Yep a NerdSync video is article fodder again. As much as I want him to consider me if ever deep-dives Seduction Of The Innocent because I’ve been suffering alone ever since that summer I used his videos many times before and probably will after. I don’t have to always agree with someone to find them interesting, though we do agree enough that I keep following. I just hope someday he’s able to make that video about The Marvel Superheroes Iron Man segments. I know that was rough on him for some reason but it’s the one I was really hoping for in that series.
Anyway, our topic, and I’m about four minutes into the video while writing this paragraph so I’m not completely tuned to his thoughts just yet, is the HBO series supposedly based on Mystery Incorporated’s resident smart girl Velma Dinkley. Why do I say supposed? Well, as Warner Brothers’ Young Adults and Classics President Tom Ascheim put it in a keynote address, “We have a not-for-children Mindy Kaling project called Velma because she was excited to reimagine what Scooby-Doo would be like if Velma were of East-Asian descent and lived in a different world.” Everything in this sentence is a bad idea. Not Mindy Kaling doing a show voicing Velma, though in this climate it’s demanded every voice actor look the part they’re playing…which I am not getting into directly this time, but indirectly as it obviously affects her new design…because I really haven’t followed her career or the types of shows and movies she makes. So why am I calling it a bad idea? Let’s break it down.
- Race-swapped Velma
- adultified kids show
- without the rest of the cast
If you’re surprised the internet had a breakdown of its own, you clearly live under a stronger rock than I do. And I’m somewhat jealous. For perspective let’s go over what Scott Niswander had to say on this since he’s doing the video and I’m doing the writing, and then I’ll go over my thoughts.
First let’s go over the obvious mistake: Billiam is the top Scooby reviewer on the internet, since that’s the only one of his series of videos I’ve fit into my schedule despite the growing YouTube backlog. Plus he defended Scrappy and thus wins. End of story.
Scott tries to defend the race swap, and I don’t really agree. Mindy Cohn, who admittedly is my favorite Velma since the original, making her Jewish and Casey Kasem demanding Shaggy be a vegetarian I also don’t agree with. (Also, Kasem’s treatment of Scott Innes, but that’s another conversation.) While Kasem can at least say he partially helped define the character due to playing him until the end of the TV movie series it was still a role he took on. Kasem is no more Shaggy than he is an Autobot with a bad attitude or a teen sidekick to a man in a bat-themed costume. So Kasem becoming a vegan shouldn’t fall on Shaggy, especially how he got the character back. (Again, Innes deserved better, though Matthew Lillard is a surprisingly great replacement vocally.) The actor should never outshine the character, and that’s especially true for animation since you’re likely NOT playing you unless you play yourself in a celebrity cameo. Milo Murphy wasn’t Weird Al Yankovic, though he has played himself in multiple animated appearances (including the Scooby multiverse interestingly enough). Cheese Sandwich was based on him so that’s a different story. Velma, Shaggy, and the others were based on Dobie Gillis characters that they turned into a kids mystery show and added a talking dog.
The thing is fans know what Velma looks like and whatever changes to her personality were made, and I don’t agree with some of them either (the computer geek and trivia buff I’m totally on board with), her look was only changed to match an art style. Like Shaggy once said, why mess with a classic look? Fred always seems to fall back to his ascot no matter how many versions have tried to eliminate it, and no, I’m not a fan of “himbo” Fred. It’s like they took the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo version and grew him up. And frankly as much as I love the show and funny as the bit was that’s my least favorite take on Fred, followed by trap-obsessed Fred. That actually got a bit creepy. I’ve liked some of the changes to Daphne, especially in the early Direct To Video movies, or how Scooby-Doo Team-Up has her doing a better job with the Hong Kong Book Of Kung-Fu than Hong Kong Phooey, though the live action movies overdid it. She totally needed improvement and keeping the rich aspect from Pup kind of explains how the gang travels around the world, but the others at best needed tweaking while Shaggy and Scooby even lost some ground because people forget they also find clues and help out from time to time once they decide Fred isn’t being talked out of solving a mystery.
Does the change really matter? The internet tells me it does. They tell me white people and dark-skinned Asians don’t have the same life experience so that will change the character on some level unless they ignore it, thus making the change even more confusing. If inconsistency is supposedly an issue with Velma Dinkley, then doesn’t this just make it worse instead of better? I wouldn’t go as far to say it ruins her character but it does build on an existing problem of inconsistency to her character and makes me think they don’t really care about the character, just the archetype or general description and didn’t have enough faith in their idea to make her an original character. I’ve said it before and will again: if they don’t care about the source material and don’t have faith in their own character and concept, why should I? I hope they don’t make her a lesbian though. The internet has also tried to insist she is, despite evidence to the contrary, because she…I don’t know, are turtlenecks now queer-coding or something? Are we saying frumpy-dressed women aren’t straight? What’s the stereotype I’m missing? Although they’re covering that with a hoodie, and even I know that’s a terrible look.
