After almost exactly two years and 52 episodes, Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? has finally come to a close! The series premiered on June 27, 2019, and the final episodes have aired in most countries at this point. However, there's still no word on when we'll get the final 11 episodes in the US, very similarly to what happened with Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. Now that the series is over, I wanted to do a retrospective on my feelings on the series, including a breakdown of my top 10 episodes and my three least favorites.
Overall, while this series was decent, it also felt a bit bland at times compared to the dark tone of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and the comedic nature of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. One of the biggest flaws of this series is that liking it was sometimes contingent on whether the guest star was good in their role. The guest star would often be the main focus of the episode, sometimes to the point of sidelining Fred, Velma and Daphne. In some cases, this worked okay, such as in the Morgan Freeman episode because Morgan had such a dynamic personality, but in others, like the Ricky Gervais episode, Ricky's personality was so over-the-top that it overshadowed the rest of the gang in a negative way.
In terms of choosing guest stars, I thought for the most part, they did a good job. There were a few that weren't great choices, like Ricky Gervais, Jim Gaffigan, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, but this was more because their performance in the episode was either too domineering (Ricky), seemed stilted (Jim Gaffigan), or seemed bored/uninterested in the role (Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kacey Musgraves), rather than the person themselves being not a good fit for Scooby-Doo. For example, I really like Kacey Musgraves herself as a singer (her song "High Horse" is amazing and you all should listen to it haha), but her personality in the episode seemed a bit flat and one-dimensional. Contrastly, there were other episodes that I thought the guest stars completely knocked it out of the park, such as Morgan Freeman, the voice actors, and Reverend Run. I would say that's my biggest complaint with the series, that liking the episodes was often contingent on whether you liked the guest star, which was a problem because the guest stars' performances sometimes varied in quality.
My only other problem with the series is at times, it played it a little too "safe" to the point where some of the nostalgia felt forced. The first few episodes in particular felt like the writers were trying to hit us over the head with the nostalgia with constant references and tropes from the original show. Now, that wouldn't be a bad thing, but it felt like it stifled the series' creative direction because they were focusing so much on making it exactly like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? that other aspects of the earlier episodes suffered, such as them developing a complex, engaging mystery and focusing on character dynamics. This got a lot better though after the first 9 or so episodes, and it felt like the series had hit its stride about midway through the first season, continuing all through the second season.
I did enjoy this series as a whole though, and I thought for the most part they did a great job matching the guest stars with the mystery and setting. This series also had a lot of classic vibes to it, which was enjoyable to take a trip back to that Where Are You feel (with the exception of the times towards the beginning when it felt forced). The mysteries were for the most part very engaging, though the culprits were often very easy to figure out.
This definitely isn't a series I hated despite my criticisms of it, but I guess personally, I enjoy series that experiment with new, previous unexplored elements in Scooby, such as the technology in What's New, Scooby-Doo?, the dark tone and overarching plot of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and the character-driven plots and comedic take of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. Guess Who felt like a very safe show that didn't really do anything new, and copied Where Are You and The New Scooby-Doo Movies almost exactly. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer the Scooby series that grow an element of the franchise in some different, unique way.
Of the entire show, I disliked these three the most:
3. Ollie Ollie In-come Free!
This episode is a perfect example of a guest star that dominated the episode. Most of the episode was just him making jokes which I didn't find funny at all. Fred, Daphne and Velma didn't really have many lines at all. Ricky completely took over the episode, and as a result, the mystery wasn't developed very well either. I think this episode demonstrates that there needs to be a good balance between the guest star having some kind of a presence and completely taking over the episode to the point where it's difficult to develop the plot. The Cat-Mummy mystery really suffered because Ricky was so obnoxiously in our faces, so there was no time for us to them to create a deep, engaging mystery.
2. The Fastest Food Fiend!
This was another subpar episode due to the guest star. I had actually known of Jim Gaffigan and seen several of his comedy specials prior to watching this episode, and he's a really funny guy. However, you wouldn't know that from this episode. He felt very watered down and like his jokes were likely written by Guess Who writers who had never heard of him. On top of that, the characters were also incredibly bland in this episode. Fred, Daphne and Velma's dialogue felt like it could have been interchangeable, which IMO is a sign of not-so-great writing. The monster design was pretty unique, but his presence wasn't great either. Overall, it was just a very dull, lackluster episode.
