After a long and controversy-filled build-up, Velma has finally premiered on HBO Max — and, sure enough, it’s proving to anger the internet just as much as you’d think. Although the vast majority are totally OK with showrunner and star Mindy Kaling casting herself as the titular character, making this the first time the teen sleuth has been portrayed as of South Asian descent, the adult-oriented Scooby-Doo reimagining is offending people in a myriad of other ways.
From its edgy humor to its iconoclastic depictions of the Mystery Inc. gang to the sheer sacrilege of removing Scooby-Dooby-Doo himself from the cast, Velma is leaving Doo diehards fuming. And yet, however much the series is Public Enemy No. 1 one in the Scooby fandom right now, it’s important to remember that it really isn’t the worst thing to be released under the talking Great Dane’s brand as this franchise has dropped some real doggy doo-doos over the decades.
Don’t believe it? Then let’s act like meddling kids and unmask the most awful Scooby-Doo movies and shows that might just make you thankful for Velma.
Be Cool, Scooby-Doo
One thing about Velma that is being praised is its high-quality animation. On the flip side, while there are those fans out there that enjoy the quirky sense of humor and storytelling of 2015’s Be Cool, Scooby-Doo, everyone’s in agreement that the animation style is pretty ugly.
Be Cool had the unenviable task of being the first new Scooby show to follow on from the universally acclaimed Mystery Incorporated. In a bid to differentiate itself from its predecessor, Be Cool ditched the in-depth character and story arcs of MI to restore the franchise to factory settings somewhat, albeit marrying that with a much zanier tone and approach. One that ended up putting off a lot of fans… Although not as much as the bug-eyed, stringy character designs.
Scoob! should have been a satisfying Scooby Snack of a treat when it arrived in the midst of the pandemic back in 2020. As the first major Scooby-Doo movie release for almost 15 years, it had been a long time coming. Unfortunately, it ended up being the latest attempt by Hollywood to start a cinematic universe rather than just making a good film.
Instead of focusing on the Mystery Inc kids (despite hiring an A-list cast including Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried), Scoob! was really a backdoor superhero movie as Mark Wahlberg’s Blue Falcon hogged much of the screentime, with Wacky Races villain Dick Dastardly (Jason Isaac) serving as antagonist. The idea was for it to spawn a Hanna-Barberaverse, something nobody ever asked for.
The most literal case of the tail wagging the dog there’s ever been.
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo
Ask any old-school Scooby fan what the nadir of the franchise is and they’ll unfailingly answer that it came when Scrappy-Doo was introduced. A decade into its run, producers made the fatal mistake of thinking that what the shows needed to revitalize them was to ditch beloved characters like Fred and Velma and give Scooby an irritating nephew.
1979’s Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo was the first series to feature Scrappy, but honestly any of those that followed over the next 10 years were not the best the franchise had to offer. It wasn’t until 1988’s prequel A Pup Named Scooby-Doo left Scrappy out in the cold that fans could breathe again. And let’s all thank James Gunn for making Scrappy the villain of the 2002 live-action film, ensuring he could never return ever again. Puppy power-off!
Shaggy & Scooby-Doo, Get a Clue!
Arguably, however, Warner Bros. Animation somehow found an even more offense route to take the Scooby-Doo franchise down than bringing back Scrappy in 2006’s Shaggy & Scooby-Doo, Get a Clue! For some reason, WB just won’t learn that messing with the classic formula is a recipe for failure, and that was certainly proven by this widely hated entry.
Once again removing Fred, Daphne, and Velma from the picture, Get a Clue foreshadows Scoob! by throwing out the traditional “mystery of the week” format to essentially serve up a classic superhero-flavored cartoon. After inheriting a fortune, endless nano-tech gadgets, and the inventively named robot sidekick Robi from Shaggy’s uncle, the eponymous pair embark on a mission to save the world from evil supervillain Dr. Phibes. Who asked for this exactly, WB?
It’s no fun to be named the worst ever entry in a franchise, so it is with a heavy-heart that we lay that dishonor on 2018’s Daphne & Velma, a production that makes many of the same kind of mistakes as Velma but does so without any of the latter offering’s verve and occasional sparks of greatness.
While D&V isn’t the first cheaply made live-action Scooby movie that went straight to home video — see also the prequels to the Gunn films made in 2009/10 — it somehow reaches even lesser heights than those that came before, which possess a slight modicum of charm.
Once again, Warner Bros. threw out the baby with the bath water here. While highlighting the often-overlooked ladies of Mystery Inc was admirable, losing Scooby and the boys as well as the familiar framework renders Daphne & Velma hardly recognizable as a piece of the Scooby-Doo IP.
With the presence of bonafide Mouse House stars Sarah Jeffrey and Sarah Gillman as the leads (both trapped under bad wigs), Daphne & Velma is mostly only of interest to Disney Channel viewers. One to be recommended only to the most dogged of Scooby stans.
Velma airs new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.