There are a lot of excellent Scooby-Doo seasons out there, but the one I feel is the most forgotten yet deserves the most praise is the second season of The Scooby-Doo Show. Compared to the rest of the series, the eight episodes in season 2 had a consistently noticeable darker tone to it which I feel was so well executed. There were genuinely some of the creepiest plots in the franchise in this season, which makes it all the more unfortunate that four of these episodes haven’t even made it to DVD yet. In this post, I want to give my review of the season episode-by-episode.
“The Curse of the Viking Lake,” while not the darkest episode of the season, definitely had some pretty creepy moments in it. The episode focuses on the premise of Velma’s uncle being kidnapped by Viking ghosts. As a kid, I always found the idea of Viking ghosts and their ghost ship pretty unique, and still do to this day. The mystery begins quickly in the episode, with one of the most frightening scenes happening right away…Daphne having no mouth! Haha, just kidding…though there was a very odd animation error in which the animators somehow forgot to draw Daphne’s mouth for part of a scene. The actual scene I was going to refer to was Scooby being watched by the Viking in Velma’s uncle’s cabin, but disappearing any time Scooby looked. It’s pretty creepy that the Vikings were still hanging around Velma’s uncle’s house despite the fact that they’d already kidnapped him! It’s even more creepy that the Viking is literally somehow able to open the window from the inside despite his full body being outside at the time…like how is that even possible? lol This episode also did a great job with having the entire atmosphere be very creepy despite the gang going to multiple places: Velma’s uncle’s cabin, the museum, the ghost ship, and finally the Viking cave. I always found the cave to be especially creepy, and also demonstrated how elaborate the villains’ plan was given they hung a picture of the Viking God Odin and prayed to it, despite not actually being real Vikings. There are no weak episodes in this season, which is rare, but if I had to rank them, this one would probably be on the lower end of the season rankings compared to the others.
Vampire Bats and Scaredy Cats is one of the darkest episodes of the franchise, no competition. Even the settings seemed like they were drawn in a much darker, edgier way than other episodes, given the whole episode took place at night. This episode’s plot focuses on the gang visiting their friend Lisa, who is about to inherit a hotel from her uncle. However, she learns a shocking secret after a vampire appears, which is that her grandfather is the vampire and wants to kill Lisa. The vampire sneaking into Daphne and Velma’s room while they’re sleeping, and standing over Daphne hissing is perhaps one of the most terrifying moments of the episode. Notice I didn’t say most terrifying though, that scene is reserved for the vampire sitting in the creepy abandoned room calling Lisa on the phone, yet he doesn’t say anything, there’s just the sound of the bell. Something about the vampire’s pose in that scene and the fact that he says nothing is almost more terrifying than if he would have said anything! In addition, the scene where Lisa is actually turned into a vampire is pretty spooky as well. Despite that Scooby-Dum was a goofier character, I thought he fit incredibly well into this episode despite the very dark tone. This one remains one of my favorite Scooby episodes of all time just because of how creepy and dark it is.
Moving on to “Hang in There, Scooby-Doo,” we get a little reprieve from the dark tone, but not much. I think much of the episode taking place during the day made a difference here, but nonetheless, some of the settings were still pretty creepy. The episode centers around the gang entering a hang-gliding competition, but Scooby is captured by a ghostly pterodactyl and they have to search through a spooky cave to find him. Though the cave was spooky, I found the hotel scenes even creepier, particularly the part where the pterodactyl ghost is watching them from the window as well as the scene with Mr. Morguely burning the papers outside. The latter scene had a particularly spooky tone because at one point, the background music completely stops and just has the gang looking for clues in silence. There’s not really a lot to say about this episode, other than the setting of the cave (and the hotel) really made this episode for me. Otherwise, this one would kind of stand out from the rest of season 2 given the mystery itself didn’t have a very dark tone like the others.
“The Creepy Heap from the Deep” again has one of the most terrifying premises in the Scooby franchise. The gang’s beach party is interrupted by a sea monster, and they have to run up to safety at a creepy old house on a cliff. They discover a captain lives there and he tells them the sea monster they saw is a legendary creature named the Creepy Heap from the Deep, who steals souls. That in itself is an incredibly frightening plot for a series technically targeted at children. However, it gets much creepier when the gang leaves the captain alone for a moment, but return to find out the monster has stolen his spirit. As a kid, the utterly blank and ghostly look on Captain Clemens’s face when his soul is stolen freaked me out so much, in addition to the fact that he scrawled a message on the desk that at first look appears to be in his own blood. However, when it’s shown from a different angle, it looks more like it was written in the dust on the table, but still, it’s pretty creepy. Later, when Shaggy and Scooby are alone watching the captain in the house, the spiritless captain gets up and says that now that his spirit is stolen, he has to steal others’ spirits. A brief chase ensues, until Shaggy and Scooby become trapped in a room with the soulless captain trying to break down the door yelling “I must have your spirits!” I was honestly scared of the captain when I was younger because of this scene. Despite me holding this episode in high regard, I feel like the quality dips a little after the “room” Shaggy and Scooby are in is revealed to be an elevator which allows them to escape. I really wish they would have just stayed in the creepy house on the cliff the entire episode, because that was one of the spookiest haunted houses there is in Scooby-Doo IMO. The rest of the episode takes place on a submarine, but the captain somehow gets much less creepy to me. If I may make a comparison to in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated here, I found the captain’s digression to be really similar to The Freak’s. In “Pawn of Shadows,” The Freak holds a giant knife and recites creepy, threatening rhymes. However, in the next episode, “All Fear the Freak,” he speaks broken English and can barely put a sentence together, as well as no longer holding a knife. This always bothered me so much, because they his characterization perfect in “Pawn of Shadows” so I don’t know why they made him so much less scary in “All Fear the Freak.” Anyway, I feel very similar about the captain in the second half of this episode. The captain just kind of makes vague threats (“You will never leave!”) and at one point, a recycled sound effect from the zombie in “Mamba Wamba and the Voodoo Hoodoo” is used in place of his voice. That just always bummed me out because like The Freak, they had the captain’s characterization perfect in the first half of the episode, so I don’t know why they watered it down so much later. Despite my criticism here, I still hold that episode in high esteem because of how terrifying the first half of the episode is.
