DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc., Season One, Volume 1

Hi again!

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Scooby-Doo. Ever since I first sat down with a bowl of Fruit Loops on a Saturday morning watching cartoons, the talking dog and his friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy offered bite-sized mysteries perfect for an impressionable kid. Sure, over the years, Scooby and the gang have changed a bit, but the formula has largely remained the same. It always boils down to a boy and his dog hanging out with his friends while foiling the plot of some crazy criminal scheme…

So I was surprised that the new series on Cartoon Network – Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc. – added so many bells and whistles to the already thin plot and characters that I stopped enjoying it. At times it even drove so far off the rails that I simply turned an episode off rather than wasting more of my or my kids’ time.

Now they’ve started releasing the first season on DVD. Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc., Season One, Volume 1 collects the first four episodes of the 13 episodes for the first season. I watched because I wanted to see if maybe the first time I watched the cartoons I happened to be in a bad mood or odd frame of mind… Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy them any more the second time.

“Beware the Beast from Below” re-introduces the characters in their new series as they deal with pressure from their parents to grow up and find more meaningful career options and relationships. Back in their home town of Crystal Cove, Scooby and the gang start the episode being locked up by Sheriff Stone (Patrick Warburton, Rules of Engagement) for eliminating another potential revenue stream for the town by solving a mystery. That line of thinking is repeated in every episode as the Mayor (Gary Cole, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) (Fred’s father) or the Sheriff berate the gang for debunking potential creepy attraction after creepy attraction for the town. To say the least, this particular plot twist is so over the top and used to beat the audience over the head that it gets old quickly.

After that, we learn that Fred (Frank Welker) is more clueless than in any prior series and is obsessed with trap-making; Daphne (Grey DeLisle) is just as in love with Fred as per usual, but less assertive than ever before; Velma (Mindy Cohn) and Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) are in a relationship Shaggy is trying desperately to keep Scooby from finding out about; and Scooby (also Welker) is just as lovable and clueless as always. The gang stumbles into a slime mutant that cocoons anybody who gets in its way and are off and running to solve the mystery.

If that wasn’t enough for one episode, Daphne stumbles across an old locket with a picture inside and the gang gets contacted by the mysterious “Mr. E” (comedian Lewis Black) who tells them they’ve stumbled into an old mystery that may doom them all. [Insert evil laughter here…] The mystery of “Mr. E” is the glue that binds all four episodes on the DVD together leading them to new clues as to the disappearance of an older generation of mystery solving kids.

The one amusing part about the first episode for me was a character who appeared looking a lot like the great Don Knotts. I kept hoping we’d learn more about that character, but it turned out to just be a tourist visiting Crystal Cove and disappeared before the episode was over.

The second episode – “The Creeping Creatures” – leads the gang to Gatorsburg… And it was this episode that really threw me for a loop. Evidently Gatorsburg was once the hub for the manufacture of products made from genuine alligator hide. As Velma tells the story, there was a “Gator well” that “went dry” and ran out of gators. It was about this time I was wondering who wrote this script and if they meant it as a joke that somehow got put into production…

The third episode “Secret of the Ghost Rig” gave me a bit of hope for the series. This was more of a traditional Scooby-Doo mystery with a ghost big rig chasing cars up and down a coastal highway. The truck’s tires were on fire and it was bathed in an eerie fog as it pushed a motorcycle cop and the Mystery Machine (the gang’s green van) off the road. Then the truck would simply disappear… The gang eventually solved the mystery, but it was less tongue-in-cheek than the first two episodes.

And the fourth episode on the DVD – “Revenge of the Mad Crab” – had the gang trying to figure out why a giant man-crab would be terrorizing a girls’ beach volleyball tournament and kidnapping people. This time, the crab eventually snatches Daphne as one of the victims and this drives Fred over the edge. He might even have to admit he has feelings for something other than trap making!

Beyond the four episodes, there are a couple of trailers for other Warner Brothers releases and that’s it. I was hoping to see an extra episode of some other Cartoon Network series or a glimpse behind the scenes as a feature, but this release is very bare bones.

