Universal Studios classic villains from the original monster movies got everyone interested in the genre of horror way back in the 1930s. It seems only natural then that a series focused around solving mysteries of spooky monsters, even if they are usually people in masks, would include the Universal monsters that inspired the genre. Frequently throughout the Scooby-Doo universe, we have seen classic Universal Monsters utilized as villains in large groups, including the popular Where Are You episode "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts," and the Halloween special "A Halloween Hassle at Dracula's Castle."
At the beginning of the year, I did a poll on the site about what people's favorite episodes using groups of classic Universal Monsters were. Given what a prominently used trope this is in the Scooby-Doo franchise, I'd like to dive a bit deeper into it and explore my opinions on how this can be done well. Keep in mind that I am solely reviewing these episodes based on the Universal monsters aspect of them. All of these are wonderful episodes, but some have a ways to go in staying consistent with the horror elements of the original...
Let's start off on how this could be done not so well. Super Scary Movie Night is an episode of Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get A Clue that features the abominable Dr. Phibes (anyone get the reference here?) creating monsters to terrorize Shaggy and Scooby on CD. The ghost that delivers the CD to Shaggy and Scooby, even though it's one of the agents, provides an amazing atmosphere especially with the lightning in the background at night. But the rest of the episode...has a ways to go in the horror department. Having a flatulent pig in the episode was obviously the first mistake, and the rest of the episode's atmosphere is very corny and silly rather than staying true to the original horror elements that popularized the use of Universal monsters. Take the "Money Mummy" for example, whose only frightening deed in the episode is pickpocketing people's wallets.
Needless to say, I do love this episode and it's one of my favorite of Get A Clue, but analyzing it up against the other episodes that used this element, it doesn't do it particularly well.
Who's Minding the Monster? is the question one New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo episode poses, when Daphne, Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy help out Dracula and his wife babysit after Frankenstein disappears. Sound all over the place? Well...it is. This episode is so wacky that it, like the Get A Clue episode, suffers a bit. Everything feels very rushed in the episode and many things are left unexplored. One interesting dilemma that the episode brought up was the classic Munsters dilemma, of how two vampires (well, Herman was Frankenstein's monster in the series, but same idea) can make a werewolf baby. Dracula also refers to his wife as "poopsie," which is a serious mood killer for horror tropes lol. In the aforementioned poll, it's also worth noting that not a single person chose this episode as the best.
Let's get to The Ghoul, The Bat and the Ugly (from The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show) next. Though we aren't in a castle, I think the idea of having the monster movie award show be the setting for Universal monsters showing up is an excellent idea, however, it was executed in a way where the monsters were just crammed in in favor of focusing on the Shadow Creature plot. Don't get me wrong, this is my favorite episode of the show and The Shadow Creature is one of my favorite villains. I just would have preferred if they separated the villains into different episodes, like maybe save the Shadow Creature for a different episode and just focus on the Universal monsters. It's a bit too much to focus on otherwise, and the monsters have to get pushed to the back burner. The atmosphere and horror tropes in this episodes are truly excellent, however, just that one element doesn't quite do it for me.
A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts from Where Are You remains many people's favorite episode. Atmospherically, I love anything to do with castles, and think it's a must when including anything on the Universal Monsters (with the exception of "The Ghoul, The Bat and the Ugly," which had such a revolutionary setting idea that it was still great). I love the monsters' designs as well, and the whole setup of why the gang goes there is super creepy. However, my quip with this particular episode is the monsters don't really have any reason to be there. It's not said if it's their castle, or why they're haunting it, and it's also not explained why they're in a group. As close as this episode comes to being perfect, I feel this one element could have been explained better.
Before I move forward into the episodes I think are perfect, and what makes them perfect, I want to clarify that I hope this post isn't reading like "this episode is crap, and this episode is crap, and THIS episode is crap..." All of these episodes are so amazing that any criticisms I have are incredibly small and nitpicky. The point of this post was more to show how one could strike a perfect balance, and how I think this trope is done best.. And with that, these are the episodes that show us how:
I'll admit I'm a huge optimist which makes me always imagine how things could be done better or differently in a positive way... and Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School definitely exemplifies this! I'm not going to definitively say it's my favorite because I am a bit of a purist when it comes to this trope (because of how much I love it!), but this movie does really well exploring a way to use the Universal monsters trope through a different lens. This will probably shock those who know me, given Ghoul School is my favorite Scooby movie of all time. I feel it's done a little better in one episode, but the idea of making the Universal monsters good guys, as well as their daughters, framed through the lens of a school is a super interesting idea!
And we have a tie! Equally as perfect for this trope as Ghoul School is Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf. It's a bit more silly with the monsters racing, but the use of real monsters and Dracula actively attempting to kill Shaggy and his friends amps up the stakes for me (no pun intended, but actually pun intended). The whole bit where Dracula is "king of all the monsters" and all the monsters report to him, whilst in his castle is a really cool idea. The whole vibe that the castle gives off is genuinely spooky, and the structural format of the monsters reporting to Dracula provided some great lore...which is a must for an episode using the Universal monsters trope.
What could this episode have done better?
Well, nothing, really. This one episode just had extra aspects that made it even better...
A Halloween Hassle at Dracula's Castle truly exemplifies this trope in Scooby-Doo. Centering around the gang going to a Halloween party with the real Universal monsters is a genius idea, and as with Reluctant Werwolf, it's a structural masterpiece. The fact that it's centered around a classic holiday that inspires horror really cements it in for me, as well as the fact that we not only get that same monster grouping that works so well, but we also get two other villains! The lore behind Dr. Van Helsing being Dracula's age-old enemy, and now him being the only ghost that can scare the monsters is plot development perfection.
This is a trope that needs to stay alive in Scooby-Doo, and this episode is the perfect model for doing so, in my opinion.
I'm sorry to those of you who aren't Harry Potter fans, because this month's editorial piece is all about the Hogwarts Houses!
I was inspired by a tweet I saw the other night on Twitter, in which a person suggested Velma could be a Hufflepuff. I know a lot of Scooby fans (and people in general) are also into Harry Potter, which gave me the idea: what Hogwarts Houses would the gang fit in? I'll admit my answers have changed since first seeing that post, but here are my thoughts:
Velma - Ravenclaw
Ravenclaws are known for their sharpness of mind and great intellect, and who better to be in that house than our Velma? Ravenclaws also have very creative minds, and offer great wisdom to their friendships. Being the brains of the group, Velma fits in perfectly with Ravenclaw.
Fred - Gryffindor
Our favorite trappin' boy is the leader of the gang, a quality that comes natural to Gryffindors. Gryffindors are also said in the books and films to display great courage, bravery, and chivalry, all of which applies to Fred.
Daphne - Slytherin
This is probably the one that's going to get the most disagreement, but I think Daphne fits best into Slytherin. Slytherins are incredibly resourceful, which makes me think of Daphne immediately. How many times in the franchise has she opened a door with a hairpin or found some creative way out of a danger-prone situation? Another Slytherin quality, self-preservation, is sort of present in Daphne at times if you mess with her...especially if you get her hair wet!
At first, my thought was that Daphne might be more of a Hufflepuff, but after I noticed another person's categorization (credit for sparking the thought to Amelia Wellman, who you may know from the Scooby Dos or Scooby Don'ts podcast), it dawned on me that Daphne actually does share more characteristics with Slytherin than any other house.
Shaggy - Hufflepuff
Where does Shaggy fit in all this? For his nerdiness, loyalty, kindness towards animals and tolerance of spooky ghosts while hanging out with the gang, I think he's right at home in Hufflepuff. I'll admit, Hufflepuffs are suppose to have moderation (which he definitely doesn't have with food), but I think all the other common characteristics fit him well!
Scooby-Doo - Hufflepuff
Like his lifelong companion Shaggy, Scooby-Doo is also a Hufflepuff for the same reasons, I believe. Scooby is fiercely loyal and dedicated to his friends, even if he is a bit of a scaredy cat. This kind dog who tolerates ghosts and monsters galore for his four human companions is undeniably a Hufflepuff.
