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The whodunit format was a daring new frontier for an animated series, but the members of the Mystery Inc. team have grown to become authentic popular-culture icons. To solve their newest mystery - finding the most awesome Scooby-Doo DVD ever, with 25 vintage episodes and snackin? good extras on 4 discs - you need only follow this simple clue: you?re holding it!
Chuck Jones and other great studio animators sneered at the cheap look and lazy craftsmanship of Hanna Barbera's television cartoons in the 1960s, but there's no question HB's original, 35-year-old Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! is enduringly beloved. The Complete First and Second Seasons includes all 25 stories first broadcast from September '69 to October '71, a growth period in which canine hero Scooby's voice by Don Messick, who also voiced The Jetsons's pup, Astro was gradually refined from murky garble to Scoob's more familiar, "Rrroowwrr"-inflected, human-like speech. This set also represents the pre-frills Scooby-Doo: no guest appearances by Don Knotts or Batman, no Scrappy-Doo--just adventure and occasional bubblegum pop tunes by Danny Janssen and sundry co-writers e.g., "Pretty Mary Sunlite" in the episode "Don't Fool with a Phantom".
Watching all the shows back-to-back reveals evolving complexity in the scripts. Over time, Scooby-Doo's creators added multiple bad guys in cahoots with major villains, and developed sub-plots, backstories, and even appealing allies and friends of Mystery, Inc., a traveling band of young debunkers of supernatural phenomena. Riding around in their psychedelic Mystery Van, preppie leader Fred and his friends--haughty Daphne, brainy Velma, quasi-hippie Shaggy, and Shaggy's best pal, Scooby, an excitable Great Dane--chase down and are chased by alleged ghouls who generally turn out to be venal humans running various scams.
Included here is Scooby-Doo's premiere, "What a Night for a Knight," in which the gang looks into the disappearance of a noted archaeologist and end up in a "haunted" museum. The fun "Go Away Ghost Ship" finds our heroes helping a shipping company daunted by the apparent ghost of pirate Red Beard, while the silly classic "A Tiki Scare Is No Fair" concerns a Hawaiian vacation for Mystery, Inc. disrupted by a witch doctor. --Tom Keogh