Musgo and Scooby-Doo have a relationship dating back to little Musgo's earliest Saturday morning memories in the early 1970s. For the past few years, my review path has crossed my old friend for the past five movie releases. Some have been positive like Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! and others not so much like Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo. But what these movies have all had is the ability to take the past and move the story forward for a new generation. I've had mixed responses on their success in these areas but at least they are trying to move it forward. With new live-action films, new video games, the new animated films and a continuing run of new TV shows - I found it interesting to see a collection of "classic" episodes arrive in the mail.This DVD collects four episodes of the original series that started it all. Since the show has been such a constant prescence on television since it debuted in 1969 - many don't realize that the original incarnation Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! only lasted two seasons - producing a mere 25 episodes. Episodes of this series have been widely available on VHS for decades and the complete first and second seasons were released on DVD in 2004 and will get a new box set release this November. So beyond the review of the product on the disc, the real question is "Why break the series down into smaler chunks?" Is it for the impulse buying at a lower price point at the big box stores? Is it an attempt to confuse the customer who may already own more complete collections? This is Volume 4, so my assumption is that whatever the marketing ploy - it's working.
Volume 4 collects four episodes on to one disc - picking up where Volume 3 left off. Included are episodes 13 - 16 of the first season. Presumably this will be a six-volume set that will allow the consumer to complete collection of the episodes included on the complete DVD sets. For parents, the four-episode collection is a nice length because it's roughly equivalent to the length of one of the Scooby-Doo movies (clocking in at 88 minutes)."Which Witch Is Which?" - The punny subtitle of this collection comes from the setting for this mystery. This was one of the episodes I looked forward to in repeats more than almost any other. There's a great combination of elements at play here that make this the star of the disc. The group are returning from a fishing trip and get lost in the swamp. The Southern bayou is ripe for ghost stories and they would revisit it later in an animated film for another great story - Scooby-Doo! On Zombie Island. The plot leads us into a weird little village for clues and some voodoo and then back out into the swamp. This mystery is one that should be on everyone's top-episodes list for Scooby-Doo!
"Go Away Ghost Ship" - A rather tame episode in general after such a promising set-up. The villain here is Redbeard The Pirate. I'm not a fan of the character design but his ghost ship is interesting. Shaggy and Scooby play a bit more of a comedic role in the episode and the mystery ends up being very typical of the series. In fact, I think that the whole "you did it for the insurance money" scheme wasn't nearly as prevelant as I remember but this episode doesn't help."Spooky Space Kook" - Another episode with a promising beginning that just doesn't deliver. The Mystery Machine runs out of gas again - that thing must have like a two-gallon tank - they were always running out of gas in the country. There's a mysterious craft that could be a "space ghost". The plot could really have been played up with more of an alien angle. There's not much of a mystery and the clues aren't nearly as interesting as many other stories.
"A Night Of Fright Is No Delight" - This is another strong episode for the disc. The concept of Scooby-Doo being named an heir by millionaire Colonel Beaureguard Sanders and having to spend a night in his scary mansion with four other heirs is part horror film and part Agatha Christie mystery. The plot would be recycled in a few different variations for future films and TV episodes. This version is everything I want in a 22-minute mystery - quick set-up, fun characters (lawyers called Creeps and Crawls!), a mystery with clues that make sense if you are paying attention to detail and a fun ending.Two of the four episodes on this disc represent some of the best that this first season of Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! has to offer and that makes it worth the price right there. But at the expense of a full set? No, not at all. This is a show that pays off by watching multiple episodes - not just the same ones over and over. There's joy in seeing the patterns over a whole season and from one series to another.
The disc includes an episode from the recent series Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue called "Lightning Strikes Twice". It's a decent episode but it pales next to the four on the disc and extremely so in the animation style. Why not include another episode of the original series? Or why not include something from Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated - the latest series?If you must divide up your Scooby-Doo! purchases - this might be the way to go but remember - there's so many mysteries out there to solve. Our gang has been at it for over 40 years. Use this as your appetizer if you must but I encourage you to buy the whole meal.
Article first published as DVD Review: Scooby-Doo Where Are You! - Season One, Volume Four: Spooked Bayou on Blogcritics.