And before y'all joke about it, I would say that yes, Scrappy is also a Slytherin for his "lemme at 'em" attitude towards ghosts and monsters, self-preservation ("I'm just a puppy!" was Scrappy's catchphrase in his first year and determination to fight.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and if you are a Harry Potter fan, I'd love to hear whether you agree with my assessments or not! And you all are welcome to tell me what house you think you'd be in as well, I'm a Hufflepuff for life! haha
"Hi Guys, Don Knotts Again": The Five Most Bizarre Joke Comments Posted on the Site (Happy April Fools Day!)
Happy April Fools Day!
For many of us right now, I'm sure we're feeling a deficit of good given the current circumstances. Since it's April Fools Day, I wanted to just do a fun, mindlessly silly post purely for comedy reasons that should hopefully bring a smile to some people's faces.
There have admittedly been a lot of ridiculous joke comments on the site over the years, likely from bored kids with nothing else to do. While most of them are not very funny, there have been a few that have given me a chuckle. Typically, I never respond to any joke comments, but now, I'm going to highlight my five favorite joke comments that have been posted on the site.
Since I'd never usually give attention to spammers, I'd like to explain my thoughts on doing this. Most of these are incredibly old (the most recent one being last September, but some dating back to 2014), and I'm assuming that these were just bored kids passing by. It is very unlikely that any of the five people who wrote these comments are still around to read this post, so I don't think it's going to encourage their behavior.
I'm also not trying to publicize spam, or say that I think all attempts of spamming is funny. 99% of the spam comments I've seen on here (or anywhere else on the Internet) are just annoying, unnecessary and rude. But, every once in a while, I'll read an amusing one that's so mindlessly random or silly that it's actually funny. I'm not trying to encourage or glamorize any sort of spamming, and if you do spam on this site, you will be banned and your IP address will be blocked. Trust me, I've received plenty of stupid ones like "da mafia comin' to arrest ya!" or "y'all are idiots for hangin' out on this dumb site" (actual comments I received a long time ago) that are simply a waste of the commenter's time, and none of those are included. These were just five silly ones that I wanted to share in a time where many people could use some comedy.
Without further ado, here are the top 5:
What? She's not?
The first joke comment I ever received, and while it may not be the funniest, it amuses me thinking that this person genuinely thought that the idea of someone's mother not helping them would scare people lol.
I have no idea what was going through that person's head at the time, but whatever it was sounds quite lively haha.
I blanked out this name as it was somewhat distasteful and could offend some people. The comment, however, is hilarious! I love how the very gangsta-ish language and then the random use of the word "establishment" lol. I checked out "myhomies.com" out of curiousity to what it was, and apparently it's a rehab center's official website? Clearly the person posting it didn't actually look at what the link they were posting was, and just wanted to be cool haha.
I actually don't think I deleted these comments as they were so amusing. It's obviously not Don Knotts and probably was just some bored kid, but imagining Don Knotts waiting in his house for 47 years to find out what people really thought of his performance in Scooby-Doo just amused me. I love that he followed up three days later too. That's some serious dedication haha!
I think I've mentioned this one before as it's so out of left field, but I don't think I've ever shared the full version. This isn't a comment, but rather an interesting email that I couldn't help but open immediately after I saw who it was from lol. I received an email in 2015 from someone claiming to be famous rapper P. Diddy, asking me to join him on an insurance venture. Five years after receiving it, here's the full email (note: some minor explicit content):
And before you ask, I did not respond before "da end of da week," so presumably, Snoop Dogg did indeed receive that call lol.
I hope you all enjoyed this post, and hopefully it made you smile at least a little bit! Happy April Fools Day to you all!
In this essay, I'm going to argue that Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy are homeless. In numerous episodes throughout The Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Show, Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy are hinted to be living out of the Mystery Machine, doing daily rituals that would normally be done in one's house. Going through all 60 shorts in the series, I will discuss the numerous times in which the gang is hinted to live out of the Mystery Machine, and ultimately, demonstrate that they are intended to be homeless, or traveling from place to place, in this series. This essay is not an attempt to disparage or make fun of anyone who is homeless, rather, it is simply an editorial essay pointing out a relevant factor that's present through the entire show.
Let's begin with "Scooby in Wonderland." Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy are shown to be sleeping in their van, not in sleeping bags, but in what appears to be full-size beds. While it may have been possible these could be beds somewhere else, as they look like beds you'd have in a house, the first seen actually pans into the Mystery Machine, which shows that they are sleeping in their van. Scrappy and Scooby have one bed, while Shaggy sleeps in the other.
Our next short that has some evidence of this is "Scooby's Trip to Ahz," which has the gang watching "The Wizard of Oz" on TV...out of their parked van. It seems a bit odd that they would just randomly park their van to go watch television. This could maybe be explained, if it weren't for the numerous other episodes that have evidence of them living out of the van.
In "Scooby's Luck of the Irish," Scooby, Scrappy and Shaggy are eating Irish stew in the woods. The stew was clearly shown to be made with an old pot, heated by fire, telling me that they don't have an oven or any other means of cooking it. It seems quite odd to be eating stew out in the woods, especially when it's dark, even though no evidence was shown of them living out of the van in this episode.
In quite possibly the most pitiful example, "Scooby and the Beanstalk" begins with the gang eating baked beans in an empty field. It begins to rain, however, and the beans are ruined. Shaggy claims there is nothing else to eat because that was all they had. Afterwards, they go and sleep in the van, hungry. If anything, this seems like a very clear example of them being homeless.
While these four are all the evidence we have of them living out of the van, it seems to happen often enough for it to be a possibility. What makes this a further possibility is how many jobs they have in this series. Spoilers: it's a ton. Nine out of the sixty episodes in the series has the guys getting jobs. These jobs include the following. In "The Chinese Food Factory," they get jobs as night watchmen at a Chinese food factory. In "Stuntman Scooby," they get jobs as stuntmen on the set of a film. "Scooby's Three Ding-A-Ling Circus" has the gang working as carnival workers selling food. "Surprised Spies" has them hired by the FBI to be professional spies. The guys get jobs as a magician's assistants in "Backstage Scooby." The gang is working on cleaning space shuttles in "Scooby Saves the World." Shaggy, Scooby and Scrappy get jobs as foremen building the Vampire State Building in "Hardhat Scooby." The very next episode, "Canine to Five" has them working for a scientist who turns into a werewolf. They start their very own gardening service, the Triple S Gardening Service in "Hothouse Scooby." Finally, "Scooby Doo 2000" has the guys cleaning Big Ben in England.
So why are the gang homeless? We don't exactly know for sure obviously, but my thoughts are that they are traveling the world out of their van. They seem to bring their van to quite odd places such as an Arabian temple (which would require cross-ocean travel). The gang travels to locations in this series, including the old west, England, Arabia, Egypt, the Himalayas, Mexico, Scotland, the Amazon jungle, an unnamed prehistoric island, the Swiss Alps, Italy, Hawaii, Alaska, Carlsbad (Bad Carl's) Caverns, Paris, India, somewhere in the South, The Great Wall of China, and England for a second time.
While maybe not the most solid, undeniable argument I've ever made, I think the evidence for the gang traveling the world living out of their van in The Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Show is pretty decent, and is definitely my head canon for the series. I think it's an interesting twist that the writers chose to write them this way, and I'm admittedly not sure why, other than maybe they wanted to keep that element of the Mystery Machine from the original format as a home base for the guys in their travels. Keep in mind, we never do see the gang's homes in the 1969-1979 series either, though they are not shown to be living out of the van through context clues as they seem to be in this series. If going hungry because your baked beans cooked in a bucket got soggy doesn't mean you're living in a van, I don't know what does.
