Everyone’s favorite ‘70s pothead Great Dane was Scooby-Doo, an impishly giggling sack of canine deadweight who clowned around and fought epic munchies with his green-and-brown clad muchacho Shaggy (a hipster voiced by the eminently square Casey Kasem). Oh, and occasionally the two would often be dragged into investigating macabre mysteries with the straight-laced Freddy (caught between preppy and pussy), Daphne (a sexpot of few intelligent words), and Velma (a bullfrog brainiac in a pleated-mini and knee-highs). The episodes of the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You! were rarely complicated and most were basically produced from the same script each and every episode, but Hanna-Barbera’s quantity-over-quality approach to animation would occasionally result in moments of practically accidental genius, such as the way that careless timing in the cartooning department would result in an oddly perfect, walking-haze double take from Shaggy. It is undoubtedly true that the show’s inevitable rediscovery by virtually every “meddling kid” upon entrance into their junior high years (kids who wouldn’t dream of giving a second look to the prehistoric Borscht Belt Flintstones) is plainly a result of their realizing the subtext beneath Shag and Scoob’s craving for “Scooby Snacks” (to say nothing of the behavior of the “straight” kids, what with Velma’s butch iconography or Fred and Daphne’s desire to split from the rest of the group). What isn’t quite so obvious is how the show’s incessant, essential repetition of horror show bad trip visions predate pop culture’s cyclical drug fascination with Cheech and Chong.
The video presentation of these first episodes of Scooby-Doo reveal the shortcomings of Hanna-Barbera's hasty production. Now that the shows are presented with digital clarity, you can see every speck of lab dust on those animation cells. The colors look relatively sharp, but some fading is evident. In any case, this is probably a great transfer of subpar material. The audio sounds a lot more like the tinny mess that you know and love. While not quite as dated as the Flintstones set, Scooby's mono audio still sounds predominately hollow, with not much bass clarity, and intrusive canned-laughter often covering up lines of dialogue. It's not pretty, but it should trigger a tinge of nostalgia.
Bad move putting the trailer for last year's superior Looney Tunes: Golden Collection in there, even if it was just an afterthought. It only serves as an unflattering counterpoint to the pathetic, paltry assortment of consumerist detritus that peppers all but the first disc. Getting the absolute pits out of the way first, there's a recent music video showcasing Scooby against American flags and a hollow pop soundtrack and a Scooby quiz that consists of no more than four or five questions. Slightly meatier but still vaguely annoying is a short visit with various collectors of Scooby merchandise. Trust me, none of their apartments looks even remotely inviting. (Well, how would you like to take a dump in a bathroom that's still in its original packaging?) Notably aimed at the shortest of attention spans, there's a totally unhelpful look at how to draw Scooby and the Mystery Inc. team, as well as a chintzy analysis of their fashion statements. That's all. No commentary tracks, no behind-the-scenes looks at the Hanna-Barbara production company, no outtakes, rarities or bits of historical interest. Nope, just straight-down-the-line commercialist gloss. These are the type of special features that are so distracting and misguided that they make one just wish for the dignity of a completely no-frills DVD set that just has the episodes and nothing else. At any rate, the animated main menu featuring flashlight beams is mildly amusing.
Though the measly extra features even rolled together scarcely constitute a Scooby Snack, at least all the episodes look nicely baked.