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Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated – Season One, Volume 1 (A TV on DVD Review)

Updated: Jan 11

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

Season One, Volume 1 (Paramount Home Video-2010)

The Scooby-Doo! crew has been going strong (and not growing older) for over 40 years now – in a run that has included eleven cartoon series, two live action films, dozens of made for video (or cable or whatever) movies, multiple comic books and many video games.

Therefore, it may be a little tough to bring something new to the franchise. Still, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This series has had a tendency to run afoul of extreme reimagining (Scooby Dumb or Scrappy Doo, anyone?). It works much better if they just tweak what is already working for the times.

Mystery Incorporated – created specifically for Cartoon Network – obviously loves the original series and understands what made it special. They have stylized retro-looking drawings and have returned the gang to their original classic outfits (Fred just isn’t Fred without an ascot, sorry…) after some recent attempts to spruce the look up a bit.

Most of the sprucing up here is done in the characters. Mystery Incorporated is trying to make the kids more relatable to modern fans. Don’t worry; no one got a nose-ring or tattoo. However, for example, Velma appears to be grumpier than ever before, Fred seems a bit dim here and totally obsessed with his traps and Daphne seems to have some self-esteem issues. And what’s this deal that Shaggy and Velma are apparently covert make-out buddies?

Still, even with new personality quirks, it is a pretty bulletproof formula – four high-school-aged kids and their dog searching for monsters.

There are also some plot changes as far as the basics of the storyline. The kids are a bit younger – they are now high school age when previous incarnations usually were around the early-to-mid 20s. Also, instead of traveling the world in search of monsters, they mostly stay in one town – Crystal Cove – where the monsters conveniently come to them. Because they are younger and living at home, we get to know the kids’ parents, voiced by a savvy group of actors including Gary Cole (The Good Wife), Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under) and – in a nice touch – original TV Shaggy and legendary DJ Casey Kasem plays Shaggy’s dad.

This kind of clever voice casting extends to the rest of the series. Live-action film star Matthew Lillard returns to his role as Shaggy, as do long-time Scooby video actors Fred Welker, Grey DeLisle and former sitcom star Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) as the other kids. Other fine actors on hand include Vivica A. Fox as a funky local disk jockey, Patrick Warburton as the local sheriff and Lewis Black as Mr. E, a mysterious benefactor (and possible threat) for the team. The distinctive tones of John O’Hurley, Kevin Dunn and Beverly D’Angelo show up as guests.

Much like the recent series of best-selling videos, Mystery Incorporated is much more self-aware than the earlier series. The Mystery Inc. kids recognize that most of the monsters are people in costumes – and thus, the criminals have to work harder to impress them. Therefore, the generic monsters of the earlier shows – Dracula, the werewolf, Frankenstein, zombies – are replaced by made up menaces like slime mutants, gator people and man crabs.

The storytelling is tight, the scares are good, and the laughs are frequent – all you can ask in a Scooby-Doo! franchise.

The only major complaint there is about Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated – Season One, Volume 1 is that it is simply much too short. The video included four half-hour episodes. A Volume 2 is coming soon, also with just four shows. Since there are only sixteen episodes total, why not just offer a full season in one single package rather than making us break it down into four small purchases?

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: February 27, 2011.


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