So I originally had no plans to do this review, and I don't want to commit to doing reviews on anything else since I'm not entirely sure I'll have the time. In fact, this review is so random that even I didn't know I was doing it until like 20 minutes ago lol. I've never really liked this episode, tbh. Even though my favorite series is The New Scooby-Doo Movies, I just could never quite get into this one. The lack of presence of the villain and obvious culprit always bothered me, and Jerry's involvement in the episode didn't feel as strong as most of the other guest stars in the series. A few people in the comments have been suggesting I rewatch this episode for quite a while to see if my thoughts have changed, so I wanted to give it a fair chance not having seen it in years. I thought about just responding to those people in the comments, but since my review was so long, I thought I'd just share them with all of you, since others might enjoy reading my thoughts as well.
As much as I wanted to gain an appreciation for this episode after all these years, I really couldn't get into it. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely elements here that are enjoyable, but several things brought this episode down for me. I like the spooky atmosphere of the country music hall, and the gang searching for Jerry was a fun plot. The gang having to follow the sound of Jerry's voice to figure out what room he's in made for a very unique storyline.
However, I think revealing the culprits were Bertha and Ben Bing right away took away from the spookiness of it (I don't even feel bad about putting this spoiler right here, because they literally make it so obvious within the first few minutes with Bertha and Ben talking about "getting rid of the snoopers"). I've read other reviews that mention they like how "The Phantom" isn't really a physical threat that you can see, and I think this would have been a much cooler concept if they hadn't told you who the culprits were so early on. I think the "non-physical threat" idea would have been more enjoyable if the audience would have had no idea who or what could possibly be doing this. There are some cases where I don't really mind when the culprit is made kinda obvious before the actual unmasking, like it works in "The Loch Ness Mess" since they'd already built up such a good mystery. However, here, with without a strong villain, revealing the culprit so early on made it kind of a weaker episode in my opinion.
Going further into the villains, I felt like the whole "The Phantom could be anywhere" trope also would have been better if that was the only villain. Instead, we also get the Viking and Davy Crockett, which were not very good villains in my opinion. They popped up a couple times watching from the background, but it wasn't in a particularly creepy way. The scenes were always them just walking from room to room, rather than lurking around or trying to sneak up on the gang. Neither of them didn't feel spooky or memorable at all, given they were barely there. The gang doesn't ever see them until the trap at the end. There's definitely a way to do the "you never know where the villain is lurking" plot well, but this didn't feel like the way to do it. The villains felt barely present, making the stakes feel not as high as a typical Scooby episode.
I have to comment on Fred, because his reactions to things were interesting in this episode lol. The chemistry between him and Jerry in particular was really strange. Multiple times in the episode, Jerry would make a normal comment and Fred would respond as if he wasn't even listening to what Jerry said lol. For example, Jerry says "Boy am I glad to see you!" when he's rescued, and Fred just says "you're welcome!" haha. In another part, Jerry says "If we don't find my guitar, there ain't gonna be no opening!" Fred simply replies "True." I hadn't noticed it in any previous rewatches, but I was amusing myself throughout this whole episode with how Fred just seems like he's vaguely listening, and he's hoping whatever he says kinda half fits whatever Jerry's saying lol. Later on, after Fred says he's fit as a fiddle now that Jerry rescues him, Jerry jokes "but what I need is a guitar!" In the most serious voice imaginable, Fred replies "Yeah, I know." Besides Jerry, Fred also has quite an extreme reaction to Shaggy at one point. When Shaggy gets frightened by a statue's head tumbling down the stairs and jumps in Scooby's arms, Fred shouts "You oughta be ashamed of yourself!" It seems like the situation did not require such an intense reaction to that lol. What in the world was Fred going through in this episode? hahahaha
While it wasn't a significant issue, I have to say I'm not here for the weird sexist comments in this series. Towards the end, when they're trying to figure out who's the bait, Shaggy suggests Daphne be bait instead of him, and Velma simply replies "a girl can't do it!" I guess it's not as inappropriate as Fred's horrific "how is a woman like a desert?" joke from "Ghastly Ghost Town," but I'd say it's right up there with Fred saying it's too dangerous for the girls to go with the guys to trap Bigfoot in "The Ghost of Bigfoot." Although I would honestly say it's a bit more sad here, since it's Velma herself that says it.
Besides Fred and Velma, Shaggy also had a bit of a rough time in this episode with some of his animation. It's pretty well known about how that frame where Scooby looks evil was accidentally animated into "Mine Your Own Business." I'd never noticed it before, but we also get evil Shaggy when he's playing the xylophone. I think the animators were just trying to make him seem focused or whatever, but with the weird grin, he genuinely looks kinda evil here to me. Like he's about ready to beat that xylophone up lol.
I don't even know how to describe these other ones, other than WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? hahahahaha
There were quite a few other animation errors in this episode, including the villains for some reason exiting the room twice towards the end. Another notable error was that Shaggy comments that "10 pairs of eyes are better than four," when it should have been "5 pairs of eyes" or "10 eyes." (Thanks Jayden for pointing these out!)
Even if the episode didn't grow on me like I wanted it to, I actually had a lot of fun writing this and noticing those little things I hadn't before. This remains my second-least favorite episode of the series, only behind "Mystery in Persia." I don't really know if I'll do something like this again, but it was a fun spontaneous thing to do and I hope you enjoyed reading this review as much as I did writing it.