STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $19.97
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes
Blast the Monster Challenge
Haunted Hoax featurette

The Pitch

“You know the boring, stale Scooby-Doo formula that has been reheated and forced onto a new generation of kids since the beginning of time? Let’s keep doing that.”

The Humans

Casey Kasem, Paul Stanley, Kevin McDonald, Jenny McCarthy, and since this is an animated feature, Tom Kenny is in it.

The Nutshell

It’s Scooby-Doo for a new generation, except for the fact that it’s almost identical to the same lame Scooby-Doo cartoons that all the older generations have been exposed to. Each episode, the regular gang of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo hop in the Mystery Machine and drive to a new location to have some fun.

I thought Peter Criss was a scrawny old man with pencil thin arms, but apparently he’s a buff superhero. Shows what I know.

Without fail, their arrival will always coincide with the appearance of a horrible monster or ghost that terrorizes the local townfolk. The gang runs away from the monster for 18 minutes, and then makes it slip on a banana peel or something else that incapacitates it. They take off the monster’s mask and find out its true identity, and then Velma spouts off some throwaway clue from earlier in the show as evidence.

Volume 6 includes four episodes. In A Scooby-Doo Halloween, the gang goes to visit Velma’s relatives in a rural farm country. For some insane reason, KISS is scheduled to perform at the Halloween ball here, an event attended by 30 people and featuring apple bobbing. I know bands fall on hard times sometimes. Heck, Def Leppard is playing at Wal-Mart openings now. But no band falls far enough to play a country ball, especially not a licensing behemoth like KISS. They could have come up with a better excuse for KISS to visit, such as having to battle the phantom of the park. Worse yet, only Paul Stanley could be bothered to provide a voice for this episode.

San Franpsycho involves an X Games like skateboarding competition that the gang attends. An evil monster with a hook, said to be the spirit of an Alcatraz escapee, terrorizes the contestants. In New Mexico, Old Monster, Shaggy visits an old friend and investigates the recent appearance of a giant bird-like creature from ancient myths. Finally, Big Appetite in Little Tokyo has Shaggy eating a cursed pizza and turning into a giant rampaging beast that destroys Tokyo by night. Sadly, this episode lacks a cameo by Kurt Russell or a small child with a telepathic link to Gamera who summons the great flying turtle to defend the city.

Ok, so you thought the performance sucked. No need to be a jerk about it.

The Package

I don’t really understand why Warner Brothers is so averse to releasing season sets of their current cartoon shows and insist on themed sets instead, especially since a theme as generic as “Monster Matinee” applies to practically ever single episode of What’s New? Scooby-Doo. I suppose they figure children will be more inclined to go for the quick and fast volume collections, which I’d agree with if each volume wasn’t twenty bucks.

For your monetary investment, you get two special features to go along with the four episodes. Haunted Hoax is a totally cheesy segment where two kids, obviously not chosen for their acting ability, go through a low budget haunted house. A woman in a witch costume proceeds to explain the space age technology that goes into haunted house effects, like a fog machine and thunder sounds. I know it sounds stupid, but I really enjoyed this feature in a perverse fashion. It reminded me of every low budget haunted house that elementary schools or county fairs held when I was younger.

The Blast the Monster Challenge game puts your DVD remote skills to the test. A monster appears on one side of the screen and a member of the Scooby gang appears on the other. You only have mere seconds to press left or right and defeat the evil monster. Dragon’s Lair it’s not. Take too long to press a button or hit the wrong direction and you’ll have to start over. This “game” features two incredible scenarios – one where you attack the San Franpsycho and one where you attack killer scarecrows. The disc also contains several trailers for other Warner cartoon releases.

Dopplegangers? Did the Scooby-Doo universe have a Secret War I’m unaware of?

The Lowdown

Even though the Scooby-Doo formula remains the same as it always was, What’s New? Scooby-Doo at least plays to the strengths of it. Scrappy-Doo and all the elements of the show added in the ‘80s in a misguided attempt to revamp the franchise are gone. This series focuses on the original cast, a decision probably made based on the success of the Scooby-Doo live action films since today’s children are familiar with them.

This is the first time a Scooby-Doo series hasn’t been handled by Hanna-Barbera. This fact disappointed me somewhat, if only because seeing them reuse the same animation cels they used in the ‘70s in a 2004 cartoon series would have been hilarious. The benefit of this change in animators is that, well, the characters actually animate more than they used to.

This may be a more enjoyable series for children to watch on a weekly basis, but four episodes back-to-back only serves to illustrate just how formulaic the series is. Gang arrives, hears about monster, encounters monster, investigates, encounters monster, runs away from monster in a musical montage, incapacitates the monster and makes the big reveal.

Hey, it’s scarier than Dark Water.

There’s something fun about the concept or else it wouldn’t have survived as long as it has. Perhaps it’s just reassuring to know that at any point and time, you can turn on the television and see an episode of Scooby-Doo at least once during the day. That’s how most of the world views the show. Only the most dedicated of the show’s fans or parents of Scooby fans will want to pick up these collections.

Overall: 4 out of 10