Scooby-Doo Mystery Theatre II, New Millennium Theatre Company, at Strawdog Theatre Company. Hoping for a satisfying sequel is a little like Charlie Brown hoping that Lucy won’t pull the football away and send him flying into the ozone–there’s an exhilarating moment of possibility followed by disappointment and some pain. Building on the success of last year’s ‘toons-onstage experience, adapter-director Chad Wise has brought the whole gang back into the van to face new villains, celebrity guests, and fiercely raging hormones. As before, Scooby is not a dog but a pothead whose friends, presumably under similar influences, treat him as a canine pal.
The new edition, based on improvised extensions of actual episodes, relies more heavily on lowest-common-denominator humor (like really hard nose picking) and generally lacks the consistency and cleverness of the earlier version, which Wise also scripted. And while the first show’s Scooby made dry-witted observations about his goofier peers, Tom Seymour’s cute, frisky, puppylike performance eliminates that contrast. On a happier note, the tech quality has remained the same or improved, and there are certainly many laughs to be had. The new space offers a much more versatile environment for the show’s elaborate chase scenes, and Wise has retained the very funny video segments and added action figures to depict hard-to-stage location shots.
Sequels don’t typically win awards, but they do make money. Hard-core fans will forgive this show’s watered-down writing, appreciate Scooby’s Viagra dance, and enjoy reliving a sex-crazed rendition of their Saturday mornings.