Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Like a Kick in the Nutcracker: "Scooby Doo: A Nutcracker Scoob"

With the new live action movie out in theaters, everything with the name "Scooby Doo" on it is turning to gold- or at least selling like gold.

This compilation video is not gold. I sat my five year old son down in front of the television, and we started the hour long videotape.
The video features four cartoons altogether, and I have included their individual star ratings at the end of their mini-review:

"A Nutcracker Scoob" features Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Daphne, Fred, and Scrappy Doo (Velma is nowhere to be seen on the whole tape except for previews of other videos). The gang are at a children's home where a ghost pops up during rehearsals for "A Christmas Carol," and tries to find a hidden emerald. The supreme red herring suspect appears in the form of one Winslow Nickleby, whose family used to own the building. The guys carry on with the show and catch the real "ghost." This episode is from a later series of Scooby Doo adventures, and features the most annoying opening theme song and credits ever done. Also, watch for the French maid, and give yourself a quarter if you can understand more than three words she says. The animators also decide to drive their viewers blind: all the backgrounds are shot in very soft focus, but the main characters are sharply defined. My eyes started playing tricks on me, not knowing what to concentrate on. Throw in a doe-eyed orphan named Tiny Tina, who talks to her stuffed bear, Teddy, and you will be wishing for the old days of just plain bad animation. **

"Alaskan King Coward" has Shaggy, Scooby Doo, and Scrappy Doo in the Alaskan tundra, digging for gold. They dig up a frozen monster instead, and spend the rest of the episode running away from it. No mystery, no villain muttering "those meddling kids," just an overdose of the always annoying and unpopular Scrappy Doo. The monster, which looks like a sabre toothed dinosaur, is badly drawn, changing sizes from scene to scene. **

Next on the tape are two Bonus Cartoons: Squiddly Diddly stars in "The Ghost is Clear." An entertainer squid, he leaves his home at the theme park Bubbleland to play at a child's ghost's birthday party. The child then begins terrorizing him with everything from turning invisible to showing him his basement dwelling vicious pets. The child's parents look just like Elmer Fudd and Fred Flintstone's mother-in-law, and the child, Wilbur, is given a high pitched grating voice that wreaked havoc on my ears. This is really dull and unfunny, even to my five year old test subject...I mean, son. *

Finally, The Cartoon Network world premieres Shake and Flick in "Raw Deal in Rome." Shake is a dog, Flick is a flea, and they both make like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, as Shake tries to entertain some Romans while Flick tries to get in his fur and bite him. Soon, they are introducing fighter jets and nuclear warheads into the battle, making you wonder why this thing was set in ancient Rome in the first place. This was a little gory as well, as Shake as the ability to shed his skin and muscles in one scene. This is the kind of cartoon "The Simpsons" makes fun of on their "The Itchy and Scratchy Show" blood drenched cartoons. One funny scene: Shake's ride up the elevator. **

All in all, my five year old was entertained, and that is important, but I was bored silly. I used to love Scooby Doo as a kid, and the original series' episodes still have a charm about them that subsequent series (and, apparently, the live action film) are not able to recapture. The Christmas angle of the tape is tenuous. You have the Christmas themed first episode, but just a brief Santa Claus sighting in the second episode, and nothing to connect to Christmas in the bonus cartoons. Children may like this, but adults beware. I cannot recommend this video. (* *) out of five stars.