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Our review of Shaggy And Scooby-Doo Get A Clue! Volume 2, published July 16th, 2008, is also available.
"You know we've got a mystery to solve, so Scooby Doo, Get ready for your act, Don't Hold Back! 'Cause Scooby Doo if you pull through, you're gonna have yourself a Scooby Snack! That's A Fact! Scooby Dooby Doo, Here are you, you're ready and you're willin' (Scooby!) And if we can count on you, Scooby Doo! I know we'll catch that villian!"—lyrics from the Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! opening theme.
Whether on his own, with the Mystery Machine gang, or with other various sidekicks and co-stars, Scooby-Doo has been entertaining children and adults for more than 39 years now and has built an impressive empire that includes several animated incarnations, numerous DVD releases, video games, and other merchandising. In September 2006, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! became the 10th animated series to feature Shaggy and Scooby-Doo up to their old bumbling, mystery-solving antics. Is the formula still working and as entertaining as ever after all these years, or is it the character's copyright owners who really need to get a clue and let Scooby pass into the annals of beloved animated history?
Facts of the Case
Shaggy Roger's incredibly wealthy Uncle Albert Shaggleford mysteriously disappears, leaving Shaggy named as his sole heir. Before he disappeared, it seems Uncle Albert made some rather serious enemies, most notably the evil genius Dr. Phineas Phibes. Armed with newfound wealth, a modernized Mystery Machine, and their tried-and-true partnership, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo travel the world, thwarting the evil plans of Dr. Phibes and his henchmen.
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! Volume 1 includes the first four episodes from the show's premier season: "Shags to Riches," "More Fondue for Scooby-Doo," "High Society Scooby," and "Party Arty."
There are few animated characters over the years that have had as many incarnations and as varied a history as Scooby-Doo. The character first appeared in 1969 in the Saturday morning animated series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! and since then, there has been a wide variety of other incarnations including other animated series and live-action theatrical releases. The character even survived the 1979 introduction of his nephew Scrappy-Doo, who joined the franchise as a more eloquent sidekick for Scooby.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo revisited Scooby in 1985 for 13 all-new TV episodes featuring the character and giving the show a more modern feel. Debuting on ABC in 1988, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo revisited the entire cast of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! series, presenting them as junior high students; this incarnation lasted for three seasons and 30 episodes that ran from 1988 until 1991.
The original series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! remained in syndication from the mid-'80s until 1998 on a variety of networks in Canada and the U.S., including TBS and TNT. From that point, the character of Scooby-Doo became the exclusive property of Cartoon Network and their sister station, Boomerang. Between 1998 and 2007, 11 direct-to-video Scooby-Doo films have been released, and it is likely the success of these releases that resulted in the new animated series, What's New, Scooby-Doo? that aired 43 episodes between 2005 and 2006 before being put on indefinite hiatus.
Finally and most recently, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! debuted on the Kids' WB network in 2006 as the 10th incarnation of the beloved animated series. This new series makes some bold changes to the Scooby formula, including a new animation style and the removal (aside from brief appearances) of the rest of the Scooby Gang. Thankfully, the Mystery Machine is still the heroes' main mode of transportation, and like K.I.T.T. in the reimagined Knight Rider series soon hitting the small screen, the Mystery Machine receives some cool upgrades early in the show's run.
I'm a big fan of the original series, and I readily admit, I gave some of the other incarnations a try over the years, but I've been skeptical that they can keep revisiting the Scooby-Doo concept without eventually squeezing the last drop of life from it. I'm happy to say this new Scooby-Doo doesn't disappoint. Sure, it's not the original, but I'm quite certain it was never meant to be. Animation, TV programming, and children's attention spans have come a long way since the '60s, and it would be unrealistic to think that there is no room for improvement, even for something with this amount of history behind it. I found it very classy that they included legendary voice artists Casey Kasem and Frank Welker in the cast of this new incarnation, and the Mystery Machine is still there in all its green glory!
On the picture front, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! Volume 1 delivers bright colors and sharp images, as one would expect from a recent animated production. The show's new character designs and animation style are really fresh and engaging, and I found myself wishing there were more than just four episodes on this disc. The audio mix is solid throughout, from the show's intro theme, which sounds a bit like it was performed by The Offspring, to the crisp dialogue and sound effects.
Don't approach this release expecting a full buffet of extra features, or you'll find yourself hungry for Scooby Snacks almost immediately. A short feature called "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo's Crooked Capers" includes three short games where viewers can try to solve clues to help Shaggy and Scooby thwart Dr. Phibes. There's some interactivity and menu changes within the games, but it certainly wouldn't be enough to hold my 5-year-old's attention, and as this is the only feature included, it really falls flat. It would have been great to hear from the show's creators and get their take on the classic source material…maybe they're saving that for the eventual "Complete Season One" set we're bound to see some time down the road.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
For anyone who has listened to my DVD Verdict podcast show "View From The Couch," you'll already know how irritated I am when studios issue releases with only a handful of episodes. Silly me for thinking that "Volume 1" in the title might mean…I dunno…a full volume of episodes!?! This practice leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, as I know full well that they could have quite likely released a full season title with the same or slightly more effort. But knowing I have little or no influence in the decisions of major studios, I'll have to be happy with grumbling to those who will listen.
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! Volume 1 is a nice, but brief, introduction to the latest incarnation of a beloved 39-year-old animation series. Although many fans might miss the formula, characters, and animation style, this is a solid new series that will hopefully draw (pardon the pun!) a new audience to all things Scooby!
"Rats a rate review Rent! Ranks a rot!"
Uhhhh…you're welcome Scooby!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• "Shaggy and Scooby-Doo's Crooked Capers Challenge"
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