The 10th incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise was the last incarnation (and also final animated series) prior to the death of Joseph Barbera, co-founder of the studio that created the franchise, Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc. Sadly it did not go out on a high note for Barbera. Coming off the heels of two clever incarnations, this series proved to be a disappointment in many aspects. The premise is that Shaggy’s Uncle Albert has disappeared and named his nephew as his sole heir for his inheritance. Using the inheritance, Shaggy upgrades the Mystery Machine and with the help of Scooby-Doo, uses it along with a robot servant named Robi, and some newly powered Scooby Snacks to help save the world from the evil plans of Uncle Albert’s enemy, Dr. Phineas Phibes.
The theme song is one of the problems with the show. The animation feels like it’s trying to establish the show as incredibly energetic but the tune of the song is largely drowned out by the singer who sounds like he is getting angrier every second just by singing the song to the point that he is shouting the lyrics.
The show also makes a grave error by this time excluding Daphne, Fred, and Velma outside of a couple cameos (with almost no explanation as to why). While other 80s incarnations excluded certain gang members, there were stand-ins for them that tried to represent what they did or even give there own spin (to varying degrees of success). At all points the gang felt like a unique unit, each representing a different part of exploring a mystery throughout the franchise: Fred was the sense of direction, Shaggy and Scooby were emotion, Velma was the logic, and Daphne was surprise. Here, there aren’t that many supporting characters to Shaggy and Scooby. Thus there’s not much of a world to react to Shaggy and Scooby’s antics to react to as much as them reacting to the world so it leads to a lot of the jokes falling flat and not much to balance their antics out.
The show also seems to go far too deep into cartoon physics. For instance Shaggy uses the money to transform the Mystery Machine into all sorts of different vehicles. Uncle Albert infused nanotechnology with Scooby Snacks allowing Scooby when eating them to acquire superpowers. One can argue that A Pup Named Scooby-Doo did relatively the same concepts but what made that one work is that it parodied Scooby’s energy to go into danger upon receiving them.
The idea of having a full-fledged narrative is not a bad idea. They did this in the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo and Mystery Incorporated and it gave way to a nice setup. This also has a nice setup but much like 13 Ghosts, it is the execution where the show suffers. There’s no real mystery to anything as much as it Shaggy and Scooby just going around their lives stopping Phibes’ evil plans. Even the mystery of Uncle Albert’s whereabouts is pretty obvious (with little to no mystery beyond that) and the logic and deductive reasoning that was normally utilized in other incarnations is absent.
Shaggy this time is voiced by Scott Menville who voiced Robin from Teen Titans and Red Herring from A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Sadly his Shaggy impression leaves a lot to desired as he tries way too hard to nail Shaggy’s stoner-like nature and in attempt to do so his voice sounds rather squeaky and it gets really distracting.
Scooby was given a complete redesign as he was given dotted eyes like everyone else. This completely removed any of the expressive and iconic qualities that the character had for so many generations. In past incarnations the human-like eyes helped give Scooby a unique distinction. Any expression he made, you could associate the scenario he was in. Not only do the dotted eyes remove the qualities of Scooby, but also it comes to the point that even with a familiar voice it causes Scooby’s character to lose what made him so identifiable. The rest of the main character designs sadly don’t look much better as the attempts to redesign them result in them looking more like archetypes of the characters we know and love.
Shaggy and Scooby-Doo: Get a Clue was an attempt to take the franchise in a different direction but sadly it didn’t work out. Scooby-Doo has always attempted to do something different in its incarnations but they always stick to its origins in some ways. Sometimes you may have to compromise an element to take on something new but when you lose the heart and soul of what made it so special that’s where it ultimately falls flat.