Over the past few years, there have been a ton of reused villains in the Scooby franchise. It all springboarded with Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated utilizing classic villains in the Crystal Cove Spook Museum, such as Charlie the Robot, the Miner 49er, the Space Kook, etc. The reusing of classic villains continued with Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, though in this case, head writer Jon Colton Barry intended to reimagine entire classic episodes from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, such as "What the Hex is Going On?" and "A Night of Fright Is No Delight." After Be Cool, we saw a resurgence of classic villains reappearing in Guess Who and some of the movies. In this article, I will analyze and compare all of the "classic" villains that have made reappearances within the franchise. For the sake of making the scope of this article manageable, I'm only analyzing the villains that have reappeared as main villains, without including ones that have just popped in as cameos for a second.
The first episode that reimagines a classic Scooby-Doo plot that we all know and love is the pilot of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! "Mystery 101." Personally, I think it was genius for Jon to place this episode as the premiere episode of the series. Given Be Cool was intended as a reboot of Where Are You, a reimagining of such a classic Scooby-Doo plot is a perfect way to create a bridge between the two series right from the start. Despite the many similarities, the Be Cool episode is a very different plot-wise. Rather than having Daphne visiting her friend and having her uncle be kidnapped by a ghost, we instead seeing Velma trying to get into her dream university which is being haunted by the founder's ghost. I found this to be a very interesting plot, equally as much as Daphne visiting her friend Sharon in the original episode. Even though this episode departed from the original in a lot of ways plot-wise, I felt like that's what made it such a good reimagining. If they would have just done the exact same thing again, it would have likely been somewhat boring. I think this demonstrates that reimagining an episode requires a good balance between drawing upon the source material and making it your own.
In terms of comparing the two villains, the Be Cool Elias Kingston is a lot more monstrous with his growls and roars. According to Jon Colton Barry, this was because WB had at first mandated a rule that said monsters could not talk. Even if JCB didn't really have control over that aspect, I think it created an interesting contrast between this reimagined Elias Kingston and the original. The original Elias's voice from Where Are You, sounded kind of nerdy and nasally, which didn't exactly make him all that scary. His ability to turn people old was pretty terrifying, and that's something I wish they would have kept for the reimagined version, but I understand that it may not have fit with JCB's vision for reimagining this ghost and this episode. Overall, I found this more "monstrous" adaption of Elias Kingston to be much more intimidating than the original. "What the Hex is Going On?" is one of my favorite classic episodes, and I felt "Mystery 101" did a wonderful job reimagining it.
I debated including "All Paws on Deck," but Jon Colton Barry has confirmed here that it's not a reimagined episode, just a monster design that was slightly inspired by the Beast of Bottomless Lake. Given this, let's move on to "Where There's a Will, There's a Wraith." I feel like this was the perfect way to reimagine a Scooby-Doo episode! This episode completely reworks the plot of one of the most classic episodes in Scooby history, "A Night of Fright Is No Delight." Just like in the original, Scooby goes to a haunted house to claim the inheritance of a famous colonel, though this time, it's a "jerky colonel" haha. All the same basic elements from the classic episode are there: there's a reading of will where the house is revealed to be haunted, the colonel's relatives are captured one by one, and the gang realizes there are two phantoms as they solve the mystery. At the very end (spoilers if you haven't seen the episode), it's even revealed that the colonel's inheritance was actually confederate money. Although, as a humorous twist, the house is blown up right before the episode ends, which is obviously not what happened in the original lol. Visually, the ghosts look pretty similar, though these look a little greener and their skeleton hands are super creepy! Despite all the similarities, the reimagined episode was very much its own thing and had a lot of unique elements as well, such as the B-plot of Daphne wanting to turn it into a slumber party, as well as the different character interactions due to the nature of how the gang is characterized in this series. I think this is the perfect example of the right way to reimagine an episode: interpolating aspects of the episode you're drawing upon, while also creating new plotlines and putting a twist on something that's classic. Be Cool all around did that very well, and I applaud JCB and the other writers for that.
"In Space" is a good example of an episode that reused a classic villain while completely reimagining the episode into something wildly different. While the design of the Space Kook was used, a romp around an abandoned airfield was changed into a full-blown alien infection plot. "In Space" was personally one of my favorite episodes of the entire series for this reason - it took a classic plot that every Scooby fan knows and took it in a completely different direction, while also drawing upon the classic horror film Alien for inspiration. The aliens looked a little creepier than the Space Kook to me, even though they didn't have the same laugh, which I liked. While Scooby-Doo is technically targeted at kids, it definitely does have horror-inspired elements within it, as can be seen a bit in the dark atmosphere of Where Are You. For that reason, I think mixing such a critically acclaimed horror film with a classic Scooby episode was a genius creative decision of the writers' part.
