Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? – The Complete Series (Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Mystery Mansion Boxset) (Blu-ray Review)
DirectorJoseph Barbera and William Hanna
Release Date(s)1969-1970, 1978 (September 3, 2019)
Studio(s)Hanna-Barbera Productions (Warner Home Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
It’s fair to say that Scooby-Doo is an institution at this point. Inarguably Hanna-Barbera’s most profitable and longest-running franchise, it spawned many different incarnations based around the idea of a group of teenagers and their dog solving spooky mysteries – a notion that the same company would try and replicate with other shows like Goober and the Ghost Chasers, The Funky Phantom, and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Chan, among many others. However, Scooby-Doo remains the gold standard for which all teenage cartoon sleuthing is measured.
Running for two seasons from 1969-1970, as well as a revival season in 1978, Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? was the first incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise, with most fans agreeing that it’s also the best. A major hit for Hanna-Barbera, airing on CBS initially (and later on ABC), it also gained next generation fans through many reruns during the 1980s and 1990s, even as other TV shows and movies based on the characters came into being. Whether it was the syndicated version of The Scooby-Doo Show, The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo (featuring the immortal Vincent Price), A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, or What’s New Scooby-Doo?, the characters have continued their popularity well beyond their supposed expiration date.
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the gang of the Mystery Machine, including Scooby-Doo himself, Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne, Warner Home Video has brought Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? – The Complete Series to Blu-ray for the first time in an individually numbered Limited Edition boxset. It contains the entire run of the show on 4 discs plus other goodies. Better yet, it’s housed within collectible Mystery Mansion packaging (akin to the previous Mystery Machine packaging from one of the show’s DVD releases). All of the episodes from the show’s main three seasons are included:
DISC 1 – SEASON 1 (1969-1970)
- What a Night for a Knight
- A Clue for Scooby-Doo
- Hassle in the Castle
- Mine Your Own Business
- Decoy for a Dognapper
- What the Hex Going On?
- Never Ape an Ape Man
- Foul Play in Funland
- The Backstage Rage
- Bedlam in the Big Top
- A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts
DISC 2 – SEASON 1 (1969-1970)
- Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too
- Which Witch is Which?
- Go Away Ghost Ship
- Spooky Space Kook
- A Night of Fright is No Delight
- That's Snow Ghost
DISC 2 - SEASON 2 (1970)
- Nowhere to Hyde
- Mystery Mask Mix-Up
- Scooby's Night with a Frozen Fright
- Jeepers, It's the Creeper
DISC 3 - SEASON 2 (1970)
- Haunted House Hang-Up
- A Tiki Scare is No Fair
- Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?
- Don't Fool with a Phantom
DISC 3 - SEASON 3 (1978)
- Watch Out! The Willawaw!
- To Switch a Witch
- A Creepy Tangle in the Bermuda Triangle
- The Creepy Case of Old Iron Face
- A Highland Fling with a Monstrous Thing
- A Scary Night with a Snow Beast Fright
DISC 4 - SEASON 3 (1978)
- The Tar Monster
- Jeepers, It's the Jaguaro!
- Make a Beeline Away from That Feline
- The Creepy Creature of Vulture's Claw
- The Diabolical Disc Demon
- Scooby's Chinese Fortune Kooky Caper
- A Menace in Venice
- Don't Go Near the Fortress of Fear
- The Beast is Awake at Bottomless Lake
- The Warlock of Wimbledon
It’s worth noting that only nine of the sixteen episodes from Season 3 actually aired as Scooby-Doo: Where Are You?, and the other seven aired as a part of the Scooby’s All-Stars show instead. Later still, all of the Season 3 episodes, as well as other episodes from other Scooby-Doo shows, were syndicated as The Scooby-Doo Show, and they’re presented here in that form.
Like Hanna-Barbera’s other cartoon shows, Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? was cheaply-produced, meaning that it never looked as slick or as polished as Disney. Since there were a literal plethora of Hanna-Barbera shows being pumped out at the time, quality control was nigh impossible. This allowed for many mistakes to slip through; Shaggy’s hair might be blonde in one scene, while someone might speak without moving their lips in another. There are also uneven levels of detail, as well as dirt and debris on the animation cels. It’s all come to be a part of the show’s charm. As such, it’s never going to look pristine, not without heavy-handed digital scrubbing, so managing expectations when viewing this new release should be a priority.
