Two will enter, one will leave! In this week’s inaugural head-to-head match-up between Old School and New School cartoons, we pit Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! against The Cleveland Show. Who will end up as the definitive over-all winner? Will the much-beloved Great Dane, Scooby-Doo, and his friends “those meddlesome kids” win, or will the up-and-coming wit and humorous antics of Cleveland Brown, his family, and his friends be enough to rack up a victory for The Cleveland Show? Let’s get down to the brass tacks, grab a box of Scooby Snacks, and analyze the data! Whoever wins, don’t be a “hate-a”–if you do disagree, or agree, with whatever conclusion I reach, please share your opinions in the comments below.
According to Scooby-Doo’s wiki site:
“the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, was created for Hanna-Barbera Productions by writers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears as a Saturday morning cartoon series in 1969. Hanna-Barbera and its successor Warner Bros. Animation have produced numerous follow-up and spin-off animated series and several related works, including television specials and telefilms, a line of direct-to-video films, and two Warner Bros.-produced feature films. Some versions of Scooby-Doo feature different variations on the show’s supernatural theme, and include characters such as Scooby’s cousin Scooby-Dum and nephew Scrappy-Doo in addition to or instead of some of the original characters.
Scooby-Doo was originally broadcast on CBS from 1969 to 1976 when it moved to ABC. ABC aired the show until canceling it in 1986, and presented a spin-off featuring the characters as children, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, from 1988 until 1991. The series was revived and updated as “What’s New Scooby-Doo” for The WB Network’s Kids’ WB programming block and ran from 2002 to 2006, when it began running on the The CW network until 2008. The current Scooby-Doo series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, premiered on Cartoon Network in July 2010. Repeats of the series are broadcast frequently on Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the United States and other countries.”
It’s almost impossible not to drag into this discussion all of the many successful Scooby-Doo related cartoon series that came after Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, some much more successful than the original series, which only ran initially for two seasons, from September 1969-October 1970. Only 25 episodes were made, but they’ve been re-run mega-zillions of times since then, and have become cartoon classics, whether you love Scooby-Doo and the gang or hate them.
The Cleveland Show has not been around nearly as long, but it’s been hilariously successful from its very first season. As its wiki page mentions:
The Cleveland Show is an American animated television series that premiered on September 27, 2009, as a part of the “Animation Domination” lineup on Fox in the United States. The series was created by Seth MacFarlane, Mike Henry, and Richard Appel as a spin-off from Family Guy, which was also created by MacFarlane.
The show’s family centers around father Cleveland Brown, who was a featured character on Family Guy. His son Cleveland Jr. was also on Family Guy, although for this show he was redesigned to be older and more obese. Three new characters were added to fill out the Brown/Tubbs family.”
Though The Cleveland Show has so far just been around for two seasons, that was also the length of the original run of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Only time will tell if it will be around for as many years as Scooby-Doo has, but it’s got a great start. There have been 35 episodes made so far, and it’s been picked up for a third season.
Category 1: Main Characters
Main Characters – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
1.) Scooby-Doo (Don Messick)
2.) Fred “Freddie” Jones (Frank Welker)
3.) Daphne Blake (Indira Stefanianna, Eps. 1-17; Heather North, Eps. 18-25)
4.) Velma Dinkley (Nicole Jaffe)
5.) Norville “Shaggy” Rogers (Casey Kasem)
Main Characters – The Cleveland Show
1.) Cleveland Brown (Mike Henry)
2.) Donna Tubbs-Brown (Sanaa Lathan)
3.) Cleveland Orenthal Brown Jr. (Kevin Michael Richardson)
4.) Roberta Coretta Tubbs (Reagan Gomez-Preston)
5.) Rallo Tubbs (Mike Henry)
Yes, in this first category, “Who Wins?” is, indeed, a great question to ask! Both series have excellent main characters, as well as talented actors/actresses providing their voices.
Taking Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! first: Don Messick, who does Scooby’s voice, has also been the voices for Astro, the dog from The Jetsons, Dr. Benton Quest, from Jonny Quest, and Boo-Boo the Bear, from the Yogi the Bear cartoons.
