Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Scooby Doo’s Original Mysteries

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, March 11, 2000

What a groovy spot for a beach party!

Special features

Related Trailers3

The first five episodes of the Scooby Doo cartoon on DVD. Oh, heaven! And not one of them gripes about “And I would have done it, too, if it weren’t for those [expletive] kids!”

RecommendationPossible Purchase
DirectorsJoseph Barbera, William Hanna
Movie Rating4
Transfer Quality5
Overall Rating5
  • Television Format

The worst thing about these old shows is the laugh track. It really would have been nice if the laugh track had been provided on a separate audio stream that could be turned off. I wonder if the higher quality sound system I have now makes the laugh track more obvious. Maybe stereo receivers need an “emulate twenty-year-old television” mode?

Now, you have to remember that this is not for everyone. If not for the nostalgia value, these things really aren’t that great. The first show was probably the worst. Most of the jokes throughout all five were bad, but they were still funny (and I guess that makes them not bad), but the first show’s jokes were just lame. In fact, overall, the first show didn’t seem to be inspired at all. The creators only really hit their groove later on.

It’s a hoot listening to Shaggy: it sounds like he should be narrating “American Bandstand”. Shaggy’s voice was performed by Casey Kasem, and he sounds just like he always does.

In retrospect, these things look heavily influenced by Carl Barks (and perhaps Hergé). After the first show, the backgrounds become very detailed: haunted castles on misty islands, the graveyard of ships, southwestern pueblo. I know it’s standard for backgrounds to be more detailed than the foreground characters, but it’s still cool to look at.

One thing I noticed while time-shifting “Rocky & Bullwinkle” (now there’s something I’d like to see on DVD—and whatever happened to the Go Go Gophers and Tennessee Tuxedo?) many years ago is that animators like to pull jokes that you can’t see, and that holds true on Scooby-Doo. Watch the newspapers, for example. You’ll have to freeze the video to read it. The oddities in Rocky & Bullwinkle were a lot more interesting, to be honest. There’s no “Sex on Planet X” in Scooby-Doo.

The transfer is pretty good, but there are a lot of sparklies and a tiny amount of what looks like dust or hair. I’m not sure what the latter means, but for a thirty-year old film stock, it is very nice quality.

The DVD includes a few extras. The most interesting is the trivia game. Here’s a hint: the answers are not necessarily contained in the first five episodes. You’ll have to dig deeper into your memory if you want to answer all of the questions without peeking.

It includes some recipes. Not anything to write home about, however. The kids might find it fun to cook from a television screen. All they are is recipes. The Scooby-Doo gang doesn’t do a cooking show for you. And, it also includes “sampler songs” from something called the “Snack Tracks Album”. I don’t know what it is, and don’t have any desire to find out.

I’ve given this an “acquisition” rating of “possible purchase”. Normally, “possible purchase” is better than “rent now!” but in this case it’s just an acknowledgment that you aren’t going to want this unless you’ve already seen them, and if you’ve already seen them and you still want to watch them again, you’re going to want to buy the DVD. If you don’t want to buy the DVD, you probably don’t want to watch the shows at all, do you?

Recommendation: Possible Purchase

DirectorsJoseph Barbera, William Hanna
Spoken languagesEnglish, French, Spanish
Special FeaturesGame, Recipes, Related Trailers
More links

If you enjoyed Scooby Doo’s Original Mysteries…

For more about animation, you might also be interested in Heavy Metal, The Hobbit, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Complete Superman Collection, Underdog, Wallace & Gromit, and Yellow Submarine.

For more about saturday morning, you might also be interested in Inspector Gadget, Land of the Lost, and Underdog.