You’re familiar with the Scooby Doo gang’s plucky young teens, who have been reinvented regularly since their introduction in 1969. But, whether live-action or animation, TV or feature film, the characters haven’t altered all that much, with Velma Dinkley still serving as the “brainy” member of the Mystery Machine team.
As Velma searches for answers about her mom’s death, a larger mystery at school emerges, one that Velma can’t solve without the help of school slacker Norville, ex-BFF-turned-frenemy Daphne, & Fred, the personification of white male privilege.
Will any adults believe Velma’s claims? In this complicated love triangle, who will hook up with whom? These are just some mysteries that this show looks at.
Taking a “first season is the pilot episode” approach to plotting, the first eight episodes available for review begin piling mysteries on top of mysteries as Velma and her friends investigate the secrets of their small town, including the mysterious deaths of the school’s “hottest” girls and Daphne, an Asian girl raised by her adoptive mothers, trying to uncover her biological parents.
But it takes more work to become engaged in any of those mysteries being answered due to a glib approach to narrative that muffles all genuine feelings.
Velma Does not stand up to all the hype.
Action sequences are few and sometimes need more urgency. On the other hand, a scene involving a van (sound accustomed?) and uneven terrain gives some thrills. Although the animated backdrops are more precise and more detailed, the aesthetics here are more concerned with capturing the ’70s cartoon, which they achieve pretty well.
Though the series is aimed towards adults, it feels PG compared to other adult animations in production, yet certain scenes play as if the writers think they’re being super-edgy.
The show doesn’t require dozens of F-bombs or full-frontal Shaggy to be fascinating, but the only truly mature stuff is found in the young characters’ rampaging hormones. And, just in case you’re wondering, the show openly explores Velma’s sexuality (without necessarily providing any concrete answers).
Not Angry with These Voice Actors
The casting is unquestionably the most vital part of Velma as a series. The main cast is equally powerful, as race-bending, the classic Hanna-Barbra characters do not dramatically change them.
Kaling lends a natural snap to Velma’s barbs, Wu nails the snarky notes for Daphne, Howerton is naive in all the right ways as Fred, and Richardson gets to put his creative touch on one of the most popular cartoon characters of all time.
Unfortunately, while this reimagining finds glimmers of the tone created by the original ’60s animated series, it never connects to the viewer’s intrinsic yearning for what came before.