Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Series Review

Scooby-Doo holds a special place in the heart of anyone who grew up in the 80s or 90s. Whether it was one of your top Saturday morning cartoon contenders or the last-ditch option when the ones you liked ended, everyone and their grandmother has seen at least one episode of this Hanna Barbera classic. Now, after quite a few season releases and plenty of single-disc 4-episode samplers, Warner Brothers has seen fit to give us a complete series set, and they’ve had the brilliant sense to box it in a semi-functional replica of the gang’s Mystery Machine. You can’t argue with the packaging, so really the only criticisms to be leveled at the series are for the preservation of the colors, the animation, and the show formula itself.

If you’ve never seen and episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! before, consider this next paragraph to be a spoiler for every episode ever.

The formula:

Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby are traveling/visiting a friend/boating/touring/etc. when a stranger/curator/friend/relative/etc. enlists their help to uncover the identity of the thief/marauder/ghost/kidnapper/vandal/etc. who has stolen/sabotaged/kidnapped/etc. an artifact/film shoot/person/etc. After poking their noses into a creaky old mansion/hidden cave/crime scene/etc., the gang devises a plan to capture the villain that inevitably goes wrong thanks to the joint incompetence of Shaggy and Scooby. However, just as things seem irreparable and the bandit will get away, Scooby or Shaggy blunders about and a solution falls into their lap, the nefarious character is unmasked and then says something along the lines of “…And I would’ve gotten away with it were it not for those meddling kids.”

Maybe they would have, we’ll never really know because the show predated the era of two-part episode cartoons, wherein the villain actually wins a round before the good guys bring them to justice. It’s not the fault of Scooby-Doo that it never adds another layer of twists to its structure, that’s not where the state of cartoons was at the time. You have to enjoy it for the inherent simplicity and never look much further for anything else. It’s the basic selling point triad of the Hanna Barbera cartooniverse: simple premise, one liners, and basic animation style that adapts seamlessly to each cartoon it appears in (The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, etc.).

Where Hanna Barbera cartoons truly excel is the voice acting. They found the perfect cast for Scooby-Doo’s collection of twenty-somethings traveling about in a van solving mysteries. Just like Mark Hamill has made himself the definitive voice of the Joker through his work with Batman The Animated Series, Casey Kasem can never be replaced as the voice of Shaggy. A few iterations since have tried, but Kasem’s hold on the role remains firm and the Shaggy of this classic series will forever be the definitive one. God knows it’s the bar against which we measured Matthew Lillard’s performance in Scooby-Doo Where are You? And to be fair, Lillard did a superb job bringing the animation incarnation to life. Topping off the remarkable cast is voice acting heavies Don Messick, Frank Welker, Stefanianna Christopherson, and Nicole Jaffe.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! remains an undisputed classic and isn’t hindered by its simplicity but rather benefits from it, because after you’ve enjoyed it as a kid, you can revisit it and find that it works superbly as a drinking game device. Cherish the cartoon as the classic it is and take joy in the fact that it has now been released in a great Mystery Machine package.

DVD Bonus Features

Besides the twice aforementioned packaging, the set includes a previously unreleased extra “Scooby-Doo: The Whole World Loves You”, which is a great tribute piece and any fan of the series will enjoy it. Is it a reason to double dip and buy the seasons all over again if you already own them? No, but that combined with the packaging just might push you over the edge. After the new extra, the extras originally included in the past season releases are included in this set (because the discs are the same as in the original sets save for the extras disc for the third season).

If there’s any drawback to the product it’s the paper slip for the discs which is clever, but the glue isn’t too sturdy and the pockets are wont to break making it easy for discs to slip out. This really only becomes an issue if you hand over the Mystery Machine for the kids to play with and the discs only have that paper chain case to keep the set together.

"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Series" is on sale November 9, 2010 and is not rated. Animation, Children & Family, Comedy, Mystery. Directed by Joseph Barbera, William Hanna. Written by Bill Lutz, Joe Ruby, Ken Spears. Starring Casey Kasem, Don Messick, Frank Welker, Nicole Jaffe, Stefanianna Christopherson .

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


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