Casey Kasem once had arguably the most famous voice on the radio, as the deejay/host of the popular program, American Top 40. He also has voiced several other cartoon characters’ voices, perhaps most notably, other than Shaggy’s, that of Robin in Super Friends.
Frank Welker, who voices Freddie, has provided voices for many cartoons, such as the voice (both speaking and non-speaking) of Nibbler in the cartoon TV series Futurama. He’s also the voice of the monkey Abu in Aladdin, its two sequels, and the TV series adaptation. As well, he’s voiced Dr. Claw in the Inspector Gadget cartoons, Darkseid in Super Friends, and from 2005 to the present, he’s taken over as the voice of Garfield.
The last two actresses I’ll group together, just because, though they’re both very talented, they haven’t done many other cartoon voices. Heather Lindsay North, who does Daphne’s voice, has done the voice of Wasp from The Marvel Super Heroes, and starred with Kurt Russell in Walt Disney’s Barefoot Executive. Nicole Jaffe, the actress who voices Velma, wears glasses herself, and is also myopic. I found it humorous when I learned at her wiki site that “At the first voice recording rehearsal for Scooby-Doo, Where are You!, Jaffe accidentally dropped her glasses and cried out something to the effect of ‘my glasses! I can’t see without them,’ which became a trademark gag and catch phrase for Velma.”
Mike Henry, who does the voices of two of the main characters from The Cleveland Show, those of Cleveland and Rallo Tubbs, also does the voices of some supporting characters in the series, like those of Herbert, Bruce, and Consuelo. He began his career as a voice actor in the cartoon Family Guy, by doing Cleveland’s voice for that series.
Kevin Michael Richardson has provided the voices for many cartoon characters. According to his wiki page, “His credits include Captain Gantu from Lilo & Stitch, Goro in Mortal Kombat, the second voice of Skulker on Danny Phantom, Sarevok in the Baldur’s Gate series, Jolee Bindo in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Crunch Bandicoot in two of the Crash Bandicoot games, Tartarus from Halo 2, The Joker in The Batman, Ultimate Supreme Executive Chairman Drek in Ratchet & Clank, Antauri in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Openly Gator from Queer Duck, Barney Rubble from modern-day animated series and movies based upon The Flintstones, Maurice the Aye-Aye from The Penguins of Madagascar, the unbeatable guardian of the time portal in Samurai Jack, and the voice of Exile in the late ’90s cartoon Road Rovers.”
Sanaa Lathan, the voice of Cleveland’s second wife, Donna Tubbs-Brown, has appeared in quite a few movies. For example, she was Vanessa Brooks in Blade (1998), Alexa Woods in Aliens vs Predator (2004), and has starred in the recurring role of Michele Landan in TV’s Nip/Tuck. She was also Mrs. Cheever in the movie Contagion (2010), among many other roles.
Reagan Gomez-Preston, who does Roberta’s voice, has appeared as Geneva in TV’s Moesha, and was a regular on The Amanda Show. She has also been in several movies, like Freaky Friday (1995) and Jerry Maguire (1996).
Because legends like Don Messick, Casey Kasem, and Frank Welker, who have provided the voices for tons of memorable cartoon characters, supplied the voices of many of the characters from Scooby-Doo Where Are You!, I have to say that in this category, the Old School cartoon wins over the New School one, The Cleveland Show. That’s not necessarily an indication of which one I like the most between these two, but I think it’s fair to say Scooby and the gang won in this category. Will they be the over-all winner?
