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May 022012
 

The escapades of Mystery Inc. continue with Scooby Doo: Abracadabra-Doo. This time the Scooby gang heads for the Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy, which is a school for stage magicians. Velma’s sister Madelyn is a student there and a giant griffin monster haunts the school.

Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the two live action Scooby-Doo films, reprises his role once again as the voice of Shaggy in this animated feature and continues to do so in later ones.

One of the new additions on the Mystery Machine is a GPS system that navigates and cracks jokes. Ones like, “Watch out for the dips in the road, not including the ones in the back seat.” As insulting as the GPS is, Fred seems to like it. That is until it calls him scarf boy, which is a name Fred hates.

After arriving at the school, Scooby and the gang meet up with Madelyn, who has a crush on Shaggy. They also meet the owner Whirlen Merlin, his brother Marlin the stagehand, and Crystal, who is Whirlen’s former stage assistant. Fred has a crush on her and Daphne doesn’t approve, of course.

Later, Madelyn brings Shaggy and Scooby out on a mountain trail to show them the sundial. That’s where they meet up with the griffin monster. It was labeled as a myth before, but now everyone believes that the griffin is real after a student takes a picture on her cell phone and it becomes a front-page headline in the school newspaper.

Shortly afterward, all of the students and most of the faculty leave. As usual, the Scooby gang decides to stay put and solve the mystery. As large and monstrous as the griffin is, how could it be a criminal in a suit?

To better understand this case and help keep the magic school open, the Scooby gang decides to take classes in order to learn the art of magic. Later that evening, Shaggy and Scooby stumble into Marlin’s private workroom, where his computer system creates holographic illusions. That leads to a theory that the griffin is a hologram, but holograms can’t destroy anything.

Afterwards, Madelyn finds out about a magic staff that was used to control the griffin and is hidden on an island nearby. However, a banshee haunts it, but that won’t stop Mystery Inc. from going over there to get the staff. Whether it will work against the griffin or not, it still could be a clue.

The Scooby gang investigates the island and eventually finds the staff along with the banshee. At first she appears to be beautiful and not too threatening. Then suddenly, the banshee becomes scary and loud. What an element of surprise that was.

They escape, but not for long. The griffin returns and captures Madelyn. In an attempt to rescue her, Shaggy makes a new breakthrough in his character. His feelings for Madelyn makes him braver than he ever was before.

This was a good Scooby-Doo feature with a modern edge. Do you think Fred will change the voice on that GPS, or get a new one?

Mar 092012
 

Hanna Barbera Productions has produced many different cartoon shows over the years. Laff-A-Lympics (1977-1978) provides an opportunity to bring these various characters together in a weekly sport competition with creatively unorthodox events, while traveling around the world.

Snagglepuss and Mildew Wolf from The Catanooga Cats Show are the commentators.

The athletes are split into three teams. Team #1 is the Yogi Yahooeys with Yogi Bear as captain. They are all animal characters from The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Yogi Bear Show, and Quick Draw McGraw, along with Grape Ape.

Team #2 is the Scooby Doobies with Scooby Doo as captain. This group is all mystery solver characters from The Scooby Doo Show, Dynomutt the Dog Wonder, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, and Speed Buggy, along with Hong Kong Phooey and Babu from Jeannie.

And team #3 is the Really Rottens. Other than team captain Mumbly, who has a striking resemblance to Muttley, these characters are all brand new to the Hanna Barbera franchise. Some of which are highly similar, like the Creepleys who are much like the Gruesomes from The Flintstones and Dread Baron who resembles Dick Dastardly.

On occasion, other characters make guest appearances. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble come by to demonstrate an event and Jabberjaw makes appearances as a guest referee, particularly for the water events. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.

As the three teams compete for the Laff-A-Lympics gold medal, the Rottens always look for ways to cheat while the Yogis and Scoobys work hard to earn the prize fairly. Sometimes the Rottens lose points for cheating, but only when they get caught. I’m surprised that it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t know how they select which athletes to do which events, but the creativity he or she provides makes them exciting to watch. It’s kind of like picturing these characters as video game heroes.

The scoring system is always the same, 25 points for first place, 15 points for second, and 10 points for third. On rare occasions, there’s a 50-point bonus included for the really difficult events. Unfortunately, none of the teams have ever won it. It can be overwhelming if you think about it.

Each episode features six events, three in one country and three in another. Yet there’s no mention of the transportation used to get to these places so efficiently. It makes me wonder what these athletes do to party while they travel.

I enjoyed this series for its mixture of characters and exciting competition. Even though the Rottens never learn about cheating, it’s good to know that the Yogis and Scoobys are good sports toward one another.

Jan 112012
 

Mystery Inc. is usually known for unmasking fake ghosts and monsters, but The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo: The Complete Series (1985-1986) goes in a different direction. First off, the Scooby gang only features Scooby, Shaggy, Daphne, and Scrappy-Doo. Secondly, the Mystery Machine is a plane that’s designed differently from the original van.

The gang arrives in Tibet by accident one day and bumbling ghosts, Bogel and Weerd trick them into opening the legendary chest of demons. Inside the chest are 13 of the most evil ghosts in the world. Now Mystery Inc. has to find and recapture them all before they cause any real damage.

