- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2019

Well before “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy” dazzled viewers with celebrity guest star appearance, the Mystery Inc. gang spent 1972 and 1973 on the CBS network running into a cavalcade of pop culture stalwarts.

Spread out over two Blu-ray discs, The New Scooby Doo Movies: The (Almost) Complete Collection (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated PG, 986 minutes, 1.33:1 aspect ratio, $59.99) offers a nostalgic glimpse into Hanna Barbera cartooning through 23, roughly 43-minute-long episodes starring Scooby Doo, Shaggy Rogers, Velma Dinkley, Daphne Blake and Fred Jones.

Guest stars playing themselves included the likes of Sonny and Cher, Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts, Tim Conway, Don Adams, Phyllis Diller, Sandy Duncan (why?), The Mamas and the Papas’ Cass Elliot and The Monkees’ Davy Jones.

Highlights include the gang teaming up with the Harlem Globetrotters classic team (Meadowlark Lemon, Curly Neal and Geese Ausbie) while battling ghost pirates; “the” Dick Van Dyke while investigating a haunted carnival; and Batman and Robin as they thwart the plans of the Penguin (“Mary Tyler Moore Show’s” Ted Knight) and Joker (“F-Troops” Larry Storch).

Heck even the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy stopped by, but they were performed by voice-over actors such as Pat Harrington (“One Day at a Time”) as Moe Howard and Larry Harmon (Bozo the Clown) as Stan Laurel.

Of course, the 4x3 old resolution visual quality is mediocre with some dust and aberrations throughout, but the colors are bright and the celebrity animations are pretty close to the their real-life counterparts.

I wouldn’t have expected Warner Bros. to invest in any major digital remastering of the episodes from the Hanna-Barbera Production Inc. vault here, despite the world celebrating Scooby Doo’s 50th anniversary.

Now, conspicuously absent is the episode “Wednesday is Missing” that starred the cast of the 1960s’ “Addams Family” live-action television. You bet that I am bummed, and you can bet it was an actor licensing issue.

However, the shows are just ridiculous fun for fans of Scooby’s legacy and especially great for grandparents showing grandchildren a time when cartoons were much tamer.

Best extras: A trio of odd featurettes starts with a 5-minute roast of Scooby Doo by legendary cartoon canines such as Huckleberry Hound, the Jetsons’ Astro, Johnny Quest’s Bandit, the Flintstones’ Dino and Scrappy Doo.

Next, almost 9 minutes of Globetrotters’ Michael “Wild Thing” Wilson and Otis “Mr. OK” Key in live-action mode performing some slick dribbling, dunks and ball tricks with some Scooby animated scenes cut in.

Finally, 9 minutes celebrating the lives and positive attributes of Daphne and Velma presenting plenty of clips of the pair discussed and honored by a group of real humans (I have no idea who they are).

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