All right, not my best intro, but it gets us into the topic fast. You see, for the first time in decades, I can somewhat recommend a Scooby Doo series incarnation. This past July, the Cartoon Network debuted Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated and then, after a month-long hiatus, started up new episodes last week...which makes it even more Halloween-relevant and gives me the chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do deep down in that place where I shamefully imprison my most cherished dreams: review a cartoon.
That’s not saying the shows have all been quality. None of the more than 10 incarnations previous to 2010 topped or even matched the original 1969 Scooby Doo cartoon. Some were even downright awkward to watch, even as a child. Still, it’s a pretty resilient concept. I mean, it survived Scrappy Doo in the 1980s. It survived the babyfication cartoon fad of the late 1980s/early 1990s (in this particular case, A Pup Named Scooby Doo). And it survived the brand saturation in the 1990s that the advent of the Cartoon Network facilitated.
Along the way, in addition to the various series, Scooby Doo has tried to sidle into our lives with 20-odd cartoon movies and three (going on four) live-action movies based on the Great Dane. And Cartoon Network is pushing most of that content this Halloween season, including the aforementioned eleventh Scooby Doo incarnation and the imminent debut of a new live-action Scooby movie, Scooby Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, a sequel to last year’s prequel Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins.
Most immediately evident, the color palette for this new show is used creatively and lends it a decidedly unique atmosphere, without going into the obnoxiously surreal. Second, the updates and liberties this series takes with the Scooby Doo idea work extremely well.
|One of the better designed monsters so far, actually, |
but still looks like it should be in a superhero cartoon.
However, as much as the creators of this Scooby Doo incarnation seem to get the history of the show, they still make the same basic mistake that all their predecessors have made and miss the fundamental appeal of the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You?.
You see, that first series was legitimately creepy. The monsters, the locations, the constant night— everything seemed straight out of a classic horror move. The monsters in the current show, aside from weak, unscary designs, are acrobatic or giant or shoot projectiles out of their arms. In the classic series, they just moaned a lot, slinked around, jumped from around corners and then chased the gang…to music. I mean, sure the series was funny, sure it was silly, sure it was slapstick…but above all, it was this. We really need a darker Scooby Doo again.
It does feel good having Scooby back in my life on a regular basis. Especially at this time of year. That plus a cabinet full of SpaghettiOs and a roomful of action figures makes my gradual retrogradation to adolescent almost complete. It’s really all I’ve ever wanted.