The last Be Cool Scooby-Doo that reimagines a Where Are You episode is "Naughty or Ice." This episode's reutilization of elements from "Scooby's Night with a Frozen Fright" feels somewhere in between "Mystery 101" and "Where There's a Will, There's a Wraith." Certain elements like the caveman being frozen in ice and coming to life are reused, but the setting of an "ice hotel" and a research lab at Oceanland are starkly in contrast with each other. The caveman visually looked incredibly similar to the original, though the one scene where Shaggy and Scooby try to teach him his own name (which was super cute) shows that he seems to be a bit more evolved than the original caveman. Once again, a unique Be Cool twist on the episode is added in the form of Daphne sneaking around and seemingly hiding things from the gang, making the episode much more complex than the original episode was. I think this episode struck a perfect balance between using elements of "Scooby's Night with a Frozen Fright" and building on the original plot to make something unique.
On the other hand, I do not think Guess Who did as good of a job with this in the three episodes that they "reimagined." "Scooby on Ice!" was intended to reimagine "That's Snow Ghost" and the very next episode, "Caveman on the Half Pipe!" reimagined "Scooby's Night with a Frozen Fright." I'm not sure how deeply the Guess Who writers wanted the elements of these episodes to play into the original episode, but I do not feel like they did a very good job interpolating the reused villains here at all. It seemed like they just plopped reused villain designs into new plots, without much thought on how to draw inspiration from the original episodes they were taking these villains for. The same goes for the utilization of the green ghost as the Technomancer in "When Urkel Bots Go Bad!" It reminds me of how they reused Redbeard and his crew by removing all the coloring from their character design in "The Ghostly Creep from the Deep" from The New Scooby-Doo Movies. I didn't mind the episodes themselves and found all three of them to be enjoyable, but the use of the villains was arguably not nearly as creative as it was in Be Cool, where they took elements from the original episode and interpolated them into the new plot.
However, in the Guess Who episodes that reimagined classic New Scooby-Doo Movies episodes, like "The Dreaded Remake of Jekyll and Hyde!" and "Cher, Scooby and Sargasso Sea!", I thought they did an amazing job staying close to those original episodes. The Sandy Duncan episode honestly like the type of sequel I wish we would have gotten with Return to Zombie Island and Curse of the 13th Ghost. It was literally a perfect reimagining of the original, even including several different random villains that popped up throughout the episode like the manta ray and the mummy and such. The gang being chased by all these monsters on movie set that even looked a lot like the original one was so amazing to see. It felt like the gang picked up where they left off with the last adventure with Sandy Duncan, which created a bridge between the two episodes similar to what Be Cool did with Where Are You in "Mystery 101." The same goes for "Cher, Scooby and the Sargasso Sea!" which I felt drew on elements of the original super well (even down to the villains being the same) to create a sequel. However, I wouldn't say I really view these as reimaginings. I'd say they're more continuations of the original episodes. Even though I really didn't care for the "sequels" that were made for the 50th anniversary, I would honestly love to see more sequels to classic episodes if it were done in the vein of how the Sandy Duncan and Cher episodes were done.
Another instance in Guess Who where I kind of liked the reutilization of classic villains was "A Haunt of a Thousand Voices!" I felt like it was fitting given the voice actors were the guest stars, but at the same time, there was no real lore behind any of those villains being at Frank's house, which goes to my point of how Be Cool reimagined villains more creatively than Guess Who.
It's always a fun Easter egg when classic villains from Scooby are reused, but I also feel that if they are going to reuse villains, there should at least be some sort of lore around why the villains are being reused, and aspects of the original episode the villain is from should be drawn upon, as opposed to just plopping an old villain in the middle of some random setting without much thought. In addition, now that this trend of "reimagining villains" has become a thing, I kind of wish we wouldn't get the same ones reused so much. It tends to be always similar villains from Where Are You, and villains from other series are rarely used. Even some of the Where Are You ones, like the Wax Phantom and the Puppet Master for example, are neglected. While it's not to the point of me being annoyed by the reuse of these villains so much, I feel like it might get there if they continue to do stuff like "the gang meets Redbeard the pirate for the eighth time!" It just feels like the writers can be a little more creative than that, but that may just be me.
If there's anything to take away from this article, I think it's that Be Cool did an excellent job interpolating classic elements of each episode when using old villains, creating something new and wonderful in the process. In the future, I'd love to see another Scooby series do some more Be Cool-like reimaginings of villains!
2/1/2022 10:04:45 am
I love the "Be Cool > Guess Who" conclusion, lol. Compared to Be Cool, Guess Who was (mostly) so bland and unimaginative. It has a few strong(er) episodes, but none of them come close to anything done in Be Cool.
2/1/2022 11:37:45 am
2/1/2022 04:23:27 pm
I'm glad you agree with me haha. I feel like Guess Who was trying so hard to be nostalgic that it felt forced, and it ruined the imaginativeness of the show. I'm not against there being any nostalgia, but I think there also needs to be some unique element of the show to make it different, but they tried so hard to strip the show of any non-nostalgic element that it stifled the show's potential to try something new. I think the show could have done a number of things to put a fun spin on The New Scooby-Doo Movies/Where Are You, but ultimately they were unable to completely capture the original tone, leaving many episodes feeling bland. There were definitely some stronger episodes like you said, but overall, it didn't come close to the magic of BCSD, SDMI or even WNSD, which I would argue is partly because it played it too safe and didn't try to differentiate the show in any way.
