WHAT’S NEW SCOOBY DOO?: COMPLETE 3rd SEASON
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
Casey Kasem as SHAGGY
Frank Welker as SCOOBY DOO and FRED
Mindy Cohn as VELMA
Grey DeLisle as DAPHNE
Studio: Warner Bros.
BY KEVIN CARR
Although I often characterize myself as a “Star Wars” baby, I guess you could also say that I was a “Scooby Doo” baby. That is to say, I was a child of the 70s, and I appreciated everything that the pop culture of the day offered.
The original “Scooby Doo” episodes were well into their reruns when I was watching them in the mid-to-late-70s, but they kept making new ones every year. I loved them all as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed the cross-over guest stars (featuring everyone from Batman and Robin to Don Knotts and Mama Cass), and I even suffered through the dark days of Scrappy Doo.
The best and (almost) most recent incarnation of Scooby Doo and the gang from Mystery, Inc. was “What’s New Scooby Doo,” which was a brilliant way to relaunch the series amid some pretty awful live action shots. “What’s New Scooby Doo” modernized the cartoon enough to capture the imagination of today’s kids but also managed to have plenty of nostalgia for the parent, like me.
The third and final season of the series is now available on DVD with the complete 13 episodes on two discs, with a bonus Christmas episode. It’s animation style and flavor builds off the stand-alone movies they have been releasing on video and DVD for the past several years. It’s not as stylized as the most recent version, “Shaggy & Scooby-Doo: Get a Clue!” and quite frankly, I prefer it.
“What’s New Scooby Doo” follows the gang on a road trip across the U.S. – and around the world – as they stumble upon larger-than-life mysteries. They fight gargoyles in France, coral monsters on the beach, giant toy monsters in Hong Kong, miniature golf zombies and light house ghosts.
Overall, each episode follows the same formula that made the original show a hit. The gang shows up in town for various reasons, a mystery presents itself, the gang investigates, Scooby and Shaggy get scared, they set a hair-brained trap, there’s a musical montage chase sequence and things end with the meddling kids uncovering a down-to-earth explanation.
What’s hilarious about this version of the series is that it pokes fun at itself to make us children of the 70s laugh. Fred isn’t as smart as in the original series, and Velma is also prone to silliness. There’s always a play on the “if it wasn’t for you meddling kids” line, and they turn the tables on the characters a few times to give us something fresh. For example, in one episode, Shaggy tracks the mystery while Velma spends the day hiding from the monster.
In addition to the bonus Christmas episode, the DVD offers a Scooby Doo trivia challenge, which you can win if you pay close enough attention to the entire season.
There’s always been a smartness to the Scooby Doo series, even in the less-than-perfect days of Scrappy Doo and the pup version. My two young children eat this stuff up, and they’ve become fast fans of the series. Sure, you have to deal with the vegetarian Shaggy (which always seemed uncharacteristically pretentious of voice actor Casey Kasem), but it’s worth sitting through this to get through the best Scooby Doo incarnation in recent years.