1. A Mystery Solving Gang Divided
This episode is probably my least favorite Scooby-Doo episode of any series. I remember really wanting to like this episode as a fan of The Funky Phantom series, but the Funky Phantom gang's characterization was so off that it was horrible. All of them were arrogant jerks, especially Skip and April, and the constant bickering between the two gangs became such a huge part of the plot that it became unpleasant to watch. Some of Abraham Lincoln's ghost's dialogue was also cringey and felt thrown in without much thought, particularly "You must take responsibility for tomorrow!" It seemed like a lot of corners were cut in this episode and they majorly overfocused on the gang bickering, to the point where it felt repetitive and irritating to watch. There really wasn't much good about this episode, other than the villain was pretty cool and the setting was decent.
Now that we've got the bad stuff out of the way, let's get to my favorites of the show!
10. One Minute Mysteries!
This was one that I know a lot of people didn't like, but I really enjoyed it! This episode is so much different than any other episode in the series. Shaggy and Shaggy's relationship with Barry/The Flash was adorable. The Flash interfering with the gang's mysteries with classic villains was a fun little nostalgia trip, and arguably I think shows a way to insert nostalgia into the show without it feeling forced like some of the early episodes did. Having a giant teddy bear as the "overarching" villain of the episode was a lot of fun too!
9. The Sword, The Fox and the Scooby-Doo!
Mark Hamill was such a good guest star! He gave this episode some major The New Scooby-Doo Movies vibes, specifically reminiscent of Tim Conway's episode. If I had to pinpoint an exact spot where the nostalgia stopped feeling forced, I'd say this episode was it. This episode demonstrated that there could be nostalgia and "classic vibes" without saying "here's a reference, here's another reference a minute later, this is exactly how the gang walked in Where Are You!" I feel like this episode is where they figured out that they could work the nostalgia into the tone and feel of the plot, rather than just shoving reference after reference down our throats. The Star Wars references throughout the episode, and Mark's chemistry with Shaggy and Scooby were so amazing and made this episode one of my favorites.
8. Dark Diner of Route 66!
This is another great example of classic vibes being worked into the tone of the plot. The entire setting of the episode felt like it could have just been another episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and Axl Rose was a great guest star. The setting, however, was the real star of the episode. The diner and the cave at night felt super creepy. This one managed to nail that classic feel perfectly without forcing it.
7. The Dreaded Remake of Jekyll and Hyde!
While the Cher "sequel" didn't quite make the top 10 for me, I found the Sandy Duncan one to be incredible for a number of reasons. I was worried about how the episode was going to be because of how untrue Curse of the 13th Ghost and Return to Zombie Island were to the source material. However, when I watched the episode, it was so incredible that it made me wish the two "sequel films" from 2019 would have been done in the style of this episode. All the different references to the original episode, "Sandy Duncan Jekyll and Hydes," were so well worked-in here that it honestly felt like the gang just picked up right where they left off with Sandy. The Scooby-Doo writers seem to have a knack for conveniently "forgetting" that the gang has met guest stars previously, so it was nice that Sandy knew the gang in this episode. Sandy easily did as good in this episode as she did nearly 50 years ago, which is pretty incredibly given what a big gap of time there was between the two episodes. It was also a lot of fun how they played upon the classic The New Scooby-Doo Movies trope of including multiple villains per episode here. That was one of my favorite tropes of the original series, so I was super happy they included it here too.
6. The Last Inmate!
I suppose you could argue that this episode had a guest that dominated it, but it didn't really bug me at all in this episode, because, well, it's Morgan freakin' Freeman haha. His narration throughout the episode was so much fun, and given Morgan is famous for making documentaries, the entire episode being structured like a documentary made it perfect. Moreover, Morgan's narration almost served as a meta-analysis of the gang from a outsider perspective which made this episode really stand out to me. Nothing more needs even needs to be said, because Morgan made every aspect of this episode perfect.
5. The Horrible Haunted Hospital of Dr. Phineas Phrag!
This episode is another case of the guest star making it amazing. Kristen Schaal completely shined in her role and felt so natural all throughout the episode, despite me not knowing much about her prior to watching the episode. Her quirky personality added so much to the episode, and I honestly wouldn't have minded if she would have replaced a member of the gang for a few episodes as she was joking haha. The twist at the end where she steals the van was pretty hilarious too! Tone-wise, it also felt like there was a lot of extra effort put into this episode to give it a creepy vibe, which of course I always enjoy.
4. Total Jeopardy!
It's so sad that Alex Trebek passed away before he was able to see his episode come out, but I thought it was really sweet for Boomerang to release it early in his honor. While I've watched Jeopardy and know how the game works, I haven't seen that many episodes. Despite this, I absolutely adored the structure of this episode mirroring that of a Jeopardy game. It was kind of unique to have a villain who wasn't necessarily a villain all the time, but just an opposing player who was quick to anger. I don't know if this episode could have possibly been a better tribute to Alex, because it seemed like so much love and effort was put into making this episode.
