Monday, March 14, 2011

SCOOBY DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED - Season 1, Volume 1

Yet another incarnation of the kidvid franchise that refuses to die, SCOOBY DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED (2010), is possibly the best Scooby series since the 1969 original. With smart, witty scripts, spooky mysteries, some welcome characterization and modern, anime-inspired character designs that both update and honor the Iwao Takamoto classics, MYSTERY INCORPORATED is a delight.

The Scooby gang's hometown of Crystal Cove is the setting for these latest batch of adventures, a small town that trades on its reputation for being "the hauntedest town" for tourism revenue. The regular quintet remains mostly unchanged: slightly-dim-but-enthusiastic Fred (the immortal Frank Welker), rich girl Daphne (Grey DeLisle), booksmart cutie Velma (Mindy Cohn), iconic slacker Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and the legendary Great Dane Scooby Doo (Welker, again), but this series also - for the first time - gives us regular glimpses into their home lives (we actually meet their parents!) and reveals what the local authorities - specifically Sheriff Stone (Patrick Warburton) - think of the meddling kids and their dog.

Additionally, the writers have brought some contemporary TV storytelling tropes to the show; while each episode functions as a standalone mystery, there's a bigger storyline running through the series, hinging on the machinations of a shadowy figure known only as "Mister E" (voiced by Lewis Black). It's good stuff.

The animation and design are excellent, and the voice-acting and music (theme by Matthew Sweet) are all above-average. It's a very slick toon, and works on multiple levels. Old-time fans of the franchise will enjoy the many in-jokes and meta humor, while kids will enjoy what they've always enjoyed about SCOOBY DOO - spooky mysteries, slapstick antics, and lots of running around.

Warner Brothers' DVD release of "Season 1, Volume 1" contains the first four episodes of the series, ("Beware the Beast from Below," "The Creeping Creatures," "Secret of the Ghost Rig," and "Revenge of the Man Crab") presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a perfect, colorful transfer. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Aside from a handful of previews, there are no extra features.

Fans of the Scoobyverse will want to check this one out, whether they have kids or not. It's a surprisingly entertaining and intelligent animated show that appears to have been made by people who genuinely love the original 1960s series and who've found a way to update it with respect and sharp humor. Recommended.

BUYScooby Doo Mystery Incorporated: Season One, Vol. 1