Warner Bros. // 1976 // 758 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 29th, 2006
We got it all together for a brand new show
Scooby-Doo is here again, away we go
Scooby-Doo is runnin' from a spooky ghost
Shaggy is a-doin' what he does the most
Hey! Come on get involved till the mystery is solved
Hang around for Scooby-Doo
Come on get involved till the mystery is solved
Hang around for Scooby-Doo
That's my pal
Here's your last chance to enjoy the Great Dane crime solver Scooby-Doo before the infamous Scrappy-Doo shows up to make a mess all over the carpet. And included in this volume are the adventures of everyone's favorite crime fighting robot dog. The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour: The Complete Series gathers 16 forty minute episodes, each with a story from both comic canines, spread out on four discs.
The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour premiered in September of 1976, and was the first new adventures of the Mystery Machine gang since 1973. Coupled with the meddling teen detectives were the adventures of a bumbling cyborg super hero sidekick named Dynomutt. The hour long show came out of a deal that took Scooby off CBS and onto ABC's Saturday morning lineup. Most of the original production team was preserved including the vocal talents of :
* Scooby-Doo: Don Messick
* Norville "Shaggy" Rogers: Casey Kasem
* Daphne Blake: Heather North
* Velma Dace Dinkley: Nichole Jaffe
* Freddy Jones/Dynomutt: Frank Welker
* Blue Falcon: Gary Owens
With special appearances by:
* Scooby-Dum: Daws Butler
* Scooby-Dee: Julie McWhirter
Scooby-Doo was developed in the late '60s to anchor the CBS Saturday morning kids lineup. It attempted to take the adventure tales of Johnny Quest and marry them with the light humor of a character like Huckleberry Hound to create a new genre of kids programming. The rules were simple: keep the characters light, the action dark, and parody something along the lines of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, but aimed at the cereal set. The initial run of Scooby-Doo Where Are You? was far more hip than anything that came after it. There were subtlety masked in-jokes on the part of the creative team that made the show resonate with kids, teens, and adults sly enough to get what was going on. The original show was about four teens who probably had a reason to be eternally hungry for Scooby Snacks (if you "Dooby-do" know what I mean).
As the show developed, the networks softened Scooby's image and brightened up the humor. The second incarnation of the cartoon was The New Scooby Doo Movies, which whitewashed the supposed stoner references and made the show more kid-friendly. It only lasted from 1972 until 1973. After that period, CBS lost the rights to the character. ABC grabbed them, since the executive producers had gone to that network. To develop this third incarnation of Scooby, it was decided to make it a full hour program and develop a second act to fill out the running time.
Dynomutt was the concept the Hanna-Barbera studios came up with for the extra half hour. It was a parody of Batman, with the Blue Falcon as the suited up hero, and his "dog wonder," a complicated robotic pup with ever-extending arms and various gadgets. He was a utility belt on four legs. The villains this dynamic duo took on in Big City were spoofs of Gotham's gallery of rogues. Dynomutt would always bungle things up, and somehow capture the Blue Falcon more often than the actual criminals they were chasing, but he was somehow lovable and kept on the team (at least until the Cartoon Network developed a series where he took him out and got a Robocop-style mutt for a spell).
For Scooby fans, The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour features the first appearances of Scooby's dimwitted cousin Scooby-Dum. Scooby-Dum introduces the gang to his cajun cooking and funky fritters. He's in four of the episodes featured in this set, and introduces the idea of Scooby having an extended family. Also introduced in one episode is the beautiful Southern Belle Hollywood bitch named Scooby-Dee. She would be a mild romantic interest for the Great Dane, but apparently no known litter ever resulted from the pairing. (Although many cartoon conspiracy theorists claim Scrappy-Doo was secretly the son of Scooby, and the nephew story was a cover-up.)
Part of the Hanna-Barbera Golden Collection, The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour: The Complete Series is a nifty package. The cover art is cute. Inside is a cardboard fold-out gate containing two single-sided and two double-sided discs. The fullscreen transfers look good for thirty year-old animation. Colors are well saturated; and even though it has a retro feel, the picture looks great. The mono soundtrack is fine for the cartoon. Extras are surprisingly robust, with two well-produced featurettes covering the history of the production, and one featuring interviews with the primary vocal cast. It's nice to see them all still able to do their characters. Also included is a gallery of production art, which is surprisingly detailed for a DVD release. You see artist development notes, and storyboard ideas. These collections are quite handsome and well thought out.
The only thing I have to gripe about are the menus. They're easy enough to navigate, but each disc has an option for special features when only the last side of the fourth disc contains any extra content. Every time you select the special features option on one of the other discs, it says "check other discs for special features." Why not just say "look at the final disc for features," or better yet only include the special features option on that last side of the fourth disc?
By the time Scooby-Doo teamed up with Dynomutt, he had a pat formula that never varied. The sixteen mysteries presented here feel uninspired when compared with the original three year run of the show. Villains are often laughable, especially when you get to the Neapolitan ghosts that come in chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. By this time the network was trying hard to keep the scare factor down, and the inside references out of the cartoon. Scooby doesn't do Scooby Snacks anymore, and Shaggy seems to be a little more perky and less of a beatnik. Dynomutt is hardly highbrow, either. Even though the writers seemed more inspired to take on the superhero genre, it's often left as juvenile slapstick jokes more than smart satire. The Blue Falcon and his robot dog seem far too bumbling to take seriously.
The differences in The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour extended beyond just the writing. The animation during this run of shows seems simpler, with a lot less depth than that initial run. There's certainly plenty to admire in the clean work, but it seems less edgy, too. So the stories and the technical presentation were both cleaned up for kids. By this time Hanna-Barbera Studios was cranking out a lot of product for Saturday mornings, and their efforts to streamline shows up in the final products.
It's all still great nostalgic fun. Kids today raised on anime and Power Rangers may find the mysteries far too quaint, but my inner five-year-old was perfectly happy to munch cereal and watch the gang foil the dastardly plots of costumed creepies all over the country. Dynomutt is a nice diversion, too. He's funky fun, and a nice break from all those marathon sessions of Batman Beyond. If you've got a soft spot for these characters, then The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour: The Complete Series should delight you.
Guilty of being good old fashioned formula fun for Saturday, The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour delivers just what you expect, while great extras provide a little more. This is a great set for fans of the series.
Review content copyright © 2006 Brett Cullum; 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)
Running Time: 758 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Featurette on History of the Series
* Featurette Interviewing Vocal Cast
* Stills Gallery of Production Art