Since its 1969 debut, Scooby-Doo has been one of the most successful cartoon franchises in history. It’s also among the longest-running franchises. In 2023, the HBO Max series Velma, an adult spin on the mystery gang, dropped. From its first episode, the series has alienated fans from across the diverse audience that showed up to give it a chance.
Fans were wary of an adult version and parody of their favorite cartoon mystery solvers — especially when they learned Scooby would be omitted. Interestingly, the franchise has been parodied many times before, often to greater effect. However, Velma has failed to match any of these projects in quality, largely due to abandoning its source material.
10 Different Threats Make Scooby-Doo More Interesting
Something featured in every single Scooby-Doo series has been the changing of monsters. Some series did use a longer, over-arching plot, but they still filled the seasons with unique foes for the gang to battle. Not only does Velma lack this, but any appearance from the antagonist is also almost non-existent.
Considering the hotbed of mystery that other series have shown Crystal Cove to be, it’s strange that there are no side monsters for the gang to investigate. A revolving door of crooks and monsters makes the show more interesting. The series is more decompressed but so far feels more like Scream than Scooby-Doo.
9 HBO’s Velma Doesn’t Even Have Good Music
One of the fun, recurring themes of Scooby-Doo has always been good music. Whether it was the show’s opening music, the chase songs, or closing tunes, the franchise has always made good use of music. However, Velma just doesn’t get there the way other projects have.
The lack of good music is especially odd considering the last Scooby-Doo project, Trick Or Treat, Scooby-Doo, had an already popular soundtrack. Music has been integral in keeping the Scooby brand in people’s minds, but Velma just doesn’t make any effort here.
8 Velma’s Gang Are All Unlikable
Regardless of opinions of the older series, it’s tough to deny that the gang was all written to be quite likable kids. Each of them came across as well-adjusted high schoolers and friends who enjoyed one another’s company. In Velma, practically everyone is unlikable.
Daphne and Fred are both written as cliché “popular kids” archetypes, each unlikable in their own way. Velma comes across as judgmental and dismissive, while Shaggy is written as annoying in his pursuit of Velma. While some character arcs may develop later, it will be difficult to move beyond first impressions.
7 Velma’s Mystery Takes A Back Seat To Jokes
The key hook for the Scooby-Doo franchise has always been the use of mysteries for the gang to solve. In many ways, it was one of the first “X-Cop” series and would pit the gang against a new monster and mystery every episode. In Velma, the mystery is almost irrelevant.
Velma could easily be re-purposed into a simple teen animated series called “Crystal Cove High” and very little would change. As of episode four, the vast majority of runtime has been dedicated to will they/won’t they romance, family drama, and high school antics.
6 HBO’s Velma Is Inaccessible To The Franchise’s Target Market
The idea of taking kids’ entertainment and maturing its themes is hardly a novel concept, but Velma has gone above and beyond previous attempts. The idea of these series is typically to cash in on the older audience who grew up with a franchise and match it with their sense of humor.
The problem is this typically works best for franchises no longer relevant or in production. Considering the fact Scooby-Doo almost always has some film or series in development, all this has achieved is the alienation of kids from a Scooby project.
5 Velma’s Comedy Is Just Too Lewd & Crude
One of the things that made the Scooby-Doo franchise so appealing to adults and kids alike was its mostly tame, sometimes wholesome nature. Once the franchise landed its own movies, the gang was given better character development and their stories were often sweet.
In Velma, the series is almost geared toward cheap, shock, jock humor, even at the expense of any meaningful continuity. Considering the fact the show is an origin story for the gang, there should be more consequentiality, rather than scenes that have little to no meaning.
4 HBO’s Velma Booted Matthew Lillard & Frank Welker From Their Signature Roles
One of the biggest consistencies fans have had in the Scooby-Doo franchise has been an incredible commitment from its voice actors. Notably, Frank Welker — who voices Fred’s dad on Velma — has been the mainstay voice of Fred Jones since the pilot episode in 1969.
Meanwhile, Matthew Lillard had been the voice of Shaggy for almost two decades, thanks to his live-action role in 2002’s Scooby-Doo. Despite being available, both actors have been booted from their roles. However, that is likely for the best, especially in order to separate Velma from regular continuity.
3 Velma’s Animation Style Just Doesn’t Fit
Although some Scooby-Doo series have used their own style, fans have made clear that they prefer the simpler style of the original series or What’s New, Scooby-Doo?. Not only is the Velma animation style a huge deviation, but it’s completely off-brand for the series.
At times, the series feels like its animators are trying to emulate Big Mouth, only for a scene to suddenly deviate into anime levels of design. Neither of these really fits the franchise, even for the older audiences. Fans just wanted the tried and true style of the franchise.
2 Velma Has Completed The Ruination Of Fred Jones
Fred Jones was always viewed by many fans as the more boring, milquetoast member of the gang. However, this was never an accurate view, as Fred was the leader and, along with Velma, the trap setter. Unfortunately, the last decade of the franchise has leaned in too hard on that angle.
Fred went from a competent, level-headed leader to someone frequently the butt of jokes. Fans have never really been on board with this characterization, but Velma has taken it to a cringe-worthy level. There’s next to nothing to like in what was once Mystery Inc.’s most charming member.
1 There’s No Scooby-Doo In Velma
One of the biggest deal-breakers for many fans when they followed the series was learning that Scooby himself wouldn’t appear. Considering the fact Scooby might as well be Warner Bros’ flagship kids cartoon character, it makes sense he wouldn’t be used in an adult series.
However, this is still Scooby-Doo’s franchise and his omission has left the series lacking its best and most recognizable feature. The gang may be able to carry their own stories, but without Scooby-Doo to liven things up, it just isn’t the same.
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