Get ready to experience the world-famous Scooby-Doo! and Crew like never before in this all-new, original puppet movie! What begins as a routine night for the Gang – which includes the slobbering sleuth and Shaggy eating a triple-extra-large Scooby snack pizza – becomes a mad dash to find the frightening Phantom Parrot, who has a map to pirate Gnarlybeard’s hidden treasure. Scooby sniffs out the map’s clues, which lead him right to a spooky pirate ship. Ruh-roh! What will Gnarlybeard be willing to do to protect his booty? The whole family will love casting off on this mysterious, fun-filled voyage again and again.
I’m gonna try to keep this relatively spoiler-free for those of you who still haven’t seen it.
I’ll be honest, There were very few things about this that I didn’t like, so that’s where I’ll start. First, and most noticeably, is the fact that Velma has been recast.The new actress is Stephanie D’Abruzzo, who is apparently a very accomplished puppeteer. Its not that she does a bad job or anything but I’ve grown to really like Mindy. I don’t quite understand why they couldn’t use Mindy, and trust me I’ve heard some bizarre reasons.
Admittedly, this complaint is a little bit petty but it did bug me.
While I loved all of the character designs, I was kind of annoyed that they left the “SD” off of Scooby’s dog tags. It couldn’t have been hard for them to take a tiny piece of material and cut the letters out to stick ’em on there.
There are few other minor problems I had but I’ll get to them later on, now on to some positives.
As we could all tell from the trailer, this was done in the style of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Most of the tropes of that series are present here, Fred is a goofy moron, Scooby Snacks have a transformative effect on Scoob, Velma’s whip-smart and a computer genius (and she even has her own lab and lab staff apparently), Daphne and her family are crazy rich (so much so that they have planes stashed all around the world), the only thing missing is a Red Herring cameo.
Other than not being a fan of Stephanie as Velma, the Voice work is top notch. Stephanie’s other character are great. Frank, Grey, and Matt are superb in their regular roles and John Rhys-Davies brings a bit of star power to the project as Gnarlybeard the pirate.
Now to the actual special.
It doesn’t take long to get to the mystery at all. After a short and funny introduction with each character, Shaggy orders a pizza that arrives Jimmy Johns fast. He and Scooby start devouring it, half way through the pie Scoob bites into a slice that has the titular map in it which kicks off our mystery.
The first half of this two-part special works like a charm, it’s mostly fast paced and works as a great single episode. The only real complaint I have about this half is that at one point towards the end Shaggy, as bait, has to go to the top of the lighthouse. It just feels like a minute or two of filler, just Shag climbing a staircase talking to himself. It pays off a moment or two later when the Phantom Parrot (Gnarlybeard’s pet and our villain for the first part) chases Shag back to the bottom with some laughs, but the trek up just sticks out and kinda stops the show dead for me.
This whole half is about the Phantom Parrot getting the map back.
They unmask the parrot (it’s not 100% obvious who the culprit is, so points for that) and that’s that, mystery solved. If it had ended there you would have little problem with it. You get a full story, plenty of suspects, and a nice wrap up…but remember, there’s still a treasure to be found!
The two parts are split up by a minute long “Dance Break” Which is the only new bonus feature on the disc. All it is is the puppets flailing around while the main theme from Abracadabra-Doo plays. And that’s not the only instance of them reusing music from the current DTV’s either.
They used Here Comes Summer from Camp Scare and Dig It Scooby-Doo! from Legend of the Phantosaur (I believe), all to brilliant effect.
These are three really good songs that fit the fun mood they we’re going for perfectly.
Part 2 starts with a news report, that includes some fourth wall breakage, kinda recapping the first part and reminding us of the treasure.
The gang soon realizes Scooby bit the X off of the map earlier, Velma X-Rays his stomach and scans the missing piece to make a print out of the map which gets us off and rolling.
This half is more of an adventure then a mystery as the hunt for the treasure kicks off.
After following the map to get to the X, Shag and Scoob end up being held captive on Gnarlybeard’s ship and are forced to be his pirate crew.
Fred, Daphne, and Velma have to chase them in Daphne’s fathers plane and end up on an island, presumably, in the middle of the ocean.
The gang reunites, the very stange and funny treasure is found, and Gnarlybeard is unmasked.
The puppetry is great. Honestly, This is as close as I’d like them to get the 3-D animation. I know it sounds weird to say, but the puppetry feels like a great mixture of live-action and animation. The sets look pretty damn good, but in a few wide shots they throw in some CG that looks kinda cheesy. It’s not too bad but it is worth mentioning.
I understand the special is for younger fans, though it’s nowhere near as kiddie is I was expecting, but there was very little effort put into the disc itself. You get an episode of Where Are You and an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo…and the minute long Dance Break. With this being the first, of hopefully many, puppet DTV’s, I think it would be nice to have a behind-the-scenes feature showing the process. There’s also a couple trailers before the menu.
To sum up, this is it without a doubt one of the best Scooby DTV’s I’ve seen. Its not on the level of Witches Ghost, Zombie Island, or Abracadabra-Doo but it definitely shouldn’t be missed.
Though I will say this, some teens may find it a bit tedious to sit through.