Today, Don Knotts would have been 97 years old!
To celebrate this, and since I know people seem to enjoy reviews, I wanted to give my review of the two episodes that Don Knotts guest starred in from The New Scooby-Doo Movies, "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner" and "The Spooky Fog."
"Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner" remains one of my favorite Scooby episodes to date, likely in part due to childhood nostalgia given it was one of the first episodes I watched as a child. The episode starts off in the most typical Scooby-Doo fashion I can imagine: the gang getting lost and looking for directions, but they end up having to stop at a haunted mansion. At one point, Scooby sees Don Knotts and tells the gang, but he disappears before Scooby is able to show him to everyone. I always found this to be one of the most fascinating scenes in the episode, as it's literally the only time Don Knotts is mentioned despite him being the guest star. After this, Don is referred to as Homer Pipsqueak, a Sherlock Holmes-esque detective. The episode leaves it completely open to viewer interpretation as if Homer is just another of Don's disguises, or if Homer Pipsqueak is a real person that just looks like Don Knotts.
Speaking of disguises though, all of Don's disguises throughout the episode are amazing! They really make the episode a lot more mysterious, particularly the first mate disguise in which the gang is debating whether he poisoned the food or not. That part always had a very creepy vibe to me, despite that part of the episode being a little more comical as well with Don's goofy disguises. The fact that all of Don's other personas continually mistake the gang for Captain Moody's nieces and nephews also adds another layer to the mystery and gives the episode a spooky vibe, because you literally have no idea what's going on in this house until Don - no, make that Homer Pipsqueak - explains it all at the end.
I also really liked the scene where the gang is trying to escape from the house by going through all the secret passages and such. It has a very Scooby-Doo haunted house-ish vibe to me, despite it not really being a traditional Scooby haunted house given we don't actually see any ghosts until near the end of the episode. The setting of this entire episode just screams "Scooby-Doo" to me, in the sense that this type of setting is exactly what I would want when it comes to Scooby. The gigantic house with all the different creepy rooms really enhanced this episode atmospherically.
I enjoyed the ghosts quite a bit, though my one minor complaint about this episode is that I really wish we could have seen more of them. It felt like the ghosts kinda barely were a part of the first 3/4 of the episode, and were just crammed in at the end. However, I loved the scene where Don dresses up as the ghost of Captain Moody, even if we never really do get to find out how he switches back and forth between the captain and a more ghostly form. The only logical explanation is that Don is immortal! lol
Overall, I feel like the setting and Don's presence are really the stars of this episode. The atmosphere of Moody Manor is exactly what I want from a Scooby-Doo episode, and Don's antics dressing up as all the different characters was so much fun. The only thing I would change is that I wish the ghosts were more of a part of this episode. They spent a little too much time with all of Don's disguises, and it felt like the ghosts (who had really cool designs) barely appeared before a sort of rushed ending where they got caught. In this case, I would say that this episode could have benefited from a slightly longer runtime, maybe even DTV-length?
Moving on to "The Spooky Fog," another one of my favorites from the series. While I like "Guess Who's Knott Coming to Dinner" a little better, this was still a very solid episode. I think I probably would have benefited from watching an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show before seeing this episode, given the beginning of this episode is basically just a parody of that show, even down to the town's name (the town was called Mayberry in the show, whereas this town is named Juneberry) and the sheriff's name (Sheriff Dandy Griffith is a parody of Sheriff Andy Taylor, played by Andy Griffith in the show). One minor detail that's always amused me is that one of the restaurants is named El Taco, which just seems like a very silly, lazy name for a taco restaurant, given El Taco literally just means "The Taco" in Spanish lol. (You can read more about a real restaurant named this in Fun Fact #215 from November 2018).
While the beginning of the episode was quite enjoyable and entertaining (especially the ghostly giggling part in the jail at night, which was super creepy), I felt like the episode really picked up when the gang got to the cemetery. I'm a huge fan of episodes that have lots of different villains, which is one of the reasons why The New Scooby-Doo Movies is so high on my list of favorite series. In this particular case, I thought some of the villains were so good that they should have gotten their own episodes, including: the lady ghost (though I guess we got a redesigned version of her in "Mystery of Haunted Island" very briefly, the three-eyed ghost, and that skull carriage driver.
While the scene where Shaggy and Scooby are trapped in the cave dragged on a bit, there were still bits I enjoyed, and the dragging on wasn't as pronounced as it was in some other episodes of the show, such as "The Ghost of the Red Baron." It felt like the two of them were in some pretty real danger of being trapped down there forever, so all the different ways of them trying to get out, all of which ended up failing, amped up the suspense level for me.
As a brief aside, as a kid, I always found Velma giving the difference of "stalactites" and "stalagmites" to be super helpful. I still remember the difference because of Velma's explanation in that episode to this day haha.
Overall, "The Spooky Fog" was another really enjoyable episode, and despite being a little slow to start off, the action-packed bits in the cemetery were very entertaining and creepy. Because of how long the beginning drags on, I wouldn't say it was one of my favorite episodes, but the second-half really brings this episode's rating up by a lot for me.
Don will always be one of the most memorable Scooby-Doo guest stars to me, because he fit in so well with the gang that it felt like he could have been a temporary sixth member. I really hope you enjoyed the reviews! Even though Don is gone, he will Knott be forgotten haha.