After rewatching a bunch of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries episodes lately for my prior article, as well as The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, I can definitely understand people's argument that "11 minutes is just too short to come up with a valid plotline." However, people seem to forget that there were a few standout episodes among the more rushed plotlines (IMO), so much so that I would argue that, if they were to be done in the right tone (don't think Curse of the 13th Ghost or Zombie Island), I wouldn't mind seeing them as direct-to-video films. I can already hear people scoffing behind their screen, "What? How could a horrible 11 minute episode being drawn out even further make it any better?" With the episodes I'm about the break down, I offer the opposite argument: 11 minutes didn't do the episodes justice. The episodes were a bit rushed, but I feel only because of the time constraint placed on them. Here are the four episodes that stand out to me that would be greatly benefitted by a longer runtime:
This episode starts off with Daphne, Shaggy, and the dogs going to a haunted house. Daphne is determined that the hauntings are just rumors, and wants to debunk them once for all for a story she's doing as a journalist. Upon entering the house, Daphne begins reading a journal kept by whoever previously lived there, and reads terrifying tales of poltergeist hauntings. While Daphne and Scrappy never see any of these spooks, Shaggy and Scooby encounter spook after spook, eerily right as Daphne reads them. When Shaggy and Scooby sit down by the fire, they meet "The Fireplace Fiend," a terrifying face that comes out of the fireplace in the living room when you least expect. After going to bed, Shaggy and Scooby encounter four ghosts (pictured above), who perform various mischievous acts with their bed in order to scare them away. Shaggy and Scooby then flee downstairs, where they see some terrifying animal heads that fly off the wall, and Shaggy runs into a living skeleton and fall through a secret passage to the basement. In the basement, they find coffins full the same types of journal that Daphne reads, which is pretty terrifying if you think about it. Pretty quickly, they run into a stone statue that comes to life and chases them out of the basement, so they go back upstairs. Shaggy and Scooby see also immediately see another ghost playing the piano, and try to take a picture of it so Daphne will have to believe them. Despite getting a picture with the ghost, somehow the photo flips around and takes a picture of Shaggy and Scooby, despite the camera clearly not pointing in their direction at all. Last but not least, a painting of a ghost ship comes to life and floods the house. Daphne, unsure what happened, gets caught in the flood with Shaggy and the dogs, and is swept outside, as the house descends into the Earth.
You could certainly view this as a meaningless 11-minute romp where they run into ghost after ghost, which I know some people don't like. Personally, I thought this episode was really spooky, and just sort of gave us a glimpse into this house that was plagued with all sorts of spirits. It seemed like the episode was setting us up to believe that we couldn't begin to imagine all the horrors in that house, which is a pretty disturbing premise. All those journals in the coffins in the basement also back my interpretation up, as presumably, they were filled with writing about more frightening things that happen in this haunted house. Atmospherically, this episode is top notch and one of the biggest reasons I think this would be a great DTV.
I think the episode's only issue was the constant scares happening one after another, which sadly took away a little from the suspense. I think, if the plot were spaced out a little more for further plot development, this is a real hidden gem that could be developed into a great DTV film.
Happy Birthday, Scooby-Doo
"Happy Birthday, Scooby-Doo," albeit a 22-minute episode, I think could have benefitted from a longer story as well. The episode revolves around Scooby being tricked by the gang to go to a TV station to investigate a "howling ghoul." It turns out, they were actually trying to get Scooby to the TV station to be featured "This Is Your Life" birthday program. The beginning of the episode delves into Scooby's most frightening case ever, The Red Skull Curse Case. Remember that case? Of course you don't...because we never see it. They just made up a case that didn't actually occur.
After we hear the story, The Red Skull returns by literally jumping out of a television screen (pretty freaky!) and tries to harm Scooby. Problem is, we're already 11 minutes into the 22 minute episode when The Red Skull first appears, which makes the rest of the episode incredibly rushed. I think this is a lot of people's favorites of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, but the rushed plot in the second half of the episode does it a real disservice in my opinion. I think an extended version of this (not the exact same thing, but something similar) could have been a great 50th anniversary film, or just a great film in general. The beginning of the film could show the gang actually solving the case of The Red Skull, then maybe 20 or so minutes in, we could flash forward a few years and then get to the Red Skull returning, fleshing his character out more, so it would create more of a sense of surprise and suspense. The element of surprise they were going for was really ruined by us never meeting the villain before. The Red Skull is a super cool villain and I think just cramming him into the last 10 minutes didn't really work as well as it could have. Having this be a 70 minute movie would also allow The Red Skull to do more once he'd returned, and you could even develop the plot about Fred being framed more in-depth.
The Nutcracker Scoob
I've heard from a lot of fans that they've always wanted a full-length Christmas film, and I think if you were hypothetically going to extend any Christmas episode so far to make a DTV, this would be the one to do it. This episode has a lot going for it, but again, the execution of them trying to parody The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol at the same time comes across really rushed. It feels like at times they're so focused on the plot with Mr. Nickelby that we don't see much of the ghost, or get much of a development of what he wants until the very end. I think a clever plot device could have been the gang thinking Nickelby and the ghost were the same person for most of the film, maybe even do some false foreshadowing, then only realizing at the end that he wasn't at all related to the ghost, as a twist ending. This is easily my favorite Scooby Christmas special, but it comes off as rushed with trying to parody so much at once, and I think it could be better developed in a film-length adaption.
A Halloween Hassle at Dracula's Castle
When the Scooby Halloween film was announced for 2020, this is immediately the episode I thought of in terms of what I would want to see. I truly hope we do get a movie adaption of this someday. This episode starts off with a very spooky feeling fall wind, and has the gang going to a costume shop, where are invited to a Halloween Party by the owner. It turns out, the attendees of the Halloween party are not people in costume, but rather real monsters who need the gang's help. It turns out, their castle is being haunted by the Ghost of Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula's age-old enemy. I love the lore behind the villain they chose, as this was actually Dracula's enemy in the original lore and books, not just some random person they picked. We also get a seemingly side-plot of Chandra searching for the Moonstone Medallion, which turns out to be the main plot when she captures most of the gang and then uses the medallion for dark magic purposes.
Did my summary sound a little rushed? Well, that's because it was.
All this was crammed into a 22 minute episode, and we don't even get to the stuff with Van Helsing's ghost or Chandra until the last 10 minutes of the episode, which doesn't do the episode any favors. Honestly, I love the classic Halloween feel of this episode, and all the cool lore and dark magic behind it, and I think this would be better as a film, where it could be properly fleshed out and we could actually have time to truly understand everything that's going on. I'm also a huge fan of the classic Universal monsters, haunted castles, and Halloween, so this is just a huge win for me. Side note as well, the background score of this episode is just exemplary IMO, one of the best of any Scooby episode. This episode may seem a little odd to some, but I feel everything it has going for it fits perfectly with the Scooby-Doo formula.
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any thoughts on these, or any other episodes from either of these series, I'd love to hear people's thoughts in the comments!
Mission Un-Doo-Able: How the US's Worries About Foreign Invasion Influenced the Writing of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries
The year is 1984, and tensions from Cold War are rising by the day. From watching television news, reading the newspaper, and watching spy movies, Americans feared the Soviet Union taking over the country with their communist ideals. After the invention of the Atomic Bomb, the Soviet Union and the United States both struggled for scientific dominance over one another, but also feared that the other side might have unimaginably strong weapons that would completely wipe out the country. Because of this, many of these ideals reflected into popular television and films in the United States. After all, it was what was on Americans' minds, and the idea of psychological warfare both fascinated and terrified them.
Of its twenty episodes, ten episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries featured plots relating to spies or the creation of scientific technology with intent of destruction. In this article, I am analyzing each of these episodes from a socio-historical point of view, discussing how the plots of each of these episodes reflected Americans' fear at the time of political takeover from another country. Please note, this post does include spoilers from the ten episodes, sometimes revealing the culprit for the sake of analysis.
The Hand of Horror
While the third episode of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries didn't have any spies, it did feature the creation of intelligent technology that the villain was attempting to use for a criminal purpose. In the episode, two twin brothers from the Von Gizmo family invent a technology that involves robotic hands to be remote controlled from an incredibly long distance. However, their lab assistant, Ratfield, suddenly turns on them and wants to use these hands to commit crimes. Ratfield even captures one of the twin brothers, ties him up, then proceeds to impersonate him. The other brother believes that Ratfield is his brother, and does not realize anything is wrong. In the guise of his twin brother, Ratfield attempts to take control of this technology and use it for his own nefarious purposes.
Thinking about the social-historical context at the time this episode aired, this episode truly encapsulates the general public's fear of the government creating such a powerful technology that it destroys us all. While obviously, a Scooby-Doo episode isn't going to show people being nuked, the implications are still obviously there. This episode reflects the central fear at the time of a powerful technology being created for good, but then used against us for evil purposes by outsiders. The episode paints the lab assistant, Ratfield, as this outsider, who is coming in to use the brothers' own technology against them. Moreover, while the episode never uses the word 'spy' to describe Ratfield, this episode also reflects the fear of communism. At the time, the United States was terrified that communists may be hiding among us. Symbolically, this episode has the Von Gizmo twins representing the United States, building a technology used for good, but then has Ratfield, who could symbolically represent the Soviet Union, come in and try to steal this technology to use for evil. Ratfield also represents the trope of a foreign invader being hidden among us, without anyone realizing who he truly is until he has already gained control of the technology.
