If you didn’t grow up watching some form of Scooby-Doo, we regret to inform you that you missed out. This venerable TV series was fun, wacky, and occasionally genuinely spooky too, and it pitted some of the most lovable characters on TV against some truly memorable and iconic villains. The show even spawned several catchphrases; “I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids” originated with Scooby-Doo, as did many visual tropes including chasing monsters through corridors littered with doorways.
Of course, there have been various iterations of Scooby-Doo over the years, and some have been more well-received than others. The original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, is probably the most iconic of the bunch, and while Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo has its detractors, there’s no denying it succeeded in bringing in a whole new demographic to the show. Scooby-Doo is still going strong; the most recent series, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?, aired just a few years ago.
One potentially overlooked Scooby-Doo outing that you should check out if you’re a fan of the property is The New Scooby-Doo Movies. This series was created back in the early 70s, and rather than sticking to the widely-accepted 30-minute animation format, decided to experiment by stretching out episodes to a whole hour. We’re going to take a look back at this intriguing diversion for the Scooby-Doo franchise and discuss whether it’s worth your time or not.
Celebrity cameos abound
The New Scooby-Doo Movies is absolutely stuffed full of celebrity cameos. If you want a snapshot of what popular culture was like in the early 1970s, then there’s almost no better artifact than this show. Scoob and the gang team up with luminaries as diverse as Batman and Robin, the Addams Family, and the Three Stooges, as well as celebrities of the day like Cass Elliot, Dick Van Dyke, and Don Adams.
Of course, the “cameos” in The New Scooby-Doo Movies aren’t really cameos so much as full appearances; the plot of each episode in which a celebrity appears often revolves around them and their public persona. The Three Stooges episode, for example, centers on an amusement park the Stooges own; of course, it’s haunted, so the gang must get to the bottom of the ghostly goings-on in the park. If you like to see 70s celebrities hanging out with Scoob and his friends, The New Scooby-Doo Movies is for you.
The episodes are an hour long
Eschewing the traditional 30-minute format (with interstitial advertising, of course), The New Scooby-Doo Movies presented stories that ran over the course of an hour instead. This somewhat experimental approach had mixed results. Some episodes, like the Batman crossovers “The Caped Crusader Caper” and “The Dynamic Scooby-Doo Affair”, are raucous, joyous events that easily justify their run time.
Unfortunately, others don’t fare so well. The Cass Elliot-starring “The Haunted Candy Factory” is a litany of off-colour jokes that don’t land at all in today’s more socially aware society, and it’s uncomfortable viewing. Other episodes, like the Josie and the Pussycats crossover “The Haunted Showboat”, just feel like extended advertisements for other Hanna-Barbera shows.
The animation is great
As is customary for a studio with the gravitas of Hanna-Barbera, the animation in The New Scooby-Doo Movies is great, especially for its time. The characters zip and pop with life, and pausing on any frame is guaranteed to give you a chuckle thanks to the exaggerated facial expressions of fan favourite characters Shaggy and Scooby. If you want to see top-class 70s animation, this is where you should go.
Some of the animation hasn’t aged quite as well as it could have, though. There are some guest stars in The New Scooby-Doo Movies that simply don’t fit the Scooby-Doo aesthetic. In particular, the episode “Weird Winds of Winona”, which stars the Speed Buggy crew, looks bizarre. The Speed Buggy cast looks out of place next to Scoob and his buddies, and there are several other episodes in which this is the case. Expect some uncanny valley moments if you delve in.
It’s more Scooby-Doo
Don’t go into The New Scooby-Doo Movies expecting something life-changing or world-shattering. This is still very much the Scooby-Doo you’re familiar with; it’s a campy ride through some fun 60s and 70s horror tropes, but it’s not much more than that. Most of the episodes aren’t particularly scary or unpredictable; 9 times out of 10, the overarching villain of the episode turns out to be exactly who you think it’s going to be.
The dynamic between the gang is largely the same here as it’s ever been, too. Shaggy is lazy and unreliable; Scoob is a coward. Velma is competent and bookish, while Fred and Daphne are ever the will-they-won’t-they pairing that represent the standards of heteronormative 70s conformity. No ground is broken here, but when you’re after a comfort watch, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
The formula is still going strong with Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?
Evidently believing the format still had some life in it, Warner Bros. revived The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 2018 as Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?. This series revolves around Scoob and his compatriots solving mysteries with the help of contemporary celebrities, just like The New Scooby-Doo Movies does. Guests include Mark Hamill, Axl Rose, and Bill Nye, among others.
Generally speaking, the format works just as well here as it did in The New Scooby-Doo Movies, which should be taken for the backhanded compliment it is. Sometimes, the episodes still feel weak and drawn-out, despite the fact that the show adheres to a much more classic and respectable 22-minute run time. Still, it’s an entertaining enough watch, even if it is a little slick and smooth compared to its 70s predecessor.