Western Animation / Clue Club

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From left to right: Wimper, Woofer, Pepper, Larry, D.D., and Dotty.
Clue Club was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that was an expy in largest part of Scooby-Doo in that it entailed a group of four kids tapping into crimes and mysteries that the local law enforcement seemingly can't solve themselves.

The group consists of Larry, the team leader; Pepper, one of two female members; D.D., a Velma expy in a deerstalker cap but nowhere near as smart, and Dotty, the youngest member of the group and the team's troubleshooter. There are two dogs as well—Woofer (a bloodhound with a bravado complex) and Wimper (a basset who knows better). These two dogs can talk plain English to each other and other animals, just not humans. Sheriff Bagley is the baffled flatfoot who sees the Clue Club as more nosy than helpful but he takes his cap off to them when the crime is solved.

Clue Club aired on CBS starting on August 14, 1976 (replacing Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which moved to ABC a month later). After a season, the episodes were chopped down to ten minutes and used as a feature on The Skatebirds, rebilled as Woofer & Wimper: Dog Detectives. At mid-season, The Robonic Stooges (another Skatebirds feature) was given its own time period (retitled The Three Robonic Stooges) and took Woofer & Wimper with them. In 1978, Clue Club returned to CBS, airing on Sunday mornings. In the mid-Eighties, reruns of the series would become a staple of the early USA Cartoon Express.

The complete series was released on DVD August 11, 2015 via Warner Archive.

This show provides examples of:

