Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. Season 1 Finale

I have literally just marathoned my way through the first season of Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated and I must say that I never thought I’d use the phrase “shit just got real” to describe a Scooby Doo series but seriously… shit just got real.

In general, I feel like it’s very much an American show thing to have episodic stories that are each sprinkled with hints of an overarching plot that spans the entire season, which I think is what got a lot of people to get into the series, if only out of curiosity. The only problem with such an approach is that you could either go one of three ways: good episodic stories, and good overall plot (Teen Titans, season 1 and 4); meh episodic stories, and a good overall plot (Teen Titans, season 2); good episodic stories, and a meh overall plot (Teen Titans, season 3); or just meh all around (Teen Titans, season 5). Mystery Inc… I’m still not really sure what to consider.

The first half of the series seemed to focus on tweaking each of the characters, giving each member of Mystery Inc something of a backstory, which no Scooby Doo fan has ever really gotten much of. Just the general idea of the series acknowledging the existence of adult figures and a school to go to threw me for a loop, but I think most will agree that the decision to make Shaggy and Velma an item was what really weirded people out. Velma is such a generic bookworm in the other reincarnations of the series, so to have her end up being some kind of over-eager and rather bossy when it comes to relationships was such a drastic change that whenever Shaggy would be forced to choose between her and Scooby—the only character the series hasn’t messed with completely—the choice is obvious. It was just an awkward start for a series in any case.

Dressed antagonist after dressed antagonist would hit the screen, and for the most part I’ve been indifferent to them, with the only redeeming factor I’ve seen in some is their obvious tributes to some of WB’s big (and in some cases small-time and incredibly obscure) movie titles. But what really made me pick the series back up and finish the first season was the ongoing mystery involving the original Mystery Inc. The thought of there being an entirely different cast of characters existing prior to the ones we’ve all become so familiar with serves as quite the twist for a series that until then has relied on anything but a hard-hitting plot. The introduction of the weird puzzle pieces, while also interesting, reminds me too much of the season opener from the final season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?. And it doesn’t help that the two series can have quite a number of similarities between them once you start to overanalyze. Makes me wonder if such a story hasn’t been repeated some other time.

Mystery Inc not only references WB titles, but also references Hanna Barbera titles on a regular basis as well. Sure, people have heard of Johny Quest and maybe you were lucky enough to catch reruns of the original Scooby Doo series, but when you start to crossover with series like The Funky Phantom and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, you start to wonder just what the target audience for the show is. Don’t get me wrong; the reference are awesome and reek of something I’d find in an online parody, but it just takes me by surprise, is all.

And what is the deal with Scrappy Doo bashing? I thought it was funny to poke fun at him in the first live action movie, but looking him up, apparently he’s somewhat infamous within the Scooby Doo fanbase. I guess it beats not having a Wiki entry at all. Sorry Flim Flam, but I guess you were just too ethnically ambiguous?

My one real gripe with this season is how it handled its final episode. Again, I feel like this is more of an American show thing than anything else—rushing the finale. Well, I guess I wouldn’t really call this finale “rushed,” but it was rather dense in terms of plot. And its overall feel was just so much darker than I’d expect a Scooby Doo episode to get into. Hell, even the Saw homage episode wasn’t as plot-heavy as the finale was. Even as a whole, it felt like I was watching an entirely different show altogether whenever Mr. E or Pericles would enter the scene, which was something of a fault. I’d say that it might have been better if they go for making the entire series either one tone or another, but really, at the end of the day you’re still watching a Great Dane with improper English skills solve mysteries—it wasn’t meant to be taken completely seriously.

TLDR version: Sooby Doo: Mystery Inc. was a mixed bag at best, but hit hard with the drama when the finale called for it. Really hoping it gets picked up for a second season. Cliffhangers due to cancellation are the worst (cough… Spectacular Spider-Man).

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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