The Stoney Glare Stare
This episode represents our first episode that actually has instances of spies. While this episode takes us in a much more magical direction, even working in some ancient Greek mythology, this narrative of international takeover is still embedded in the episode.
The episode starts off with the gang in Greece, trying to stop an international criminal named Thaddeus Blimp from using the Mask of Medusa. This fabled mask has the power to turn anyone who looks at it into stone. Though a Scooby-Doo episode would never use the word "terrorist," arguably, Thaddeus Blimp does display such qualities in the episode. He expresses the desire to take over the world with this mask, which represents the struggle between the US and the Soviets. The Soviet Union and the US were both gigantic world superpowers at the time, and the main fear of the Cold War is that one superpower would overtake everything and "take over the world," either with democracy or with communism (depending on what side you were on). Thaddeus Blimp is the representation of such a terrorist figure who seeks to take over the world with nefarious technology. Whilst the Mask of Medusa is obviously not a real thing that has ever been used, you could argue that this magical device is a technology that could be used for warfare. By turning your opponents to stone, this shows that central fear of being completely helpless to a villainous entity that the Cold War was based upon.
This episode is arguably the one episode where these tropes are most prominent. The Mission Impossible movies were based upon international espionage and villains committing acts of treason against one's country, and this episode parodied those films.
The episode has the gang as actual spies, trying to stop a villain named Mastermind from taking over the world with his operative spies. Aptly, the episode takes place in the Statue of Liberty. The gang takes a tour of the Statue of Liberty in an attempt to find this villain, but the tour guide, Cecil, tells them that the top of the Statue is off-limits to them. In turns out, Cecil is the Mastermind in disguise, and has turned the Statue of Liberty into a weapon of mass destruction, which he calls the Transponder Beam. The Statue of Liberty is considered a national treasure and a representation of our country. This fear of having our own technology used against us is ingeniously reflected in the Statue of Liberty being used to destroy the very country it represents.
The Bee Team
Albeit an odder parody, even an episode about giant bees relates to the psychological fear that the Cold War brought upon millions of Americans. "The Bee Team" is a parody of The A-Team, which is a show about mercenaries who stop acts of political terrorism against the United States. The beginning of the episode has Scooby watching a parody of this, called the Z-Team, featuring a humorous parody of Mr. T (one of the characters), who is named Mr. BLT. However, the episode's focus quickly shifts into the gang becoming like The A-Team, when they are hired by a man named Nathan Stinger to stop some gigantic bees who are stealing honey from his farm. Along the way, they run into a cop who says that she uses the farm's honey as fuel for her motorcycle, because it tasted funny. They also stop at a gas station called Harley's, where they run into a happy-go-lucky man named Harley, who quite literally laughs by saying "har-har-har!" Because of this character trope, he seems like an amicable old man whom the gang would never suspect would be tied up in any criminal activity. It turns out, Harley is a foreign spy who dresses up as a giant bee, along with other spies from his country. The honey also turns out to be rocket fuel, which the spies were trying to steal.
This episode once again plays on the trope of foreign spies stealing materials, in this case rocket fuel, which they were likely going to use to power some sort of weapon to use against America. In addition, this episode plays on that fear that the communists are among us. Many of the minor characters in this episode are somewhat grumpy, but Harley seems very gentle and has a goofy laugh, causing you to not suspect him while suspecting everyone else. This episode's plot capitalizes on the underlying fear at the time that someone that you would never suspect of doing anything wrong is actually a communist wanting to take over the United States.
A Code in the Nose
This episode is another spy vs. spy type plot, which has the gang looking for a government decoding device after being chosen by the United States to look for it. However, a spy named Codefinger is also looking for this device because it has top-secret military information on it. The gang searches all around a grocery store for this item, because it is disguised as some sort of household item. Eventually, they find it, and reveal that Codefinger is actually Major Burch, the head of US Army Security.
This episode has several tropes that reflect fear of foreign takeover. Once again, the episode utilizes the "it's who you least suspect" trope, but takes it a step further to make it someone internal to the United States who attempts to betray his own country. Moreover, the culprit being not just some person in the Army, but the Head of Security, amplifies this fear of governmental overthrow even more, because it plays on the idea that even a Head of Security, who is supposed to keep everyone safe, is actually a foreign agent who will betray the country's deepest governmental secrets. The idea that the governmental decoder device is disguised as a household item also represents the common fear at the time that anything could be weaponized and used against the country.
Doom Service is an interesting one because it sort of lazily uses the spy trope at the end, but doesn't work it into the story very much. The episode focuses on a hotel that is haunted by its old owner, Ebeneezer Overview, who turns out to be an eccentric lady named Ms. Van Loon. Van Loon wanted to steal government secrets from an Army Air Base next door to the hotel, and wanted to scare everybody away after she discovered a secret passage from the hotel to the Army Base. Again, this episode utilizes that same idea of "it's who you least expect" (one wouldn't likely suspect an old lady of being a terrorist). Presumably, though it's not said, she probably wasn't stealing the government secrets to get some good reading material before bed. It's implied that she was going to use these secrets against her own government, and betray us to a foreign power that could overthrow the country's leaders.
A Night Louse at the White House
This episode is a perfect example of the Spy Threat narrative. In this episode, Velma is at a presidential event in the White House and brings the gang because she's working with NASA's space program. The dinner is quickly interrupted by the Ghost of George Washington, who says he wants to reclaim his home. They realize the ghost is trying to steal a brass eagle from a bedknob for some reason, and soon, the ghosts of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant all appear and begin haunting the place. Suspecting one of the representatives from other countries that are there for the event, the gang begins going in all of their rooms to search for the eagle. Later in the episode, the brass eagle is revealed to open a secret passage with all the secrets to NASA's new space program, and the ghosts want to steal it. The ghosts turn out to be a visiting ambassador and his wife from Klopstokia, who want to steal NASA's secrets.
The fact that an eagle, the symbol of the United States of America, was trying to be stolen to access the secrets, is a clearly metaphor for foreign terrorists stealing "what's great about the US" and using it against our will for their own country. The ambassador and his wife dressed up as former beloved US presidents, which symbolically represents invaders taking what's great about the US and twisting it to benefit their country.
The 'Dooby Dooby Doo' Ado
We get to meet Scooby's cousin Dooby Dooby Doo in this episode, who is a famous singer in Hollywood. Dooby brags about his new collar, which was a gift from an adoring fan in New York. It turns out, this fan was actually a spy who hid a laser band in Dooby's collar, and wanted him to transport it across the country for her and her gang of thieves. It's also mentioned by an undercover cop that the crooks attended to sell it to foreign agents, once again creating this narrative about betrayal and loss of control of its citizens. The United States being worried about losing that control they had as a worldwide superpower was arguably the root of the Cold War.
Sherlock Doo takes us to jolly old England, in which the gang competes in a mystery solvers contest. Along the way, they meet the ghost of Sherlock Holmes, who seems to be helping them solve the mystery. However, it's revealed that Sherlock Holmes wanted to steal the Crown Jewels of England, and the gang is blamed for the theft. This narrative demonstrates a central fear of the United States at the time: betrayal of country, and the spread of communism from communists to other innocent bystanders. Sherlock Holmes, who turns out to be the person running the mystery solvers contest, wanted to commit crimes and steal the crown jewels, a symbol of his country. Essentially, the faux Sherlock was committing treason against country. The United States genuinely feared having its citizens be turned to "the dark side" (or communism) during this time, and treason against country was considered the ultimate betrayal.
Additionally, while no communist ideals were directly mentioned in this episode, it could be argued that Sherlock persuading the gang to follow him is actually a symbolic representation of betrayal of one's own country. The gang of course didn't do anything wrong, but the symbolism is still there. This episode's plot was inspired by this pervasive fear at the time, and made it hit even closer to home by framing the gang as criminals, who we had grown to love and trust over the past 15 years.