  • Acting for Two: You can hear cast members Bob Hastings, Paul Winchell, and Patricia Stich, D.D., Woofer, and Pepper respectively, playing various side characters in many episodes, including some of the prime suspects.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Towards the end of the series, D.D. began to listen to Dotty's excuses to join the group for the reveal with open amusement.
  • Adorkable: Inverted with Dotty. She's smart and adorable but she's no dork.
  • Adults Are Useless: Zig-zagged. Sheriff Bagley will oblige the Clue Club by gathering suspects together, and tip his hat to the team when they solve a mystery. However, he almost never seems to have the correct suspect on his own, and is never shown looking for evidence on his own.
  • Animal Talk: Woofer and Wimper only talk to themselves and other animals.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Larry pulls one in "The Green Thumb Caper", after being told that no one was being admitted to the crime scene unless it was an emergency. Larry and co. then pretend to be "Tree Doctors" responding to an emergency.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dotty. "Hold it fuzzy face. You clobber my dogs with that hose, and I'll turn you into a monkey stew!"
  • Big Eater: Mr. Glut from "The Missing Pig Caper".
  • Big Friendly Dog: Woofer and Wimper are obedient to Larry, D.D. and Pepper, but they adore Dotty. As Woofer opines in "The Amazing Heist":
    Woofer: (dreamy-eyed toward Dotty) Oh, it just breaks my heart that she's a human.
    Wimper: How's that, Woofer?
    Woofer: Can you imagine the sensational lady bloodhound she'd make?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: On at least two occasions, Woofer and Whimper have been chased by creatures with no seeming connection to the mystery. Once by a supposedly "stuffed" bear, and once by a giant monster jack 'o lantern. On both occasions, the dogs scare off their pursuer, in the case of the bear by saying they wanted a giant bear skin rug, and in the case of the jack o' lantern, by setting up a both at the County Fair to make "giant pumpkin pies". Since both the bear and the jack 'o lantern seem to understand the dogs when no one else can, and are never "unmasked" later as being involved with the villains of their respective episodes, they don't really seem to serve any purpose other than to give us funny moments with the dogs.
  • Blatant Lies: Dotty's excuses to join the group for the climax. Larry often sees right through them, but lets her stay anyway, in part because her antics have him amused, and in part because he relies on her for forensic analysis of clues.
    Dotty: I think they(the dogs)have laryngitis.
    D.D.: Personally, I think she's sensational.
    Dotty:Go ahead, bark fellas.
    Woofer and Whimper: (bark weakly)
    Larry: Uh-huh. Laryngitis. Would you guys like a couple of dog biscuits?
    Woofer and Whimper: (enthusiastic barking)
    Dotty: I think it's a miracle.
  • Busman's Holiday: Lampshaded in one episode by Sheriff Bagley, after a performer vanishes at the circus. "How come when you kids are involved it's never anything simple, like a holdup?"
  • Butt Monkey: Woofer, mainly. D.D. and Pepper sometimes as well.
  • Catch Phrase: Averted. Nobody on this show has a catch phrase.
    • Although Larry did have something of a trademark gesture. When contemplating clues, he would blow a bubble with his gum, then deflate it.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Only two appearances in the anthology title Hanna-Barbera TV Stars (Marvel).
  • Cut To The Funny: Once an Episode, near the end, the heroes would be explaining what happened in the mystery, the camera would cut away to a scene of Woofer and Wimper doing something funny.
  • Deadpan Snarker: D.D. and Pepper, usually toward each other.
  • Defective Detective: Woofer. Yet at the end of every crime he crows to Wimper of how he solved it. D.D. and Pepper may also count since, while they will usually find valuable clues, they also stumble onto the episode's villain and get chased a lot.
  • Easily Forgiven: The running bit of this show is that Dotty cannot join the others on their missions because she's only 13 years old. Yet each week she shows up at the denoument with an alibi why she's there, and Larry buys it.
    • It isn't so much that Larry buys Dotty's excuses, which are often blatantly transparent, inasmuch as he can't find it in himself to stay mad at her.
  • Eye Pop: The show was animated at Hanna-Barbera's Australian studio, so any scene animated by Kevin Roper and Richard Jones will feature eyes popping, mainly from Woofer and Wimper.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Pepper and Dotty are sisters.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Gadget Watch: The Club's watches have a pager function.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one episode, Dotty remarks that if her computer tells her "Insufficient data" one more time, she'll recycle it into a beer can. This from a thirteen year old girl.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Dotty.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Eleven of the sixteen episodes are titled under "The _______ Caper" pattern.
  • Kid Detective: All the Club are teenagers, but at 13 Dotty is usually considered too young for field work.
    • Averted in the two comic book appearances—Dotty joins everyone else on the cases.
  • Knew It All Along: Woofer. Or at least that's what he claims at the end of each mystery.
    Wimper: Clue Club solves the crime!
    Woofer: I knew it all the time!
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Woofer, who always claims to know who the culprit is. When the real culprit is revealed - and it's almost never anyone Woofer suspects - Woofer will claim he knew it was them all along.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: In "The Walking House Caper", Larry, Pepper and D.D. are locked in a house by a creature (a fake, natch). Larry signals Dotty via his ring communicator in hopes she'll call the police. Instead, Dotty, Woofer and Wimper take it upon themselves to lure the creature away so they can rescue the team. And Dotty does have the foresight to call the police as well.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Usually and uniformly, D.D. gets paired with Pepper, Larry goes it solo, interrogating possible suspects, Woofer and Wimper get themselves in trouble, and Dotty stays at home where she uses computer technology (for 1976) and her own forensic science savvy to troubleshoot for the rest of the gang.
  • Locked Room Mystery: The typical case the Club has is the investigation of bizarre thefts of large and presumably immovable objects that seemingly vanished into thin air.
  • Mission Control: Where Dotty is usually relegated to handle research and forensic tests, not that it stops her from getting into the field each episode...
  • Monster Clown: A couple that gave chase to Pepper and D.D. One in "The Dissolving Statue Caper" and again, apropos enough, in "The Circus Caper".
    Pepper: Why are we running from a clown? Clowns are sweet and lovable and sad.
    D.D.: This one's mean and hateful and mad! Keep running!
  • The Nicknamer: Mostly Larry to Dotty, with a variety of affectionate diminutive nicknames, "Little one", "Small fry", "Pipsqueak", "Shorty", "Short stuff", etc.
  • Once an Episode: Dotty will show up at The Reveal, despite being told otherwise by the other club members, with a "perfectly good excuse" why she's there.
  • Only Known by His Initials: D.D.'s full name is never revealed.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The British rock star in "The Amazing Heist." His dialect makes Dick Van Dyke's attempt in Mary Poppins seem authentic.
  • Scooby-Doo Hoax: Usually, but at the big unveiling there is no latex mask pulled off the perp. Larry has the sheriff round up all the suspects so he can break down how the crime was committed before identifying whodunnit.
  • Standardized Leader: Larry.
  • The Summation: This Scooby-Doo expy uses more visual footage to depict the criminals' moves more than others.
  • Talking Animals: Woofer and Wimper, but only between themselves or with other animals.
  • Tech Marches On: Sure, having a wrist mounted pager would have been advanced in the 1970s, but it's redundant in this age of cell phones unless it had two way communication as well.
  • Teen Genius/The Smart Girl: Dotty. She's so smart she can program her computer to play gin rummy with her. Only she loses thanks to Woofer's kibitzing.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Pepper describes hotdogs as "Dotty's favorite fruit". In another episode, when going to a circus, Dotty has calculated the budget they'd need for snacks. She's assigned five hotdogs for herself in that budget, and when the mystery breaks out and she is sent home, she complains that she's only had four hotdogs.
  • Video Phone: The Club's car is equipped with one, which is connected by their Gadget Watch pager functions.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: D.D. and Pepper, with loads of Snark-to-Snark Combat.
    • Woofer and Whimper also qualify.
  • Wraparound Background
  • You Meddling Kids: More than a few villains expressed frustration that they would have gotten away with it if not for the "nosy" kids. Possibly adding insult to injury, at least a few of them only cited "three nosy kids", utterly discounting Dotty's contributions. Possibly justified. Larry and the others insisted on leaving Dotty at home to keep her safe. Revealing to desperate, potentially dangerous men that she cracked most of the clues might have put her in danger.

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