2/1/2022 05:55:53 pm
I partly agree with you on 1 or 2 cases WildWind but at the same I think most of the SD&GW? episode are good for what they were and I loved the ones that I thought were really damn great in my opinion.
2/2/2022 01:26:45 am
I stand by it needed to be like the New scooby doo movies and hour long episodes, the added characters needed time to breathe. The joke of "it's *person and list of accomplishments here*" was kinda funny but also got a bit old on bad episodes and I just feel everything had to move at such a breakneck pace we never had a chance to breathe...
2/2/2022 07:56:39 am
@Jakob123 You're right that many of the episodes were good for what they were. There were definitely some great episodes in the series, but I thought particularly the many of the first 13 weren't all that great (particularly Ricky Gervais and Kenan Thompson) and the nostalgia felt forced in places. I definitely respect your opinion.
2/2/2022 01:11:29 pm
@wildwindvampire Agreed, not a bad show, but not great, think the first episode I actually liked was the batman one and that was cause I genuinely liked the jokes with the character, it's still probably my standout from season 1...
2/3/2022 10:13:01 am
The Batman one was just alright to me. I liked a lot of the jokes, but the part where Scooby is whining over his phone breaking is offputting to me. I actually really liked the Urkel one tbh lol. It felt kind of Be Cool-ish to me.
2/3/2022 12:04:47 pm
Yea, and I don't get it but I also really dislike destroying museum pieces and that was a lot of his jokes, I'd have been right there with the bad guy chucking him out the darned musuem.
2/3/2022 10:08:28 pm
I wouldn't say I'm as adverse to destroying museum pieces as you haha (I'm more indifferent), but the jokes did get to be a little too much.
2/1/2022 05:33:27 pm
I agree with that statement both on this topic and as shows in general lol
2/2/2022 07:58:46 am
Did you ever get a chance to finish Be Cool? I remember you said a while ago that you were going to, and if you haven't, I would highly recommend watching those last episodes. Season 2 had some of the best episodes of the series IMO.
2/2/2022 12:45:00 pm
I am further along than I was. I am definitely saving the finale for last. From what I’ve heard, should be a very high note to go out on :)
2/2/2022 12:46:57 pm
Season 2 definitely has a good few of my very favorites that I have seen. Episodes like In Space, Some Fred Time, and Doo Not Disturb are obvious but correct choices, but How to Train Your Coward is up there at the very top of my list, if not my top episode
2/3/2022 10:14:41 am
All of your picks are my favorite episodes as well, but the finale and "World of Witchcraft" are both amazing episodes. I agree "How to Train Your Coward" is underrated, but it's one of my faves too.
2/3/2022 03:52:29 pm
Ooh, I actually have watched World of Witchcraft (my order has mostly been random lol) and that one is also REALLY good
2/3/2022 10:06:50 pm
Glad you liked that one! :) It's one of my favorites of the series.
2/2/2022 05:16:46 pm
Who will be the villain in Holiday Haunt?
2/3/2022 02:58:16 am
Yeah, I'd have to agree Guess Who was mostly a bust compared to Be Cool.
2/3/2022 07:49:24 am
What? Guess Who didn't seem like a bust to me.
2/4/2022 09:28:51 am
Personal opinion, for me it was definitely one of the weaker Scooby series. To much pandering to guest stars not enough mystery solving.
2/3/2022 10:17:10 am
I did think there were some good episodes of Guess Who, particularly in the second season once they got more of a rhythm for the show. I much prefer Be Cool overall, though.
2/3/2022 10:29:34 am
Another smart topic to cover.
2/3/2022 10:07:36 pm
That's so strange! Which five episodes have yet to air?
2/4/2022 10:25:07 pm
Literally the last 5.
2/4/2022 10:42:51 pm
Okay, interesting. They've really held "Dark Diner of Route 66!" back a long time then, given that aired in the US nearly a year ago now.
2/3/2022 04:24:01 pm
Great analysis as always i agree with every word.
2/3/2022 10:06:20 pm
2/6/2022 11:10:49 am
Hey Wildwind, what about the The Headless Specter and Headless Count.
2/6/2022 07:56:44 pm
I debated putting them in there, but I know JCB said he intended certain similar villains in BCSD to be their own villains, rather than reimaginings (i.e. the sea monsters in "All Paws on Deck," the ape man in "Night of the Upsetting Shorts," etc.). I don't remember off the top of my head if the Headless Count was one of them, but I believe it was, as I remember thinking about including it and then choosing not to.
2/9/2022 07:01:20 am
2/8/2022 09:52:19 pm
I definitely enjoyed the Be Cool reimagining of the villains. Especially the Wraith episode, since it was a retelling of a classic Scooby episode. I agree with this whole article. And In Space is one of my favorites too!
2/9/2022 08:29:44 am
"Where There's a Will, There's a Wraith" and "In Space" is one of my favorites of the Be Cool series, mainly because they reimagined the original episodes so well! I love "In Space" as well!
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~ WildwindVampire ~