Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
Starring: Frank Welker (Fred Jones / Scooby-Doo), Grey Griffin (Daphne Blake), Kate Micucci (Velma Dinkley), Matthew Lillard (Shaggy Rogers)
Writers: Michael Ryan (Episodes 1, 4, 5), Mark Hoffmeier (Episode 2), Caroline Farah (Episode 3)
Director: Jae Kim (Episode 1), Frank Paur (Episode 2), Mike Milo (Episodes 3, 4, 5)
Production Company: Warner Bros. Animation
Airs on: Boomerang, Cartoon Network
James Bond made his first movie appearance in 1962’s Dr. No. Batman made his in 1943 (Batman). His first television appearance came in 1966 (Batman). The Muppets saw their introduction in 1955 (Sam and Friends) and had their own show by 1976 (The Muppet Show). Star Trek was the first broadcast in 1966 (Star Trek: The Original Series) and has so far aired 759 episodes across its various incarnations. And Scooby-Doo was first introduced in 1969 (Scooby-Doo, Where are You?), airing over 400 episodes across various shows. The resiliency of these franchises is incredible and shows no signs of slowing.
Star Trek keeps churning out new material (Discovery, Picard), while Batman keeps appearing in shows and movies (Gotham, Pennyworth, Justice League). Disney is also planning to produce a new Muppets show for its upcoming streaming site. And Scooby-Doo is no different. At the end of this past June, coinciding with Scooby-Doo’s 50th anniversary, the first episode of the new series Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? aired.
Taking from the pages of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (1969 – 1970) and The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972-1973), Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? features various guest stars in each episode. These vary between real people and fictional characters. Already announced are Chris Paul, Sia, Ricky Gervais, Wanda Sykes, and Mark Hamill, as well as characters like Batman, Sherlock Holmes, and Wonder Woman. Shows with celebrity guest-stars are usually fun and, based on the initial list that’s been released, there’s a lot of promise. Being a cartoon makes the addition of fictional characters easier, and so far, they don’t disappoint.
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? links back to the original show with nostalgia aplenty. Most obvious is the return of the original theme “Scooby-Doo Where Are You?” though it’s been modified to reflect the new show’s title. The introduction scene with bats flying out of a castle also emphasizes that this is a throwback. Even the animation looks old-school, losing the digital quality that so many recent cartoons display. The gang’s interactions, the classic hallway chase scenes, the overly complex traps, and Shaggy and Scooby’s comedic interludes in which they distract the monster will feel familiar. From beginning to end, each episode is classic Scooby-Doo. It’s quite a ride, and it’s a blast!
The monsters are fun too. Four episodes in and the gang’s encountered a swamp monster, a civil war ghosts, a walking fish monster, and flying screaming skulls. Though simple, the stories are fun and varied enough. They are also backed by a great ’60s retro-style soundtrack. However, cognizant of the market the show is airing in, it’s not all throwback. It is set in today’s reality. Smartphones, projectors, iPads, flash drives, technology reflective of the present; it’s all there. Nostalgia aside, the show doesn’t feel antiquated. It’s fresh!
With its many qualities, it’s not a perfect show by any means. For example, the interactions between the characters are sometimes a little too short. There’s little character development that takes place. As a result, there’s little interaction with the guilty person(s). Even though it’s often obvious who is behind the mask, it’s only because so few people introduced. It is something, if fixed, that could make the show far richer.
Some situations are over-extended, or rather ridiculously exaggerated, like a gag that’s run its course but keeps going. That Shaggy gets scared by Mudsy and the cat is fine (“A Mystery Solving Gang Divided”). But to repeat it over and over during the episode loses its effect. Scooby loves his Scooby snacks, we know. But in “Peeble’s Pet Shop of Terrible Terrors!”, it’s again exaggerated. And with only 22 minutes to tell a story, every scene becomes that much more important. Fortunately, there’s a noticeable improvement from one episode to the next over the four already aired. This bodes well for the rest of the season.
Veteran voice actor Frank Welker (Curious George, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius), the original Fred, is back once again. He’s also voicing Scooby-Doo (though the original voice of Don Messick is still the best!). Grey Griffin (Rugrats, Samurai Jack) returns as Daphne, while Kate Micucci (Scrubs, DuckTales) returns as Velma. Rounding out the gang is Matthew Lillard (Scream, Good Girls) who returns as Shaggy. Although still good, there’s an audible change in his voice, likely a result of an aging voice-box.
Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is a fun ride. Its return to its roots will undoubtedly satisfy many older viewers. There are plenty of Easter eggs for the astute viewer, which will encourage repeat viewing. Newer viewers will also enjoy the simple, fun, and absolute campy show. Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? is available on Cartoon Network and its streaming sister service, Boomerang.