Warner Bros. // 1988 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // August 4th, 2005
Little kids spark big laughs in this delightful Scooby Doo spinoff!
The late '80s and early '90s featured pint-sized versions of just about every well-known cartoon franchise, including The Flintstones, Disney Babies and Baby Looney Tunes. With the exception of The Flintstones, they were huge commercial and merchandising hits. It makes sense, then, that the creators of Scooby Doo would follow suit, with A Pup Named Scooby Doo. As far as this spin on cartoon characters go, A Pup Named Scooby Doo: Volume 1 may pale in comparison to the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You? mysteries, but it is still great fun.
This collection of four episodes from the A Pup Named Scooby Doo television series features young Freddie, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby growing up in Coolsville, USA. The theme song has been made over into a doo-wop tune, and, befitting their younger status, the gang runs the Scooby Doo Detective Agency out of a tree house. Shaggy even has a paper route.
The children are true to their later personalities as teens: Freddie is full of bluster and bravado, Daphne is girly and vain, and Velma is nerdy. Shaggy and Scooby are prone to taking a break in the action to devour a late-night meal, and they both retain their cowardly streak. Like the original Scooby Doo episodes, there are musical interludes where the gang is chasing or being chased by the ghost, followed by a big unmasking at the end.
The episodes included on this release are:
* "A Bicycle Built for Boo"
When a slimy green ghost steals Shaggy's bike, Freddie believes the town bully, Red Herring, is the culprit. Instead, the gang uncovers a counterfeiting operation and a surprise villain.
* "Sludge Monster from the Earth's Core"
A monster robs the Last National Bank and terrorizes Scooby in the process. Again, Freddie thinks Red Herring is involved, but the rest of the gang finds that the clues point in a different direction. In this episode, viewers are treated to a tour of Scooby's impressive, mansion-like dog house as the gang races around to catch the crook.
* "Wanted Cheddar Alive"
A giant, bright orange cheese monster is haunting the Scooby Snack Factory, halting production and causing a shortage of Scooby Snacks all over town. The ACME dog biscuit company steps in to fill the void, but Scooby wants no part of that, so it's up to the gang to capture the cheese monster. And when they do, the reward is beyond Scooby's wildest dreams!
* "The Schnook Who Took My Comic Book"
Shaggy pays $25 for a rare comic book at the Coolsville Comic Book Convention. Unfortunately, creepy, purple Dr. Croaker is stealing comic books from the convention, and the gang uncovers a plot to drive up the price of the comics.
While the actual picture and sound quality of this DVD is good, I am not a fan of the caricature-like animation of this show. The kids' heads are too big, and the pint-sized character of Velma looks almost exactly like Marcie in the "Peanuts" comic strips. Her mannerisms are even more bizarre than usual -- she is constantly looking through a magnifying glass, and rarely communicates with the others, unless it is about a clue or another detail of the mystery. This affects the character of Daphne, who in her grown form is always quite meek, pleasant, and passive, but who is bossy and superior here, like Velma is on Scooby Doo, Where Are You?. The focus of this show, however, is on Shaggy and Scooby, who are cute in their childhood alter-egos and maintain the genuine mutual affection that has carried the Scooby franchise for over three decades.
The stories included on this disc are surprisingly appropriate to the change in the characters' ages. Everything is very kid-oriented, from having to deal with Red Herring, the bully with the clever name, to going to comic book conventions, to Shaggy's paper route. The storylines are also complex for a cartoon show from the late 1980s, and do not borrow too heavily from earlier versions of Scooby Doo. It is clear the creators were going for a completely fresh take on the show, and while they do not always succeed, it is an admirable effort.
Listen closely to Daphne, and you will recognize the voice of prolific television actress Kellie Martin (Life Goes On, ER). Also joining in are voice actors Frank Welker (who for once is not the voice of Freddie), Don Messick (Scooby), and Casey Kasem (Shaggy), all major contributors to this series' seemingly endless appeal to kids of all ages. Their presence gives the series a comfortable familiarity and a rare continuity. Other voices you might recognize are those of the late, great Isabel Sanford (The Jeffersons), Dorian Harewood (Assault on Precinct 13), and Della Reese (Touched by an Angel), as well as Jerry Houser, whom Brady Bunch fans will remember as Marcia's husband Wally.
It is heartening to see French and Spanish language tracks as well as Spanish and French subtitles, given Scooby's worldwide appeal. Too often releases of television shows, and children's shows in particular, offer only an English language track and no subtitles. This DVD comes with no extras, which is a shame; it would be interesting to hear the voice actors' take on this relatively short-lived but well-received series.
Do you suppose Scrappy wasn't included because he was already supposed to be a kid when he made his first appearance? Whatever the reason, his absence is welcome. Keeping in mind that this DVD clocks in at 94 minutes, which is a generous amount of time for a release of a TV cartoon on DVD, A Pup Named Scooby Doo: Volume 1 is a great addition to your kids' DVD library, especially if they are 8 or under. Adults may not find this DVD as absorbing as the Scooby cartoons they remember watching as children themselves, but this collection will be a hit with the little ones.
Pint-sized judges everywhere will rule in favor of this disc. And after all, their opinions are the ones that really count, aren't they?
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site