Scooby-Doo never dies, no matter how badly he gets savaged.
For this, I am grateful. As a diehard fan, having grown up in the ’80s with after-school reruns, I have raised my boys, ages 5 and 15, with those classics. This is why the latest direct-to-DVD entry, Scooby-Doo: Abracadabra-Doo!, is such a big deal for me.
Inspired in no little way by the success of the Harry Potter movie franchise, this adventure is described as a throwback that sees the meddling kids of Mystery Inc. back in their groovy original 1969 costumes as they arrive at the Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy to check up on Velma‘s little sister Madelyn, voiced by The Wonder Years sex symbol and real-life math major and author Danica McKellar. Geeky comedian supreme Brian Posehn provides the voice of Marlon Whirlen — Merlin’s brainy brother — and standup comic Dave Attell is a GPS device. (I’m serious.)
Returning voice actors include Frank Welker as Scooby and Fred, Grey DeLisle as Daphne and Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) as Velma. Cohn has been Velma for many of the more recent Scooby series, and it’s a role she has really made her own despite being a relative newcomer.
Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the live-action movie Scooby-Doo and its sequel, Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed as well as in a sketch on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, steps into the animated role usually filled by legendary radio personality Casey Kasem, who retired from voice acting last year.
Even with this Shaggy shake-up, this promises to be old-school Scoob, and it can be forgiven the obvious Hogwarts homage. In the same way Star Trek and Doctor Who are able to continually reinvent themselves, Scooby-Doo has a simple premise — four kids and a talking dog solving mysteries — that allows it to endure and evolve with the world around it.
But there’s room enough in my family’s library for the more modern exploits of Mystery Inc.: In addition to the first three seasons on DVD, we have most of the made-for-DVD and -Cartoon Network movies, as well as the 21st century series What’s New Scooby-Doo? and parts of the late-’80s/early ’90s A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Even the more recent Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue! is represented.
It’s all good to us, even when it sometimes departs from the “man in a mask” model and veers into “supernatural stuff is real” territory. I’m not even going to dignify The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo with a mention here.
(To be fair, it probably deserves a mention, as it did feature the voice talents of the late, great Vincent Price. But that can’t make up for the presence of Scrappy-Doo and a totally random token ethnic character named Flimflam.)
Abracadabra-Doo! is likely to cast a spell over longtime Scoobyphiles, but if there’s real magic to be found, it will be an ability to lure in new meddling kids. And their dogs.