The final example of this features a gigantic mouse in an experiment gone wrong. The gang goes to EIEIO Farm, which stands for "Experimental Institute for Evolutionary Improvement of Organisms," where the farmers do genetic experiments with animals. When an experiment with a food enlargement formula goes horribly wrong, a 30-foot tall field mouse is created, who is destroying the farm. The gang later finds out that the mouse is being controlled by someone on the farm.
While it's unlikely the Soviets were going to send an army of giant field mice to kill us all, this gigantic mouse is another example of a technology invention gone wrong and used for purposes of evil. The gang figures out the mouse is being controlled by a human presence in order to take over the farm. This "farm takeover" is more symbolism for high-tech warfare (in this case, metaphorically represented by a large field mouse) being used to overtake our country, possibly even by communists who are hiding inside the US. The culprit was one of the farmhands, who decided to abuse the technology, and use it in such a way that caused mass destruction. This narrative of technology being used against an institution and betrayal of trust to one's higher loyalties is very clear in this episode.
Now, I'm not attempting to imply that the writers at HB said "okay, I shall work my fears of the Cold War into each of these ten episodes so carefully that no child shall notice! Hooray for nationalism!" What I am arguing, however, is that socio-political undertones of the Cold War influenced the media during this time, by popularizing thrilling plots of espionage with international spies, and powerful technology falling into the wrong hands to create chaos. As a result, because this was the common narrative in the media at the time, the writing of The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries was greatly influenced by Americans' pervasive fears of a communist takeover or a nuclear super-war with the Soviet Union. The media relies on these socio-political and cultural narratives to excite and thrill viewers in the comfort of their own homes, while playing on the underlying excitement and fear of current issues facing our society that is on viewers' minds. Because of increasing tensions from the Cold War at the time, these narratives worked significantly into the writing of this show.
2020 is nearly upon us, which means a new decade is beginning in just a couple of weeks! With the show's 50th anniversary having been this year, I've been thinking lately about a couple of things I would like to see for Scooby in the upcoming decade and wanted to write a short article about it.
1. More Detailed Comics
I think everyone can agree that since Team Up and Scooby Apocalypse were cancelled this past year, just having the Where Are You? comics remaining is a bit lackluster. The comics from that series are also almost entirely just stock art poses, which grows a bit old after a while. One of my hopes for the next decade is that we'll have some comics, either Where Are You or another spin-off series, that has more detail put into it rather than it all just being stock art.
2. More Missing Episodes Released
Admittedly, I've definitely said this one in previous posts, but we still have 144 unreleased episodes remaining in the franchise, some of them shockingly being from The Scooby-Doo Show still. I would love to see WB really crack down on getting those missing episodes released, and ideally not just slapping one on a set of 20 already released episodes just to burn them off. It would be nice to have them potentially on a themed set, or in connection with my next one...
3. Season Sets
It's a bit disappointing, but we've barely seen any season sets at all in this past decade. I believe we've only gotten 13 Ghosts, The Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo Show Season 1 and The Almost Complete Collection of the New Scooby-Doo Movies. While three isn't bad, we were getting tons of them back in the 2000s decade, and with so many unreleased episodes remaining, you would think it would be pretty profitable for them to release some more season sets as collector's items. I'm hoping to see an increase of the season sets again for the remaining missing episodes in the coming years!
4. Moving Away from Crossovers
This isn't so much a tangible thing like the rest of the items so far, but I'm hoping they will move away from crossovers. Between all the DTVs, and the new Guess Who series, in my opinion it's getting to be a bit much. Which leads me into my final point...
5. Playing It Less Safe
I feel like the current Scooby-Doo media is trying to play it super safe and make everything exactly like how it was in Where Are You. Obviously, this has repercussions, because it discounts how the franchise has evolved in those 50 years. I feel like I would be more engaged in the franchise if they explored different aspects of it. Playing it safe can be a good thing sometimes, but I think at some point, WB needs to get out of their comfort zone and realize that there are adult fans out there as well, not just kids, and the same old formula can get boring if it's used too much. I'm not suggesting they should completely change the show, but I think experimenting with different aspects of the show is a good way to keep viewers of all ages engaged.
If you feel like I missed anything on my list, or feel like I shouldn't have included something let me know in the comments! What do you all want to see in the next decade in the future of the franchise? I would be interested to see everybody's ideas!
A while ago, I mentioned on the blog that Jordan Farrell was in the process of making a Scooby-Doo fan film entitled "Scooby-Doo! The Backstage Rage." That film has now been released, and can be watched here! The film is sort of like a Scooby fanfiction story, which is based on the original "The Backstage Rage" episode from Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (with many scenes paralleling the original episode), except in stop-motion animation form. The stop-motion animation element of this film reminds me a lot of those old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials, for those that remember them. The rest of this post is an essentially spoiler-free review of this fan film.
Firstly, it should be said that the film does a great job with the horror aspect! The film is rated PG-13, and definitely earns that rating by having almost a sinister vibe at times. The Puppet Master is truly an evil villain who has the intent of turning his victims into puppets. The music that's played whenever he comes out of the shadows is super creepy, and I'll admit surprised me a couple of times when it was played after a dead silence! The Puppet Master has a very larger than life presence throughout the entire film, which really made it feel like a horror film.
The comedy was also really good! The film's humor was definitely more quirky in places, and I really liked that! The random sound effects at points particularly made me laugh, such as the "KO!" sound effect played when Shaggy knocks Fred out with the trash can, and my favorite, the part where Velma gets hit by the sandbag and a voice saying "That was intense bruh!" is played lol. And speaking of "bruh," I quite enjoyed Officer John saying "man" and "bruh" all the time, just as it's so uncharacteristic of a police officer.
I think my favorite piece of comedy though was with Shaggy's dad at getting caught by the cops at his weed booth at the Peace and Love Convention, and saying "Zoinks, it's the fuzz!" and getting thrown in jail. I would have liked to see more of that storyline, that was really funny! Though Flim Flam giving Shaggy a Customer Suspension Card ("for being a complete douche") was a close second haha. Also, one question the film posed was is Lotsa Luck Joy Juice supposed to be some kind of drug? There's one scene where the cops stare Flim Flam down at his booth, and he just stares nervously which made me wonder.
Oh, and I have to mention my one other favorite joke, the culprit (I won't ruin it by saying the name) exclaiming "I'm free!" and then the cop saying "And now you're under arrest!" Perfect irony there lol.
Character-wise, I thought all the characters were really good! In particular, Shaggy's voice actor really did an amazing job in the role. One criticism I had with the characters though is the dialogue. At times, the dialogue seemed a bit stilted. One example that happens a couple times is that a character will speak, and then there will be a delay before the next character says something, which makes it seem off. Also, I felt a few of the lines were delivered a bit awkwardly sometimes, which makes them a bit comedic where I don't think they were supposed to be. Three of my favorite examples (with all respect to Jordan and the creators, I just found the awkwardness a bit amusing): "You've gotta be crappin' me, man!", "So...how's our date going for you tonight? We've been together two years now after all." and "Oh, by the way, do you want to marry me?
I liked the addition of the Hex Girls quite a bit, and it was fun to have Thorn be a main part of the storyline (in multiple ways). I really liked her voice actor! Thorn and Shaggy being a couple was cute, I definitely ship it! Thorn hitting on Shaggy sort of reminded me of Sally and Linus from Peanuts. Speaking of which, I thought the characters' faces being colored red with embarrassment looked pretty similar to how it is in the Peanuts specials, which is cool! The characters' faces when angry also reminded me of Peanuts a bit. The cougar sound effect whenever someone got angry was very quirky, but cool! I really dug it haha.
I also thought the animation was really good considering it was all hand-drawn (I'm presuming). I know a common argument against the series Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! is that the designs are bad, and I unfortunately could see people saying that about this film too. However, if you let yourself get past the fact that it doesn't look anything like normal animation, I think you'll find it's a pretty fun watch. And also, kudos to whoever did the drawing for this film, as nearly 3 hours is a lot of animating to do!
Lastly, what I thought the film did a really good job of is references to old Scooby material. There are references galore in this film, so many in fact that a couple of the characters mentioned in the credits were ones I didn't even notice. You can definitely tell the effort put in to make some cool references. And speaking of references, I thought the writing of the film plot-wise was really brilliant in how it used aspects of the original "The Backstage Rage" episode to shape this plot. The doorman being a puppet being turned into the Puppet Master turning people into puppets was a really cool reimagining of this.
