.  Most of that material has been compiled by those dedicated collectors of information who are responsible for the wealth of information that is available to us all.

Update

On 19th June I received a comment from the author of most (not all) of the Development section of the Wikipedia article about Scooby Doo.  He wishes to be acknowledged just as FF.  Before approving the comment I emailed him to clarify how best to correct a few unintentional errors that had crept into my post, by me misinterpreting some of the details of his original work on Wikipedia.  I have now amended my post so that is in line with his comment below.  It was also interesting in our email exchange that he mentioned that animation writer Mark Evanier also felt that song lyrics may have suggested the name Scooby Doo.  Mark proposed Denise, by Randy and the Rainbows (1963) as the possible inspiration (see News from ME June 10th, 2002).  They really do sing scooby doo repeatedly throughout the song, in the way that doo-wop singers often used made up phrases between the rest of the lyrics.  I have been informed that although Mark didn’t work on Scooby Doo in the development stage he did later, so perhaps he has a good point.  It seems very likely that Denise influenced the later song by The Archies that started my research for this post.  If you check out the Denise link you may find the song familiar as it was covered by Blondie in 1977, but changed to be about a man called Denis (pronounced Denee).

Scooby Doo, Where Are You?

This is the original intro for the first episode of the first series of Scooby Doo shown on the CBS network in the USA in 1969.  They introduced the song theme on the end of the debut episode and at the beginning of the rest of the series.  (I had read that this theme without a song was deemed too scary, but it seems that was another of the ‘too scary’ rumours that surround the development of Scooby Doo.  (See comment below from a contributor to the Wikipedia article on Scooby Doo.)

This is the early intro for Scooby Doo, Where Are You? with full song.  It wasn’t the only version as later series altered the clips used and there were many later reinventions of the show as each generation of children have discovered Scooby Doo, in this and other forms.  Just don’t mention Scrappy to fans of the original series!

The Archies – Feeling So Good (S.K.O.O.B.Y D.O.O.)

This was another big hit for The Archies, particularly in the USA.   But did it influence the choice of name of the famous TV show Scooby Doo?  Mark Evanier, a writer on many animations series, including Scooby Doo, has commented, on June 10th, 2002, that Denise by Randy and the Rainbows(1963) might have influenced the choice of name.  It seems likely that at minimum it influenced this song by The Archies.  For more details on the origins of a Scooby Doo see my post The Mysteries Five.

Two Songs of 1969

marmalade - ob la di ob la da correctedTaking a break from photography, my thoughts turned to music and in particular the music of 1969.

Ob la di – Ob la da was No.1 in January of 1969, but I seem to remember it throughout the year and for many years after that too.  Kids at school would suddenly burst into song with the chorus and it was often played on the radio.  It was a huge hit for The Marmalade, who soon after shortened their name to just Marmalade.  It was not until a few years ago that I discovered that the song was written by Paul McCartney, as I was too young to be into The Beatles at the height of their fame.

This song was originally recorded by The Beatles on their White Album, 1968, and they went on to release it as a single and had a hit with it in many countries, but not in the UK or the USA.  This left the way open for The Marmalade to release their version.  When they topped the charts in January 1969, they became the first Scottish band to do so and celebrated by appearing on Top of the Pops that week wearing kilts – not that I personally remember it!  The video below is from another appearance on TOTP – no kilts in this version!

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At the other end of the year, in November 1969, the top selling single was by The Archies, and the song was Sugar, Sugar.  Again it is a song I knew very well from the radio, and I have often heard it in the years since then too, but I knew nothing about the ‘band’ at the time.  The Archies were actually a fictional band in a cartoon series.  The song was recorded by session musicians and singers Ron Dante and Toni Wine.  The two singers were the regular male and female singing voices of the characters in The Archie Show, a Saturday morning cartoon show produced by the animation company Filmation for the CBS TV network in America.

The show, very loosely based on the 1940s Archie comic books, only lasted for one season on CBS, in 1968.  The teenage characters, along with their large white dog, formed a band, performing songs in the show each week.  The video below is the full song Sugar, Sugar, as it was featured in one of the TV shows.  If something about the video reminds you of another cartoon series, then you may be interested in my next post – The Mysteries Five?

Ilford Sporti Camera

Several of my previous posts have featured photos taken by my Dad or myself, back in the 1960s.  All those photos were taken with the family camera, an Ilford Sporti, bought by my Dad in 1959, around the time that my Mum and Dad married.  They took the camera on honeymoon with them and many other trips before I was born.  They also used it to take the first family photos of my sisters and me, when we were just babies.  By the time I was shown how to use it, and borrowed it for day trips of my own, it was already 10 years old.

The trusty Sporti was used as the only family camera until the early 1980s, when my Dad replaced it with a small light plastic camera and I bought my first camera, an Agfa Silette LK. (More about that another time.)  In over 21 years of use it survived many day trips to the seaside, holidays around the UK and Ireland, walks in the country and numerous house moves.  The inside of the brown leather case has the various home addresses inscribed in the heavy biro style of my Dad – so that we would get it back if it was ever lost, but it never was.  So this is my tribute to the Ilford Sporti – a camera that captured so many family moments that now help us to recall those times.

