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).

Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. 6

Yeah, just ‘cuz I watch TV, doesn’t mean I’ll hit up every episode in a post. If you want devotion like that, go to blogsuki. He’s a zillion times cooler with his own site domain, anyway :D.

Six episodes in and I’m really getting tired of some of the liberties taken with characters. While I’m glad that the stereotype bookworm character has pretty much been faded out in most shows these days (or are at least combined with some other, more interesting, character trait) I really don’t like the direction they’ve gone with Velma’s character. Yes, while the characters were far from complex when first introduced, adding new layers of character with them was a hit or miss type of deal. Adding the detail about the clueless Fred being interested in traps was an interesting touch, and I was even accepting of Daphne’s notch down back to the damsel in distress whenever one was needed for the series, but Velma… bleh. No one likes a cock blocker… especially one who tries to mess with the comedy stylings of Shag and Scoob.

… so apparently I wasn’t the first to immediately think “Gwen Stacy,” according to YouTube posts. Still, seeing her clone kinda makes me hope that the new Spidey series at least does as well as Spectacular did in terms of story-telling. Personally, I’m still holding out on it being a continuation of Spectacular, since I hate series getting cancelled with a cliffhanger ending. Though I guess it wasn’t as bad as Wolverine and the X-Men in which “cliffhanger” doesn’t even come close to fully explaining my thoughts about it. Maybe “hangnail,” since it’s more annoying than anything else. Yeah, that’s clever.

One thing I will give serious props to this series for doing is putting the gang in school. Long gone are the undertones of truancy and much welcome are the themes of off-beatedness. Though, the school setting may or may not fuel the fire of Shag and Scoob’s :er-hem: possession of certain substances. Still: school good, truancy bad.

… am also a fan of references to the original series. The Creeper wasn’t my favorite Scooby baddie, but it’s nice to see at least some kind of in-depth continuation to his story. Here’s to hoping Charlie the Funland robot gets some screentime next!

… and as one mystery comes to a close, another continues. Scratch off Fred being related to one of the lost kids. Daphne, maybe, but I’m pretty sure guys had a tendency of keeping their last names even back in the day. Speaking of which, we never really get any clues as to what day and age the crew’s actually in. Sure, we get cell phones, but I find it hard to believe a whole town being stuck in the seventies fashion-wise. Meh, that’s a mystery to be solved for another day, I guess.

Episodic Reviews: Mystery Inc. 1

Of all cartoon franchises out there, Scooby-Doo has got to be one of the more interesting, spawning quite the plethora of shows since 1969 and yet still maintaining a certain charm that keeps old and new viewers alike so enthralled. And while I’ve merely glazed over the show’s more recent incarnations, I figured I’d give Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated a try.

Seriously, who else but an anime character/an American character that got its mannerisms inspired by an anime character would pose like that?

Of course, the first thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the new art style for the series. It seems as if WB’s learned their lesson after the backlash they received from Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, keeping close to the original character designs, but deviating just far enough to be considered being new and edgy… or at least as “new and edgy” as you can, being the eleventh incarnation of a series that’s now 40 years old.

… and introducing who seems to be the overall foil of the series. While a cop acting as a foil to the crew isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it at the least makes sense. The fact that his voice is none other than Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove otherwise known as Mr. Barkin from Kim Possible doesn’t exactly hurt him, either… at least in the voice acting department; when your latest live action role this year was in a direct-to-DVD sequel, I don’t really know what to say.

Yay for a non-cheesy intro! The animation on the Mystery Machine’s very chic, as far as computer-aided animation goes. Still sticks out like a sore thumb like a to-be opened drawer in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, but I like it. Also, kudos to the Durarara character intros during the opening.

Woah, Crystal Cove? Quite the ways away from Coolsville, isn’t it? Ever since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Coolsville has acted as a common thread of sorts, linking all the iterations of the series… live action movies included! Still, I feel like this isn’t exactly a bad move and may even be brought up later in the series as a plot point of sorts.

Serious brownie points for showing all the old-school baddies from the original series. Good to know there’s at least some sort of reference to the older works besides the characters.

Very interesting move actually giving the parents something of a role in this version. This decision alone really sets the series separate from the older series, which has been constantly mocked for being a show about some meddling kids going on crazy parent-less adventures with their English speaking Great Dane.

Don’t really know exactly how to respond to this, though. What I liked about the gang is that they only shipped one of the two possible couples. Now, it’s just… ugh. I’ve always hated that in American shows, any kind of platonic relationship is near impossible. The mere fact that they had to tweak Velma’s personality (and give her hair ribbons) to fit the situation is just rubbing me the wrong way. Though, I will say that her controlling personality with Shaggy plays off interestingly with Daphne’s more timid personality with Fred.

The first clue of the series and it ends up being a blatant declaration to some kind of overarching plot for the season? It’s something new to the series, I guess, and it does finally bring the series to the 21st century in terms of storytelling in cartoons. With other series like Generator Rex and the new Ben 10 mixing in flavor of the week villains with an overarching villain, it’s a logical step for the Scooby series to take.

“He appears to be in some sort of dehydrated stasis. I don’t quite know what that means,but I’m guessing it’s temporary.”

Best. Explanation. Ever.

So, because he’s a professor, viewers are to take in every word of his techno-babble and accept that the monster didn’t kill the innocent construction workers? Hey, as long as the writing pokes fun at its own dialogue, I’ll accept it.

With the gang hanging out in malt shops and the like in the old series, it’s good to see that they keep the same kind of camaraderie up with things like trips to the neither ice cream nor frozen yogurt frozen goods shop. As nasty as it is that the shop’s owner doesn’t even know what Fruitmeir’s actually is, I’m still kinda curious as to how it would taste, myself. I’m betting on some kind of mix between a smoothie and ice, based on the sounds made while Shaggy and Scooby were eating their fill.

The remainder of the episode plays out in standard Scooby-Doo fashion, with various hints at a definite person behind the monster suit, only to have the gang realize a different person last second. It’s all the same ol’ stuff we’ve seen before, but it’s that same ol’ familiar charm that will keep this series going for at least another season or two.

Add to that the Charlie’s Angels style phone call at the end of the episode, and I think we’ve got a respectable incarnation of an old series. Though, it’s completely obvious as to who this “Mr. E” is as well as at least a brief sketch as to his motive for wanting the gang to stay out of their meddling this time around.

External Sources:
– Mystery Inc Episode 1 streaming on CN’s video page (cartoonnetwork.com)

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