That said, Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? makes the leap to high definition looking quite good, great even. Presented full frame to preserve its original aspect ratio, it’s now much clearer and sharper, while still carrying those inherent aforementioned visual flaws. The color palette is often bold, particularly the clothing on the main characters, but also on many foreground and background items. It’s also wonderfully-textured with surprising depth as every last bit of detail has been left intact. Character edges are also solid without the need for artificial sharpening. Noise is prevalent from time to time, including what some might describe as “mosquito noise,” but it appears natural to the material. It’s also worth mentioning that despite a low encode, which hovers around 10.0 to 11.0 Mbps for the majority of each episode, no obvious compression artifacts could be spotted either. To be succinct, the show has never looked better.
Audio options include English and French 2.0 Dolby Digital with optional subtitles in English SDH and French (take note that the French audio is not available on the episodes The Tar Monster and The Diabolical Disc Demon). The show sounds the way that it’s always sounded, complete with laugh tracks that sometimes drown out moments of dialogue. Unfortunately, the option to watch the show without the laugh track, which is the way it was presented for a number of years on TV, is not present. Otherwise, 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 that can be pried out of these shows anyway.
All of the bonus materials are crammed onto Disc 4, and they include segments with many of the actors and creators of the various incarnations of the show. Newly-created for this release is My Life with Scooby, Frank Welker’s Animated Journey, an 18-minute interview with the long-time voice of Fred, among many, many, many other roles in other TV shows and movies; A Scooby-Doo for Everyone, an 8-minute featurette about the appeal of the show over the years; 50 Years of Scooby Snacks, a 9-minute featurette about the show’s merchandising history, as well as its guest stars and other upcoming projects; and a 2 1/2 minute trailer for the live stage production of Scooby-Doo and the Lost City of Gold.
Carried over from previous DVD releases is Scooby-Doo The Whole World Loves You!, an 18-minute featurette about the show’s history and allure; The Eerie Mystery of the Scooby-Doo History, an 11-minute look at the show’s creation; The Scooby-Doo Gang: In Their Own Words, a 5-minute interview with members of the show’s voice cast; Hanna-Barbera: From H to B, a 21-minute documentary about the producing team’s history; Scooby-Doo’s Ultimate Fans, a 12-minute look at various collectors of Scooby-Doo memorabilia; Get the Picture: Scooby-Doo and the Gang, a 3-minute look at how the characters are drawn; Funky Fashions, a 5-minute tongue-in-cheek featurette about the character’s costumes; the 3-minute America Loves Scooby-Doo music video, performed by Scott Innes and Nelson Blanchard; Scooby-Doo Street Smarts, a 3-minute set of man-on-the-street type interviews with various fans; and trailers for Lego DC: Batman – Family Matters and Scooby-Doo and the Curse of the 13th Ghost.
Not carried over from the Scooby-Doo: Original Mysteries DVD release is the Jukebox music sampler, while missing from the Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? – The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons DVD set is the Take the Scooby Challenge click-through trivia segment. Various trailers for other Scooby-Doo related material or otherwise from previous DVD releases have been left in the digital dust as well. However, all of this is easy to lose if upgrading since everything, including the content’s of the Mystery Machine DVD set Bonus Disc, are featured. It’s odd that no archival material from the show’s creation has been unearthed and presented separately, but some of it can be seen during the various featurettes.
All four Blu-ray discs can be found in a mini-digipak, right next to a 32-page Scooby-Doo! Encyclopedia booklet by Benjamin Bird with illustrations by Tim Levins, which features stats for all of the show’s various characters, guest stars, and villains – even those from other Scooby-Doo TV shows; a Pocket Pop! vinyl figure keychain of Scooby-Doo; and a Digital Copy code on a paper insert. All of this material is housed within thick cardboard Mystery Mansion packaging (of which the top pops off to reveal its contents), and tucked inside a protective plastic sleeve. As of this writing, there’s no word on whether there will be a slimmer Blu-ray package minus all of the swag later on, but it's a likely scenario.
Scooby-Doo celebrates his 50th Anniversary in style with a fantastic and stylish boxset of my own personal favorite incarnation of the character. It features a goofy premise and there’s always the sense that the show is also in on the joke, never taking itself too seriously, but it’s charming and entertaining enough that it doesn’t matter if it actually knew it or not. It’s just a fun show that brings out the kid in most of us, and one could argue that for adult horror fans, it was one of their earliest gateway drugs into the genre. Here’s hoping that other Scooby-Doo related shows eventually get the same level of high definition treatment as well. In the case of Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? – The Complete Seres on Blu-ray, it comes highly recommended!
– Tim Salmons