Judge Dan Mancini wrote this review for four Scooby Snacks.
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 3 (published September 1st, 2009), and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 4 (published November 20th, 2010) are also available.
For those of you having trouble keeping score, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was the first of ten television series featuring everyone's favorite animated Great Dane-with-a-mild-speech-impediment and his mystery-solving teenaged pals. It was also the best of the various series by virtue of its not involving grating canine off-shoots like Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Dum, and Dynomutt, lazily engineered from Scooby's DNA by Hanna-Barbera Productions throughout the 1970s. Launched in 1969 and playing for three seasons and a total of 25 episodes, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! follows the adventures of Mystery, Inc., a quartet of detective teenagers and their speaking dog, Scooby-Doo. The team's leader, Freddie Jones, is a clean-cut, blond-haired, scarf-wearing, all-American boy. Daphne Blake is a rich, beautiful redhead with a taste for mini-skirts. Velma Dinkley is a nerdy, bespectacled thinker with a penchant for voluminous turtlenecks. Shaggy Rogers is an easily-spooked and always hungry hippie perpetually dressed in brown bell-bottoms and a green T-shirt. His best friend is the equally cowardly and hungry Scooby-Doo. The gang travels around in a custom van called the Mystery Machine, meddling into and ultimately unraveling the criminal schemes of various adults.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is rigidly formulaic, and plagued with inane plots and truly crappy animation. But here's the thing: Every kid alive in the 1970s loved the show—I mean loved it. Just hearing the groovy opening theme song on this DVD battered me with thick waves of nostalgia. The show works despite its flaws mostly because of the charming friendship between Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, who act as counter-culture everymen to Freddie, Daphne, and Velma's establishment squares. The duo almost always provides the key to solving whatever mystery the gang is working on, but they have to be cajoled with Scooby snacks (apparently, the most delicious food ever devised) into even caring about anything other than their appetites (their incredible talent for discovering fully stocked kitchens in old haunted houses is matched only by their ability to stack perilously tall sandwiches). In retrospect, it's funny that, as a kid, I never questioned why two slackers like Shaggy and Scooby continued to hang around with three go-getters like Freddie, Daphne, and Velma when it's clear that Shag and Scoob aren't at all interested in the whole mystery-solving venture.
On the plus side, the series is a fount of rationalism compared with most Saturday morning cartoon fare from the 1970s. Confronted with ghosts, goblins, and malicious robots, the gang always comes to the clear-headed conclusion that the supposedly supernatural shenanigans are nothing more than carefully planned hoaxes (a convention stupidly ignored by the 2002 live-action film). Got an old manse haunted by a vengeful ghost? Why, it's probably just some disgruntled fuddy-duddy in a rubber mask. A little teenage meddling is all it takes to expose the truth.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume 2 contains episodes five through eight from the series' first season:
• "Decoy for a Dognapper"
• "What the Hex Going On?"
• "Never Ape an Ape Man"
• "Foul Play in Funland"
We children of the '60s and '70s apparently had low standards for television animation. One must look to the super-imposed live-action mouths in Clutch Cargo to find animation cheesier than that in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. The show's opening and closing credits (both of which play through the theme song in its entirety) consume two of the episodes' 22 minutes. Much of the remaining 20 minutes consists of profile shots of the gang running, slapped in front of different background plates and recycled from show to show. Character movement is sloppy, and their mouths have the sort of weak articulation designed to maximize recycling by accommodating changes in dialogue. On DVD, the episodes are presented in their original full frame broadcast format. Color and detail is decent, though there are signs of minor source damage (mostly small nicks) throughout. That's okay, though, as the sort of restoration required to fix these flaws is most likely cost-prohibitive and would run the risk of altering the color timing in such a way as to mar fans' memories of the show's look from back in the day. Audio is presented in an extremely thin single-channel mono mix that places dialogue, effects, and music in the center speaker of surround systems.
The only supplement is "More Fondue for Scooby-Doo!," an episode of the Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! show that appeared on Kids' WB in 2006. The anime-style character design and fluid animation are far superior to the creaky look of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, but the modernized antics of Shaggy and Scooby (Shaggy wears cargo pants and the Mystery Machine looks like a tricked out Hummer) are soulless and drab. Or maybe I'm just an ossified old fart.
Judge Kent Dixon wrote the following in his review of Volume 1 of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!:
This release confuses me. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons was released on DVD in 2004, and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! The Complete Third Season in 2007. If you can have all 25 episodes of the show's first and second seasons for $40 or less, why would someone pay around $14 for only the first four episodes of Season One?
This four-episode Volume 2 release is equally confusing…and unnecessary.
While Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a surprisingly fun trip down memory lane for adults, and a show that the current crop of kids will also find entertaining (mine did), this disc is guilty of baffling redundancy.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Bonus Episode
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