3. A Haunt of a Thousand Voices!
It was truly a Scooby fan's dream come true to see the gang get to interact with their own voice actors. The meta-ness of this episode and the voice actors' engagement with playing themselves was so much fun to watch. I wish we would have gotten different villains than the same four they seem to love reusing over and over, which brought this episode down for me a tiny bit. The culprits were also overly easy to guess, but like the Morgan Freeman episode, the guest stars were so amazing in their roles that I didn't mind at all. The creepy haunted house vibe of Frank's home made it even more amazing, and I loved how the episode felt like a tribute to Frank. I know some people have felt this meant that Frank is going to retire any minute, but I took it more as the writers appreciating Frank's 50+ years in the franchise while he's still around, because he is getting up there in age and may not be able to voice Fred forever, no matter how much he wants to. This was such an amazing episode that I wish it were the series finale, though I understand why they chose Carol's instead.
2. The Legend of the Gold Microphone!
This one was a very unexpected favorite for me. Even though I had guessed it was going to have darker vibes, I never would have imagined that it would have been my second favorite episode of the entire series. Everything about this episode was great - from the creepy abandoned youth center setting, the darker tone of the episode, the two super creepy villains, and Reverend Run's personality. I felt in particular with this episode that they balanced Reverend Run's presence in the episode really well without sacrificing the depth of the mystery. A lot of times in this series, it felt like the culprit was very easy to figure out or the mystery wasn't fleshed out super well because they were focusing so much on the guest star, but this episode felt like it had the perfect balance where Reverend Run had a strong presence without dominating the episode entirely. Even the cringey rapping bits with Shaggy and Scooby were so bad that they were kinda funny. Honestly, this isn't even a criticism because I don't think there was anything wrong with this episode, but I wish they would have had Tabb Tatter's face turn into a skull more than just the one time. That was so creepy! If the entire series would have been like this episode, I think I would have loved it. As one of the regular commenters on this blog, Matt, suggested in the comment section for that episode's review, I think it would be really cool if we got an entire series that had a darker, creepier tone like The Scooby-Doo Show Season 2, without an overarching mystery. Perhaps each individual mystery in the series could just be dark in a different way. Anyway, this was one of my favorites because I felt it really nailed all the elements that makes a good Scooby episode.
1. I Put A Hex On You!
The Hex Girls are my favorite side characters in the entire franchise, so as you can imagine, I was thrilled when we got an episode guest starring the Hex Girls. Whereas the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episodes kind of sidelined the girls and didn't give them a lot of character development, this episode placed gave us a front and center view of what their a day in their lives is like, which was so cool. Even though they made Thorn super angry in this episode, to the point where she had her own tranquilizer gun in case she got too excited, I thought it was an interesting personality quirk and I didn't really mind. Thorn and Luna being under the "girly" spell was super cute too! I loved how creepy Ester Moonkiller was as the villain. I would say she's another candidate for the creepiest villain of the series, tied with the ghost of Tabb Tatters and the Skeleton of Bones McCann (along with maybe the Silver Screen Spectre and the Nightmare Ghost). Even though the Hex Girls were the main focus, the gang still got a lot of sweet moments too and I don't think the girls overshadowed them at all, like was an issue with some of the other guest stars. I've always wanted an episode where we got to see more of the Hex Girls' normal lives, and that's exactly what this episode gave us, which made this one the top episode of the series for me.
Overall, Guess Who was a decent Scooby-Doo series. There were some flaws to it, such as liking an episode being dependent on liking a guest star's presence, the forced nostalgia at times, and the mysteries not being as complex or developed as they could be. However, this series also brought us a lot of great episodes that gave many of us classic vibes that we hadn't seen in a Scooby series in a long time. We already know the next series is going to be Velma, but for the next kids' series, I think I'd like to see a series that plays it a little less safe than Guess Who did. Scooby-Doo would probably not have survived as a franchise if we just got 49 seasons of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, because it would have been the same basic plot over and over, and wouldn't have given the franchise an opportunity to grow. Shows like Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! focus on different aspects of the franchise, and try to develop them in a different way than any other Scooby series has in the past. While I'm sure part of the reason for the "safeness" of Guess Who had to do with people's negative reactions to Be Cool's different art style, I hope WB continues to explore new aspects of the franchise in future series, in order to continue developing the characters we've known and love for over 50 years now.