Overall, I think this was a really fun watch and would definitely recommend giving it a try. Don't be turned off by the stop motion animation being different than what you're used to, because there is a lot of cool content here and a really good plot. Kudos to Jordan Farrell and everyone involved in making this film! And thanks so much to him for putting the site's name in the credits, twice! That was super sweet and I really appreciate it.
A lot of people remember shows like Josie and the Pussycats, Goober and the Ghost Chasers and the Funky Phantom as "Scooby Clones" because they followed the same man-in-a-mask, mystery-solving format that the classic cartoon canine did.
However, few people remember those years in the late 70s and early 80s where the Flintstones copied this same formula.
The very first time The Flintstones experimented with a spookier format was around Halloween in 1964, before Scooby began. There was a three episode stretch from the weeks of October 29 - November 12, 1964, in which Fred and Barney got involved in "spooky" encounters; the first of which being the episode "A Haunted House is Not a Home," in which Fred inherits a haunted house from his deceased uncle, and Barney and him spend the night. The second episode, "Dr. Sinister," is a parody of James Bond (Jay Bondrock, as he's called in the episode) where Fred and Barney are kidnapped by Dr. Sinister and his monster guards who are looking to destroy the world. This is sort of a monster mashup with James Bond, and the guards are never called monsters, but all of them (along with Dr. Sinister) are green.
The third episode would later become very influential into the main topic of this article. Simply titled "The Gruesomes," the third and final episode of that 1964 run was a parody of the Addams Family, which had just begun a few months ago. The episode involves The Gruesome Family moving next to the Flintstones, who are a very odd family with a house full of monsters. One of the best lines from that episode is the neighbor introducing himself "Hi, I'm Weirdly!", to which Fred replies "I was just about to say that!" Still makes me chuckle to this day.
After this three episode run, the Flintstones ditched this spooky element and went back to its traditional formula. The Gruesome Family does appear in one other episode of the original series, entitled "The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes," but they are merely used briefly in the episode for exposition purposes and the episode does not have the same spooky vibe. They also would appear in the 1972 spinoff show "The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show" for one episode, though the wife, Creepella, was completely redesigned and was voiced by someone who made her sound like more of a socialite than a monster, which was unfortunate. They may have been going for a Morticia-like voice here from the Addams Family.
You could also include "Monster Fred" in this "spooky" themed run of episodes, which aired five weeks before three episodes began to, though it had more to do with mad science so it's always been in its own separate category to me.
In 1979, The Flintstones spin-off show The New Fred & Barney Show rebranded the series a bit, which can be summed up by the line in the intro "full of lots and fun and mystery!" Yep, that's right, The Flintstones solve mysteries in this series...well, sort of! Out of the 17 episodes in the series, five had to do with monsters or mysteries. The first episode of the series, "Sand Witch" involves Fred and Barney's car breaking down in a haunted forest while about to go bowling, and they run into a witch who eats humans. There wasn't really much mystery to speak of, and it's more of a comedy romp in the vein of some of the Richie Rich / Scooby-Doo Show shorts. The second episode "Haunted Inheritance" was sort of a crappy remake of "A Haunted House is Not a Home" (the episode mentioned above from 1964), in which Fred and Barney inherit a haunted house but are in competition this time with some other people. There are no ghosts to speak of until the last few minutes of the episode. The only ghost that appears in the last few minutes of episode is very obviously fake, I think it's just some cheesy guy with a sheet over his head or something.
During the next few episodes, the formula changed a bit and they switched back to more classic adventures. In episode 6, "Blood Brothers," a new neighbor named Rockula (a parody of Dracula) moves to town and wants to become "blood brothers" with Fred, who suspects his new neighbor is a vampire. The episode was much more whimsical, illustrated by the fact that Rockula's wife is named "Poopsie." Another break was taken from this formula for the next 4 episodes of The New Fred and Barney Show.
Episode 11, "Stoneage Werewolf," returns to this spooky formula and is one of my favorite episodes of The Flintstones. The mystery and plotline itself is very detailed and cool, but you can tell some liberties are taken with the dialogue in some places. Some lines are a bit forced and goofy, like characters talking to themselves in order to build exposition. Content-wise, this episode features Fred and Barney going on a fishing trip, but end up having to retreat on a nearby island after a thunderstorm begins. Fred and Barney stay in the island's only house, owned by a kindly man who happens to be a werewolf. They don't realize this however, which makes for some spooky fun. There's also the amusing scene in this episode where the Hanna-Barbera background painters messed up and accidentally painted a whole scene as nighttime, but then, after the commercial break, this scene which was supposed to take place at the same time turned into day for no apparent reason. Oh, how I love those sorts of animation errors haha.
The twelfth and final episode of the series to feature a "spooky" vibe is called "Fred & Barney Meet the Frankenstones." The episode involves an overworked Fred and Barney touring a condorstonium (condominium) run by Frank and Hidea Frankenstone. There are odd things like a body-building machine that builds real monsters, and Atrocia, the Frankenstones' daughter whose only dialogue is cackling for a few seconds, then speaking unintelligible gibberish and cackling again. Not sure why the writers found this so funny, but this "joke" is repeated at least 10 times throughout the episode. This episode is all over the place, but there is some really creepy stuff in this episode, like Hidea's gigantic eyes!!! (pictured above)
This opened up the doors to "The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone," an hour-long television film in 1979 which featured the Flintstones winning an all-expense paid trip to Rockula's castle for the night. There is no continuity in this film to the previous Rockula episode, and Count Rockula is played up as a sinister Dracula-esque figure of legend, rather than a random vampire. The movie, which is my favorite Flintstones film of all time, has Fred, Wilma, Betty and Barney going to Rockula's castle unsuspecting that Rockula has awoken from his 500 year sleep along with Frankenstone. Rockula believes that Wilma is his long-lost bride, and tries to reclaim her while killing off Fred. Even if a lot of it is just a monster chase, it's still really enjoyable and I always try to watch it every Halloween. Frankenstone also has a different, deeper voice than he did in the previous episode, but the design is kept (as well as for Rockula). Frankenstone would later get back his original voice actor.
The 1980s would continue with this formula, and really latched onto the Frankenstones. The 1980 special, The Flintstones' New Neighbors once again lacks some continuity and has the Frankenstones move to town again. It's the same basic plot as "Fred & Barney Meet the Frankenstones" but this time, they move next door to The Flintstones in a spooky house which parallels that of "The Gruesomes" from 1964. Frank Frankenstone gets his original voice actor back, and has two kids with different names than the first time (they were named Atrocia and Creepy in the original episode). This time, they are named Frankenstub/Stubby and Hidea, the latter of which is originally the wife's name. Frank's wife was renamed Oblivia, and has a different voice. Oblivia has a different voice actor than the original wife, Hidea, did. I'm honestly not sure which voice I like better. Oblivia's comes off as more down-to-Earth, whereas Hidea's is a bit of an indescribably creepy voice. The new daughter, Hidea, does not have the same odd quirk of giggling and mumbling gibberish, and speaks in full sentences. Frankenstub has the same voice actor as Creepy in the original episode. But to get to the heart of the episode, Fred initially dislikes the Frankenstones and even pulls cruel pranks on them (i.e. putting up a sign that says "This way to the Freak Show!" pointing to their house), but they end up having to work together when Pebbles falls into a pterodactyl's nest.
Clearly, they liked this idea, as The Frankenstones would continue to appear in a segment of The Flintstones Comedy Show. The continuity from the New Neighbors special sticks, except for Fred and Frank being friends. In this series, Fred hates Frank Frankenstone once again, and Frank Frankenstone oddly hates him as well. Frank has a new voice actor, who IMO is pretty bad and just sounds like an angry guy rather than a creepy monster as he was intended to be. Frankenstub was written out in favor of a new "normal" son (similar to Marilyn in The Munsters), who Pebbles becomes friends with much to Fred's annoyance. Pebbles is also an adult now, despite the fact that she was a child when they moved here in the New Neighbors special.
