What Does 'Velma' Want?
If you don't have anything nice to say, write about it anyway because you promised Beth.
This letter is the second and final part of conversation between Beth’s Exceptional Video Playlist and Feature Presentation. The first letter was posted here by Beth and this is my response.
Thanks a bunch for inviting me to write back and forth about Velma. Unfortunately for you, however, I think you owe me a few episodes of Antiques Roadshow, (or maybe just Season 1 of Succession?) My entire ethos behind Feature Presentation is to celebrate movies, tv, pop culture, etc. that we love (a common editorial note: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all) and Velma is not only something I have nothing nice to say about, I believe it to be practically unwatchable.
I am a Scooby-Doo kid through and through. My mom raised me on the original cartoon (a favorite of her childhood) and that upbringing coincided with the Golden Era of Doo, the direct-to-VHS run that included the best of the best: Zombie Island and Cyber Chase. I could obnoxiously talk about Scooby for hours and have had to contain myself on Y2Kidz from talking about it all the freaking time.
My issue with Velma is not that it's nonsensical (it is) or that it's a pseudo-parody (is it?) or that it's obnoxious (it is). My issue with Velma is that it has absolutely nothing to do with Scooby-Doo. Is that the show's fault? Most likely not, in a bizarre way, because it wouldn't have been made if it wasn't attached to an IP that we all love. Warner/HBO would never make a show about a bisexual South Asian–American young lady who solves mysteries. But Scooby, for all intents and purposes, is a cash cow and if you can package something as Scooby, even if there's no Scooby, you can get a green light.
I wrote the following in our A-Listers review for The Batman last year:
I would have liked this movie a lot more if it was just an original story. I don’t really like how filmmakers are taking these things that matter to me and twisting them to fit their own agenda.
I'm really sick of media conglomerates, particularly Warner (the proprietor of both Scooby and Batman) giving "creatives" the ability to do whatever they want with crap from my childhood. I'm down for doing something different with Scooby, I enjoyed both of the live-action hootenannies and the comedy-first Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, but this is just purposeful disappointment. I have no issue with things like changing their races (why would that matter?) or their sexual orientations (why would that matter?), I have every issue with the fact that they've made these characters shitheads. And stupid. And obnoxious. And arrogant. And murderers.
What does this show want to do with these characters? Or better - what does it want at all? There are comedies that are funnier and mysteries that are stronger and Mystery Gangs that are more charming. Its "pseudo-parody" (is it?) approach just comes across as irreverence. And borderline irresponsibility.
So let's put this aside for a minute and say that it's not Scooby related at all. It's just a brand new original idea. It's still...uh...not any good for all of those half-in/half-out excuses that make it impossible to choke down. In fact, I couldn't do it. I could not have possibly made it all the way to the finale, despite my best efforts. I think I'd rather be tackled by the Chicago Bears' offensive line every Thursday and recount my hospital itemized receipt every Monday than do what you did on your site, which I believe to be the closest thing tv recappers can get to heroism (over 20 hours!). And even your mixed-at-best weekly tracking is the closest thing I've seen to praise!
Is this a show for me, a white-cismale-hetero-Scooby aficionado? Probably not. And it doesn't have to be! But it does have to be worthwhile and pleasant and digestible. And I don't see from just about any angle how it's any of those things. What does it want from me? What does it want from us? What? does? it? want? I just can't seem to wrap my head around this one.
And I would’ve gotten away with it too,
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