Is it safe to say HBO Max’s Velma exists in a different continuity than all the past entries in the Scooby-Doo Universe combined? Although there are some references to the canon and an homage to other Hanna Barbera cartoons, it’s tough to say. At least the respect for everything Frank Welker did for this series (he voiced Scooby and Fred) is acknowledged, but I honestly do not think this inclusion is meaningful.
Not even George Jetson reference warrents a laugh. But to be fair, I’m giving my evaluation after watching the first six episodes. One missing factor is in how the main characters do not really respect each other at the start. There seems to be a rivalry between Daphne and Velma, which gets worked out later. Elsewhere, just why Norville matters is put into a strange place, and as for why Fred is a haspin needs a better explanation. They know each other mostly because they’re the same graduating class at Crystal Cove High. Just how they clicked to become a team still hasn’t happened yet.
This entry to this franchise is simply odd. Just because the title uses the same font as the Scooby Doo cartoons implies some relationship, it’s just an odd duck out. As for this group of teenagers to work as a team, it might manifest in the remaining episodes. Shaggy might adopt a dog, but maybe this canine was in his imagination all along. Fandom recognises him as a drug addict and as for that canine; perhaps we’ve been interpreting those past series through his eyes all this time!
The surprise does arrive in episode six, where it tries to connect with what’s familiar from the canon. As for whether fans will like it, I suspect not. Myself, what’s realised is a post-modern look back at the late 60s. It’s crazy, and will ruffle more than a few feathers for those who love Hanna Barbera cartoons for what it truly is, light-hearted animation rather than something ala Family Guy.
This series is made for today’s generation of idealists rather than long-time adult fans. It doesn’t offer anything new. Not even the first two episodes and latest (“The Sins of Some of the Fathers and Some of the Mothers”) deliver chuckle worthy meta moments concerning the differences between itself and other series. The in-jokes are recognisable and even I groaned as it had no relevance to what the narrative is trying to push. This series tries too hard to be like Twin Peaks.
But as for Velma, she’s more of a detective than anyone else. And in her childhood years, her desire for finding answers to mysteries gets a hard knock on the head when her mother goes missing because she found a gift to her that she shouldn’t have. Mom went out to get something new but never came home. For some odd reason, I’m thinking the answers will align more with the television show, The Hardy Boys, where they search for why their mama “went missing.” While we know what happened in this series, what’s here is still debatable. Did she walk out on the family or was she kidnapped?
Although we get some great development concerning who this gang’s parents are, akin to Mystery Incorporated (2010-13), that’s not enough to carry the series. Also, the new character designs aren’t all that good. That is, Shaggy isn’t the hipster we all know and love. Based on a recent post at CBR.com concerning discarded concepts, I think I’d like the buff take over this version. So far, the approach is like HBO Max’s Harley Quinn, which I find is a far superior product when compared to this. The narrative blows, detailed nuances to current counter culture may work for the few, but I’m with the majority to say this series is a misfire.
I’ll keep watching just because I am curious about the grander plot concerning the Crystal Cove mines and why it’s important to the citizens of this town. But after that, I’ll go back to watching Scooby-Doo Where Are You and Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo to cleanse my palette.