'Tis the season to Be Scooby!
Warner Brothers Family Entertainment (stretching the parameters of both of those latter terms) presents four incredibly awful episodes of the unbelievably popular Scooby-Doo show and haphazardly throws them together onto a single DVD, using snow and frozen water oriented concepts as a conjoining theme. Included here are:
The Nutcracker Scoob—in which horrendously animated and abysmally voiced pseudo cartoons of Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Fred (Velma was on maternity leave) tell a tale of a "Bah-Humbug" party pooper who wants to foreclose on a children's home because, well, because it's Christmas, dammit! Oh, yeah…a stupid Xmas spook shows up to complete the episode's main purpose.
Alaskan King Coward—ANYTHING featuring Scrappy Cornelius Doo is bound to suck rotten whale blubber, so this eight-minute extended chase between a bucktoothed blizzard lizard (?) and our intrepid trio of Shaggy, Scooby, and the Scrap (Fred, Daphne, and Velma were all at the VD clinic) has a powerfully bad fish odor. By the way, there is no mystery to solve here, except why anyone would purposely chose to watch this mindless mood sourer.
A Scary Night with a Snow Beast Fright—In which the Alaskan Oil pipeline, quite the topical material for a 1970s kids show, is reduced to a series of totem poles and politically incorrect Eskimos. The entire Mysteries, Inc. group (Shaggy's stint in a Turkish prison having recently ended) travels north to Alaska to discover why an 80 foot tall albino T-Rex throws temper tantrums anytime anyone discovers "black" snow. What would it do if they found the yellow kind?
That's Snow Ghost—the only piece of original 1969 Scooby doodie on this otherwise vile disc has the entire detecting menagerie (Daphne's breast augmentation surgery had been cancelled) heading to a ski lodge for a little mogul motion. There they encounter the abominable snow job as a floating farce of a fiend, which makes our frigid fright finders long for a mug of hot Dr. Pepper with a cinnamon swizzle stick
Is it possible to describe how incredibly bored and irritated one will be after wallowing through this 90 minutes of mediocre mystery misery entitled Scooby-Doo: Winter Wonderdog? It appears that when society calls for itchy, infected bits of digital enjoyment spoon-fed and retreaded into various and sundry amalgamations, Warner's is there with a lame concept and an even tackier type of demographic directive. They seem infinitely capable of releasing DVD after DVD of hideous, half-cooked product, including this steaming pile of doobie dog dung. Scooby-Doo went through several Saturday morning transformations during his astonishingly long television run. The initial shows were like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew on paraquat. Over the years, cast members were dropped, weird canine creations were tossed about (anyone remember Scooby-Dum and Scooby-Dear?), and even the odd celebrity or two was added to the mystery mix. But it seems that, ever since the advent of Ted Turner's planet engulfing empire, which includes the animated old folks home, the Cartoon Network, there has been a big time bolster in the public's perception of Scooby-Doo as a classic cultural icon. As Johnny Carson would bark, "Wrong again, sea lion breath!"
This disc is a disaster. It features three sub-standard, incredibly bad episodes of the show in its sorrier states, and only one halfway decent first season offering. In addition, there are retch-inducing music videos for songs so atrocious, so completely devoid of imagination or tonal quality that Arch Hall Jr. would reject them as terrible. The menu-based game is interesting, and has a good bit of fun and interaction in it. But winning results in nothing more than pointless positive feedback: no additional extras, bonus materials, or chewy chewy cocoa beans. The rest of the presentation is meant as a total hard sell. If you stripped away all the product placement, and limited the scope of the various declared treats to what actually is a windfall here, the void created in the dual layer of this disc would be capable of sucking the entire state of Montana through a pixie stick. Scooby-Doo: Winter Wonderdog is a pre-packed consumable, nothing more and a greasy weasel bladder less. This DVD's message is like a devilish imp, sitting on your child's easily persuaded shoulder and beckoning it to drive Mommy and Daddy delirious with constant shouts for more Scooby-Doo merchandise until the mini-van and wallet are packed for another budget busting trip to Toys-R-Us. Everything is an ad, or leads to an ad, or hopes to work as an ad by giving you a warm and fuzzy feeling about buying this atrociously packaged pile of pig pimples.
And the most disconcerting aspect is the de rigueur "continuous" play feature, which appears on EACH INDIVIDUAL EPISODE. The thought that children all over the world are seated in front of their parental love substitute, locked in a moebius loop of never-ending Scrappy-Doo makes one weep for the future of our planet. Misbehave and babysitter will lock you in a room with a copy of this title, load it up, hit the "repeat infinitely" option and melt your brain into a thick, watery sludge. And said alternative is always a cause for wonder. Why do we teach kids that the best way to enjoy something is in continuous streams of non-stop information? Are we preparing them for a future in brain laundering, or cult cultural affairs? Nothing, not even Citizen Kane or Hoppity Goes to Town, needs to be viewed over and over again. This sounds like a conspiracy of some sort, perhaps engineered by other Western nations to lull our aggressive adolescents into a lobotomized state of social and political illiteracy. Or maybe it's just another version of Mother's Little Helper, a guaranteed way to shut the little bastard up! Whatever it is, Scooby-Doo: Winter Wonderdog is about as attractive as a case of facial frostbite and twice as painful. The only thing less appetizing than this title is the idea of Christmas dinner with the Donner Party.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Scooby-Doo's Winder Vacation Game
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