Let’s talk about that aspect for a minute. One of the articles ideas I opted to drop this week was on the adultificaiton of kids TV. I don’t follow enough of the given examples to do a full article on that, especially the part of adult shows pretending to be kids shows, but here’s an example of the other type. I don’t like seeing kids shows turned into shows for grown-ups. I don’t like that superheroes I grew up with are turned into something I couldn’t show a kid today and the comics abandoned kids somewhere in the 1990s and have only ramped that up in the 2010s. I don’t need a Transformers, He-Man, Power Rangers, or G.I. Joe for my age group. It wasn’t made for my age group, it was made for the kids of the time it was created. Many of these lose the charm when they weaken the rules for a kid-friendly crowd. Yes, I’m the guy who watches more Disney Junior than someone my age allegedly should (sorry if murder, incest, gore, and nudity for the sake of an adult rating don’t interest me as much as fun stories) but Scooby-Doo was created for kids and having a show featuring Scooby characters made for adults and containing nudity and a corpse with a removed brain just feels wrong. There’s a video by Solid JJ where the gag is that the gang gets a more serious mystery and doesn’t know how to handle it. (Note: the video below absolutely is NOT for kids in any form! It involves beaten body descriptions and a cannibalism joke. It’s only here to prove a point.)That’s fine for a gag, but not for a whole series. That’s why Mike Tyson Mysteries worked as an Adult Swim concept. The show itself is another matter.
So the current teaser that I don’t want to show you but sadly Scott did is the literally brainless corpse of a woman (though when I saw the image it looked like one of the babies from The Proud Family) in a locker room surrounded by naked women just barely covering their woman parts. No. You’re making my gritty Super Grover remake look more and more likely and that’s not a good thing. Scooby-Doo Where Are You was trying to make a mystery show FOR KIDS! That’s why the mysteries didn’t involve murder. They were criminals hiding money laundering or robbery schemes, people out for revenge, the odd kidnapping, trying to put a rival out of business, and yes Sholly Fisch there were also real estate scams. (Sorry for those of you not reading my current Scooby-Doo Team-Up reviews, but it’s been a recurring thing.) The only thing worse would be a straight up porno that sadly I know exists and also I’ve heard doesn’t have Scooby in it. Praise God! Also just learned about a Scooby-themed horror movie from 2012 and that’s all I need to know about it to not want it.
Scott mentions a preschool Scooby I didn’t know about until this video, but this was a series for the older kids/not quite preteens. A preschool mystery show can work. I’ve seen them. It just doesn’t feel right either. I defended the younger remake of Muppet Babies when it came out and current controversies aside I stand by it, but it did lose something in the translation. Still, it ended up working so we’ll see.
Making it into a show for adults just feels wrong. No, I don’t care about the Supernatural crossover either. I didn’t watch it, don’t plan to watch it, but at least that show wasn’t for kids and maybe it was a fun homage. I really don’t care. Supernatural isn’t my kind of show.
I’m not saying that cartoons are only for kids. Some of you know me better than that. I’m saying that this franchise was made for kids. When they wanted a Sesame Street for adults they made Avenue Q, not adult Sesame Street. It’s not as bad as turning the Banana Splits into serial killers (what the everloathing hell were you thinking?????!??!?!?!?!!!!?) or that nonsense that was announced with killers wearing Pooh masks but did this need to happen? No. Instead here’s another franchise with something I can’t show to the same age group this franchise was created for. I don’t think Hanna and Barbera or Ruby and Spears would be happy, but then again they aren’t around to ask. Admittedly I could be wrong but for once I’d be surprised.
Plus as one person in Scott’s comments noted, too many “adult” shows aren’t mature and is just an excuse to be subversive and vulgar rather than make mature storytelling. They need to watch Justice League or anime that wouldn’t have been on US Manga Corp’s radar and see what mature animated storytelling is. Wanna bet that’s not the only time there will be boobs on this show and a body with the brain removed isn’t the only shocking thing we’ll see.
My order is a bit different from Scott’s but now it’s my turn to talk about the worst part…splitting up the gang. (Unless the naked redhead is supposed to be Daphne.) The franchise is just weaker without the whole crew. While season two of Scooby And Scrappy-Doo lost the mystery angle that it only recovered when Daphne returned (Fred and Velma would return in one version of the show but only in a few episodes and frankly they were the best ones) the lack of the whole crew made is what made any of the mystery stories in those later years weaker. It might not have been the worst part of it, but it wasn’t the worst part of Shaggy And Scooby-Doo Get A Clue either, and that was a badder show than the non-mystery Scrappy seasons or the later Daphne returns period. At least they was watchable on occasion.
The only reason this show exists is because Kaling likes Velma as a character type but rather than just play a character like her or voice her in a regular Scooby story properly (though I would still rather have Cohn back she might do okay) she and HBO Max opted to use cheap lazy marketing to get the show into existence. As much as I’d love to write Superman, my dream project is actually not that but an original concept blending everything I love about superheroes and sci-fi that has been lost to the current content makers. Scrappy was sold by comparing him to Henery Chicken Hawk. She could have used Velma as an example, and then created her own character rather than being a further dilution of Velma in an increasing lack of interest in proper character portrayals by today’s creators, thus proving they don’t actually care so why should I? Make an original character, more Scooby fans might give it a look without the baggage of not looking like Velma, being made for the wrong audience, and not including the characters people want to see with Velma. Mindy Kaling could have done whatever she wanted without controversy, though that is also part of cheap lazy marketing in the 2020s, gotten MORE people on board instead of less, and I…still wouldn’t watch it but at least I could be content in not watching it. Instead it just goes on the list with Get A Clue, Scooby Apocalypse, and the live-action productions as things this franchise doesn’t need whatever the quality ended up being. Sorry, kids. The “adults” want to take your toys for themselves again.