Velma NYCC Trailer, Panel Teases Mindy Kaling’s Unhinged Scooby Reboot

Shout “Jinkies!” and put on the square glasses: From Warner Bros. animation, Velma is an animated comedy series that unravels the origin story of Velma Dinkley, the iconic orange-collared brain of the Scooby-Doo Mystery Inc. gang. In a departure from the family-friendly approachable Scooby Doo franchise, Velma is an adult-oriented performance (see poster with the blood-spattered glasses), featuring Rick and Morty and Harley Quinn mentioned as important sources of inspiration.

Executive producer Mindy Kaling, who also voices Velma; showrunner Charlie Grandy; Constance Wu (Daphne); Sam Richardson (Norville, who will be known as “Shaggy”); and Glenn Howerton (Fred) joined fans at New York Comic Con 2022 to explain the new direction for the long-running horror comedy series. Fans in attendance also got a taste of the show with a screening of the entire pilot episode.

The show introduces Velma to her high school days as a bespectacled loser. If two cockroaches don’t detect copulation in the opening scene Velma‘, the next scene should do it: naked teenage girls partaking in physical assault in gym showers (while debating the ethical appropriateness and exploitation of blatant nudity in the media). Later, the corpse of a teenager is found in Velma’s locker, making her the prime suspect in the eyes of two cops (Wanda Sykes and Jane Lynch). Of course, she must solve the mystery to clear her name. One problem: Velma hasn’t really solved a mystery in a while, not since her mother, a novelist, disappeared from her life. And every time Velma tries to solve a mystery, she is harassed by hideous zombie-like ghosts.

Norville aka Shaggy, a black man with spiky hair and a wimp of soul, dressed in a green shirt

Image: HBO Max

This preview also depicts the Mystery Inc. crew as high school students. Popular girl Daphne is the antithesis of Velma; she’s a cartoon mean girl, and is also the most pop culture savvy of the bunch, Grandy said. Kaling added, “Daphne has her own mysteries about her own life.”

Velma and Daphne begin the series with a burning grudge against the other for being former childhood friends. In developing the series, Kaling (who also created the teen-focused Netflix series) Never have I ever) brought her love of high school shows that “find people from different social strata”[ing] something in common.” Velma is a high school show, “so we get to see all the high school events and dances besides being a murder mystery.”

No one involved with HBO Max or the Scooby franchise pushed back against the racier and goier direction the team wanted to take with the iconic mystery gang, Grandy said. He confirmed Warner Bros.’ Support: “They said, ‘Great, have fun.'”

The biggest revelation? The Velma pilot makes no allusion to Norville with a dog. Think Gotham and the conspicuous absence of Batman. Grandy addressed the brown-spotted Great Dane (not) in the room by explaining that the team thought carefully about what it could do to differentiate between Velma like an adult show. “What made Scooby Doo a children’s show is Scooby-Doo,” Grandy said. “We could not have a look at it like how can we do this in a fun and modern way. [Our efforts] coincided with Warner Bros. Animation that said we couldn’t use the dog!” For Grandy, the omission of the iconic Great Dane accentuates the mature tone of Velma — but who knows what will happen during the show’s serialized journey.

Since the original Scooby-Doo, where are you! debuted in 1969 on CBS, Velma and the gang have survived several iterations, from cartoons to live-action movies to video games. Just this week, Velma hit the headlines when the most recent direct-to-video animated film (finally) confirmed her ability to crush gay.

The recent portrayal of Velma’s gay identity (after decades of ambiguity and James Gunn’s failed attempt to affirm her sexuality) seemed to have been on the moderator’s mind when he asked, “Is there a Velma and Daphne moment?” insinuating romantic shipping and stirring the crowd to cheers.

Kaling replied:[Velma] has unresolved sexual tension with a lot of characters.” Her Velma actually comes face to face with Daphne at one point in the pilot, and she finds the arrogant Fred annoyingly hot. “We were drawn to this journey of self-discovery for her,” Kaling said. “We wanted to honor the other interpretations and do what is modern.”

A post from Daphne wearing a purple dress and green bow tie with the words

Fred in his white shirt and red tie says

Images: HBO Max

Velma’s only friend in high school is Shaggy – proper name Norville – who has been shown to be calmer. Shaggy “absolutely dislikes drugs,” he says in the pilot. His “joking jokes” — really just that he genuinely admits his crush on Velma — plays a part in saving the mystery-solving heroine later in the pilot. So how does Shaggy grow into a “burnout” later in the canon? Grandy promised, “You will see the evolution of the character.”

Velma‘s creators have reimagined the character as being of South Asian descent, like Kaling, because “most Indian Americans [women]If they see a skeptical, hardworking, undervalued character, they can identify with her. This show is for them.”

Daphne and Shaggy have also been re-imagined as East Asian and Black, respectively, as have their voice actors, because “nobody on [Scooby-Doo] is determined by their whiteness,” Kaling said – “except Fred is extremely white.”

That made Howerton (an alumnus of It’s always sunny in Philadelphia and Kaling’s Mindy project) perfect for the role, with his tendency to play white men. He agreed, saying, “It’s similar to what me and my friends did together as the extremely entitled white kid, like, Mom, give me exactly what I want! I kinda expected it [the voice direction] to stop me. But nobody stopped me.”

The moderator asked a question about the euphoria of the on-screen display. When did the cast see themselves on television? Wu replied – probably referring to her role as Jessica Huang on Hot off the press, the production of which recently emerged as a subject of her revealing book – “I think I may have played her. The first time I saw her, it could have been myself.” Before Richardson, he saw himself in the Black Power Ranger.

It remains to be seen whether Velma will explore the reworked ethnicities of the characters; the show seems to prioritize a mix of adult-friendly comedy and senseless violence that only animation can deliver. The first season of Velmastarring Stephen Root and Weird Al Yankovic, is slated to air on HBO Max in 2023.

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