Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Written by Hombre Divertido
Warner Brothers brings to DVD the first seven episodes of the Hanna Barbera production The Richie Rich/Scooby Doo Hour which premiered in 1980 on ABC and ran for two seasons. As this was the first effort to bring Richie Rich from the extensively successful comic book series to television, what better way to insure success than to combine it with the already established animated juggernaut that was Scooby-Doo?
In what was clearly an attempt to market this show to the extremely young viewers of the day, the producers streamlined the previously more involved Scooby-Doo adventures into brief seven-minute episodes that featured only Scooby, Shaggy, and Scooby’s nephew Scrappy-Doo. As with the Richie Rich portion of the show, the stories are short, full of a lot of action, and for the most part, surprisingly well animated. Perfect for the short-attention span of children then and now. The succinct stories might have something to do with Academy Award-winner Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) being listed as one of the writers.
For the young at heart who are looking for the Scooby-Doo cartoons and Richie Rich comic book stories they grew up with; sadly, this is not for you. Fred, Daphne, and Velma aren’t involved in the Scooby-Doo stories other than an occasional guest appearance, the stories have little meat to them, and even more disappointing are the rare explanations at the end of the story. In most cases the monsters really are monsters, witches, etc., or there are actually no monsters at all.
The Richie Rich stories hold little elements of the classic comic books. Most of the stories revolve more around the supporting characters such as Richie’s dog Dollar, and some of his servants, and lack the simplicity of the comic book stories as far too many gadgets are used to justify storylines.
The only true extra in the set is brief documentary entitled "The Story of Richie Rich" and consists of interviews with people involved with both the comic book and the animated series. Interestingly, the goal of keeping the animated series true to the comic book is mentioned, which is surprising considering the failure to do so from a story perspective. From an animation point of view, they may have been successful in making the Richie Rich cartoons look like the comic book, but this is not a good thing. They look faded and display limited dimension when compared to the far more vibrant episodes of Scooby-Doo.
Recommendation: Good fun for kids who are not familiar with Scooby and Richie. With seven episodes each consisting of three Scooby-Doo and three Richie Rich adventures, there is a lot of material here. The stories are brief and fun to watch. The failure to have the monsters exposed as bad guys in some of the Scooby-Doo stories was an interesting choice, and may turn some parents off.
For the grown ups looking for fond memories of these two characters: Look elsewhere.