Monday, October 8, 2012

Spooktober: What's New Scooby-Doo? (2002)

After 11 years off network television, and bolstered by DVD sales of a series of DTV movies and the fact that reruns of earlier series were generating big ratings for Cartoon Network, Scooby-Doo made a triumphant return with What's New Scooby-Doo?, airing on Kids' WB!.

The series came 3 months after the first live-action feature film, and retained one disturbing element. Team co-leader Fred Jones (Frank Welker) was now more of a geek who marked out over certain things. The producers even paid homage to the 1972-4 New Scooby-Doo Movies by inserting guest stars when needed, such as baseball star Mike Piazza, and musicians Lindsay Pagano and Simple Plan, the latter of whom also performed the show's theme song.

The traditional format was eschewed occasionally in favor of a more traditional whodunit, which actually was a welcome relief, considering the fake monster/ghost of the week had long become cliched. By switching to a whodunit from time to time, it allowed the gang to prove they didn't need to confine themselves to debunking phony spooks all the time. Unfortunately, the whodunits came too few and too far between.

There were casting changes. With Don Messick, the original voice of Scooby, having passed on 5 years earlier, and with 2 actors having been tried in the interim, including Neil Fanning in the movie earlier in 2002, Frank Welker added to his considerable workload by essaying the dual roles of Scooby & Fred, and received star billing, along with the returning Casey Kasem (Shaggy). Also, former sitcom star Mindy Cohn (ex-The Facts of Life) came out of retirement to play Velma, and Grey DeLisle was cast as Daphne, but that change had taken effect a year earlier in "Scooby-Doo & The Cyber Chase", after her predecessor, Mary Kay Bergman, had passed away. Of course, the biggest reason why Welker & Kasem were accorded star treatment is they were the only original cast members left from the original Scooby-Doo series back in 1969.

Here's the intro:

The downside to the show airing on Kids' WB! was the fact it was pulled periodically so that the network could play extra episodes of anime such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, which was played into the ground to begin with. The constant tinkering with the lineup resulted in the series being cancelled in February 2005, more than halfway through the 3rd season. Reruns are airing this month on Boomerang.

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

As I mentioned on the Scooby review thread, this show wasn't bad but I couldn't get into it.

I thought the theme song was great, and they tried to modernize the traditional format and update the gang's look and tech.

Unfortunately the majority of celeb cameos were sub par and forgettable for the most part. The monsters didn't seem at all scary either. Fred was still a bit of an idiot and Daphne apparently was tilted into the other direction as hyper competent. It didn't help that the majority of the DTVs were frequently rooted in the WNSD characterizations. I wish they would make more serious ones closer to SDMI in creepiness and dange, a more serious tone for the characters, and perhaps like the first few movies, make the monsters real - or at least make the (mortal) villians be a real threat.

hobbyfan said...

You said in the other thread that the dumbing down of Fred started with the Pup series. Well, he was reckless in constantly accusing Red Herring of everything under the sun, but that's what kids do.

To me, the 2002 "Scooby-Doo" live action movie is where perceptions regarding Fred and Daphne changed. Now, Fred is a geek and a goof, now obsessed with traps, which he wasn't in the beginning. Daphne is no longer "danger prone", but more pro-active. The movie in general played to the internet in re.: Scrappy, but it had a lasting, if not also damaging, effect on the franchise going forward.

The next series should be a little more serious, but they should also try to make it more of a procedural drama, not quite in the 1 hour format of CSI and its ilk. I'd like to see them try some more whodunits, and follow the cases step-by-step. As I noted before, the fake ghost gimmick, after 43 years, needs to be given a rest once in a while.

Scoobyfan1 said...

@Hobbyfan: I couldn't agree more on the whodunits and procedural drama, as well as following the cases step by step.

What about doing something along the lines of the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo, and have real supernatural elements for every show though?

I myself like the idea, but I don't know if other Scooby fans would appreciate that or not.

hobbyfan said...

The late actress Margaret Hamilton often used this line when pitching Maxwell House coffee back in the 70's: "When something works, you stick with it."

Unfortunately, given the shabby treatment of Season 2 of Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. by Cartoon Network's idiotic mismanagement team, prospects for a new series aren't bright right now.