April 15, 2000 -- Having never seen an episode of "Scooby-Doo" before I wasn't sure what to make of this new tape by Warner Brothers, it is obviously meant for television, with breaks in the action every few minutes for the insertion of commercials. The original 80-minute syndicated animated feature was shown on television in 1987, an outgrowth of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series dating back to 1969.
The new video tape is evidently an attempt to cash in on Scooby-Doo nostalgia. Scooby-Doo, a large talking dog (voice by the late Don Messick), is accompanied by his human friend Shaggy (voice by Kasey Kasem), a beatnik, of all things, who uses the word "like" way too much (hmmm. I wonder if that influenced anyone?) and an even smarter dog, Scrappy (voice also by Messick). They travel to an old southern plantation recently inherited by Shaggy from his uncle Beauregard. They are looking for hidden treasure.
On their quest to find the hidden treasure, they are beset an unusual set of obstacles, such as an amorous neighbor, Sadie Mae Scroggins, and her hostile brother Billy Bob Scroggins. There is also a very large gorilla, an Igor-type caretaker named Farquar (voice by that old Laugh-In guy Arte Johnson), a troublesome Sheriff and various ghosts. They call in some ghostbusters to get rid of the ghosts, but end up with three more ghosts instead, the Three Stooges-like Shreako, Freako and Meako.
What follows is a frantic treasure hunt through the ruins of the old estate as our three heroes are shot at by Billy Bob and chased by a gorilla and ghosts. The same theme is repeated over and over in a number of short, connected episodes, many of which end in cliffhangers. Writer Jim Ryan shows considerable ingenuity as he keeps finding more ways for the trio to get in trouble, using the same group of characters and the same ground. Just when you think it is over, Ryan winds up the story and gets it rolling again.
Except for Billy Bob's constant gunfire (he shoots off more rounds than in the first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" without hitting anybody) all of this chasing around is good harmless fun and I did find it funny in spots, even though I am more than three times the age of the target audience and I watched it very late at night. It rates a B for kids only. The only trouble is, how do you explain to your kids what a beatnik is? They are even more rare and outdated than hippies. Go talk to your grandparents, they'll explain it to them.
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