Warner Bros. // 2003 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Lacey Worrell (Retired) // July 20th, 2005
A grand-slam Scooby Doo smorgasbord of sporting fun!
With a strict adherence to the formula that made the original episodes of Scooby Doo beloved by the last two generations, what's old is new on What's New Scooby Doo? Volume 5: Sports Spooktacular.
Scooby and his friends Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma are unable to refuse a challenge when it comes to solving a mystery, and in the process they trap all manner of ghosts and mischief makers, restoring peace and order to the lives of those who seek their help.
This collection of four episodes from the What's New Scooby Doo? television series center around sports such as baseball, auto racing, wrestling, and hockey.
The four episodes included on this release are:
* "The Unnatural"
The gang helps a popular baseball player, who is being pitched fiery baseballs by the ghost of a long-departed player afraid of having his record broken. Be sure to watch this one through to the end to catch an animated Mike Piazza, who is either a hero or a villain, depending on whether one is a Met or a Yankee fan.
* "The Fast and the Wormious"
In a departure from the creepy specter basis of a traditional Scooby Doo episode, this one features a scary, oversized worm who attempts to run competitors in the Enduro Slam 5000 race off the road. The gang enters the race using the Mystery Machine in an attempt to help the other drivers, but they meet with resistance. Velma is given a sweet surprise at the end.
* "Wrestle Maniacs"
Freddie, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby enter the world of pro wrestling, with colorfully costumed wrestlers who are reluctant to wrestle, due to the fact that their arena is being haunted by a ghost. Along the way they encounter a shady promoter who wants the matches to continue at any cost, but in the end, with a little ingenuity, the gang manages to prevail and restore order.
* "Diamonds are a Ghoul's Best Friend"
The gang travels to Moscow to a championship hockey match. This final episode on this disc features the Frozen Fiend, who apparently froze to death in Siberia and takes it out on everyone by pelting officials with hockey pucks and stealing the Grand Emperor's Cup out of its case. With so much at stake, it is up to the gang to make sure that the USA and Russia get to the final match.
Being the Scooby geek that I am, I just love the clever titles of these episodes, especially "The Unnatural," which is obviously a twist on the popular Robert Redford film The Natural. This collection is one of the strongest in the What's New Scooby Doo? releases, given its engrossing stories and surprisingly strong writing. The ghosts, especially in "The Unnatural" and "Diamonds are a Ghoul's Best Friend," remain creative and inventive and appropriately intimidating.
These episodes follow the traditional Scooby formula: the opening with the introduction of a forbidding adversary, having the gang travel to places with plenty of likely suspects, the ubiquitous musical interlude where the gang runs from the ghost or monster, a group effort to foil the ghost, and a final unmasking where the phrase "meddling kids" is music to the ears of rabid Scooby fans in living rooms everywhere. As always, it's great fun to try to figure out who is behind the mischief before the end of the episode -- much like Murder, She Wrote.
These episodes look and sound great on DVD; the colors are sharp and bright, and the audio is of excellent quality. It is heartening to see a French language track 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.
Voice actors Frank Welker (Freddie) and Casey Kasem (Shaggy) are as good as ever, and are 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, considering Scooby Doo has been around since the late 1960s.
This DVD comes with two terrific extras, the better of which is an interview with legendary slugger Hank Aaron. Although the child interviewers sound wooden, as though they are reading from a script, Hank Aaron's reminiscences and his gentle advice to the children is not to be missed. For those of you out there who remember the 1980s Saturday morning kids' series The Baseball Bunch, with Johnny Bench, you might enjoy checking out the other special feature, a batting lesson with Kevin Renz.
There are some children's DVDs that can be secretly enjoyed by older siblings and even parents. The What's New Scooby Doo? series can be enjoyed out in the open by the entire family, thanks to its intelligent plotlines, wry humor, and superior voice acting.
Judgment in favor of this disc, with special thanks from the Court that Scrappy Doo has been banished from this series.
Review content copyright © 2005 Lacey Worrell; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Scooby-Doo All Stars Meet the Home Run King Hank Aaron
* Scooby-Doo All Stars Baseball Tips: Batting Lesson with Kevin Renz
* Official Site