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This photo of our actual Ilford Sporti was taken with my current digital camera.

It looks very plain and simple now, but in 1959 it was quite a new and trendy piece of kit.  It has several features that at the time were not available on most cameras aimed at the family user.

There was a setting for sunny and cloudy (f11 and f9), a mount point for a flash on top. The flash was synchronised by a cord that plugged in under the lens.  The lens could be adjusted, with guide points labelled in feet, as well as close-up, group and views, so that the camera could be correctly focused by any user.  The shutter speed was fixed though at 1/50th sec.  The shutter release button had a centre whole with a screw thread for a cable release to be connected.  There was also a tripod bush in the base –  with our camera it served as the anchor point for the leather case, a large thumb screw holding the two connected.

In truth it wasn’t really an Ilford camera.  It was built for Ilford by Dacora, in West Germany, and was a modified version of their own Digna 1 camera.  For more information on the Dacora camera range and further background information see The Camera Site and in particular this page.  The Dacora origin wasn’t really hidden as you can see in my photo above, the Dacora name is prominent on the surround of the lens.

It was featured in early TV adverts and also on Radio Luxemborg!  One advert was mid-show in The Cliff Richard Show, called ‘Me And My Shadows’, which was sponsored by Ilford.  The advert claimed it was “the most smartest little camera you have ever seen”.   The advert also recommended the use of Ilford black & white film, which shows that colour film was not in common use in 1960.  All our family photos in colour are from around 1965 onwards and at first only about 12 pictures in a year!

The Photographic Memorabilia website deserve the credit for the radio advert details, they even have a link to a recording of it!  I also want to thank them for technical details on the Sporti.  They have an extensive history section covering several aspects of film and photo processing from that era too.  I recommend the site to any camera and film enthusiast.

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This magazine advert for the Ilford Sporti kit, from 1961, shows the whole kit that could be purchased for the camera.  A large dish style flash reflector and a row of flash bulbs can be seen, as well as two rolls of Ilford film.  My Dad never purchased a flash gun so we never used the camera with a flash.  (Advert image from Photographic Memorabilia – Sporti.)

It is also interesting to note that the price is shown as £5 13 shillings and 9 pence – that’s old money!  The decimal version of that is £5.69 (decimal money didn’t arrive until 15th February 1971 – see here for convertor.)  To give that figure more meaning, it was around two weeks wages for my Dad at the time, and he earned reasonably good money as a carpenter on building sites.  When he bought the camera in 1959 he may have only paid around £4 for the camera and leather case.  My Mum also worked full time before us kids came along, so with two incomes an investment like that wasn’t too difficult.  It proved to be a very good investment as the camera never broke and was still working well over 20 years later.  It had taken hundreds of lovely memorable photos that are still treasured now.

When it came to using the camera it was all fairly simple and I learned how to load film before I was 10.  We probably had the little Ilford instruction booklet, but if so it was lost a very long time ago.  But again Photographic Memorabilia had a link to a PDF of the booklet.  For a fun read of it click the picture.  tn_Sporti_frnt_cvr

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The photo of the back of the camera shows the location of the viewfinder and the red window on the rear of the camera which allowed the user to see the arrows and numbers on the back of the film as you advanced the film by turning the wheel on the top right.

There was no automatic film movement or preset stop points, so you had to pay careful attention that you remembered to move the film forward after a picture was taken or you would loose both shots with a double exposure.  Also if you moved the film forward too far there was no way of moving it back, you just had to take the shot and hope it still came out when developed.

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The last photo shows the Sporti with the back open and the film spool to collect the film as it was moved on.  At the end of taking 12 pictures you just kept winding till it went loose and then carefully opened the camera in a dimly lit room or in the shadow of a blanket as I was shown to do.  More recently I have discovered that it just needed to be out of direct sunlight or bright lights.  The film wasn’t enclosed in a cassette or case so if handled carelessly could unspool and expose the whole film to light and you would loose the pictures or ruin the film if you were loading it.  To help illustrate what loading a camera using 120 film looks like I have included a video in the previous post, as well as another in which a young photographer explains why he still chooses film photography in the digital age.

I hope you enjoyed this reflection on an old-fashioned film camera.  Things have really moved on in the last 50 years. Now many people take and share pictures without ever using a camera, just the camera functions built-in to their smartphone and often the results are very good.  Many people still enjoy the old school methods of producing photographs with film and all the other processes that are involved.  Much as I appreciate the memories saved with this Ilford Sporti, I am happy to have moved into the digital age.  I enjoy being free to take hundreds of high resolution photos in a day and no longer be limited to a roll of film with just 12 photographic opportunities and waiting days or weeks for the prints to come back from a processing shop.