Assisting the team are new Mystery Inc. members, Flim-Flam a young magician/con-artist and Vincent Van Ghoul a warlock who is very knowledgeable about these monsters. Vincent Price voices the role of Vincent Van Ghoul, which is appropriate since he is a classic horror icon.

One by one, the Scooby gang encounters the ghosts and use all of their wits to get them back into the chest. Bogel and Weerd also help out the evil spirits as bumbling henchmen, but they never get caught even after their “boss” does.

Scooby and Shaggy are well known for using disguises to comedically outwit the ghosts, but this time Daphne actually goes along with it as well as Scrappy and Flim-Flam. She never has before. Isn’t that peculiar?

Although the series only lasted 13 episodes, it was very consistent when it came to completing the long-term goal, unlike some shows that drag it out and end up cancelled without closure. Then again, there were supposed to be a total of 13 ghosts to recapture and I only counted 11. (Twelve, if you include the creature that came out of the chest in the episode Ship of Ghouls.)

This was a good Scooby-Doo series that’s both funny and adventurous. Mystery Inc. has never faced so many evil spirits before, so where were Fred and Velma during all this?

Oct 212011
 

Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), and Scooby-Doo are back in the live action movie sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (Widescreen Edition). On a crucial note, in this movie it’s the first time we discover that the Scooby gang’s hometown is called Coolsville. It might have been mentioned in the first one, but I’m not certain.

Mystery Inc. opens an exhibit at a criminology museum, which features costumes of unmasked criminals from the past. If you’re a fan of the original Scooby-Doo cartoons, I’m sure you’ll recognize many of them right away.

Soon the party is crashed by a dark masked figure and the pterodactyl ghost costume comes to life. Eventually other ghost costumes come alive also.

Daphne once again shows some awesome martial art skills while fighting the black knight ghost. It still makes me think of her as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

After failing to stop them from destroying everything, Mystery Inc.’s reputation is shattered. No thanks to reporter Heather Jasper-Howe (Alicia Silverstone), who makes everything sound worse than it really is.

The team members of Mystery Inc. also lose their self-esteem. Shaggy and Scooby feel like total screw-ups, so they try to act more like the others to prove that they are important to the team, starting with the right attire. Shaggy wears a green sweater and Scooby wears Velma’s sweater and Daphne’s go-go boots, which looks hilarious.

Velma has insecurities also. She likes Patrick (Seth Green) the museum curator, but is too scared to go on a date with him. So she tries to be more like Daphne.

Then Daphne feels unimportant to the team after trying to confront Heather about why she keeps personally attacking the Scooby gang with bad press. Even Fred feels inferior.

The team is completely falling apart. When it seems like all is lost, Mystery Inc. bands together and realizes that it’s okay to be themselves, even Shaggy and Scooby.

It gets real exciting when the monsters all come to life in the factory and chase the Scooby gang all over the place. I can see a theme park ride coming from this.

I admit, this movie wasn’t as good and much less of a teen movie than the first one, but I still found it both exciting and adventurous.

Jun 102011
 

This live action movie version of Scooby-Doo (Widescreen Edition) features an all-star cast. Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Linda Cardellini as Velma, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, and Scooby-Doo as himself, so to speak.

It starts with the Scooby gang successfully solving another mystery, which reveals that Mystery Inc. is a famous group. This film still doesn’t tell how the team first got together, but it does explain why they split up. Remember when it was just Shaggy and Scooby on the later seasons of the old Scooby-Doo series and animated films from the 80s?

Here I am with Scooby-Doo at Universal Studios.

There are also different character revelations that weren’t in the original series. Fred is a glory seeker and not too bright, Daphne constantly gets kidnapped and has learned martial arts, and Shaggy is known as the guy who “carries the bags”, which is hard to believe since he and Scooby have been on more adventures than the others have.

Although Scooby-Doo isn’t really a horror film, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who is best known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, continues to show her martial art skill in a supernatural genre.

Two years after Mystery Inc.’s big split, they each get invited to Spooky Island, only to meet back up again and solve a mystery about the brainwashed college kids there. Unfortunately, some of Scooby gang are still bitter toward one other and decide to solve the mystery solo.

Spooky Island is like a Spring Break hot spot. It’s so neat to see the Scooby gang partying and hanging with other teens as well as exploring the spooky areas. In a way, I can see this as a teen movie as well as a kids movie, even though I never saw the cartoon series that way.

One exciting scene is when the Scooby gang explores the old castle for clues. It’s like exploring an old dungeon. Soon, the spooky animatronics come to life and attack. It’s funny when Scooby mentions that he and Shaggy both drink out of the toilet. Nasty, but still funny.

Scrappy-Doo makes an appearance in a flashback scene and reveals why he’s no longer been part of Mystery Inc. Scrappy was an egomaniac, who kept peeing on Daphne. I wondered what had happened to him.

This was a good movie based on the classic cartoon series. I even liked the alternate opening and the deleted scenes the DVD provided, which featured Velma singing, and when she was in the girls locker room in a bikini. I think those scenes could’ve worked in the story, but that’s just my opinion.