In the "Scooby-Doo" franchise, one character stands out for brains, cuteness, courage-under-fire, and an often-lost pair of glasses. Presenting MI's diminutive supersleuth, Velma "Dace The Mace" Dinkley.
In the late 1960's, Hanna-Barbera Productions (who's earlier work included "Tom & Jerry") decided to try their hand at a mystery-based series, but played for laughs. Their inspiration was a NBC movie series called "I Love A Mystery (later "The NBC Mystery Movie").
The premise: four teenagers and their dog would travel the land (and later the world) to find-and-solve mysteries, putting away the perps in the process. They were: Fred Jones (team leader and trapmaster), "Danger-Prone" Daphne Blake (lots of beauty, but little brainpower to back it up), Norville "Shaggy" Rogers (residen beatnik and chowhound), Velma "Dace The Mace" Dinkley (the brains, and sometimes brawn, behind the group), and the team's mascot, Scooby-Doo (a Great Dane who is the shame-and-disgrace of all Great Danes, due to the mile-wide yellow streak running down his back).
Scooby-Doo, by the way, got his name from a "be-bop" jazz term used in "scat" (nonsensical lyric) singing.
Originally, Velma was not even going to be Velma. The original concept was to have her go by the name Linda, wear a white shirt with a green vest over it, and become an arts student.
However, the folks at H-B changed all of that. They dressed her in an orange turtleneck sweater and brown pleated midi-skirt, orange socks, and white/brown Mary Janes. They also added freckles, and a pair or brown plastic-rimmed glasses. Then they added Nichole Jaffe to provide the squeaky-voiced, sardonic, anger-prone "life" to the animated character-in-question.
On the "team," Velma is kind of the "tag along" kid sister when with Fred and Daphne, the stern Wellington-esque taskmaster when dealing with Shag & Scoob, and usually has the "mystery-du-jour" figured out in under twelve minutes (but doesn't let on that she's already solved it to the other team members, to spare their feelings).
Her Einstein-level intellect allows her to program computers; speak six foreign languages (including Chinese) at Level-4 fluency; build-and-destroy electro-mechanical objects; play the guitar, electronic organ, trumpet, and sing lead vocals (alto-range); and decipher Egyptian and Meso-American hieroglyphs easily.
Her "hidden" assets (body strength) giver the ability to carry the gang on her shoulders in emergencies; lash out physically at an opponent and make it stick (ask The Creeper how much pain he was in when he took a right snap kick in the shins from her), break open doors; break apart gold-dust filled ice cream sandwiches like a stick; and bowl over an escaping villain by using a pumpkin like a bowling ball.
Still and all, when the mystery is solved and the villian is getting hauled off to the local Crossbars Hotel, the rest of the gang sometimes forgets her contributions. And yes, it does hurt.
One of the more repugnant things our culture does is try to guess the sexual orientation of a comic-book or cartoon character...especially one who "acts not of the norm." Peppemint Patty and Marcie from Peanuts are often tagged as "lesbians"...even though the both of them are in the 5th grade, for shit's sake!
Velma ended up "in the mix" because of a scene from one of the "Jay & Silent Bob" movies, where a Dinkley look-alike was seen snogging another girl. That, and the fact that Velma never wears makeup, has an extremely high IQ, and isn't much into "girlie-girl" things, have pinned the "rug-muncher" label on Ms. Dinkley.
Needless to say, Hanna-Barbera (and Warner Brothers, who bought the Hanna-Barbera catalog after founding Cartoon Network) were definitely less than amused. In fact, the last thing the H-B folks needed was for a member of one of their most popular franchises slam-tagged by Pat Robertson or James Dobson as a "carpet-chewing dyke."
So, in an effort to avoid the utter shit-storm (and possibly having to arrainge for Velma to meet God personally via a villain's gunfire) of a whack-assed "outing," Warner Brothers came out with the statement that Ms. Dinkley is, indeed, hetero (talk about a CYA moment)! In fact, the Velma-Shaggy "romance" in the new " S.D-Mystery, Incorporated" is seen as an attempt to "correct" an assumption that should never have been (and the fact that Ms. Dinkley's feelings for Shaggy are not all that well-recieved or returned).
As an aside: According to Wikipedia, Velma IS a favorite among lesbian fans of the Scooby-Doo franchise (one line read: "She can come over to our side anytime! We'll take her in!").
A Scooby-Doo series without Velma--it has happened before.
Back in the early 1980's, Hanna-Barbera was obviously trying to freshen up their flagship franchise. This they did...by getting rid of Velma (off to Space Camp and NASA employment), Fred (writing mystery novels), and Daphne (who would return in 1987). They then added Scrappy-Doo, a pugnacious Great Dane puppy who wouldn't last ten seconds in a fight with Velma...but who insisted on acting like a hypermacho "Puppy Power" freak (small wonder he was the main villain in the first live-action "Scooby-Doo" movie).
