Rupert Pupkin Speaks: The Hanna-Barberians - CLUE CLUB The Complete Series on DVD ""

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Hanna-Barberians - CLUE CLUB The Complete Series on DVD

CLUE CLUB (1976-1977)
I cannot really explain why I love CLUE CLUB so much. It's really just another in a line of SCOOBY-DOO knockoffs done by Hanna-Barbera in the 1970s. The first episode of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU aired CBS in September of 1969. When they realized that this show would be a big hit for them, they started producing other shows with very similar elements. One of the first was JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS in 1970 (which had its own spinoff in JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS IN OUTER SPACE). Another was THE FUNKY PHANTOM circa 1971 followed by GOOBER AND THE GHOST CHASERS, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KIDS, and SPEED BUGGY which were all put out starting around 1973. CLUE CLUB landed on TV in September of 1977 and it wasn't nearly the end of the SCOOBY clone cycle. JABBERJAW (which actually preceded CLUE CLUB by  year), CAPTAIN CAVEMAN AND THE TEEN ANGELS, THE BUFORD FILES and FANGFACE all came out in the late 1970s as well. That's a whole lotta mystery cartoon shows man. There were even other similar mystery solving shows in the form of things like THE AMAZING CHAN CLAN (1972) as well. I certainly get that HB were fans of duplicating a successful formula and rejiggering a new show out of it. Hollywood studios have been doing that for 100 years. It makes sense I suppose. Something about that mystery solving template just had this huge appeal for kids. I think I've always liked the idea of mixing the somewhat macabre/Halloween-ish themes and monsters as part of kids cartoon shows. It must trace back to a cultural love of old monster movies stemming from The Universal Monster films on up (as these were in much heavier rotation on television through the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Anyway, allow me to explain how CLUE CLUB lays out. The Clue Club itself is made up of six members: Larry, Pepper, D.D., and Dottie on the human side and Woofer and Wimper on the canine side. The basic gist of the scenario is that the Club runs their headquarters out of Larry's house. Pepper and D.D. mostly look for clues and Larry typically does a little of that too whilst also radioing information they've discovered back to Dottie at Clue Club HQ. I should mention that Dottie is the younger sister of Pepper. She is only thirteen (which is mentioned countless times on the show), but is really the braintrust behind the whole organization. She basically has access to nearly unlimited data on people and operates a veritable crimelab on her own which often proves essential in solving crimes. The dogs are interesting in that they talk to each other, but unlike Scooby-Doo, they cannot ever be understood by the humans in the show (they just hear them as barking instead of speaking). In terms of other SCOOBY touchstones, Larry was obviously a Fred surrogate, and Dottie is a little bit of Velma (but sweeter and nicer). Pepper and D.D. always fascinated me in that I could never totally tell if they were dating or not. D.D. is kinda like Shaggy and a little of Velma rolled into one character. Pepper is a little Daphne I suppose, but was always a lot more assertive and sarcastic that Daphne ever showed herself to be. The banter between Pepper and D.D. was quite sarcastic too and they seem to play off each other more like a couple in a relationship than two antagonistic friends. If they were a couple it is a bit of a mystery onto itself as D.D. was about as dorky looking as a character can get. Anyway, when I was a kid I always loved this show because of the comradery between the characters and some of the gadgetry they had. My favorite thing is of course their Clue Club watch communicators and the Clue Cub car which had a direct interface to HQ (Dottie is often seen talking on the TV screen in the car to the other Clue Clubbers). I think I had some kind of a crush on Dottie when I was a kid because she would have been the closest to my age. Though show first aired in the late 70s, I feel like I didn't see it until the mid-80s or so. I was not yet thirteen myself, but I could relate to being treated like a kid as Dottie was on the show. I also loved her red hair and pigtails. She was just adorable to me. The dogs were fun too. Their dynamic was reminded me a little bit of the one between Hong Kong Phooey and his cat actually. Hong Kong Phooey is a bit of an idiot and his cat usually ends up saving his butt. Similarly, Woofer is a blow-hard know-it-all who always thought he had everything figured out but is almost inevitably incorrect. Wimper is the more sensible pooch and he was always calling Woofer on his shit. In fact, that might be the thing about the show that stuck with me. That sardonic interplay between the characters and the fact that they were kinda grumpy with eachother (in an affectionate way) always seemed more realistic and made more sense to me. I mean, how could they not get annoyed with each other. As far as I'm concerned, that was one thing that was missing from SCOOBY-DOO. That sense of irritation and good natured antagonism that often develops between good friends. Anyway, CLUE CLUB rules, become a member today.
CLUE CLUB The Complete Series can be purchased on DVD here:

Here is the ridiculously catchy theme song to CLUE CLUB. It will get stuck in your head for days:

And here it is in Spanish!

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