Created by: Charlie Grandy
Directors: Anne Walker Farrell (Velma), Cal Ramsey (The Candy (Wo)man)
Writers: Charlie Grandy (Velma), Akshara Sekar (The Candy (Wo)man)
Cast: Mindy Kaling, Glenn Howerton, Sam Richardson, Constance Wu, Russell Peters, Melissa Fumero, Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, Cherry Jones, Frank Welker
“Velma” & “The Candy (Wo)man” – 13/01/23
Velma debuted with a double episode premiere on Binge. The show will continue to release two episodes every Friday for a total of ten episodes.
The target audience for Velma is confusing. The adult-orientated animated series is an origin story for Velma Dinkley and the creation of Mystery Inc. Scooby-Doo. Its various spin-off and movies are targeted at kids, yet Velma seems to be for something other than the kids who watched Scooby-Doo and have grown up. The show targets teens who have yet to watch the show; they never had Cartoon Network or Saturday morning cartoons; they’ve always had Netflix and don’t even know who Velma is. But maybe that is the target audience because Velma is a show all too happy to throw out any idea you may have had for Fred, Daphne or “Shaggy,” who is going by his real name here, Norville.
The series debuted with a double episode that introduced the young teenage versions of our would-be mystery solvers. Five minutes into ‘Velma’ the pilot episode, there’s nudity, a dead body missing a brain and jokes about cockroaches having sex. I hated the first five-to-ten minutes of the premiere episode and was very quickly going to write the series off. Still, I came around to the new versions of these characters in the back end of the premiere and the second episode, “The Candy (Wo)man.” The joke quality isn’t consistent, and the show has already set it up to consistently make fun of TV tropes while proceeding to do the thing it’s making fun of other shows for doing. Funny once and dumb every time after.
The first episode introduces the snarky Velma, who is against solving mysteries as she thinks her mystery-solving as a kid led to her mother disappearing. But when someone turns up in her locker dead and missing her brain, she begins piecing together elements. Along the way, we learn about her relationship with Daphne being strained — once childhood besties, now Daphne is the cool girl in school with no time for Velma; Fred is the hot guy in school but as dumb as rocks, and Norville is clearly in love with Velma but doesn’t express it, and Velma believes their relationship is purely platonic. For those wondering, there is no Scooby-Doo here, and it’s the one thing I do hope is added into the show as it progresses; as much as I understand it’s a prequel, what are the Mystery Inc gang without Scooby-Doo?
I was surprised to learn that the series will have a narrative arc instead of the classic ‘monster of the week’ stylings of typical Scooby-Doo shows. Velma is trying to find the person killing these girls in her school while also gathering files in the background to find out what happened to her mother. All the while, she’s building relationships with her-future partners in crime-solving. In the second episode, “The Candy (Wo)man,” Velma is clearly written as a queer woman as her relationship with Daphne is built upon, and the two get some great moments together. As does Fred, who I’ve decided I very much enjoy seeing portrayed as what he is: the spoilt rich white dude.
The voice cast is fantastic, with Mindy Kaling bringing the ultimate level of snark to Velma that would make Daria blush. Glenn Howerton is gloriously dimwitted as Fred, Constance Wu is lively and (once you get through that first ten minutes) a surprisingly likeable character and Sam Richardson’s portrayal of the man who will be “Shaggy” is mainly used as comedic relief, but he’s a lovable guy. All the characters look great, with the series at times elevating to the level of high-antiomed and overly expressivness that the characters are often seen doing in their original series.’ It’s also a very colourful show and plays into surrealism at times, with characters losing limbs in gory fashion for jokes and played off a scene later as if nothing happened.
When the credits rolled on episode two, I had come around on Velma. I still have no idea who the target audience for this show is, if it’ll find one, or if the mystery and character relationships will grow tiresome on me, and I’ll do a 180 back to seeing this show a bit too trie-hard as I felt in that opening ten minutes. As of now, I’m aboard. Let’s jump into the Mystery Machine and solve the tale of your missing mother, Velma.