Hanna-Barbera (October 11, 1969 – November 1, 1969), Turner Home Entertainment (May 5, 2009), single disc, 88 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 original aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, Not Rated, Retail: $14.98
Scooby-Doo and the rest of the Mystery, Inc. gang return with episodes 5-8 from the first season of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Bump in the Night includes the episodes Decoy for a Dognapper, What the Hex Going On?, Never Ape an Ape Man, and Foul Play in Funland.
The Sweatbox Review:
Out of all the Scooby-Doo incarnations over the years, the original is undoubtedly the most beloved. While it is not necessarily everyone’s favorite, the original always comes up as an example of how new versions of the show should strive to be. That is only natural as the show was one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest and most popular cartoon series ever. The only show that was more popular at the time was The Flintstones, but that was more of a traditional primetime sitcom. After all these years, Scooby-Doo remains the one Hanna-Barbera show with the most number of versions to grace television screens. To date, there have been 350 episodes produced under over a dozen of different names. The show was run almost continuously since 1969 and has spawned numerous direct-to-video movies and two live action films. This fall, the Cartoon Network will even air its newest live-action film Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins, and its newest television series, Scooby-Doo – Mystery, Inc.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is a great show and served as the inspiration for many detective shows that came after it. Originally inspired by the TV sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and the radio serial I Love a Mystery, the show was created as a response to the tremendous success of another teenage cartoon series, The Archie Show which featured a teenage rock band. However, instead of a rock band, Scooby’s friends were made up of ordinary teenagers who solve mysteries. The show became a hit, and its influence can be felt throughout the Hanna-Barbera cartoon canon, and even in other production houses. For the next decade, dozens of shows were created featuring teenagers solving mysteries, usually with at least one non-human sidekick.
Warner Bros. has already released Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in full season sets beginning in 2004. This was one of the very first animated television properties to get full season sets and it was a big hit. A second set made up of repackaged Scooby’s All-Stars episodes came out in 2007. Since then, other Scooby versions have started getting season releases, but most recently Warner has devised a new strategy aimed at the more casual collector. With all of the episodes already released in 3 and 4 disc sets, Warner has slowly started releasing the show in single disc, volume releases containing each episode in chronological order. This started in January when Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume One: A Monster Catch was released with the first four episodes. The adventure thus continues with Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! Volume Two: Bump in the Night, featuring the episodes Decoy for a Dognapper, What the Hex Going On?, Never Ape an Ape Man, and Foul Play in Funland.
Most episodes of the show are fairly generic, and most of these first episodes do not really provide much of a mystery. The episodes usually start out with the gang arriving in a strange place and witnessing a strange occurrence. This is usually followed by the gang setting out to solve the mystery and Scooby-Doo or Shaggy inadvertently finding a clue. The clue eventually reveals that the monster or ghost is actually a human wearing a costume. The episodes usually end with the gang capturing the perpetrator and revealing his identity. The person ends up being someone we met earlier in the episode and that we have known all along. The final shot of the episode usually has the gang getting back to normal and Scooby and Shaggy enjoying some sort of food item. This basic summary describes the basic plot for most Where Are You! episodes, including the first three on this set, but perhaps not the last one.
Decoy for a Dognapper features a mystery where several prize-winning dogs are being dognapped. One of the owners, Buck Masters, hires the gang to solve the mystery and they decide to use Scooby-Doo as a decoy for one of the prized pooches. Scooby disguises himself as a prized Great Dane that is expected to be the next dognapping victim. Eventually, the gang follows the clues and Scooby to an abandoned Indian village outside the town that seems to be haunted by a ghost of a Native American witchdoctor.
In What the Hex Going On?, the gang pays a visit to an friend of theirs, Sharon Weatherby in her countryside mansion. There, they discover that her Uncle Stuart is being haunted (and is cursed by old age) by the ghost of Elias Kingston who has laid claims to the Weatherby fortune. Eventually, Stuart disappears and the gang decides to investigate the Kingston Mansion (featured in the opening credits of the show) to solve the mystery and recover Sharon’s uncle. Eventually, the ghost also takes Sharon captive and the Mystery, Inc. gang splits up in their search through the creepy mansion.
Never Ape an Ape Man finds the gang participating as extras for Daphne’s Uncle John who is filming a monster movie. The movie features a costumed actor playing an Ape Man, but when what seems to be the real Ape Man begins to terrorize the set, the gang must solve the mystery to save the movie. The gang begins by investigating the set for the film with its many trap doors and special effects.
The final episode on the disc, and the only one that slightly deviates from the original formula, is Foul Play in Funland. In this episode, the gang is enjoying a holiday at the beach when they notice the amusement park nearby seems to be open. The park has a few days left until it opens, so the gang decides to investigate. When they arrive, they realize the park is empty and that there is a strange robot that is wreaking havoc. I say that this episode slightly deviates from the standard formula, and that there really is no real foul play in the story and the villain is in fact a robot (I’m not giving anything away).
Is This Thing Loaded?
Like other recent Scooby-Doo releases, this one includes a bonus episode from the Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue series. In this release, we get the second episode from the series titled More Fondue for Scooby-Doo!. In the episode, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo get a message from Shaggy’s Uncle Albert explaining that his nemesis, Dr. Phibes, is attempting to disrupt a Global Warming conference in Switzerland. It is then up to Scooby and Shaggy to make their way to Switzerland to stop the evil doctor from conducting his scheme. It is a pleasant episode, but I am doubtful of how fans of the original show will feel about it. The show feels more like a modern adventure show than an old-fashioned whodunit. Scooby and Shaggy lose much of what is endearing in their personalities and there really is no mystery in the episode. Overall, while we at least got some bonus in this disc, I would have preferred getting an episode from an older version of the show (even The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo would’ve sufficed). Trailers are also included for Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird and Peanuts: Snoopy Reunion.
The DVD comes in a standard, black keepcase with a single disc inside. This is of course, very different from the four-disc release that came out just a few years ago. The purpose of this release is to appeal to the more casual viewer, and perhaps parents with children they do not trust to handle collector’s editions. Inside, there is one insert for more Scooby-Doo products and an advertisement for the Scooby-Doo website.
Ink And Paint:
This release is being billed as containing a remastered version of the original show. This is basically the same print that we saw back in 2004 when the full season was released in one set. Overall, the print looks old with plenty of scratches and particles present on film. However, this is not bad considering the show is now approaching its 40 year anniversary and little care has been taken over the years to preserve these prints. As for the animation style, most people are already familiar with the characteristics of early Hanna-Barbera animation. The show featured minimal animation and the reuse of previously animated cells all to reduce production costs. The show is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The episodes are featured in their original English mono tracks. There are also mono French and Spanish tracks available. Finally, English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available. Overall the episodes sound fine and I am certain some fans appreciate the lack of remastered tracks.
At this pace, there will be two more volumes with episodes from the first season with probably many more to follow from subsequent incarnations of the show. Like with some other recent Warner Bros. sets, this new volume introduces an option to fans of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. They now have the option of either purchasing complete season sets or volume sets. This second option might be good for hardcore fans that have children they do not want touching their season sets. It is also an option for more casual fans of the show that do not want to spend money on the full season sets. Finally, it offers non-fans a chance to get acquainted with the show without committing to a full season. With Scooby-Doo, this is perfectly fine and the episodes contained here are very much representative of the complete product. In summary if you are a fan, get the complete set. Otherwise, this provides a good alternative.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?