Before there was Scooby-Doo and Mystery Inc, there was Velma.
Spoiler Level: Moderate
I have been a fan of Scooby-Doo pretty much my entire life. When I was a kid, I would get up on Saturday mornings and try to solve the mystery by collecting the clues that the Mystery Inc. gang collected. I credit Scooby-Doo for fostering my intense love for whodunits. So when I found out that HBO Max was doing an adult animated series with Velma as the hero I was so very hopeful and greatly anticipated what I hoped would be an edgy and sophisticated story akin to the Addams Family spinoff, Wednesday. I should have done more research and followed the clues before getting my hopes up so high, for what we actually got was a base humor sophomoric comedy with much of the laughs coming from poking fun at the assumed stereotyped characters the original show fostered. Once again, my expectation far exceeded the end product leaving me disappointed and underwhelmed.
Velma (Mindy Kaling) and Daphne (Constance Wu) use to be best friends, but Daphne has opted to join the popular crowd while Velma became a judgmental outcast mainly due to her mother’s disappearance, which may or may not have been voluntary. Velma suffers from hallucinations when ever she attempts to solve a mystery as she blames that aspect of herself for her mother leaving. Her one true friend is Norville a.k.a. “Shaggy” (Sam Richardson) who has a crush on her. When their female classmates begin showing up dead and brainless, Fred (Glenn Howerton) is blamed and arrested. Fred is the heir to the Jones family fortune and has been pampered his entire life leaving him helpless and all the adults are inept, leaving it up to Velma to solve the murders. Can Velma use her vast intellect to solve these heinous crimes? Watch and find out…or don’t, it’s up to you.
There are a few things I did like about the changes they made. The adding of vastly diverse characters was a needed update. In the original series, all the characters were supposedly straight and Caucasian, but this new reimagining gives us a Velma that is Indian, Daphne was adopted by her same sex mothers and is of Asian descent, and Shaggy is African American. Most of the artwork is very well done and the animation has a great look to it, although I noticed Velma’s skin tone changed from time to time from an orange to a red to a more natural brown. The voice cast is really good and perform the material quite well. But it is the “material” that I have a problem with. Although the premise of the story is strong, the script wasn’t as witty or as clever as it thinks it is. I didn’t find the show that funny and the few bright spots along the way seem to be shoved aside for more pop cultural references that just left me with an intense feeling of disappointment. Just because I didn’t like it, doesn’t mean it isn’t well done, because it is for the most part and I am sure that it will find its fanbase who will absolutely love it. I, unfortunately, am not one of those people. Maybe with the popularity of Wednesday, someday Velma may get the same update in a live action series, but until then, I will just watch re-runs of the original cartoon!
Not the show I was hoping for, but with a good cast and some great art direction, just with more base humor and pop-culture satire than I would like.
Velma: Rut Roh Raggy
- Writing - 5/105/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 9/109/10
- Production - 9/109/10
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