My hypothesis after watching the trailer was that it was going to be a decent show that was going to do poorly because people have preconceived notions about characters and other aspects of pre-existing IPs. Velma just straight up sucks even on its own. There’s no sugarcoating it. It is extremely immature and gross while thinking it’s smart, mature, and funny. Take the first five minutes or so of the series. They show us cockroaches having sex followed by naked teenage girls showering with cleverly placed soap bubbles obscuring their nipples but gratuitous butt shots still abound. Having cockroaches around helps indicate the state of the school and town with the cockroach sex seeming a bit over the top in my opinion. Meanwhile, as we watch the naked teenagers showering they talk about TV shows and make jokes about how pilot episodes are hypersexualized to bring in an audience. This is an attempt at meta humor that falls so flat because they are literally doing the trope that they’re trying to poke fun at. When you want to make those kinds of jokes, you need to subvert the trope you’re mocking in some way, not lean into it. Also, these are freaking teenagers! I felt extremely gross and dirty watching it and I’m scared I’m now on some FBI watchlist. Sadly, this show is all about this kind of humor. It wants to be funny and make statements, but the jokes just don’t land at all or are done in poor taste.
Velma has more than just some of the worst jokes though. It also has unearned resolutions galore. For example, in the second episode, Velma and Daphne go from hating each other, to crushing on each other, to kissing with no build-up, rationale, or chemistry. When the kiss happens, it’s extremely obvious and doesn’t feel earned. It is extremely forced.
If I still haven’t convinced you to not even hate-watch it, the characters all suck. In my trailer discussion, I talk about how the different characters have key characteristics and Velma appeared to ignore those. I can now confirm that the only similarities between the characters in Velma and literally any other iteration of Scooby-Doo are the names and the character designs are kind of familiar. Fred is a pampered teenage baby that can’t even feed himself and has a dad that says you must do and have certain things/traits in order to be a man. Fred’s small penis ends up being the butt of many jokes. Daphne is the adopted child of two clueless lesbian police detectives who is the local drug dealer and used to be best friends with Velma. Norville is obsessed with Velma, runs some kind of snack vlog (I think), and is anti-drugs. Velma is just a complete jerk and not even super smart. It’s established in the first episode that she has a crush on Fred with a shot of her diary or something saying Velma Dinkley-Jones and the opposite page says something like “I hate Daphne,” but then she appears to think Fred’s hot, but absolutely despises everything about him. Oh, and there’s no Scooby-Doo.
Are there any redeeming qualities to Velma? Kind of. For starters, I like a lot of the character designs and art. The animation itself is mostly fine, although there were moments watching it where it felt inconsistent and choppy. Also, while 99% of the jokes fall flat, there were roughly two jokes per episode that I found funny. Unfortunately, because I was so disgusted and enraged by everything else in the show, I couldn’t bring myself to laugh. One moment is in the second episode when Daphne and Velma are running from Daphne’s moms and it starts getting a vibe similar to Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. They end up going through the school field where some students are practicing archery and then it cuts to Velma looking back at Daphne with an arrow going through her head, but it turns out to be one of those prank arrow headbands. That was funny to me. There is one more kind of redeeming quality though.
The driving force behind the show Velma is that Velma’s mom left when she was a kid which has led Velma to have disturbing hallucinations anytime she goes to solve a mystery. This exploration of trauma, grief, and guilt could have been really interesting. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t actually seem all that interested in doing that in a thought-out and meaningful way.
An adult animated series doesn’t mean you have to fill it to the brim with immature jokes, teenage nudity, and gratuitous gore. Those things (minus the teenage nudity) can have a place. For example, we see murdered teenagers have their heads fall open to reveal their brain is missing. It’s pretty gross, but serves a point for the story. Having a paper cutter blade ricochet off a wall and dismember a teenager serves absolutely none. A series like Velma could benefit from being adult and R-rated because it would allow exploration of more mature themes and topics with some of the more gruesome stuff sprinkled in, but instead the show relies too much on the unnecessary.
My final point about Velma is this: stop having people who hate animation be in charge of or work on animation. There’s a very dumb line in the show where Velma throws shade at adults who watch cartoons. This is literally a cartoon whose target audience is adults! The show literally mocks its audience.
I have absolutely no idea what happened, but Velma is absolute garbage. If you want a darker tone in your Scooby-Doo, go watch Mystery Incorporated. If you want a funny Scooby-Doo, I can’t recommend Be Cool enough! Even if it weren’t connected to a pre-existing IP, Velma would’ve been awful. It’s not worth the hate-watch.