In another segment not involving the Frankenstones in this same series, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm actually solve mysteries with the man-in-a-mask format! Admittedly, I've only seen two of these episodes, one called "Ghost Sitters" where they solve the mystery of a ghost cowboy, and another called "Monster Madness" which I vaguely remember had something to do with a baseball going into a haunted house with various monsters. Someday I may have to treat myself and pay for a month of the Boomerang streaming service, as all the episodes are on there.
Anyways, that was it for this article. I always thought it was interesting how such an acclaimed show like The Flintstones found the need to copy Scooby, but nonetheless it made those episodes interesting for me to watch as a devoted Scooby fan.
For the 50th anniversary of the franchise, I've recently been rewatching The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. Now that I've watched these episodes numerous times, it caused me to view the show from a more critical perspective. Taking it even a step further, I'd argue The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo could have been the perfect mature Scooby show some of us have been hoping for.
I'm sure this idea sounds crazy, so I want to give my reasoning behind this. Honestly, I don't think 13 Ghosts knew what it wanted to be. We get some creepy horror scenes and frightening villains (the Shadow Demon pictured above is one of my favorite Scooby villains ever!), but we also get cheesy sing-a-longs and jokes like Shaggy microwaving his popcorn at 8 million degrees.
Scooby had always previously been a very comedy-driven show, especially in the recent days (at the time) when we had just come out of those 7-minute comedy romp shorts. I don't think the writers quite knew what to do when a horror show was pitched to them. Given this, we get these zany comedy scenes mixed in with some legitimate supernatural premises.
I think this (and Scrappy and Flim Flam) caused people to be turned off by the show. They discounted the show's capabilities when they saw it was the same comedy (even a bit zanier than some of 7 minute shorts) as in the preceding Scrappy. I think most of these episodes have the foundation to be legitimately frightening and more mature, without all the quirky comedy mixed in.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not trying to rant about 13 Ghosts, or saying it's crap, or anything to that degree. I'm just trying to analyze how the show could have been better and more horror-focused.
People definitely think of the show was more horror-focused, but in many places, it's really not. People are misremembering the more frightening scenes as being the only thing there, when we have very zany main character interactions and jokes tossed in.
How do we unpack all of this, and hypothetically, how could The 13 Ghosts be that creepy, supernatural show focusing on a serious occult threat of 13 of the most terrifying ghosts being released?
I already talked about removing the comedy, and I think this means removing Flim Flam and Scrappy. For those that love those characters, I apologize, and Scrappy definitely had his charm in this series. But these are the two characters who are consistently there for the purposes of comedy, and 90%+ percent of their lines are around making some sort of joke, or making the situation lighter. I think, for a horror-focused show, these two characters don't really fit unfortunately. Or, they would need to have a drastic change of personality.
Next, I'd like to analyze each episode from a critical horror perspective, and talk about what worked and what didn't.
To All The Ghouls I've Loved Before really worked as a premiere for a horror show, I think. It had some genuinely spooky stuff going on, between the curse the demons placed on the town where they turn into werewolves, to the creepy temple and Bogel and Weerd trying to trick the gang into opening the chest. Of course, there were a few minor comedy gags here that could be cut, but I think maybe just slightly amping up the intensity of this episode could make it into the perfect premiere!
Fright factor: 9/10
Scoobra Kadoobra had a good foundation, but didn't quite cut it when it came to making it creepy. Maldor was an awesomely designed ghost especially with the horns coming straight through his head (as you can see in the picture above) and the fact that he has no face is super spooky!
In execution, the episode really did pretty terribly. The comedy routines undermined the episode in every way. The cut away gag cause the episode to instantly become less spooky, the whole dragon thing doesn't work, and neither do the rat guards. Maldor also comes off as less spooky than he should, which by his appearance should be a larger-than-life, maniacally evil personality. Instead, we get him saying things like "Good doggy!" and making kissing noises when he wants the wand, and "Welcome to my slumber party!" which just seem like lame lines for such a supposedly malevolent character. The fact that he seems to forget who the gang is also wrecks the spook factor. At the beginning of the episode, his face appears in the van and taunts the gang to come and get him, which is pretty dang frightening. Then, a scene later, Scooby and Shaggy are eating lunch in the forest, and Maldor exclaims "There are mortals in my forest!" or something like that with surprise, which completely wrecks the spookiness of that scene.
I think this episode would have been better if we focused more on how Maldor took over the forest, then immediately putting Daphne under the "Sleep of the Centuries" spell, Scooby finding the Wonder Wand, and him chasing Scooby with some more horror-focused extensions on these scenes. In my opinion, we don't need any of the dragon bits, Scrappy and Flim Flam acting as lawyers, or Flim Flam tricking the rat guards. The only villains I think we really need are Maldor, who should be more of a smouldering, huge presence, and maybe some of the monster trees.
Fright factor: Maldor is a genuinely cool villain, and this episode is one of my favorites so I hate to do this. But, I'm going to rate it a 5/10. It has potential, but it was completely ruined by the overuse of comedy and of course the stupid singalong.
The villain in Me and My Shadow Demon has immense potential, and the way that the villain is used is amazing...until a point. The villain that I'm talking about is not, in fact, Queen Morbidia, but the Shadow Demon. The Shadow Demon (pictured above) is one of the coolest, creepiest looking villains in Scooby-Doo, and could have been THE best of the 13 ghosts. However, he was entirely wasted when it's said to just be "some guy's shadow," so they could use Morbidia instead. Morbidia is a pretty cool looking ghost, but she pales in comparison to the Shadow Demon. I wish they would have used Morbidia in a different episode as the stand-alone villain, and left the Shadow Demon to be the star of this one.
The sing-a-longs absolutely sucked, and "Goodnight Ghoulies" almost felt like I was being talked down to. The way the mine scene works out, to me, is a bit iffy. I think it would have been better if they just started out at Befuddle Hall, gotten trapped down in the basement maze somehow after wandering the house for a while, and they saw the Shadow Demon everywhere. Or like the shadows the gang casted could morph into the demon, making the gang believe they couldn't escape the Shadow Demon. Or maybe the Shadow Demon could have the power to stretch like a shadow, or something creepy like that. That would be a genuinely frightening scenario. Instead, we get Morbidia and a bunch of random monsters, a giant bug, plus a crappy sing-a-long ending. It just doesn't really work with the horror angle. I think Morbidia would be a good villain for another episode, but she pales in comparison to the Shadow Demon in this episode.
Fright factor: 7/10. Morbidia was a good villain, but the sing-a-longs and bad jokes is what bring this down for me. The Shadow Demon was also clearly the superior choice here, and they just waste him with a lame explanation that doesn't really make much sense.
Reflections in a Ghoulish Eye is a pretty cool title, but the episode itself is very average except for the last 4 or 5 minutes. I think the Mirror Demon was played up as too weak. This demon which is one of the 13 most powerful on the face of the Earth is trapped within a bedroom mirror, and has to be carried around for the first 15 minutes of the episode by Bogel and Weerd. It makes him seem like a not very powerful demon...that is, until the last five minutes, where he actually traps the gang in the mirror world. Now that was super cool, and very frightening! I think if we honed in on those five minutes of the episode and developed that more, it would be a perfect episode!
There's too much filler in this episode otherwise, and we don't need any of the convention narrative or songs about "Giving 'Em The Old Flim Flam." As an alternate idea, the Mirror Demon have the power to occupy every mirror, but he can't enter reality without someone getting close enough to the mirror. I think that would be a cool premise, and wouldn't make him seem as weak as being trapped in someone's bedroom mirror.
Fright factor: I'm going to be rough on this one and give it a 2.5/10, to represent the 25% of the episode we were in that cool mirror world. The rest of the episode just isn't scary, at all.
That's Monstertainment! gets us on the right path. This is the closest of any episode other the premiere so far, in my opinion, to be genuinely frightening and have a ton of potential that was used. Being trapped in the TV is pretty scary, and I love that the gang is actually innocently watching a horror host not realizing she was one of the 13 ghosts. Zomba also has the creepiest design of any of the 13 ghosts, hands down. I was actually a bit freaked out by her as a kid, with her bug eyes and strange-looking figure. There are a few things which sort of make this episode a little bit less scary.