Category 2: Supporting Characters
Supporting Characters – Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
1.) Mr. Hyde, Black Knight, Creeper, Cave Man, Ghost Clown, John Simms (John Stephenson)
2.) The Ghost/Phantom, Mr. Creeps/Phantom Shadow, Farmer, Asa Shanks (Hal Smith)
3.) Nephew Norble, Security Guard (George A. Robertson)
4.) Witch Doctor (Barry Richards)
5.) The Puppetmaster ( Michael Stull)
6.) Witch, Widow Cutler (Jean Vander Pyl)
7.) Gypsy Carlotta (June Foray)
8.) The Puppetmaster (Vic Perrin)
Supporting Characters – The Cleveland Show
1.) Holt Richter, one of Cleveland’s drinking buddies/Terry Kimple, one of Cleveland’s longtime friends who now works with him at Waterman Cable (Jason Sudeikis)
2,) Lester Krinklesac (Kevin Michael Richardson). On this character, the wiki page for The Cleveland Show states that:
Richardson drew inspiration from a character named Patrick that he had played on the NBC drama series ER who was mentally impaired and wore a football helmet. For Lester, Richardson stated in an interview that being African American, he had “run into a few rednecks in [his] time,” and decided to simply perform a stereotypical redneck impression for the voice of Lester.
3.) Tim the Bear (Seth MacFarlane)
Other voices include that of Arianna Huffington as Arianna the Bear; Jamie Kennedy as Roberta’s boyfriend Gabriel Friedman, a.k.a. “Federline Jones”; Will Forte as Principal Wally; Frances Callier as Cookie Brown; David Lynch as Gus the bartender; and Craig Robinson as Freight Train Brown.
The winner of this category is, IMHO, The Cleveland Show. Why? Because The Cleveland Show’s supporting cast includes some very well-known and funny actors/actresses, like Jaime Kennedy, Will Forte, David Lynch, and Arianna Huffington, and also Cleveland Brown’s funny and strange neighbors appear in every episode. You get to know them and their characters and have favorites. With Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, though the villains are pretty cool, there’s a different one for every episode, and we know that a part of every episode is the eventual revealing of the villain. Since there are no recurring supporting characters, it’s difficult to compare them with the ones of a series that does have recurring characters, like The Cleveland Show. These reasons, to me, make The Cleveland Show the clear winner of this particular category.
Category 3: Over-All Concept
The over-all concept of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is to tell stories about teens who are friends and who decide to solve ghostly mysteries. Shaggy’s Great Dane, Scooby-Doo, helps and sometimes hinders their investigation with his antics and his lack of courage. In this, he’s like Shaggy. But they both will do just about anything for food, even face their fears, so as long as there’s Scooby Snacks or other food around, then Scooby and Shaggy are often key to capturing the bad guys and uncovering their true identities.
The over-all concept of The Cleveland Show seems to me to poke fun at racial stereotypes about blacks, rednecks, etc. As with his other cartoons, Family Guy and American Dad, Seth MacFarlane stretches the boundaries of political correctness and good taste. Many critics don’t get his sense of humor and have labeled The Cleveland Show the “weakest” of the three. I find it to be often hilarious, but I would say that its humor is best suited for an audience of older teens and adults, and that it and MacFarlane’s other series often are too risque for younger teens and kids.
Thoughts On the Success of Their Concepts
They both have strong concepts and stick to them. Even with the many incarnations Scooby cartoons have undergone over the decades, the basic premise of the gang battling ghost, monsters, etc., and uncovering the secret identities to bad guys has not changed over time. The Cleveland Show is awesome, despite what many critics who find it to be not-PC and tasteless might claim. It’s not for the younger set, as I mentioned, but it’s one of the best cartoons for older teens/adults on TV today. It sticks to its premise of depicting the daily lives of Cleveland Brown, his family, and neighbors well, and to purposefully being Politically Incorrect in order to point out the ridiculousness of stereotypes and of people still retaining bigoted and racist viewpoints.
“Jeepers, It’s the Creeper!” is the episode from the second season of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! that I am selecting as my favorite. This is because, apart from the episode’s plot and the chase scenes that were a staple of most of the earlier episodes, the repeated mantra of the Creeper of “Creeper! Creeper!” was, well, kind of creepy, and it’s a memory that stays with a kid for a long time.
The plot of the episode? “A school dance at a rural barn is disrupted by The Creeper, a zombie-phantom-like figure who has been seen robbing banks at night in town. The gang searches the woods and countryside for clues, with being chased by The Creeper, encountering an insane old hermit that wants them to stay with him, and a newborn baby chick, who comes to think Scooby-Doo is its mother.”
