The 9th incarnation of Scooby-Doo attempted to take the franchise back to its 1969 roots by not utilizing any gimmicks or new characters. Just like the original, the premise involved the classic gang going to various locales encountering monsters that turn out to be humans in disguise. The show attempted to modernize the Scooby-Doo universe by introducing technology such as the Internet.
Even though the show tried to go for a more modern feel with all sorts of new trends and gadgets, it does not forget its origins and sometimes pays homage to them. For instance the band Simple Plan, who sung the theme song, appeared as themselves in one of the episodes which pays homage to the celebrity cameos back in the 70s. A flashback to Velma’s 5th birthday shows the characters animated in the style as the previous series A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. In addition to introducing technology and popular trends, the show also used modern music in chase scenes to add to the contemporary feel.
The art style also took a new shift as they gave the characters more human-like eyes (in earlier incarnations they would have dotted eyes), which helps reinforce, the modern feel internally and externally. While the show went back to its roots it had a far bigger budget allowing for a greater display of the settings. While the original had different settings, the backgrounds and color scheme was rather the same in each episode but it worked in providing a feel of spook and haunt to the area. With a bigger budget, this show gives a lot more to explore such as a jungle in Africa, Pompeii, Italy, a Scooby Snack factory, etc. At the same time the monsters had a more variety in design and spook factory and they were unique to the area they were haunting.
The franchise took an entirely new twist by introducing a character that had more altruistic motivations and in doing so would masquerade as the same monster the gang is chasing. However, these anti-heroes, would often be dropped in favor of the real monster or because they never caused any real harm. It’s a rather interesting trope that I’m quite surprised was never used in subsequent incarnations.
The characters are still just as fun as they always have been. Daphne showcases to be a fighter which was meant to give her a step-up from being accident prone in early incarnations. It also serves as a nice reference to the live-action movie where she took up martial arts. One of the things that stood out about Shaggy is that he is portrayed as a vegetarian here. This was due to a request by his long time voice-actor Casey Kasem as he was also vegetarian.
What’s New Scooby-Doo allowed the franchise to get with the times but still stay true to its roots. The use of contemporary music, modern trends, and technology helped introduce a new generation to the franchise and allowed old fans to see the series with fondness and look back upon it years later as such.