This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Network: Cartoon Network
Best For Ages: 2-5, 6-8, 9-12, 12 and up
The cowardly Great Dane who solves supernatural mysteries with a gang of bumbling humans has been popular for decades. These are the original episodes, before the introduction of Scrappy and some silly later developments.
Educational Value: Out to recess.
Entertainment Value: In these early installments, Scooby and the gang uncover the mundane causes of supernatural phenomena. The simple comic humor continues to appeal to kids, despite an annoying laugh track and predictable conclusions.
Violence: Ghosts make threatening gestures, magical weapons appear out of thin air to menace Scooby and Shaggy, possessed household objects cause bodily injuries. No one is ever seriously hurt.
Frightening Situations: The gang encounters dozens of evil spirits, haunted houses, cave-dwelling animals, pirates, coffins, trap doors, and other staples of ghost stories. They always turn out to be controlled by some local businessman.
Questionable Behavior: Scooby and Shaggy eat junk food, make fun of old people, and act like cowards when they should be helping their friends.
Profanity: Only if "Zounds!" offends you.
SCOOBY-DOO, WHERE ARE YOU? has aged very well -- so well, in fact, that most pre-teens think of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's associates rather than animated crime-solvers when someone mentions "The Scooby Gang." Those who grew up with more recent videos like SCOOBY-DOO AND THE WITCH'S GHOST may find the flat animation and corny jokes of the original episodes a little boring. But others may be pleased to discover that the "supernatural" mysteries in these older installments all have rational explanations, which attentive audience members may be able to figure out along with Velma, Daphne, and Fred.
The violence is mild enough for very young viewers, whose fear about ghosts and witches quickly dissolves while watching Scooby's silliness. The Great Dane acts like a young child, while Shaggy acts like an immature teenager. These unlikely heroes usually discover the vital clues to solve the cases, though it's clever Velma -- a fine role model for girls -- who puts the pieces together.
Adults will get a kick out of the so-bad-it's-funny '70s soundtrack, though the animation will look very simplistic to fans of recent anime and Disney films. Characters' arms and legs move in the air for several seconds before they actually start running or falling; a single clip of a character climbing a rope will be shown three or four times in one sequence.
Still, many long-time fans consider these the Golden Age of Scooby-Doo, for they lack Dynomutt and Scrappy, the superhero dog and young sidekick introduced later on. Some of the best episodes have been compiled in SCOOBY-DOO'S GREATEST MYSTERIES.