The very next episode, “The Chiller Diller Movie Thriller” is another one of my favorites. In the episode, Scooby-Doo goes to meet his cousins Scooby-Dum and Scooby-Dee, the latter of which is a big film star working on her latest project, a remake of the Phantom of Milo Booth. Despite the episode being on a train, I found the setting and premise to be pretty dark and creepy. The only dislike I have of this episode is the weird energy going on between Doo and Dum with Scooby-Dee. Them hitting on their own cousin might be creepier than anything in this episode lol. Otherwise, this episode was great for its level of darkness and the spooky settings like the rest of the season. This episode was very versatile in general with the settings going from the train to the cemetery, to Boothville, and then to the Boothville Carnival at the end. The Phantom of Milo Booth was as scary as some other villains in this season, but I still very much liked him as a villain.
“The Spooky Case of the Grand Prix Race” is arguably the most famous Scooby-Doo episode that hasn’t yet made it to DVD. The episode focuses around the gang investigating the Grand Prix Race of 1977 after some drivers disappear. A phantom racecar driver then appears and kidnaps Shaggy, and the gang has to get him back. I really liked how experimental this episode felt. Despite that a race isn’t typically thought of as a dark place for an episode to take place, the entirety of the episode takes place at night (except the very end) which makes it kind of eerie. I also loved how they had Shaggy be the one kidnapped instead of Daphne. At this point, it was almost a given that if anyone was going to be kidnapped in the episode, it was going to be Daphne, so it was nice to see that trope switched up. I thought the Phantom Racer was a very creepy-looking villain as well, and arguably, was the most dangerous foe the gang had fought yet. Most of the villains simply tied people up, but the Phantom Racer attempted to seal Shaggy up in a brick wall forever, which is pretty dark for a Scooby episode! Though I loved the creepy atmosphere of the episode taking place at night in general, the old abandoned house the Phantom Racer brought Shaggy into was super terrifying! They never did end up explaining where that phantom bone at the end came from though haha.
“The Ozark Switch Witch” is another creepy one just because it takes place at an isolated cabin in the woods, and everyone knows that by law, isolated cabins in the woods have to be creepy haha. I loved Witch McCoy as a villain and it was a very elaborate plan on her part to replace all the Hatfields with frogs so quickly. Her lair in the woods was so spooky looking! The zombie was…meh. I don’t want to complain about him because he wasn’t bad, he just wasn’t in the episode enough. He was in one scene before they trapped him, so he felt kind of tacked on, which is unfortunate because I think he could have had a lot of potential as a villain if he were used more.
“Creepy Cruise” is the final episode in the season, and while the plot was very unorthodox, it still has its appeal just due to its dark tone, strange monster, and super elaborate plan. You have to be super dedicated to literally build a time machine (even if it didn’t work) just to swindle people out of their money lol. The creepy bug monster from 6984 was a really interesting villain! And yes, he was from 6984 even if they didn’t say it in the episode. I’ve seen so many sites that say he’s from 6977, but the professor does indeed say “five thousand and seven” (years in the future) right before the monster came out, which would make it 6984 given the episode was released in 1977. Anyways, the ship was a pretty spooky setting, however, that one scene where Shaggy and Scooby dress up to trick the monster at the costume ball is really dumb IMO and does not fit the tone of the rest of the episode at all. It’s the only scene in season 2 I don’t like. There’s just no reason for it to be in there and it feels like time filler. Fun fact though, when I watched this episode on the USA network as a kid (on some VHS tapes my parents recorded), they actually had this scene completely cut (presumably for extra commercials)! I did not know this scene existed until it was rerun on Boomerang when I was a teenager. Normally I would hate the idea of a network cutting a scene out just for extra commercial time, but in this case, I like their edited version better lol.
Despite having some of the most amazing monsters in the franchise, like the vampire, the Creepy Heap and the captain, I think it’s safe to say in analyzing the season as a whole that the dark atmosphere and creepy settings are really what make this season as good as it is. It’s really unfortunate these episodes have not been released on DVD (or across scattered DVDs for a few), because this is one of the most memorable and best Scooby seasons in the franchise IMO. The day we get a season set for these episodes will be a very happy day for myself and I’m sure many other Scooby fans!