The Cleveland Show has had many episodes I have laughed out loud at, so making a choice as to which is my favorite was difficult for me to do. I liked the second season’s Halloween episode a lot, for instance, where Cleveland, Jr., dresses up as a pancake, despite his father thinking he is too old to go trick-or-treating. Also, the second season’s Thanksgiving episode was extremely funny, and it is a favorite of mine. In it, as the wiki summary states, “Donna’s show-off and bossy sister, Janet, and her unruly children come to town to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Browns. Cleveland, still bruised by their past, wants nothing to do with her this Thanksgiving and attempts to drive her out. However, his plan backfires when Janet and Holt fall in love and run away to Las Vegas to elope, saddling Cleveland and Donna with the responsibility of Janet’s kids. Donna, Cleveland and the kids immediately head to Vegas to confront Janet and save their family Thanksgiving. While in Vegas, Rallo and Cleveland Jr. stumble upon a winning slot machine and find a woman of age to cash it in for them in exchange for an ‘escort’ to dinner.”
I weight this angle heavily. That’s because aspects of a show that fall into this category, while sometimes hard to define or to reason why they’re all that important, really are important as to why the shows/cartoons are our personal favorites.
Like, there’s the intangible of which cartoon has the best theme song. I’d have to admit that Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! has one of the most memorable theme songs ever written, and most people who have grown up watching it know all or most of its words and often can be caught singing along to it. However, though The Cleveland Show hasn’t been around as long, I also think that its theme song is very catchy, and I and my teen daughter often sing along with it, I guess because it, like the entire series, is irreverent and pokes fun at itself. Personally, I like The Cleveland Show’s theme song more, but more people probably are more familiar with the theme song of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Merchandising is another factor, because, let’s face it, the more times you see the faces of your favorite cartoon characters emblazoned on products like cereal, toys, shot glasses, clothing, etc., the more your own favorable opinions about a cartoon are reinforced. Undoubtedly, more merchandise has been made and sold with the Scooby and the gang on it than with Cleveland and company. Scooby has been around longer, is more politically correct, and appeals to kids more, and who talks adults into buying products more easily than kids do? Answer: NOBODY!
Then, there are intangibles like the catch phrases of characters, their laughs, whether or not they’ve had a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and probably many more I’ve never even thought of nor considered, but that other people have. Scooby has, I believe, been a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade before, while Cleveland hasn’t–yet, anyway. Scooby, and even Shaggy, Fred, Velma and the villains in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, have catch phrases, while the characters of The Cleveland Show don’t, as far as I can tell, lat least so far. Examples include for Scooby: “I wuv you, Shaggy!” Fred and other characters often say to Scooby and Shaggy: “Would you do it for a Scooby Snack?” Shaggy’s “Zoinks!” is his favorite expression, and it’s memorable. Velma’s glasses getting knocked off her head, and her saying: “I can’t see without my glasses!” has happened in many episodes. And, perhaps the most quoted line from the series is that of many of the villains: “I would have got away with it, if it wasn’t for those meddlesome kids!”
Also, a consideration sometimes is if any movies have been made with live actors in them. The characters of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! have been fairly successfully translated into movie form. I liked both of the Scooby movies that were made, but I prefer the first one, because Scrappy-Doo is in the second. He’s more tolerable in it than he is in the cartoons, as he is the main villain; but, still, he’s Scrappy-Doo, and that’s enough for me not to like the second movie as much as the first one. There have, as yet, been no movies based on The Cleveland Show.
The mounting evidence makes me have to declare Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! as the over-all winner in this head-to-head match-up, but mainly because it’s been around longer, appeals to a broader audience, is still being seen today in various forms and with different titles. Still, for me as an adult, and for probably most teens and adults, I’d say The Cleveland Show is the best and coolest of the two. Do you agree/disagree with my choice as to the over-all winner? Please let me know in the Comment form below!