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Homeentertainment'Velma' review: HBO Max's 'Scooby-Doo' prequel is too acerbic for its own...

'Velma' review: HBO Max's 'Scooby-Doo' prequel is too acerbic for its own good

This is Velma for HBO Max No: It’s not Scooby-Doo You remember your childhood, or your parents from theirs. (In fact, the Great Dane doesn’t even appear.) It’s neither a faithful update to those wholesome old cartoons nor an attempt to reboot them with more dramatic heft. This isn’t just another supernatural teen drama, or another superhero origin story.

It’s too smart, at least it thinks so. From minute one, Velma is a thoroughly meta-event, a wink at the sillier staples of the Scooby-Doo universe, and the lore and stereotypes built around its characters , to the absurdity of TV screenwriting conventions in general. But if Velma is happy to send all the usual tropes, it doesn’t seem quite sure what it has to offer in their place. Velma

Bottom line Too much meta humor and not enough heart.

Broadcast date: Thursday, January 12 ( HBO Max) Cast: 2023 Mindy Kaling , Constance Wu, Sam Richardson, Glenn Howerton 2023 Developer: Charlie Grandy

by Charlie Grandy, The Office, The Mindy Project and Saturday Night Live, the adult-oriented cartoon is positioned as a prequel to the Scooby-Doo story we know and love. In the beginning, Velma (voiced by Mindy Kaling) is an awkward outcast teen whose mother Dia (Sarayu Blue) disappeared years ago and still haunts her—to the point of thinking about it too seriously. Reminiscent of life-threatening, and quite amazing animation, hallucinations.

But her interest in the case resumes once a series of murders at Crystal Cove High School, murders that may or may not have something to do with Diya’s absence but are sure to make the town The most beautiful and popular girls on the planet — like Velma’s bestie-turned-nemesis Daphne (Constance Wu) — are in danger. Further complicating matters are the raging teenage hormones, which send kids from one crush to another. Velma truthers can rest assured that the show wastes little time addressing speculation about whether the main character is gay, and if so, whether she’s in love with Daphne.

Originally, Velma‘s ironic approach was fun, like a string of clever tweets calling out overused tropes was fun Same. The comedy is so overblown with its own self-awareness that it adjusts itself within the first minute of its premiere. “Have you ever noticed that pilot episodes of TV shows always have more gratuitous sex and nudity than the rest of the series?” Daphne cheerfully points out, after a hot date with a hot girl on Riverdale Is it possible to be both self-referential and sexy before a nude shower fight.

The series is just as entertaining to showcase its much-discussed race-swapped character choices, or a wink at Shaggy’s junkie reputation. Here, the iconic slacker is presented as Norville (Sam Richardson), a sharp-eyed band geek who tells Velma, “Man, if I want to get in
, 2023 culture or especially 2023 ) related humor, kill me.” (The pair later clarified that 12 is “code for adults who still watch cartoons.” ) humor comes from an enviable comedic roster cast: Glenn Howerton plays Fred in the main foursome, a helpless rich boy with daddy issues and even a minor role Also by the likes of Weird Al Yankovic, Nicole Byer or Stephen Root.

But Velma insists it’s different from the rest of the show, and in this season’s ten half-hour episodes (eight of them one was sent to reviewers) was getting thinner. The opening voiceover promises this is a different kind of origin story, one that isn’t about “tall dudes struggling with the burden of being empowered” or asking “what’s driving this hot chick crazy?” Familiar, calling Riverdale in its arches, callingVeronica Mars prickly crime-solving heroine in its, Especially its HBO Max sister show Harley Quinn in its hilarious irreverence – all of which show that, whatever their flaws, they enjoy a stronger sense of identity and The sense of purpose is better than what Velma does.

For every solid crack (“Ranking hot girls is how the Trojan War and Facebook started!” ), there is an observation that feels like it came from some fidgety Redesigned Twitter drafts in the Writers folder. “I tell the truth unfiltered, like every comedian before #MeToo,” Velma declared, though the line came from a proud feminist teenager 12. In teen rom-coms, yass-queen feminism, hairy Brooklynites, and for some reason the movieSerpico, the future Scooby-doo gang and their half Peers in Theme Sniper may not seem like individuals compared to joke-telling machines.

YetVelma never forgot her love for the heroine. One of the cutest elements of Velma is, paradoxically, how unlikable she is–how selfish, self-righteous, traumatized and super- Lecherous teenager since time immemorial – the show seems to like her anyway. At one point, Velma tries to reinvent the school’s pretty, popular girls with her own “uggo” image, before finally admitting, “I don’t know how to be a woman in a way that doesn’t judge other women.” One of the show’s most thoughtful and emotionally honest beats also proves its willingness to meet Velma in her own flawed way.

Perhaps this is also, based on the series’ emphasis on snark over heart, a lesson Velma can consider for itself.

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