VELMA is the upcoming HBO Max show taking place in the Scooby-Doo franchise, helmed by Mindy Kaling as the titular character and executive producer and Charlie Grandy as showrunner. The first entry with adults in mind as the target audience comes with a promise to be unlike anything done before in the series. VELMA held its own panel and press conference at the NYCC celebration on Thursday 6th, where GateCrashers’ Dan McMahon had the opportunity to sit down with Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy to discuss the show. With the information given by the creative team, we will analyze the teaser trailer to know what we can expect and what we know so far.
The teaser begins outside the Dinkley’s home, their mailbox at the forefront, and the house in the background as we see Velma’s shadow behind the window. Similar in textures and style to what we previously saw in Mystery Incorporated, everything looks very lived-in with a pseudo-hand messy painted look. Despite earlier impressions of the show being a full-on comedy, Kaling expressed to GateCrashers how scary the show is, something being teased here. This scene is set on a very foggy, rainy, and moody night, and while Velma is distracted, we see a mysterious person approaching the house with a knife, even damaging the mailbox with it in the process.
As the mysterious killer enters the house, we see the interior of their living room. It’s a nice home with even a very parent-like ornament that says ‘’Family’’. This does not say much at first glance, but looking at the character descriptions that the VELMA Twitter account gave when announcing the cast, the titular character seems to have a strained relationship with her father, continuously disappointed in him. The reason as to why that is is unknown yet, although the team has said that while the show will deal with family dynamics, the biggest one being Velma and her father, they won’t fall into the trope of parents pressing their children for certain careers. It’s also necessary to point out that on TV, the news is discussing a serial killer targeting women, the same person who seems to be about to attack our protagonist. Said news is interrupted by a publicity from the Jones’ clothing company, focused on accessories like ascots.
Once we are with Velma inside her room, we see the message she’s been writing and narrating up until this point; an aggressive and childish complaint to HBO Max about an upcoming in-universe show of theirs based around the character of Judy Jetson, the character made by Hanna Barbera, the animation company from which Scooby-Doo originated as well. The complaint revolves around the sexuality of Judy, who won’t be portrayed as ‘’boy-crazy’’. The content of this complaint and how it is said is clearly meant to echo what many people on the internet say every time a pre-existing character is changed to be queer or a person of color, the same things people are saying with this show. She even tops it off with ‘’Well, at least Judy’s still white’’ after sending the message.
For a lot of people, meta-humor like this is simply getting old, thanks to it being used often as a crutch for comedy instead of being clever with it. However, the approach here is interesting. It’s not Velma breaking the fourth wall (at least not directly), she’s not looking at the audience and saying how stupid these kinds of people are. She is one of those people. The show is using her. At the press conference with GateCrashers, Mindy stated, ‘’Velma is rougher around the edges, she’s much more skeptical, and she’s not as mindful as the things she says.’’ This seems to be teasing a character arc, where despite how knowledgable and great she is at solving mysteries, she might be more immature than she thinks and will need to solve a lot of internal conflicts.
As Velma lays down on her bed, we see her room, and there are plenty of things worth pointing out. We see the usual stuff you would expect in the bedroom of someone like her; science books, prizes, medals. There is also a poster for what seems to be a town event called ‘’Fog Fest’’, which sounds like an appropriately spooky event for a place like Crystal Cove, the same town from Mystery Incorporated, which this poster confirms is where this takes place in. This flier has the year 2006 on it, though it probably is no sign of the actual time of the show, as Velma’s phone looks modern. More importantly, she has a mystery board on her wall with newspaper cutouts, photos, a map, and a Missing poster from her own mother, Diya Dinkley, hinting at what may be the main mystery of the season. Could it be that Diya’s disappearance is linked to Velma’s difficult relationship with her father?
On that same board, we see a photo of younger versions of Velma and Daphne, but Daphne’s eyes have red crosses drawn over them, which likely means they are less than friendly nowadays. On the other corner of the board there is also a note that reads ‘’VD + FJ’’, hinting at a crush from Velma towards Fred, and what might be the reason for her anger towards Daphne. The first synopsis we got for the show described how Velma’s sexuality would be explored in the show. When asked by GateCrashers about Velma being queer on the show after becoming canonically a lesbian in Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! they said they don’t want to ruin the show which deals a lot with her identity.
The end of the teaser gets near when Velma receives a phone call, and the parody they’re making of the Scream franchise becomes clear when on the other end, a distorted voice says ‘’Hello, Velma. Do you like solving mysteries?’’ before revealing to her they’re inside the house. Velma gets excited, recognizing this similarity to horror movies, and goes back to her previous point about why classics shouldn’t be altered before realizing the danger they’re in. As she turns around and the camera pans back, we witness the killer behind her with the knife in hand. We hear Velma’s screams but only see the scene from outside when blood splashes over the window and the credits begin to roll.
It’s likely we won’t have to wait for much until the show is with us since it is said to be coming soon, and the first episode was already screened at Comic-Con. The majority of the cast was revealed as well, featuring Jane Lynch, Wanda Sykes, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Russell Peters, Melissa Fumero, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Ming-Na Wen, Ken Leung, Cherry Jones, Frank Welker, Fortune Feimster, Yvonne Orji, Sarayu Blue, Nicole Byer, Shay Mitchell, Debby Ryan, Kulap Vilaysak and Karl-Anthony Towns, with character descriptions accompanying them, and character models for Daphne, Fred, and Shaggy. The team also revealed they didn’t include the franchise’s titular talking dog because they weren’t allowed to, and also didn’t find a way to make him fit into their take. This leaves the mystery in the hands of our four human protagonists, especially our beloved nerd, Velma.