1 December 2019 | Dawalk-1
Beginning With Scooby Doo And Crew; Ending With New Shmoo And Crew.
Because this was less than a decade before my time, it never seemed to air on Cartoon Network (or, at least, that I know of, anyway), and I was never able to watch it on Boomerang, it's one of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons I didn't grow up on watching. Other than Josie and the Pussycats and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, this is one of the Scooby Doo clones I didn't see when I was little/younger nor did I know those I did see were supposed to be rehashes of Scooby Doo. I decided to check it out online earlier this year, despite this and the other imitators' reputation for being derivative. Not regarding the facts that I grew up on watching some of the Scooby shows and in spite of having some bias toward the franchise in recent years, due to how omnipresent it is and coming out with something new to add to the franchise too frequently, I actually find this slightly better too in spite of it being formulaic and gimmicky. It may be considered a guilty pleasure for me probably.
After the Lil' Abner comic creator Al Capp's death, Hanna-Barbera got the rights to use his Shmoo character in his first animation appearance. One of the three mystery/Scooby-based shows adapted from previous, other properties (after Josie & the Pussycats and The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan). But what separates the Shmoo seen in this show from the one in the comic is that this version of the character has shapeshifting powers.
The New Shmoo follows the adventures Shmoo has with a diverse trio of teenagers who are comic book writers/detectives: the Caucasian males: Mickey and Billy Joe, (the latter also being a hick) and a Latina: Nita. Both Mickey and Nita are more excited, and enthusiastic, when it comes to pursuing cases, whereas Billy Joe is less so and is the worrywart of their investigative circle. The cases they solve are sources of inspiration for the comics. Shmoo provides some comic relief in the form of sight gags, by turning into whatever object happens to be mentioned and he often takes it literally. One of the reviewers before me described the show as a cartoon X-Files. I'm not so sure about that (especially considering since that hadn't even come to fruition yet), but it does try to be a little more distinctive with a few sci-fi elements. Although homogeneous, there's still a reason to watch it anyway, if nothing else, for its historical firsts. Interestingly enough, Nita seems to be the first Latina lead protagonist in a Hanna-Barbera toon and she, and Mickey, may be the first interracial item. Another distinction is that almost none of the criminals in this series use the "you meddling kids" line or any other variations of it. Unlike the Scooby Doo franchise's Daphne Blake, Nita is never a damsel-in-distress (though I've read elsewhere that Daphne isn't that anymore at some point in later Scooby series).
The art and character designs are among the finest ever drawn. The character animation seems fluid enough, but as far as the backgrounds, they seemed to be more limited since the scenery is looped at times. Aside from that and the occasional goofs, those may be the only things that make the animation, at least, partly limited, so I'll give those a pass regardless. The stories, though average, are at least coherent. The voice work sounds fine enough. The music is decent too, with the theme song having enough catchiness to it. The characters are decent enough.
As the '70s winded down, this would close the Scooby clones trend. This is notable for arriving at the tail end of the '70s and being the last of the Scooby clones, but it ended on a decent note. Like the other Scooby emulators or imitators, it just didn't match that franchise's success. Other than Shmoo himself, the detectives haven't appeared in anything else since, seemingly not even a cameo in Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law. I'd like to see something done with them again somehow, as long as it's done right. Despite its gimmicky derivation, I've been having a fondness for it anyway and I think this just may actually be my most favorite of the Scooby clones. When it's finally brought to DVD officially, I think I'd still buy it. To all those who griped about the Scooby pattern, it was actually some network executives' idea, not Hanna-Barbera, so they should be blamed more. But after thinking about it, I don't mind that too much, since there'd be material to compensate for that later. It's good enough for what it is. I rather watch this than anything by Dingo Pictures, Spark Plug Entertainment, and that Brazilian animation studio any day. It isn't too bad, much better than Fangface (from video reviews I've seen of it) and The Buford Files (with writing not on the level of this, based on a commentary I read). Even if it may not had set itself apart enough, it's still underrated and was slept on for simply being a Scooby clone. It didn't have a chance and deserves much more. At least it recycles animation less than The Amazing Chan cartoon. Please, don't pass this up for anybody reading this. Recommended.