If you are anything but a die-hard fan of Scooby-Doo, I’d skip this series (and the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc., Season One, Volume 1 DVD) entirely. Look for the original series or even Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue, which was on a few years ago. It was more fun than Scooby-Doo! Mystery Inc..

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other DVDs from Barnes & Noble below!

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DVD Review: Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures

Hi again!

When I was a kid, Tom and Jerry cartoons were already in syndication and played regularly on Saturday mornings. That was back when there were only a handful of channels, not hundreds of channels like we have now. And back then I wasn’t much of a discriminating cartoon watcher. Whether it was Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker, Captain Caveman, Scooby-Doo, The Super Friends, or many others, I was typically glued to our old black and white TV with my bowl of Fruit Loops every Saturday morning.

Now as a parent, there are many more choices in the digital wasteland of television. A few new cartoons still get my attention now and then, such as 2011’s Young Justice and the continued Clone Wars adventures, but I can’t say that I really like shows like Spongebob Squarepants or Phineas and Ferb as an adult. As a result, I’ve found myself looking at older cartoons on DVD as a solution when we’re looking to watch something as a family.

Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures collects fourteen different Tom and Jerry classics on one DVD for about an hour of cartoons. Most of these episodes were from the original Hanna-Barbera era from 1940-1958, but a few are from the Chuck Jones era (1963-1967) after he left Warner Bros. Cartoons in 1963.

Episodes on the DVD include:

  • Barbecue Brawl (1956)
  • Happy Go Ducky (1958)
  • Hic-cup Pup (1954)
  • Little Quacker (1950)
  • Rock ‘n Rodent (1967) (Chuck Jones)
  • Neapolitan Mouse (1954)
  • Pet Peeve (1954)
  • Pup on a Picnic (1955)
  • O-Solar Meow (1967) (Chuck Jones)
  • Robin Hoodwinked (1958)
  • Guided Mouse-ille (1967)
  • Timid Tabby (1957)
  • The Vanishing Duck (1958)
  • That’s my Mommy (1955)

It was fun watching these with my daughters. We especially enjoyed the shorts with “Ducky” – the baby duck that somehow gets into all kinds of trouble with Tom, who of course wants to eat him. I still remembered “Little Quacker,” “The Vanishing Duck,” and “That’s My Mommy” from my own childhood. And it’s definitely fun to revisit those days every now and again.

One that I didn’t remember seeing was “Robin Hoodwinked,” which included Tuffy, Jerry’s younger sidekick destined to get into trouble and somehow survive it all. It was fun seeing Jerry and Tuffy (in his cute diaper) rush into Nottingham Castle to save the captured Robin Hood and help him escape.

Also included on the DVD are a couple of trailers for more recent Warner Brothers productions, including Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated (the latest Scooby-Doo animated series to hit the air) and Tom & Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, which was released just a few months ago. We enjoyed the new series and the new film, which brought some of our favorite characters back into the limelight.

If you’re looking for a great way to keep your kids occupied for an hour, I’d definitely recommend picking up Tom and Jerry Volume 1: Fur Flying Adventures on DVD. If you’re looking for a larger, more organized collection of Tom and Jerry shorts, there are other options available to you including the Tom and Jerry: Spotlight Collections and Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this DVD and other Tom and Jerry classics at Barnes & Noble:

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Trailer Time: Tron: Uprising Teaser

Disney really knows how to tease us… Between Tron and Tron: Legacy fits this new animated series – Tron: Uprising. According to Cartoon Brew, the following is a “A promising first look at Tron: Uprising which will begin airing on Disney XD in summer 2012. A ten-part micro-series will precede it this fall.”

Looks like they have a great cast – Elijah Wood, Emmanuelle Chiriqui, Mandy Moore, Nate Corddry, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens, and Bruce Boxleitner is back as the voice of Tron himself.

The teaser doesn’t give much away. We sort of know a bit about the time between the movies based on exposition in Tron: Legacy, but this will hopefully fill in the gaps. The animation looks a bit out of place with the CGI, but I’m guessing they’ll work out any rough edges.

So the miniseries will air sometime in Fall 2011 and the series itself will air in Summer 2012 – on Disney XD.

(From Cartoon Brew here)

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