Almost everyone over the age of 6 has seen an episode of Scooby-Doo at least once. Scooby’s popularity amazes me. It’s a relatively formulaic show that has somehow managed to last over 40 years, through 11 series, 15 direct-to-video movies, 7 made-for-television animated films, 2 made-for-television live-action films, and 2 live-action theatrical movies. While I enjoyed Scooby when I was younger, and can still enjoy the odd episode to two of Where Are You?, I’m not really a fan. Then again, I don’t know who is. It seems to me Scooby-Doo is much like The Jetsons or The Flinstones, by which I mean that though it’s a fine show, it’s not something one usually would go out of their way to watch.
The latest Scooby-Doo cartoon series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, finally comes to DVD in a single-disc set containing the first four episodes of the series. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated differs from the original series in that the characters all go to high school and solve mysteries in Crystal Cove, the town they live in, as opposed to traveling around the country randomly in a van and stumbling on to mysteries. Yet another difference between Mystery Incorporated and Where Are You? is in the personalities of the characters. Scooby-Doo himself remains basically the same, as does Daphne, but Freddie apparently has the IQ of his A Pup Named Scooby-Doo! counterpart and seems to be obsessed with building traps for some reason. (Although he did usually devise traps in Where Are You? he was never shown as obsessed.) On the other hand, but his traps usually work, where before Scooby and Shaggy typically would trap the villain only by accident. Meanwhile, Shaggy apparently likes girls now, although with the exception of some alien chick in a DTV movie, I don’t believe he’s ever shown an interest in them before. Shaggy always seemed to be like Jughead to me, caring only about food and his dog.
Still, these changes aren’t too bad. But then we get to Velma. I don’t know what it is, but Velma having a love interest, much less having Shaggy as that love interest, just seems wrong. Sure, she used to be a pretty bland character, but now she’s just annoying, and is always bugging Shaggy that he has to choose her over his best friend. I quickly learned to groan when she clambered onscreen, which is a lot for someone who liked Scrappy-Doo to say.
There’s also a season story arc, like 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, involving some mystery man named Mr. E., though I can’t be too sure how well this is handled because I haven’t seen enough to make a well-informed decision.
So this DVD comes with four episodes: “Beware the Beast from Below”; “The Creeping Creatures”; “Secret of the Ghost Rig”; and “Revenge of the Man Crab.” The first is an okay episode, though it does seem at times like it’s trying to cram in too much information about the characters in order to give the viewer a feel of the series, and like many first episodes, it feels forced. “The Creeping Creatures” is probably the worst Scooby-Doo related episode I have ever seen. It revolves around a trio of alligator-people who terrorize a town called Gatorsburg. The only problem with this mystery is that only three people live in Gatorsburg, so who could it be!?! You can’t have a mystery when the number of suspects equals the number of people you’re looking for. So yeah, no real mystery there. Not only that, but the villains’ plot makes no sense either. You live in the middle of nowhere, chances are if you stayed quiet no one will come looking for you. Spreading rumors of Gator-men will just attract people to your illegal operation. Oh, and I didn’t even get to the gator mines. Yes, apparently people mine for alligators. Who knew? And as for “Secret of the Ghost Rig”, c’mon! If you’re trying to sneak something, a ‘ghost truck’ will attract attention. You’d do much better driving a regular run-of-the-mill truck. “Revenge of the Man Crab” actually brings up the point that it would’ve been easier to just sue the guy instead of building a giant crab suit and terrorizing everyone to take away his business, but lawyers take too long while building an electronic high-tech crab suit takes only hours, apparently.
While watching this series, one should keep mind that this is Scooby-Doo. The whole show revolves around a talking dog. I don’t think logic is very important here, just fun. So long as this show is entertaining, it succeeds. While I personally found it to be only mildly entertaining (and mildly annoying; thank you, Velma), I’m sure there are others who would thoroughly enjoy this. Although when it comes to this DVD, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Season One, Volume 1, I think it’s best left to baby-sit the kids, seeing how it has only four episodes and no special features. If you are a fan of the show, I’d say hold out for the inevitable season set.