Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scooby Doo! Mystery Inc. Updates a Classic Forumula

When I was a kid, I always wanted to hunt ghosts and monsters. I eventually got into Ghostbusters in my tween years and went all out into an obsession that lasts to this day. But, before Ghostbusters... there was Scooby, Shaggy and gang of meddling kids at Mystery Inc.

Over the years, I've watched my childhood heroes go through various incarnations ending with the previous Shaggy and Scooby Doo Get a Clue (which was horrid!... but that's another tale). As of last week, Scooby Doo returned to form with Scooby Doo! Mystery Inc.

The show updates things like giving the gang some more interpersonal relationships, a town called Crystal Cove as a home base and a cast of backup characters with mysteries of their own. But, at its core, Scooby Doo! Mystery Inc. is classic Scooby all the way.

The first episode begins by setting the tone of the series. The story picks up sometime after several of the classic series. There are some cool references to some of the "monsters" that the gang have unmasked during a sequence at the Crystal Cove museum. During that scene, it's quickly made clear that the town of Crystal Cove has made itself a great tourist trade by cashing in on all the monsters and ghost stories. With all the tourist money rolling in, the Mystery Inc. gang has been discouraged from solving mysteries by parents, adults and the local sheriff (voiced with hilarious gusto by Patrick Warburton).

The gang has been doing their best to be normal kids with normal jobs. Velma for one, works at the aforementioned Crystal Cove Monster Museum. But their boring lives come to a screeching halt when an unexpecting sewer crew blows open a hidden area beneath the city and a radioactive monster is released to terrorize the town. Mystery Inc. to the rescue!

After that setup, the show goes into classic Scooby mode. The gang gathers clues, prepares the prerequisite Goldberg trap for the monster and solve the mystery. I won't give the mystery away for those who haven't seen it, but the solving of the case was a blast. Along the way, we get to see a a secret romance between Shaggy and Velma. We watch Daphne try to come on to a clueless Fred. There's a couple of cool homage bits including an Aliens reference, a Casey Kasem cameo and even Don Knotts! Yes. This is the Scooby show that finally gets it right for the modern age. I've watched all the recent movies where the vampires, demons and ghosts are real and I like them for what they are... but they just weren't Doo.

The show wraps up just as you'd expect with the meddling kids line but then we're treated to a mysterious phone call from a man calling himself Mr. E (voiced by Lewis Black) who tells the kids that one of the clues that they found might have deeper meaning and that the town of Crystal Cove just might be cursed! If the writers can manage the episodic nature of classic Scooby while weaving in this overlying story arc, this might just be X-Files for the kiddie set and I can't wait to see if they can pull it off!

Final score: 4 out of 5

The second episode airs tonight at 7pm EST on Cartoon Network.


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