Though Velma lends a star-studded cast and well-developed characters, the series attempts to incorporate too many elements into the storyline, which results in a lack of direction and focus.
We review the HBO Max series Velma season 1, which does not contain spoilers.
The Mystery Incorporated clan has been iconic since the release of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969, though this time around, all eyes are on Velma Dinkley. Various iterations based on the gang have been produced over the last fifty-three years, and yet, the famous fivesome still remains an angle of intrigue when it comes to storytelling. The latest adaptation, airing on HBO Max, is a ten-episode adult animated series that explores Velma’s origin with a modern-day spin.
Velma Season 1 Review and Plot Summary
Executive produced by Charlie Grandy and Mindy Kaling — who also voices the titular character — the series takes us back to Velma’s high school days before the sleuths united. In this iteration, and true Scooby fashion, well — minus the Great Dane himself — murder is rampant, and there are plenty of mysteries to solve. While Velma (Kaling) is trying to uncover the cause of her mother’s disappearance, a ghastly serial killer is at large, targeting attractive girls from her school. Jinkies!
Alongside the starring role, we see other familiar faces such as Fred (Glenn Howerton), Daphne (Constance Wu), and Shaggy, who in this spinoff series, goes by his first name Norville and is played by Sam Richardson. Other actors among the star-studded cast include Stephen Root, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Wanda Sykes, Shay Mitchell, Melissa Fumero, Russell Peters, Sarayu Blue, Ming-Na Wen, Debby Ryan, Jane Lynch, and more. Frank Welker — who voiced Fred in the original Scooby-Doo television series in the 60s— is also part of the project, though, in this spinoff, he takes on the role of Fred’s dad.
The drawbacks of Velma have no reflection on the stellar cast but rather within the material presented, which lacks focus. Pop culture references are used for comedic purposes and to connect with the audience, but their overabundance becomes tiresome. The series is raunchy, and profanity and gore are also woven into the storyline, but oftentimes, the presence of such feels out of place and incorporated merely to tick a box.
Velma is recognizable, rocking her orange sweater, red skirt, and signature glasses, but her “woe is me” complex is a vastly different version of the character we are familiar with. This modern adaptation makes the detective rather unlikeable and void of the qualities that made her such a fan favorite in the first place.
Thankfully, all is not lost, as the series does present some positives. Daphne, Fred, Norville, and Velma are well-fleshed-out characters, and their interactions with one another accurately depict the growing pains that come with being a teenager. The story of each character is unique, and in one form or another, showcases their individual growth.
Casting for each role is fitting, and the actors do a fantastic job of embracing the personality of whom they’re portraying. The series certainly has some humorous moments, particularly when it comes to the bickering, crushes, and awkward interactions that take place among the clan.
Is Velma Season 1 on HBO Max good?
Velma struggles to deliver as it tries to balance staying true to the source material and bringing its own unique ideas to the table. Ultimately, the challenge of juggling the two proves to be too much, and though the series thrives to be individualistic, it overcompensates by cramming too many variables into the storyline. This, in turn, creates a lack of focus and direction.
With that being said, the series lends an impressive cast, and each character has a unique story that keeps the viewer invested. If those are elements of intrigue and you enjoy adult animated series, then Velma may be worth the watch. If, however, you’re a die-hard Scooby-Doo fan, I’d certainly go into the viewing experience with low expectations, as this version of the gang differs significantly from the original.
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