HBO Max has just released a reimagined spinoff of the popular, long-running kids show "Scooby-Doo." Despite the association with the Hanna-Barbera original, it’s being marketed as "adult" and features limbs being severed, one of the main character going to a strip club with her dad, and two teenage boys making out at their high school.
The results have been criticized by viewers and critics alike. It is currently sitting at a 50 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an even more dismal nine percent fan score. The series airs on the cable channel's streaming service. In a sign of the coming negativity, the company turned off comments for the trailer on YouTube.
The YouTube description on the trailer hints at how this new series will be vastly different from "Scooby-Doo" versions before by calling it an "adult" and "colorful" take: "VELMA is an adult-animated comedy series telling the origin story of Velma Dinkley, the unsung and under-appreciated brains of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang. This original and humorous spin unmasks the complex and colorful past of one of America’s most beloved mystery solvers."
Gwen Ihnat, the film critic for The Wrap said it "sounded like a great idea" to "lean into the long-held speculation about [Velma’s] sexuality."
But, she added, "You have to wonder, in the development of ‘Velma,’ where did everything go so horribly wrong?" Ihnat complained about "the pointless nudity, the gratuitous violence and gore." Indeed, the show’s first episode begins with a high school girl being brutally murdered and having "her brain cut out of her oozing corpse."
Variety also wanted to like the show’s modern leanings, praising the importance of "Velma’s "still-forming adolescent queer identity." But, ultimately, critic Joshua Alston concluded, "These characters are just really unpleasant to spend time with, and it starts at the top with Velma, whose selfish and misanthropic tendencies aren’t diluted by her moments of vulnerability."
On Twitter, Father Miller, a Catholic priest, noted this moment in the show’s trailer:
Another user on Twitter wondered, "WTF is going on" to a scene in which one of the characters has his leg brutally severed and blood sprays everywhere.
The disdain for the show is popping up on the left and the right. The popular "Bad Writing Takes" Twitter handle hammered the series, saying, "Velma is… extremely not good. It reads like a right-wing YouTuber's clumsy understanding of what a ‘diverse’ show is."
Though the critic reviews are bad, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is even worse with most giving it a half a star (out of five). One viewer called it "so insulting to the Scooby-Doo fan base." Another observed, "Very current year. This culture sucks so bad." Shane P concluded, "It's everything terrible about modern day Hollywood wrapped into a terrible reboot no one asked for."
The show is executive produced by and stars "Office" alum Mindy Kaling. On Twitter, she described her new take as "hilarious" and "sometimes scary." In December, Kaling seemed to show some hesitance about the long-running popularity of "The Office," saying that most of the characters would be "canceled" today. She added that she might never introduce the program to her children.