With just Shaggy and the two dogs...they were heading down the animated series version of the procelian fixture. To re-build the franchise, Daphne was brough back as a sort of ":team leader" and pilot of the jet that got the "new gang" (with the addition of Vincent Van Goul (Vincent Price did the vocals) and Flim-Flam (who did not appear in any of the shows after "!3 Ghosts" ended) around.
However, without Fred or Velma--it wasn't the same.
So, in a "This Is Your Life, Scooby-Doo" setting, the two "MIAs" were brought back into the fold, with Flim-Flam given the boot (along with Vincent). However, from the two-part episode that reunited the gang, the mental schweinfracktern at H-B only put Velma OR Freddy into each episode...never both of them.
And that closed the book on the "Mystery, Incorporated" portion of the Scooby-Doo franchise. Except for projects such as "A Pup Named Scooby Doo," no more were heard from our heroes...until a trip to Zombie Island on Cartoon Network reunited the gang once more for a whole new bunch of Scooby enthusiasts.
The first two-hour animated movie featuring the re-united gang, "Scooby Doo on Zombie Island," was a direct-to-DVD release first featured on Warner Brother's Cartoon Network (part of Time-Warner). We soon learn what happened to the gang:
01) Shaggy fired as a security officer with U.S. Customs after he and Scoob turn the quarrantined foods area at the airport into a prolonged munchie binge.
02) Daphne becomes a T.V Show Host, with Fred her producer/main squeeze.
03) Vel is laid off from NASA, takes over her aunt's bookshop in downtown Coolsville.
Fred notices that Daph misses her teammates, so he calls Velma at her bookstore (how he kept in touch w/o Daphne knowing is a mystery unto itself), who calls Shaggy...and on Daphne's birthday, guess who shows up in The Mystery Machine?
"Mystery, Incorporated is Back In Action!" enthused Velma...and with good reason. Since the debut of "Zombie Island," the gang has been active around the world, with a new two-hour movie each year.
A new animated series--"What's New, Scooby Doo?" soon followed...the gang now grown to young adulthood. However, the show only lasted two seasons...but did introduce Mindy Cohn from "The Facts Of LIfe" as Vel's new voice (for which she recieved a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2002.).
Last year, sadly--the whole Scooby Doo franchise (including Velma) was "reinvented."
Now based out of Crystal Cove (rather than Coolsville, Ohio), "SDMI" is purportedly a show that features "the gang" in their "tween" years (between chilhood and adolesence). It features the gang-members' parents (a whole bunch of CPS-bait-in-waiting), plus some new wrinkles:
01) Fred is a dunderheaded twit who can't set a trap to save his ass.
02) Daphne's folks' wealth (and it's effect on Daphne) and snobbery is played for yuks!
03) Shag & Scoob are not the same food-crazy members of "Cowards Anoymous."
04) Velma gets turned into the Meridith Brooks song tagline "I'm A BITCH (and PROUD OF IT)!"
05) The sheriff of Crystal Cove is a total shit-for-brains who doesn't realize the potential Those Meddling Kids could have to his department's crime-solving ability.
06) The kids now have to balance high school with their mystery solving.
Since this is the first season, the bugs should be mostly ironed out by the second's end. However, that does NOT make the show watchable by any means. The "contrived romance" between Velma and Shaggy is (thank God) on it's way out the door (Velma and Shag were close friends/dance partners in the "old" versions of the S.D, Franchise, nothing more). Also, Velma no longer comes across as though someone woke her up by shoving a pile of reeking horseshit under her nose!
Only time will tell.
Eventually, the SDWAY franchise will have to get younger players...as in the offspring of the Mystery, Incorporated members (I'm thinking the ones of a marraige between Fred and Daphne, plus a couple from Norville and a head cook at a fine restaurant. Somehow, Velma's rendered sterile by an accident) taking over for THEIR folks.
Having Velma mentor them in the ways of crime-solving (plus becoming the team lead for the "Next Generation") would be a good way to end one era--and start a new one.
However, Warner Brothers might just have her killed off...and with her death, the Scooby-Doo franchise dies as well, as the gang realizes that without their dimiuntive Einstein/Iron Fist/Drillmaster...the team is no longer functional, like ripping the chip out of a computer motherboard and not replacing it.
My hope is that, indeed, the franchise goes into it's "Next Generation" phase, with Velma walking point...brave and ready to take on the next villain who dares cross Mystery Incorporated's path.
Jinkies and Mega-Jinkies!