ScoobyDooSurfsUpcoverGrade: B+
Entire family: Yes
1969-2015, 272 min. (13 cartoons), Color
Not rated (would be G, easily)
Warner Bros.
Aspect ratio: Varies (see below)
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Bonus features: N/A
Trailer/Amazon link

“Scooby-Doo! and the Beach Beastie” is a brand-new 22-minute cartoon and the sixth direct-to-DVD offering of its kind. But when you compare this latest effort with the “filler” added to flesh out the two-disc Scooby-Doo! 13 Spooky Tales: Surf’s Up, Scooby-Doo!, you almost wish that Warner Bros. had substituted a few more older episodes instead. “Beach Beastie” is by far the weakest, a going-through-the-motions affair that relies too much on Fred’s paranoia over nets and Scooby’s new love interest. It also offers too little in the way of mystery and phony monster moments—the two driving forces behind the popular franchise. What we get this time is a water monster that we’ve seen too many times before in other films.

Though a few voiceover actors and the style of drawing and animation changed over the years, the formula remains mostly the same: the Mystery, Inc. gang (timid Great Dane Scooby-Doo, always hungry Shaggy, bookish Velma, stylish Daphne, and All-American guy Fred) rambled onto the scene where a monster or ghost was terrifying people. Sometimes they were hired to get to the bottom of things, while other times they helped out a friend or simply “fell into” a mystery while trying to take a vacation—often to some exotic location. And always the unmasking revealed a phony monster with someone inside or with a remote control manipulating it for revenge or personal gain.

I don’t know if Warner Bros. deliberately chose “filler” episodes from a full range of Saturday-morning Scooby-Doo! cartoon shows, but to me that variety is the chief bonus. You really get a sense of the whole arc of this franchise. If only Warner Bros. had arranged the episodes in order, so viewers could better see how the characters and the series developed over 40 years. As is, the episodes are arranged either thematically (if you’re a glass half-full person) or randomly (if half-empty).  More