Release Date(s)1972-1973 (June 4, 2019)
Studio(s)Hanna-Barbera Productions (Warner Home Video)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: D
During the late 1960s and through to the 1970s, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? was one of the highest-rated Saturday morning cartoon shows on TV. Its formula of a group of teenagers solving mysteries of the supernatural variety with their talking dog tagging along for laughs hit big when it initially premiered. Looking to expand, a new version of the show was later created under the title The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Not only was the show now closer to an hour in length, but each episode featured a guest star to help the gang solve all of their latest mysteries.
After six decades on TV, as well as a slew of direct-to-video animated movies and a few live action films, there’s certainly a variety of Scooby-Doo related content to choose from – the first couple of seasons of the show being my own personal preference point. However, I do get a kick out of the gimmicks that the show employed, including guest stars. It’s a simplistic approach, one that many other TV shows have done before and since, but it’s charming nonetheless. The guests come from all corners of the entertainment world as well, whether they be fictional characters or real life celebrities. They include The Three Stooges, Batman and Robin, Sonny and Cher, Jonathan Winters, Don Adams, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Jerry Reed, and their most well-known guests, The Harlem Globetrotters – some even showing up for a couple of episodes.
While many kids born in the 2000s have no idea who most of these people are, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The show doesn’t rely solely on its guests as its still all about the jokes, solving mysteries, running from various ghosts and ghouls, and of course, Scooby and Shaggy’s enormous appetite. Unfortunately, the length of the show is a detriment. Less is more, and in the case of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, the show feels its length and the need to wrap up quicker increases as the series goes on, depending on the guest star.
For years, the only way to actually watch all 24 episodes of the show was to catch them on TV in reruns, if you were lucky. Home video didn’t exist at the time of the show’s creation, so the idea of having a complete series for home consumption became a problem later one due to negotiations with the guest stars (or in some cases, their estate if they had passed away). For a while, all that was available was a DVD of The Best of the New Scooby-Doo Movies, which contained only 15 of the 24 episodes.
Fast forward to now: coming to Blu-ray for the first time is The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection, an attempt at finally getting all 24 episodes of the show together for the first time. Unfortunately, the final tally is 23 as the show’s third episode, Wednesday Is Missing (aka Scooby-Doo Meets The Addams Family), is still M.I.A. Even if it wasn’t Scooby-Doo’s 50th Anniversary, getting nearly all of these episodes in one set is impressive. It’s also worth noting that all of the show’s opening credits have been altered to remove any footage of the guest stars, which was also present on The Best of the New Scooby-Doo Movies DVD release. It’s odd since they now have access to nearly all of the episodes and could include almost all of them, but as is, there’s a reason for the set’s (Almost) moniker.
As far as the image quality is concerned, if you’ve seen any of Hanna-Barbera’s animated shows over the years, you know how quickly and cheaply they were produced. They’re never going to look pristine due to all of the dirt and debris inherent in the original animation – not without heavy-handed digital scrubbing. This includes the many continuity mistakes, such as one of the episodes featuring Batman and Robin wherein Batman’s glove and gauntlet disappear suddenly in one shot to reveal a bare arm with a giant ring on his finger. There are also moments when a character’s mouth is moving, but it’s another character’s voice speaking. These are glaring errors, but since there were a literal plethora of Hanna-Barbera shows being pumped out at the time, quality control was nigh impossible.
That all said, the show makes the leap to high definition looking quite good. For those who aren’t fans of Disney’s practice of digitally flaws in their animated films, you’ll be more than happy as every last bit of detail is left intact. Despite a low encode which hovers around 10.0 Mbps for the majority of each episode, no obvious compression artifacts could be spotted. The show is now much clearer and sharper while colors range from average to bold, depending on how they’re utilized. For instance, the red of Don Knotts’ oversized jacket in one episode is particularly lush, while the same color may appear flat elsewhere.
Audio options include English and French 2.0 Dolby Digital with optional subtitles in English SDH and French. The show sounds the way that it’s always sounded, complete with the laugh tracks that sometimes drown out pieces of dialogue. Unfortunately, a couple of episodes, particularly one featuring Josie and the Pussycats, go out of sync at certain points. For the most part though, nothing else seems amiss. All is clear and audible, including the show’s sound effects and music. A lossless option would have been ideal, but there’s only so much sonic clarity you can pry out of these shows anyway.
As for extras, Disc One opens with a trailer for Scooby-Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost while Disc Two features material carried over from the previous Best of DVD set, including the tongue-in-cheek The Hanna-Barbera Kennel Club Roasts Scooby-Doo, which is 5 minutes of various Hanna-Barbera characters having some laughs at Scooby’s expense; Uptown with Scooby-Doo and the Harlem Globetrotters, a 9-minute featurette with a couple of real life Globetrotters demonstrating their tricks for the our amusement; and Girls Rock!, a 9-minute featurette devoted to Daphne’s and Velma’s contributions to the show.
Despite not all of the shows standing out as prime Scooby-Doo material, they’re still amusing relics of a time when even an animated Saturday morning cartoon show could have guest stars and nobody thought twice about it. That all changed later on with The Simpsons, of course, but I digress. The Blu-ray release of The New Scooby-Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection has a few flaws and fans will definitely be disappointed about not getting ALL of the episode, but this is as close as it’s going to come for now.
– Tim Salmons