Judge Dan Mancini would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those blasted kids and that dog!
Our reviews of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The Complete First and Second Seasons (published October 20th, 2004), Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 1 (published January 29th, 2009), Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 2 (published April 30th, 2009), and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 4 (published November 20th, 2010) are also available.
If you were born in the 1980s or '90s, prepare to have your mind blown. Once upon a time, there was no DVD, there was no VHS, there was no home video at all. Also, there was no cable or satellite. The only channels on TV were the three networks (yeah, three networks—Fox and the CW didn't exist) and a few low-rent UHF channels that programmed whatever wacky stuff locals with a little time on their hands wanted to slap together. None of the channels broadcast around the clock—at around one in the morning, they played the national anthem and then threw up a test pattern or color bars until morning. Seriously. Insomniacs were screwed. Back in those dark, prehistoric days, Saturday mornings were the center of every child's entertainment universe. On Saturday mornings, we rose from bed at 5:30 in the morning, poured ourselves bowls of Sugar Smacks (back in those days Kellogg didn't have to call them Honey Smacks or just Smacks because the word "sugar" wasn't a profanity yet), and buckled up for about six straight hours of network broadcast cartoons (remember, there was no Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, or Nickelodeon). At around eleven, the cartoons gave way to live-action dreck like Land of the Lost, Ark II, and The Ghost Busters (which starred Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker from F-Troop and a dude in a bad gorilla costume, not Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis). At noon, our parents fed us bologna sandwiches and made us go outside and play with Jarts, Clackers, Wrist Rockets, and a variety of other potentially lethal toys.
Back in those simpler, more innocent (yet more deadly) days, there was no bigger Saturday morning cartoon star than Scooby-Doo, and no show cooler than Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. It was the bomb. The series follows the adventures of Mystery, Inc., a teenage detective agency or hobby group or something that includes all-American, cravat-wearing Freddie Jones, hot redhead Daphne Blake, geeky Velma Dinkley, the Maynard G. Krebs-like Shaggy Rogers, and his best friend, a talking Great Dane named Scooby-Doo. The gang crisscrosses America in a full-sized custom van called the Mystery Machine, using their detective skills to bust adults who try to use superstition and folklore to carry out a variety of elaborate criminal schemes.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 3 contains episodes nine through 12 from the series' first season:
• "The Backstage Rage"
• "Bedlam in the Big Top"
• "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts"
• "Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too"
Let's be real here: Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a terrible show. The episodes are lazily repetitive and the animation is cheap—super cheap. In other words, it's just like all Hanna-Barbera productions of the time. It's as if the famed animation studio cynically considered its audience a bunch of woefully innocent, no-taste, snot-nosed kids not worth the time and expense of a quality product. If so, they were pretty much correct. But give us children of the '60s and '70s a modicum of credit: Despite its many flaws, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! had Scooby and Shaggy going for it. Though two-dimensional stereotypes, the duo is enormously fun. They are the epicenter of the show's charm. So much so that Hanna-Barbera tried repeatedly throughout the '70s to replicate the Scoob-and-Shag magic in a variety of lame imitations like Jabberjaw and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. But there was just something about that craven, slouching, goateed slacker and his dog that was as heartwarming as it was irreproducible. Maybe it was the fact that their terror at confronting ghouls and ghosts in haunted mansions and amusement parks made them the only sane members of Myster, Inc. Maybe it was the understated, egalitarian charm in the way Shaggy always treated Scooby-Doo like a peer not a pet. Who knows? Anyway, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! may be a pathetic excuse for a kids' show, but this four-episode collection is an enjoyable romp down memory lane for anyone who was there to experience the series back in the day.
The DVD presentation is okay. The episodes appear to have been treated to some limited restoration, but nothing like the tender loving care with which Warner Bros. prepared the old Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts for DVD. Colors are decent and digital artifacts are essentially non-existent. Source dirt and minor damage is prevalent. The presentation is full frame, in keeping with the show's original broadcast aspect ratio. Audio is a flat and tinny single-channel mono mix that places all dialogue, music, and effects in a surround system's center speaker.
The only extra is "High Society Scooby," an episode of the 2006 animated series Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!. It's lame.
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