Scooby was awesome til the introduction of Scrappy. Seriously, if anyone actually liked that character, I doubt they'd admit it these days. I thought the Scooby Doo movie with Scrappy as the villain said it all. It was so nice to see that little fuck go down... stupid Scrappy Doo. Ick. He totally killed the show. I remember there being quite a few spin-offs and attempts to bring the show back, but none were as good as the original.
Until whenever the hell THIS started: Scooby Doo - Mystery Incorporated.
Just. So. Perfect.
Staying close to the original formula, it absolutely retains its appeal as kids animation - it's not frightening, the dialogue and narrative is clear, the characters defined but changeable - but Mystery Inc has taken Scooby-Doo to a whole new place. I hesitate to say it, but Mystery Inc is BETTER than the original. Every episode is appealing in it's own right - be it for hating on the whole 'Twilight' thing (or in this case 'Dusk') or paying homage to an old-school legend like Vincent Price or HP Lovecraft (Vincent Van Ghoul and HP Hatecraft respectively). There are hat tips to Warhol, Ché Guevara, anti-corporate sentiment, Captain Caveman, Jabber Jaw (there's an episode based around the Hanna Barbera 'sidekicks'...) And, of course, the whole 'Scrappy' thing is addressed. This show is squarely aimed at Gen-Xers - there is no way any kid watching this will have a clue about half the humour and references. This is made to appeal to the parents.
The beauty of this new version is it's self-referential nature. Not only does it KNOW it's a remake, it plays on the fact, and has a lot of fun in doing so: Fred's obsession with overly-complicated traps is constantly questioned (we also discover regularly beds down with a copy of PlayTrap magazine); Shaggy's hippy stubble is in fact something entirely other; Daphne doesn't JUST wear purple; Velma is as personally complex as the mysteries she solves (poor Velma); and Scooby is... special. But he's a talking dog - I guess we knew that.
The four lead actors are pretty much unheard of - I recognised Mindie Cohn (Velma) from The Facts of Life, a show on way back when I used to watch the ORIGINAL Scooby Doo, but no one else rang any bells. This works, though... cos, holy crap - talk about cameos ahoy! I have a huge thing for Patrick Warburton's voice - he made Ratchet and Clank 2 one of my favourite games ever. He's awesome. After the core characters, he's next in line for screen time, playing the constantly upstaged Sheriff - his frustrations are just funny. Look out for scenes with the Sheriff and Fred's father, Mayor Jones (played by Gary Cole); their work together is great.
Vivica A Fox (Kill Bill's 'Copperhead') brings a 'Foxy Brown' sass to the recurring role of Angel Dynamite and dark comic, Lewis Black brings his gift for making the slightest things sound menacing as 'MrE' - possibly The Gang's biggest adversary yet. Listen out for Bender, Mallory Archer/Lucille Bluth, Casey Kasem (who voiced the original Shaggy), Linda Cardellini (Velma from the Scooby Doo movies!), Carol Brady, and The Dancing Man from Twin Peaks. (Yes, this has some very big nods toward Lynch - it's just so LOVELY!) And that is to name just a few
This is a show you can have so much fun with... Guessing the Baddy is more of a challenge; trying to work out 'who the fucks voice is that?' even more so. It can be an aggravating game of NOT using Google - can YOU do it? The pop-cultural references are constant, overt and subtle, making a re-watch rewarding. (How did I NOT see that last time?) For me, this can be on as background noise or engaged viewing - you absolutely get out of it what you put it. I'm on my second run through the first series now, and seeing more 'clever' all the time. This is something super ace I really want to share.
It's winter, folks. Get some soup, snuggle up in your blankies, watch some Scooby, and smile.
I'd love to hear what you think of the show. Please leave some comments. x