Scooby-Doo and the gang are no strangers to mechanical monsters; in fact, most of the villains they’ve encountered over the years have used robotics to create such terrors as abominable snowmen and rampaging dinosaurs, but with Scooby-Doo! Mecha Mutt Menace, the threat is a straight-up rogue robot… or is it actually rogue? Could someone be behind this motorized monstrosity’s mayhem?
This particular mystery finds Fred Jones (Frank Welker) entering one of his amazing traps at the Annual Science Expo in Houston, a contest the Scooby gang is sure he will win, as Velma (Mindy Cohn) comments, “You’re a shoo-in, who else has an elaborate project demonstrating how to use the laws of physics to capture a human being… or a human being posing a supernatural monster?” Unfortunately, a test of the device accidentally snags a cute passerby, landing her in the trap’s gum resin-coated net. This passerby turns out to be Melanie Staples (Lacey Chabert), daughter of NASA Scientist Ned Staples (Alan Rachins), who later will be demonstrating his latest project: a giant robot dog called “Mecha Mutt” designed to navigate the terrain of Mars. As the title of this short implies, this robot goes rogue, even going so far as to break Velma’s glasses and destroy Fred’s ascot, but the real threat to our group could come from the green-eyed monster of jealousy.
Note: Fred and Daphne’s declaration of love in Scooby-Doo! Stage Fright either was brushed under the rug or blithely ignored.
The mystery behind “Mecha Mutt” is pretty much background to Daphne’s jealousy and the resentment of this “threat” to her relationship with Fred, but while her simmering hatred of this intruder seems a tad much, sniping comments whenever she can, Fred’s bumbling attraction to this new girl isn’t much better. This following exchange basically sums up the drama of this adventure.
Melanie: “I don’t understand how this can be happening.”
Daphne: “Maybe someone has found a way to override Doctor Staples’ systems and is operating Mecha Mutt by remote control.”
Velma: “I agree.”
Daphne: “See, I’m just as smart as Melanie.”
Fred: “Trust me, Daphne, I’m not attracted to Melanie’s brain.”
Romantic entanglements aside, there is still a mystery to solve, and being this is one of their short films, the mystery aspect is rather thin, as is the suspect pool. First, we have Irv (Paul Reubens) who is angry that Dr. Staples has him working so hard that he doesn’t even have time to date and he also believes this is a plot of the Doctor to keep Melanie and him apart. Next, we have Dr. Devon Albright (Julie Bowen) who states that Dr. Staples stole her idea and took over the project simply because he was a famous astronaut and could bring in more funding. Doctor Albright clearly has the strongest and sanest motive, as well as the techno-know-how to pull it off, but Irv’s sticky fingers from eating junk food raises him up the list a tad because of a sticky residue that is found at various sites of the Mecha Mutt’s attack.
So which one of these suspects is behind the rampaging robot? Or could it actually be the notorious “Space Specter,” an old legend about a ship that lost control while piloting through some space mist, where apparently a spirit attached itself to the ship and now anytime something goes wrong at NASA, they blame the supposed spectre. Of course, it’s not an actual spectre from space; the culprit is none other than Melanie Staples, who resented the fact that for her whole life, her father’s work came first. “You’ve ignored and neglected me, never once seeing how brilliant I am. So I decided to show him how brilliant, and if I had to destroy his career, not to mention the entire space program to get his attention, so be it.” I have to admire this show for giving us a “villain” with a motivation other than the standard monetary or revenge motifs, and though the sticky residue we see found at the various crime scenes was clearly the same gum residue that Melanie would have picked up from landing in Fred’s trap at the start of the show, it still works as a solid mystery.
Scooby-Doo! Mecha Mutt Menace was the fourth in a series of direct-to-video and was released by Warner Bros. Animation on the DVD 13 Spooky Tales: Ruh-Roh Robot, and its short twenty-two-minute run-time provided fans with a fun adventure to hold them over between feature-length movie releases.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Mecha Mutt Menace (2013)
Movie Rank - 6.5/10
The romantic subplot of Scooby-Doo! Mecha Mutt Menace comes close to turning Fred into a sexist moron and Daphne into a jealous harpy but the show keeps things light enough that it never goes too far, and the robotic menace is a good enough distraction for when things get too awkward.