First, the silly scenes of the gang acting in the movie make it feel a little less scary. The scene where Zomba is trying to find the demon chest seems like it's played up for comedy, but I don't think it should have been. In the rest of the episode, she's pretty scary and that comedy bit is a little confusing. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel like the very first part during Van Ghoul's monologue should have had the scenery be darker. It's colored strangely, and it makes it just seem like it's dusk, whereas if it's 2am it should be pitch black and that would amp up the scariness. I realize that last one is a very nitpicky criticism, but I think the horror parts we do get in this episode are sooo amazing that I want it to be perfect haha.
But enough about what wasn't good, let's talk about the amazing parts of this episode! As I said, the beginning scene where they're sucked in is great, Zomba zapping into the movie with such ease was terrifying, the part in the dungeon where she's holding a torch and searching for Shaggy and Scooby, where they're in this remote isolated room, is super creepy! As is her trapping them at the end on the windmill. The horror movie really gets the fright factor going as well.
One comment on her design, which is already near-perfect, is one animation glitch when she's at the top of the stairs and she looks even creepier, ironically. She looks almost deformed and demonic in that scene, and it's sooo cool. I wish they would have stayed more consistent with her design, as she's a bit all over the place. Her body is pretty similar other than that one glitch, but sometimes her face is drawn to look less creepy. I also think Zomba was powerful enough on her own, and the Frankenscoob Monster wasn't really needed here. It made her feel a little less scary when the monster was clearly more powerful than her.
Fright factor: 9 / 10. I think this is the closest we get to true creepiness in the show, and the 1 point I took off is for the minor criticisms outlined above. Overall, I think the series would have been a lot better if it would have been more like this one!
Ship of Ghouls has a lot of controversy surrounding whether Captain Ferguson counted as one of the 13 ghosts. Watching the episode again, I'm sort of inclined to believe he's not, even though Curse of the 13th Ghost said he was. This was quite similar to the Mirror Demon episode in the sense that it had great potential from what was there, but it took too long to get there. The first 15 minutes could easily be cut out, in my opinion. It's just Weerd and Bogel chasing Scooby around and him being scared. 15 minutes in, we finally get some genuinely creepy things going on. The gang is trapped on a ship, where all the passengers turn out to be ghosts, and there's literally nowhere to run. Even worse, the chest of demons open and we get this amalgamation of all the demons, which is super cool!
Fright factor: 6/10. I'll give the episode the fact that it did slowly build up to something, and wasn't just pure filler like the Mirror Demon episode was. But it took way too long to get there, sort of wasting the opportunity they had to make a genuinely scary scenario occur until the last minute.
A Spooky Little Ghoul Like You is a pretty fun episode, that I think has some seriously spooky potential. My two complaints about this one, besides the comedy bits, is how Nicara's power is too oddly specific. Why would she be one of the 13 most powerful demons if her powers only work on Friday the 13th? It just seemed like they were trying to cram in a "spooky" reference and it made her seem less powerful. But her powers getting increasingly large throughout the episode, like being able to rise ghouls from the grave is pretty dang terrifying, and makes for a great horror episode. Just maybe intensifying the darkness of the episode and cutting out the comedy bits would do this episode a lot of good! I like how not all of the demons were like deformed or ugly, like this was just a sexy lady demon who was trying to make a warlock fall in love with her to drain their powers.
The ending is a bit lackluster, where it just ends on "oh...it's midnight! Goodnight everyone!" I think the ending of this could have been made stronger. The animation quality also just drops off a cliff for the last 30 seconds, causing us to get some pretty horrifying scenes like this.
Fright factor: I'll give this an 8/10, one point taken away for the comedy bits and another one because her power is too oddly specific and it makes her much less intimidating.
When You Witch Upon a Star features a pretty cool looking witch, who's mad with power, but got trapped in the Zone of Eternal Evil. Everything about this premise is great, except...wait...there's also a bumbling group of Three Stooge witches on the loose? The Brewski Sisters are irritating to watch, and they are purely there for the comedy. The round-the-world trek feels like it goes too fast, and in general, the witches simply aren't funny. The plot with Vincent Van Ghoul and Marcella is what should have been focused on more heavily (with the gang there), as she was super powerful and had a pretty creepy design. But, instead, we get probably like 17 or 18 minutes of the Brewski Sisters, chanting "Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah! Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!"
Fright factor: 2/10. If this episode were just Marcella, it would get 9 or 10/10 easily. But the episode almost exclusively focuses on the Brewski Sisters, to the point where we barely even see Marcella and she doesn't know who the gang are. It's disappointing, and I think there was a spark of potential in the plot with Vincent Van Ghoul and her, but it's completely wasted with those other witches.
It's A Wonderful Scoob lives up to its name, and is pretty wonderful. But it's not the best, in some places. The beginning bit with them in the weird time city, and the middle with Scooby's parents and Weerd and Bogel could be cut because it's mainly used for comedy. It does have good potential, though, and I think Scooby being forced to confront his terrifying past is a cool plot. I also thought Marcella looked better in the flashback than she did in the actual episode, lol. It was genuinely a bit saddening and heartfelt to see how bad the world had become with Time Slime free.
I know I've been pretty anti-comedy in this article, but I think Bernie Gumpshure could definitely be worked into this episode still. The horror aspect of this episode is how bad the world has become without Scooby, and Bernie's ineptness could serve as a comedy facet while also showing Scooby how bad his replacement is for the world. The meta-references, however, where Ronald Reagan gives his presidential address for Scooby to come back on the show just don't work at all, and need to be removed for it to be more horror-focused.
Fear factor: 7/10, it's not the most horrifying thing in the world, but it's a cool episode to watch. Time Slime is...an interesting looking villain, but isn't as creepy-looking as some of the past ones. I'd say he's the least creepy of any of the demons we've talked about so far.
Quack, quack, quack, I'm Platypus Duck! If you couldn't tell, we're on Scooby in Kwackyland now and Demondo, and he really isn't scary. This episode features the gang in a comic, and for a horror series, it just doesn't work. It's not scary at all, and all episodes at this point have had at least some fear factor. Honestly, to make this a more horror-focused series, there's really no saving this episode which is literally about comics. I think this would be the place we could fill in Morbidia and give her an episode individually.
Fear factor: 0/10
Does this demon not look pretty creepy? He does to me, but Coast to Ghost really does him no justice. The atmosphere of this episode is cool, but the gang traveling with Weerd and Bogel is too comedy-driven, and Rankor is a bumbling idiot in most of this episode. He literally willingly goes in the demon chest, saying "Thanks, you guys are real pals!" and it's just all-out lame. Worst scene I've seen in Scooby-Doo, probably. It's just so disappointing. Also, why is Rankor reporting to SAPS and why is he not in SAPS already? Why does he even want to be in SAPS? He's one of the most powerful demons in the world, it doesn't make sense that he'd be so submissive.
Fear factor: The atmosphere is strongly horror in this one, but it just lacks everything else. 1/10 for the one thing this episode had right.
The Ghouliest Show on Earth was an awesome horror episode. The ghost just looking like a normal person for most of the episode until he turned grotesque at the end (pictured above), the calliope music hypnotizing people into thinking everything was alright was all just perfect! One minor thing I'd say could be fixed, besides amping up the dark tone, is for it not to take place in Dooville. It seems like too much of coincidence that the ghost would go right to Scooby's hometown. Also, did any of us really need to see that guy who's married to a cow? Lol.
Fear factor: 9/10 for the great horror potential.
I'm not really sure what to say about Horror Scope Scoob. It's another TV station episode, and I don't think we particularly needed it with the Zomba episode. This episode sort of feels all over the place, with someone stealing the Demon Chest, Zimbulu going to the cemetery to enlist zombies to help him, it just was all over the place. The only really cool part about this episode was Telluluah turning into Zimbulu, that's a pretty creepy thought to have Zimbulu just possessing a human's body that whole time. But, other than this, the episode was just meh. I was pretty indifferent.
Fear factor: Let's just give it a 2/10 for effort. Nothing about it is really scary, but it wasn't a bad episode either.
So, that about wraps it for this article! I guess I was pretty hard on some of the episodes, but keep in mind that my opinion isn't that the episodes all sucked or were just 22 minutes of complain-worthy material. I was simply attempting to analyze each episode from a horror perspective, though I do enjoy the comedy bits sometimes. I think this series could have a lot of potential as an SDMI-level horror series, if it just took itself more seriously sometimes and wasn't so conflicted on the comedy bits.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and this 4-article series for the 50th anniversary!