I recently saw a post online that criticised the show Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
Okay, that may not sound like a big deal. Except it was, sort of. It could have been a criticism about any number of things regarding plot, the writing or the animation, but it wasn’t. It was about Velma and how she no longer had those sweet, sweet curves (the poster’s words, not mine). It was argued that she just wasn’t as full of figure as she used to be, and it’s true. I have a soft spot for larger ladies, in particular Velma Dinkley. Although in her case it’s also because she’s super-smart; she’s a nerd who’s proud of her brainpower. Also she’s got those glasses…
Sorry. I just got lost in thought for a moment.
The thing is, I like that show. The original Scooby Doo shows focused on solving mysteries, and while they weren’t exactly Sherlock Holmes stories or a patch on a good Agatha Christie, for kids they’re a great adventure full of fun and with a little bit of deductive reasoning thrown in. Over the years the various series got weaker, adding Scrappy Doo (unsurprisingly ranked as the most hated character in that show ever) and even removing Fred, Daphne and (ugh) Velma.
When they made the live action films (as opposed to what? Dead action? It’s a silly term, let’s be honest) I had a love/hate relationship with them. The CGI Scooby looked weird, but Matthew Lillard was brilliant as Shaggy. The gags were mostly good in-jokes that inverted the old show in the same way as the Brady Bunch films. Scrappy Doo was finally revealed to be the horrible little twerp that we always knew he was. Also, Linda Cardellini as Velma was great. She sounded great, she nerded it up great, and she looked great. Maybe a little too great, but that’s a personal opinion. She still had the brainpower, so I didn’t mind.
There were the animated movies, too. I liked those, although Zombie Island is still my favourite of them all. It had in-jokes such as Shaggy changing his clothes and picking another identical shirt. They also played with the concept of the Mystery Inc. gang being reunited and on the trail of some real monsters, instead of just old geezers and crooked lawyers wearing rubber costumes who were trying to scare everybody off from their hideout full of counterfeit cash. It was a cool film.
Then they did a weird cartoon all about Scooby and Shaggy inheriting an amusement park or something, and turning their iconic van into a Transformer. I’m not kidding. I couldn’t really get my head around that one, and I’m thankful to my sieve-like mind for straining my memory on that one. In trying to make it fresh and new (and keep up with more modern cartoons out there) it veered the Mystery Machine way too far off course and crashed it into a lake of something resembling Mountain Dew only far less tasty.
Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated is an intelligent and nostalgic reboot. They got the gang together again, as opposed to ditching some of them. It’s about solving proper mysteries, with a whole new bunch of geezers wearing rubber masks and terrifying the pants off the locals. They had a couple of in-jokes (pointing out their sordid dealings with Scrappy Doo) and some gags that were off-the-charts creative (an appearance by Captain Caveman was wild, and references to Daphne’s family being chock-full-of-nuts insane makes you wonder about her own stability). It added a bigger storyline, showing that their weekly adventures were part of a larger mystery. Impressive stuff.
It brought in some depth to the characters and their relationships too, with Fred ignoring Daphne in favour of traps, while Shaggy and Velma’s blossoming romance had Scooby Doo seeing green. The change of setting now put them in Crystal Cove, which left some fans scratching their heads about the move from Coolsville. If you think the height of being a geek is obsessing over blueprints from Star Trek or picking out faults in Doctor Who, how nerdy are the people who agonised about the Coolsville/Crystal Cove switch? The answer: wonderfully nerdy. And then there’s Velma and her missing curves. Those sweet, sweet curves…
Does it matter that they made her thinner? They changed her hairstyle a bit too, but I didn’t see anybody complain about that. The other attributes are still there: she’s super-smart, a bit goofy, loses her glasses at times and even says “Jinkies”. She’s a nerd, and still a brilliant character. Nerds in any form are cool… but I have to confess that I miss the curves too, and not just because I like them personally. It does matter. In a world that’s obsessed with body image, it would have been nice to see an animated role model for girls who’s built a little bigger than a supermodel.
I’m not going to go off on a rant about it though; everyone knows it already, and another voice shouting it out isn’t likely to make much of a difference. The Mystery Of The Missing Curves can be solved with common sense, and if you’re looking to find them in a hurry then I’d suggest watching the original Scooby Doo shows. Mystery Incorporated rocks in many ways, but in the curves department it’s no great shakes.