The Five Colleges Are Really the Backyardigans

Adina Sunny

MYTH:

A long held legend in the Pioneer Valley, passed down through the generations, is that the five college consortium was built on the graves of the members of the Mystery Gang, whose exploits were chronicled in the hit television series “Scooby-Doo”.

The legend states that each college in the consortium was built on a different grave, and the student bodies of each school thusly reflect the spirit of the person whose grave the school was built on because they become possessed by that spirit when they send in their deposit.

Amherst College was built on the grave of Fred, and its population is therefore stereotyped as preppy perfectionists.

Umass Amherst was built on the grave of Scooby, and its student body is seen as silly, rowdy, and wild.

Smith College was built on the grave of Velma, and the women who go there are believed to be the quiet, nerdy types.

Mount Holyoke College was built on the grave of Daphne, and its students are stereotyped as flirty girly-girls.

Hampshire College was built on the grave of Shaggy, and the people who go there are burned out stoners who get scared of shit too easily.

While an amusing legend, something about it did not quite add up. The schools did not appear to accurately reflect the essences of the members of the Mystery Gang. We were compelled to investigate.

FACT:

In the late 80’s, student archeologists conducted an excavation to try to find the remains of the bodies of Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, Velma, and Scooby. They expected to either uncover the bodies, or to uncover nothing. Instead, they uncovered the truth: the five colleges were not built on the graves of the Mystery Gang – they were built on the graves of the Backyardigans. Suddenly everything made sense.

 

Amherst College was built on the grave of Pablo

Pablo is a yellow-beaked blue penguin who wears a blue bow tie and a blue-and-yellow propeller beanie. Pablo tends to be the most excitable of the group and is best friends with Tyrone. Due to his energy and impetuousness, he often goes into a “panic attack” when he faces an obstacle, running around in circles and telling everyone not to worry until someone interrupts him. The number of panic attacks decreased considerably after the first season, though in the episode The Flipper! his propensity for getting overexcited is a major plot point.

Pablo is absent for one episode, “Chichen-Itza Pizza.”

Speaking voice: Zach Tyler Eisen (season 1) and Jake Goldberg (seasons 2–4)
Singing voice: Sean Curley (seasons 1–4)
Dancer: Tasha Cooper (seasons 1–3) Jonathan Sandler (season 3) Steven Konopelski (seasons 3–4) Jacob Wimar (season 4) Paul Flanagan (season 4)

Umass Amherst was built on the grave of Austin

Austin is a shy but fun-loving purple kangaroo. Though generally soft-spoken in the first season, due to recently moving in the neighborhood, Austin starts to come out of his shell as the series progresses. He is revealed to be smart and imaginative. Austin rarely appears in the spotlight, but takes the role of the lead character in several episodes. Says Bogush: “Austin’s usually the one pulling up the rear. He’s kind of a get-along guy.”[6] Austin has been shown to occasionally display a more villainous side, such as in the episodes “High Tea” and “The Magic Skateboard.”

Speaking voice: Jonah Bobo (seasons 1–4)
Singing voice: Thomas Sharkey (seasons 1–3) and Nicholas Barasch (season 4)
Dancer: Kristen Frost (seasons 1–4)

Smith College was built on the grave of Tasha.

A strong-willed yellow hippopotamus, Tasha wears an orange flowered dress and red shoes. She is a sweet girl on the outside, but is more rational and likes to get her own way. She is the most serious of the major characters, although Tasha can be just as easy-going from time to time. She is more tomboyish than her friend Uniqua. From the second season onward, she has a more amiable personality, as well as a more muscular appearance than the other characters. She tends to be grumpy if not the boss. Her catchphrase is “Oh, for goodness sakes!”

Speaking voice: Naelee Rae (seasons 1–2) and Gianna Bruzzese (seasons 3–4)
Singing voice: Kristin Danielle Klabunde (seasons 1–3) and Gabriella Malek (seasons 3–4)
Dancer: Darlene Dirstine (seasons 1–3) Amanda Ulibarri (season 4) Nancy Renee Braun (season 4)

Mount Holyoke College was built on the grave of Uniqua.

A curious, self-confident and high-spirited pink spotted character, she’s also the most powerful of the bunch [citation needed]. The series uses the name “Uniqua” for both the character and her species. She wears pink polka-dotted overalls and has a pair of swirled antennae on top of her head. Uniqua is sweet and friendly, though her strong opinions and occasional stubbornness get in the way of her relationships. While imagining herself having the roles that require brains and fortitude (such as a scientist or pirate captain) and despite her love of books (as seen in episodes such as “The Masked Retriever”). Creator Janice Burgess describes Uniqua as the child she wishes she was like as a child.[7]

Speaking voice: Lashawn Tináh Jefferies (seasons 1–4)
Singing voice: Jamia Simone Nash (seasons 1–3) and Avion Baker (season 4)
Dancer: Hattie Mae Williams (seasons 1–4)

Hampshire College was built on the grave of Tyrone

Tyrone is a good-natured, yet somewhat fearful, red-haired orange moose who wears a red-and-blue striped shirt. He is almost the complete opposite of his best friend Pablo in terms of personality, despite his laid-back and cool-headed character and being known for his sarcastic comments, one of them being “That certainly was convenient.” At the end of most episodes, he remarks, “That was an excellent (type) adventure, don’t you think?” (though Pablo, Austin and Tasha recite the line when he is absent). Despite not appearing to wear trousers (except on rare occasions), Tyrone somehow manages to put his hands in his pockets.

Speaking voice: Reginald Davis Jr. (seasons 1–2), Jordan Coleman (seasons 2–3) and Christopher Grant, Jr. (season 4)
Singing voice: Corwin C. Tuggles (season 1), Leon G. Thomas III (seasons 2–3), Damani Roberts (season 3) and Tyrel Jackson Williams (seasons 3–4)
Dancer: Greg Sinacori (seasons 1–2, 4) Bradley Shelver (season 3) Andrew Cao (season 3)

 

For an unknown reason, someone in the administration did not want this knowledge getting out, and the information was buried, deep in the archives.

 

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