Lost in Translation has covered how important casting is when it comes to the success of an adaptation. Today will be a deeper dive into one of the works mentioned in the past entry, the 2002 live-action Scooby-Doo.
The original cartoon, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? first aired in 1969 and featured four teenagers and their talking Great Dane. Fred (Frank Welker), Daphne (Stefanianna Christopherson for the first season followed by Heather North), Velma (Nicola Jaffe), Shaggy (Casey Kasem), and Scooby-Doo (Don Messick) got involved in supernatural mysteries that had more mundane causes each week, becoming an almost instant hit. The characters covered the range of broad role, from Scooby and Shaggy’s cowardly approaches to Fred’s leadership to Velma’s intelligence, to Daphne’s resilience and ability to find danger. Scooby and Shaggy were the draw; in every incarnation of the series, while the rest of the gang may come and go, Scooby and Shaggy are inseparable.
The series came and went, but thanks to syndication, it was always available in one incarnation or another. The typical episode had the gang learn about a mystery and discover a monster is trying to scare people away. They would search for clues and once they had enough, Fred came up with the trap to catch the monster. The plan wouldn’t work out; someone, typically Shaggy and Scooby, though Daphne could cause problems at times, would foul things up enough to cause things to go awry, but the monster would be caught and there would be the reveal.
Each episode was well written enough that it was possible for the audience to follow the investigation and work out who the villain really was, though a few red herrings were tossed in to make it challenging. In A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, the red herring was a character named Red Herring, a rival to Fred. The show never tried any trickery with the clues; everything was laid out for the audience.
Not every Scooby series followed the format. The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo had Scooby, Shaggy, and Daphne round up ghosts the Scooby accidentally let loose, though he had the help of new charaters. Joining the gang were Scrappy-Doo (also voiced by Messick), Flim-Flam (Susan Blu), and Vincent van Ghoul, who looked like and was voiced by Vincent Price.
With the advent of modern special effects, it became possible to have live actors interact with CG animated characters. Films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit showed how traditional animation could stand with and interact with Bob Hoskins. CGI speeds up the process of adding an animated character. By 2002, CGI was a mature technology, though still being experimented with. This allowed for a live-action Scooby-Doo movie with an accurate depiction of Scooby.
The live-action film and its 2004 sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, starred Sarah Michelle Geller as Daphne, Freddie Prinze, Jr as Fred, Linda Cardellini as Velma, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, and Neil Fanning as the voice of Scooby-Doo. The first live-action film shows the gang splitting up after a messy investigation to go their own ways, only to come back together when each are invited to an island to solve a mystery. They come back together and working as a team solve the mystery. The movie lays out the clues for the audience, who can figure out who the villain really is.
The sequel pulls from the past series for its monsters, going as far back as the first episode ever for the Black Knight Ghost. The sequel plays out more like a typical episode, though with added drama as Shaggy and Scooby realize that they haven’t been the most useful members on the team. To be fair, sometimes, their screw-ups were more effective than any plan Fred had. The sequel also lays out the clues, and the audience can figure out who the villain is, though the movie doesn’t make it easy.
The movies aren’t Shakespeare, but they do deliver on being /Scooby-Doo/. The cast is what makes the movies. While Geller and Prinze were the names being used to bring in the audience – the pair were known to be dating prior to the movie’s release and married shortly after – they didn’t dominate the screen. Fred and Daphne weren’t the driving characters in the original series, but Prinze and Geller brought out the characters’ humanity and desires. Linda Cardellini was ideal as Velma, getting the voice and the look. Matthew Lillard, though, became Shaggy. Lillard had the voice, the mannerisms, and Shaggy’s walking gait. There’s also a chemistry among the actors; they are believable as a team of friends who started solving mysteries. Between this chemistry and Lillard becoming Shaggy, the movies were elevated from what they could have been.
Lillard’s portrayal of Shaggy wasn’t unnoticed. When Casey Kasem retired from regular voice acting in 2009 due to illness, Lillard stepped into the role and has played Shaggy since. Kasem left big shoes to fill, and Lillard just happened to have the right sized feet.
Casting is important. The right choice turns a film that could go horribly wrong into a delight. The perfect choicem like Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, makes a film well worth watching and re-watching.
Stargate still being rebooted.
Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin are returning to the Stargate helm with a reboot trilogy, as was reported back in September here. Details have still not been announced beyond the trilogy being a reboot instead of a continuation.
Spinward Traveller TV pilot on Kickstarter.
d20 Entertainment is working to put together a pilot episode of Spinward Traveller. The show, based on the Traveller RPG, follows the exploits of the free trader Beowulf in the Spinward Marches of the Third Imperium. The Beowulf‘s fame in the game comes from the distress call on the back of the box of the classic edition of Traveller.
Starship Troopers reboot/remake could be in works.
Still unconfirmed, but Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures had some interesting tweets involving the work.
Magnificent Seven being remade.
Denzel Washington may star in the remake. This leads to the chain of remaking an adaptation; the original Magnificent Seven took The Seven Samurai and placed it into the American frontier.
Speaking of Denzel Washington…
The Equilizer is set to hit theatres in September. The movie is a remake of the CBS TV series starring Edward Woodward that ran from 1985 to 1989 about a semi-retired spy who freelanced as a troubleshooter for people who needed help.
Sonic the adaptation
The speedy hedgehog is getting a combined live-action/CGI animated movie. Little has been released other than Doctor Eggman will be the villain.
Magic School Bus rebooted to Netflix
Miss Frizzle rides again as the series gets rebooted thanks to Netflix. The original Magic School Bus aired on PBS as an educational series where Miss Frizzle took her students in the titular bus to visit various locations, such as Egypt, space, and the human body.
Lion King spin-off Lion Guard
The series will follow Kion, the second born of Simba and Nala, as he leads the Guard. While other characters from the series may appear, new characters will compose the cast.
Grumpy Cat gets Christmas Special
Internet celebrity and meme source Tardar Sauce, also known as Grumpy Cat, will be getting a Christmas special that will air on Lifetime. The cat earned the nickname because of colouration and facial features that made her look like she was perpetually grumpy. When asked about the the special, she said, “Let it – NO.”
You new too, Scooby-Doo?
Warner Bros. to reboot Scooby-Doo, most likely as live-action movies. No cast is attached yet; the reboot of the adaptation movie is still in pre-production.
“Demon With a Glass Hand” to be adapted for the big screen.
Harlan Ellison’s episode for The Outer Limits will the basis for the upcoming movie based on the classic TV series. The episode involved time travel, aliens, and a man with a computerized hand.
Once again, the day will be saved…
… thanks to the Powerpuff Girls! Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup will be returning to Cartoon Network in 2016.
True Blood: The Musical.
With the TV adaptation wrapping up on HBO, Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries may become a stage musical. Nathan Barr, who worked on the TV series, has composed the musical.
Pacific Rim returning hard.
The sequel to the movie has been announced for April 2017. In the meantime, an animated series and a book series based on the movie, the latter having begun with Year Zero, are in the works. The original movie centered on fighting an invasion of kaiju, or giant monsters, with giant mecha and did far better outside the US than in it.