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Jinkies! Mindy Kaling and the ‘Velma’ cast unmask a sneak peek at NYCC
“This is a scary show, with murders.”
Velma Dinkley is having a moment. The Scooby-Doo character is usually relegated to the B-story, but Mindy Kaling is changing that with Velma, a brand new animated series that will soon debut on HBO Max.
The Mindy Project mastermind (and alum of The Office) came to New York Comic Con 2022 today for both a press conference and a panel, and she spilled a huge bag of Scooby snacks alongside showrunner (and Kaling's longtime collaborator) Charlie Grandy. SYFY WIRE was there to get all of the mysterious goods.
The animated series is for adults, and offers a prequel to the classic animated series. That show featured four people (and a dog) solving crimes for free in a van. As Grandy asked, “What did they go through in High School that pushed them to do that?” The new show, set in high school, will address that. Though it will focus on Velma, young versions of the rest of the classic cast will also be in the show.
Kaling described it as being similar to Veronica Mars, with some Harley Quinn in there as well. “This is a scary show, with murders,” she said. “It’s not for kids,” she added, saying that her own daughters may get to see it when they are in college. Kaling’s South Asian heritage will be a part of the show as well; Velma and her family are depicted as being South Asian. As Grandy said, “Why wouldn’t they be?” The only character that will be very close to what he was originally is the young version of Fred. “Fred had to be white,” according to Kaling.
Velma’s sexuality (recently a hot topic) will be addressed on the series… though Kaling and Grandy didn’t want to give too much away. “Self-discovery will be big,” Kaling said. Part of that journey will also feature iconic aspects of the original show getting origin stories, to “imbue them with meaning,” as Grandy said. Velma’s use of the word “jinkies” as well as her trademark sweater are two things in particular that audiences will get background on.
The panel began with a sneak peek of the series, and Kaling wasn't kidding when she said it was for adults. It's bloody, it swears, it's serialized, and it is highly self-aware. It evokes everything from The X-Files to Riverdale, while establishing a distinct tone of its own.
“My name is Velma Dinkley, and this is my origin story," begins Kaling as Velma. “This is my story, told my way… and it starts with a murder, b***h.”
That's more than enough to go on. Kaling and Grandy returned to the stage along with newly announced castmembers, including Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia) who plays Fred (and appeared via Zoom), and Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians), who plays Daphne. Shaggy has not yet become Shaggy yet, the series will find him grow into the role. He's "Norville" when we first meet him, played by Sam Richardson (Veep), who also appeared via Zoom.
"Growing up, I identified with Velma... she was cute, but not traditionally hot. I love the series, and I feel so honored I get to do the voice," Kaling said to the crowd. "Let's be honest, I sound like a 15-year-old girl," she added, when asked why she wanted to perform the role personally.
Howerton remarked that he arrived at Fred's younger sounding voice by leaning in to "the extremely entitled, over privileged kid" that this version of the character begins as. When it comes to playing "mean girl" Daphne, Wu didn't take the age of her into consideration as much. "I don't think I'd be very good at playing prepubescent, even though I look it sometimes," she said.
The cast also includes Cherry Jones, Gary Cole, Ken Leung, Wanda Sykes, Russell Peters, Melissa Fumero, Kulap Villysack, Yvonne Orji, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Nicole Byer, Debby Ryan, Ming-Na Wen, Shay Mitchell, Sarayu Blue, Fortune Feimster, Jane Lynch, Stephen Root, and NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns. Frank Welker, who has been involved in almost every Scooby-Doo effort since its inception, is also in the cast.
Will Scooby-Doo himself ever appear in the show? Grandy says there will be dog homages and so forth, but fans shouldn't expect it, noting that Warner Bros. told them that they couldn't use the character.
The best news of all for fans who are looking forward to the new series is that there is already more on the way. Season 2 is being written right now.
Velma will come to HBO Max in 2023.
Click here for all of SYFY Wire's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022.
In the mood for some illuminating animation? Check out Minions: The Rise of Gru, now streaming on Peacock!