DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map

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Aimed at the very youngest Scooby-Doo! fans, Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map offers a truly unique take on the classic Mystery Inc. gang. For the first time in the franchise’s 40-plus-year history, we see the Scooby universe populated entirely by puppets. Keep in mind this isn’t the type of puppet film that’s as fun for adults as it is for children, à la the various Muppet films. This is a gateway for youngsters to become Scooby-holics. The tone is decidedly juvenile, but also gentle. Kids are likely to enjoy it, while parents are liable to shun it.

Initially available in 2013 as a Wal-Mart exclusive, The Mystery Map DVD went into general release on February 11, 2014.

Scooby Mystery Map 2 TMR.jpgThe 45-minute program is divided into two parts. A brief puppet dance number turns up in between (accessible as a standalone feature via the DVD menu). Part one finds Scooby and Shaggy sharing a pizza, a meal delivered with a hidden surprise—a treasure map. They embark on a mission to solve the mystery behind the map, all while pursuing a slightly menacing Phantom Parrot. The plot, such as it is, thickens a bit in the second half as the Fred, Velma, Daphne, and company track a treasure supposedly belonging to an ancient pirate, Gnarlybeard. It’s all totally harmless fun for tykes, laced with music and relatively creative bits like Daphne piloting one of her dad’s planes. The Shaggy and Scooby puppets even indulge in a little hula dancing at one point.

The effectiveness of the puppets is really a matter of personal taste. Luckily, mostly veteran voice actors handle the key roles. The voice of Fred since 1969, Frank Welker, is on hand not only for his signature role but also Scooby (who he’s been voicing since 2002). More recent regulars Matthew Lillard (Shaggy) and Grey DeLisle Griffin (Daphne) are joined by newcomer Stephanie D’Abruzzo (Velma). In a neat bit of double-duty, D’Abruzzo is also Velma’s puppeteer.

Scooby Mystery Map 3 TMR.pngAnyone jonesing for traditional Scooby fare will be relieved to find two vintage cartoons included as bonus features. “The Backstage Rage” goes all the way back to 1969 and the first season of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. “Robopup,” from the first season of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (the Scooby equivalent of Muppet Babies), comes from 1988.

Pirate and parrot puppets make this an oddball Scooby offshoot. Ultimately it doesn’t hold up well next to even the weaker animated Scooby series, but for those five and under it might prove enticing.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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