It’s An Iffy Start For ‘Velma’ In Debut Episode
by Frank Martin
Reboots and re-imaginings of classic franchises are still the rage these days, leading to even more niche and edgy programs for an adult-oriented audience. HBO Max had great success with giving Harley Quinn her own raunchy show. Now it seems that Velma of Scooby-Doo: Where Are You? fame is getting the same treatment with Velma. Right off the bat, there are some indicators that might turn Scooby-Doo fans off from the jump. For one, Scooby-Doo is barely in it — if he’s even in it at all. Instead, it’s an origin story of sorts that puts Velma (Mindy Kaling) front and center.
The premiere sets the stage as we learn this Velma’s mother abandoned her family when she was a girl. This left Velma traumatized to solve mysteries, which causes her hallucinations whenever she tries to solve a new one. Meanwhile, the death of one of her classmates has made Velma the main suspect. Daphne (Constance Wu) is positioned as her former best friend, and Fred (Glenn Howerton) is a rich idiot incapable of anything. Lastly, Shaggy (Sam Richardson) isn’t even Shaggy yet — he goes by Norville and has feelings for Velma, which she routinely denies.
On the one hand, the writing for the show is smart, quick, and witty. It’s pretty funny, but the fact that it’s coming from a twisted version of beloved and nostalgic cartoon is awkward. Also, the fact that Velma is experiencing hallucinations that nobody else can see is odd. The animation during these sequences is great, but these jumbled pieces of story are hard to put together as a whole. The show seems like it has a bunch of different concepts. Some of these parts — such as the mystery and humor — work well while others are awkward. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out.
New episodes of Velma stream Thursdays on HBO Max.