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.