Reviews left on IMDB.com of the new Scooby Doo series “Velma” on HBO Max are among the most negative comments ever left on the site for a TV show.
The thumbs-down commentary has been posted by a veritable army of ordinary people -- many of them long-time fans of the old animated series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” from which “Velma” has been “reimagined.”
First “imagined” in 1969, “Scooby-Doo” was about a group of four teens who solved mysteries. One of them was Velma Dinkley, the “smart” girl in oversized glasses.
Scooby-Doo was a dog -- a clumsy, well-meaning Great Dane -- who was capable of a kind of rudimentary speech (in the manner of the family dog Astro in “The Jetsons”).
Scooby-Doo's owner (not his “parent,” his owner) was one of the teens, Shaggy -- so named for his unkempt hair and goatee beard.
Following its first run on CBS and then ABC until 1985, the “Scooby-Doo” brand has been sustained ever since in spinoffs, revival series and movies, both animated and live-action.
The latest is the animated “Velma” (pictured above), which started streaming on HBO Max in January. The show’s first season encompasses 10 episodes.
The show is positioned as the character's “origin story.” She is voiced by actress and writer Mindy Kaling, whose parents are from India. The reimagined Velma character is also of south Asian descent. To reflect this, the character has been darkened.
In the new show, she is also bisexual. One of the first-season plot lines has her pining for another girl in her high school.
An online search of “Velma” criticism turns up an embarrassment of riches -- so many negative comments that one newspaper reportedly labeled “Velma” “the most hated show on TV.” And yet, the show has reportedly been renewed for a second season.
For those who enjoy the occasional dive into a cornucopia of social-media negativity, IMDB.com's “Velma” review page is a great place to start.
On Wednesday, the lineup of comments on the page numbered 632. While there are undoubtedly some positive reactions buried in there somewhere, the comments are overwhelmingly negative.
Many detractors complained that this reimagining of the Scooby-Doo brand amounted to obliterating it.
There was also criticism that the new show resorts to adult themes and situations which never would have been a part of the original series.
“This was atrocious. … The jokes were so juvenile, so heavy handed and the premise so far removed from the original IP, it was embarrassing,” wrote one.
“Why is this series about sex and what does any of the random sexual situations have to do with Scooby Doo?” the commenter asked. “Speaking of which, where is Scooby and Shaggy? Shouldn’t they be a part of this too?”
“This series is one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life. I literally prefer to be blind and deaf than to have to watch and hear this big pile of horse crap,” wrote another detractor. “The characters have nothing to do with the original characters from the Scooby Doo franchise and the series is horrible.”
“The original Scooby Doo had a wholesome message about a group of friends from different backgrounds learning to work together to overcome challenges, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the mystery could never be solved without working together,” wrote one long-time fan.
“[“Velma”] repeatedly emphasizes superficial characteristics. It embodies every negative stereotype and cliché of the modern remake, exuding pure bitterness and hatred,” the fan wrote.
“All of the characters are entitled, self-absorbed morons,” wrote another “Velma” critic. “The shock value of turning a formerly wholesome children’s cartoon into cynical vulgarity wears thin after about 30 seconds, which is coincidentally about how long into the first episode it takes to realize this show is dedicated to being mean-spirited and aggressively awful for no apparent reason.”
“Imagine taking a kids show and turning it into a disgusting college frat house drama where everyone is a bully and vomiting for laughs,” opined another disappointed “Scooby” fan. “This might be the most hate filled re-interpretation of a cartoon I've ever seen.”
Maybe people are just growing tired of Hollywood's appetite for churning out “reimagined” versions of movies and TV shows that most people would prefer they left alone.
After all, HBO Max is the content company that reimagined Perry Mason as not a lawyer. What exactly was the point of that?