Judge Dennis Prince says, "Give this Dane a break!" He hates to see a good ghost-hunter go to the dogs.
While it's been one of the most loved, most imitated of cartoon capers, 1969's original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? has certainly had to bear the brunt of all manner of creeps and cretins. No, not those ghoulies and ghosties who tried to keep these meddling kids and their dumb dog at bay but, rather, those who attempted to milk the series for more than it could ever deliver and, in the process, diluted the misadventures of the cowardly Dane and his human sidekicks to unbearable lows.
Indeed, the original series was able to offer up two solid seasons (1969 and 1970) of genuinely enjoyable crime-solving fun before its own makers, Hanna and Barbera, stretched and strained it into so many disingenuous incarnations and forever marred the franchise (whoever conjured up Scrappy-Doo and Scooby-Dum deserves to be dropped into a mucky moat, quick). Somehow, though, the show maintained a following, luring in unsuspecting waifs who never knew the origins of the ghost-hunting canine.
In 2002, someone revived the 30-minute series format following a string of relatively successful (though not wholly enjoyable) Scooby specials and movies and delivered What's New? Scooby-Doo. While attempting to recapture the original essence of the show some thirty years later, the show largely missed its mark, unable to woo long-time Scooby enthusiasts. As for the uninitiated youth, well, it caught their attention. The plots followed the same formula: there's trouble somewhere as some supernatural beastie has made a sudden appearance, locals are frightened, and the Mystery Inc. gang sifts through several clues and potential suspects in order to unravel the situation. The biggest mystery here, though, was who was really behind this new production? While appropriately noted as a Hanna-Barbera copyright, the new show was actually produced by the animation arm of Warner Brothers Television, the same folks responsible for Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs. The animation is very much on par for the WB studio and Casey Kasem was back as the inimitable Shaggy Norville. However, the attempt to bring the show up to date with modern day settings and situations simply didn't work (the original two seasons' episodes remain timeless). Likely as an admission of this perceived shortcoming, the production team inserted guest stars (a la 1972's The New Scooby-Doo Movies), evidenced here by the clumsy appearances of youth skateboarder Ryan Sheckler and waning rock group KISS (young Sheckler delivered his own lines while KISS front man Paul Stanley found time to mutter a few sentences, too).
If you're a Scooby purist (and, yes, I am), you might not find much solid entertainment here. Youngsters in the house may find some mild distraction here yet even they are not always fully engaged. Therefore, here's a look at the four episodes that appear on this disc, What's New? Scooby-Doo—Monster Matinee Vol. 6, and an appropriate Scooby Snax rating on a scale of 1-5:
• "A Scooby-Doo Halloween"
• "San Franpsycho"
• "New Mexico, Old Monster"
• "Big Appetite in Little Tokyo"
Each episode presented here is offered in its original 1.33:1 full frame format. The image quality and color are generally vibrant though too heavy on the edge enhancement. The audio is offered in a reasonable Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix. The extras on the disc are rather crummy, though. They start with a silly Halloween-oriented feature, "Haunted Hoax," where a bit of introductory animated action degrades into live action of two kids confronted by a Halloween witch who proceeds to explain how creepy gags are created including sounds of thunder and ghostly brew. The "Blast the Monster Challenge" is a set-top game where you use your remote to hurl a skateboard at the San Franpsycho. The collection of trailers is just a bunch of promotional pitches for other Warner discs.
While this disc might distract the youngest of viewers in your household, the rest of you clan will likely wander away after the first few minutes. A better use of time and money would be for the previously released Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?: The Complete First and Second Seasons. Now that's some good Scooby. Rooby-rooby-roo!!
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