Judge Bryan Pope has half a mind to whack Fred over the head with a Story Stick.
Jinkies! Four puppy-licious adventures starring kid sleuths with sweet tooths.
Ever since Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? was put in the pound in 1972, leaving an entire generation of children with its collective tail wagging for more, the cowardly canine and his posse have seen countless incarnations, including Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour and The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the latter of which has inexplicably become a pop culture touchstone.
Still, as hideous as those were, my vote for the worst rip off is the ill-conceived 1988 mess packaged here. Not since Snoopy have I seen a marketing department—if you'll pardon the expression—screw the pooch to such an ugly extreme.
This series' conceit is that the Scooby Gang hooked up and began solving mysteries around the third grade. Oh, and they charge 25 cents per day plus "candy expenses," although I don't recall them ever being compensated as adults. But whatever. Thing is, the show has too many anachronisms to make any sense in the overall Scooby-verse (Velma is a good 10 years younger than she was in the original, yet she uses a PC to analyze clues), so older viewers who harbor fond Saturday-morning memories will likely be put off. Then again, this show is for kids, and it is centered around a talking dog, so perhaps I'm taking things too seriously. It's just that I think today's kids deserve better.
If we're going to be completely honest, the original Scooby-Doo episodes were no great shakes either, but they at least had that late-'60s subtext working for them, not to mention some seriously spooky production and character design (c'mon, surely I'm not the only one still freaked out by The Creeper). That show used its muted colors, murky fog and impenetrable darkness to good effect. A small part of me believed there was always a potential for the characters to meet sticky ends. Pup, on the other hand, is as cheerful, sunny and colorful as a box of crayons, wiping away even the slightest chance of mystery or danger.
What I find most disappointing about this series is its refusal to stay true to the Scooby Gang's groovy quirks and comfortable group dynamic. Sure, Shaggy and Scooby are still the same old screw-ups, God love 'em, but Fred is now a blustery windbag with no business sense and a bad crew cut, and Velma, whose nerdish, matter-of-fact demeanor always pegged her the coolest of the bunch, is a weird social misfit. Daphne is as drab as day-old eggplant and no longer danger-prone.
A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Vol. 3 contains four 22-minute episodes:
In Scooby Dude, someone is stealing dolphins from the marine research center run by Velma's aunt. And who's behind the Headless Skateboarder that's scaring tourists away?
Ghost Who's Coming to Dinner? The gang guesses it's the same pirate ghost that's trying to scare a couple of old folks out of house and home.
The gang passes around The Story Stick at an Indian reservation while trying to unmask the person behind a ticked-off totem pole spirit. Don't blink or you'll miss Yogi Bear's surprise cameo.
Daphne, the Scooby Gang's resident material girl, is all set to show off her new bedroom suite until someone swipes her furniture. This time, it's Robopup to the rescue, unless Scooby has something to say about it.
Each episode is presented in its original full-frame format with Dolby mono audio. The disc doesn't include subtitles or extras (unless you count a handful of trailers for other WB kid vids), but it's nice to see it packaged in a keepcase rather than the WB's dreaded snappercase. That's gotta be worth at least half a Scooby snack. That aside, and with all due respect to everyone's favorite great dane, this disc is a dog.
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Studio: Warner Bros.
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