The Classic Series Continues
Where It Left Off
As A Fun Feature Length
Where It Left Off
As A Fun Feature Length
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While admittedly I'd forgotten about what I'm assuming was-- most likely-- a canned laugh-track, only moments into this delightful second volume of episodes 5-8 in the order aired from the debut season of Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, when that instantly recognizable theme song began I felt completely transported back to my childhood.
Granted, I wasn't around for their initial airing as a Saturday morning staple on CBS in 1969 but through the ultra-successful syndication of this and other Hanna-Barbera properties, I developed an affection for the always-spirited (literally speaking) shenanigans of the original Scooby Gang or Mystery Inc. who traveled around in that groovy fan solving cases involving haunted houses, endless red herrings, and a parade of eccentrics who were frequently unmasked in the finale as the one(s) causing all the ruckus.
The group is headed up by Fred-- the blonde, All-American Saturday morning poster boy for a fraternity or a poor man's (a.k.a. school age kid's) version of Robert Redford. And the unlikely band of sleuths also consisted of the gorgeous, red-headed Daphne, the Nancy Drew by way of a librarian stereotype pal Velma, and the scatterbrained Shaggy whose main asset to the group was the ownership of his trusty canine sidekick, the eponymous and irreplaceable Scooby-Doo.
Kicking off this fun DVD with “Decoy for a Dognapper,” the fifth episode of season one in a story that has a particular significance for Scooby as both a dog and one who's attracted to a high-class show dog that's joined the ranks of other missing pets-- the group takes a cue from the popular cop shows of the era and sends Scooby in as an undercover decoy, setting a trap to ensnare the villains.
Of course, there's a few hitches in their plans literally as a railroad and ghosts are involved in some pretty impressive action sequences that still hold up today and the mysterious merriment continues throughout with the following two inclusions “What the Hex Going On?” and “Never Ape an Ape Man,” which uses the show's routine set-up of a friend or relative who is somehow connected or at the very least in the vicinity of a deceptive plot.
While “Hex” is amusing but average, “Ape” stands out as particular fun in its homage to monster movies as Daphne's film director uncle lets the Scoobies work as extras on his new horror film where they quickly realize that an authentic “Ape Man” arrives and he's less than happy that a movie about a fictitious one is being made-- taking it out on those involved.
The capper of the collection is the exciting “Foul Play in Funland,” which uses a terrific premise to draw both the audience as well as the Mystery gang in when they arrive at an amusement park to find that-- well ahead of its scheduled opening-- the seemingly haunted park is operating at full capacity with rides, coasters, games, and snack stands operating nonstop. Of course, this is instantly appealing to all as it seems to be a dream come true but when the group realizes that nobody is on the park from customer to crew member, they realize there's no such thing as a free ride.
All in all it's an excellent feature length (88 minutes to be exact) helping of four more episodes for those who don't own the seasons in their entirety or are trying to introduce the show to kids in small increments. And although the cartoon series itself doesn't appear as though it's been restored at all with some soft color presentation in the animation-- it's still pretty timeless (canned laughter aside)-- with thrilling scenes of tension mixed in with the humor supplied by Shaggy and Scooby.
Brightly packaged in an attractive box that pulls its image from the final episode-- while the disc also offers a bonus, high-tech, modern episode of “Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!” as a DVD extra with sharper animation and a furiously fast rock track-- I found it grating on the nerves as a vintage Scooby fan.
To this end, I am pretty confident in saying that even twenty-first century kids who are presented with the classic cartoon in its original format will still find so much to love about it that there's no need to even move to something “re-imagined” that doesn't come close to the original vision of the series developed by Hanna-Barbera. In other words, skip "Get a Clue" and stick with "Where Are You."