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'Velma' boss says show reinvents 'Scooby-Doo!' canon: 'It's not like you're doing Batman'
This ain't your grandaddy's Mystery, Inc.
Warner Bros. (now Warner Bros. Discovery) is famously protective of its legacy characters. Last summer, for instance, the animated Harley Quinn series made headlines across the internet when co-creator Justin Halpern admitted that they were not allowed to produce a scene where Batman...***ahem***...goes down on Catwoman. Violence and swearing are perfectly acceptable, but you suggest the Caped Crusader perform oral sex one time and suddenly you're out of your mind.
When Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy set out to make HBO Max's upcoming Velma show (premiering in the new year), on the other hand, they discovered very little pushback from the studio, which allowed them to place a fresh twist on Scooby-Doo! lore.
"I watched the original and there's some canon, but they've reinvented it," Grandy, who serves as showrunner and executive producer, recently explained to Bleeding Cool. "So it's not like you're doing Batman. That gave us a little bit of freedom. And I think everyone has that feeling of 'I'm the one doing all the work. I'm the smart one, but I'm not in the front seat. Fred and Daphne are in the front seat. I'm in the back seat with Shaggy and the dog.' It's not only aspirational. It's relatable."
"I always, growing up, identified with Velma," Kaling admitted. "She was so cute, but not traditionally hot – [she was] super-smart [with] super-thick glasses, a questionable haircut. I think most Asian American girls may see this skeptical, hardworking, and under-appreciated character, and they can identify with her."
Vastly different from the adventures of Mystery, Inc. that most of us remember from our childhoods, Velma takes the same approach as Harley Quinn, bringing the kid-friendly property into more adult-oriented territory. As Kaling, who leads the cast as the voice of Ms. Dinkley, promised at New York Comic Con, "This is a scary show, with murders." Glenn Howerton (Fred), Constance Wu (Daphne), and Sam Richardson (Norville, aka the future Shaggy) round out the talented ensemble.
"Velma is the smartest person in the room, but no matter what gets no credit," Grandy added. "So what would it be like to do an origin story of that person when they were still pretty rough around the edges, before everyone in this gang was getting on… when they could still be wrong from time to time and could be a little bit flawed?"
Velma arrives on HBO Max sometime in 2023. Howard Klein and Sam Register are executive producers alongside Kaling and Grandy.
Looking for a groovy mystery? The Lost Symbol is now streaming on Peacock.