Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beta Versus Mystery Incorporated

I have been MIA the last month, and I do apologize to the probably small and certainly silent group of regulars to this blog. The reasoning is due to the fact that I’m in the process of moving to Chicago right now and that, combined with some school related things, has been my main focus right now. I plan on getting back to this blog very shortly; in fact I recently got an idea for weekly blog involving my adventures in Chicago for the next year, but I guess I’ll talk about that some other time. I figured I’d drop a line so that I don’t lose too many visitors due to inactivity. I don’t really have the time to properly prepare a well thought out blog so I decided to briefly (Yeah right) talk about a new cartoon, Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, that I’ve been told is really great but have only just now gotten around to seeing it. I haven’t seen enough of it to make a decent review but I certainly feel ready to make a knee-jerk rant.

The most famous meddling kids of all time

If you never heard of Scooby-Doo then not only do you have no business reading my blog but I suspect you need to stop whatever you’re currently doing and go out and rejoin the human race since you’re obviously living as a hermit in the mountains. For my hermit visitors Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? was a animated cartoon series created by Hanna-Barbara in 1969 and has been ingrained in pop culture ever since. It follows a group of teenagers, and their talking dog, driving around to various spooky locations and solving mysteries which almost universally involve a monster/ghost that turns out to be some guy trying to scare people away from said location for financial purposes. The great success of this show led to Hanna-Barbara attempting to imitate the formula with other wacky creatures instead of Scooby which included, but was not limited to, a talking shark (Jabberjaw), a talking car (Speed Buggy) and a goddamn ghost (The Funky Phantom). While attaining their own level of success only Scooby-Doo has passed the test of time and is still 100% relevant in today’s media. Many series have been produced, as have numerous TV special and two feature length films (Four feature length films?). I have not really cared too much about the franchise since A Pup Named Scooby-Doo ended in the early nineties and have avoided the two most recent series.

Anyway my roommate has been telling me that this show is awesome and that it great in the exact same way that Transformers Animated was great. Let’s look at the major difference I noticed after watching the show a bit and see what I thought of them.

Title Drop

The sleeker, sexier 2010 model

This show is called Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, which may mean nothing to you but Mystery INC. has been the unofficial nickname for the Scooby-Gang until this past decade when it started being used by the creators as well (Since the name “Scooby-Gang” and “Scoobies” was stolen by Joss Whedon and his fans as the name for Buffy Summers and her friends. Scooby just got JOSSED). What I really like about this is the fact that it tells you right off the bat that the original cast is back in full force, that is not just Shaggy and Scooby-Doo but also Fred, Daphne and Velma as well. The creators have sometimes made the horrible mistake of thinking that the show only needed the title character and his burn-out sober but hungry best friend and subsequently ejected the others for years at a time. Whenever they do this the show sucks (See: 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo). At some point they replaced the others with Scrappy-Doo, who is now the most hated cartoon character in history, and later actually tried making new characters rather than just bringing Fred and Velma out of retirement (Daphne somehow often avoided this, probably because she’s a foxy redhead). The fact is that you NEED the original gang in order for it to be a decent Scooby-Doo series. They started as an ensemble cast and that was partly why they’re all such iconic characters today. Scooby and Shaggy are good for laughs, sure, and much of the comedy comes for them, but they are not interesting enough or competent enough to have a show based around their bumbling. To me this whole title is like a big “F-U” to the most recent series “Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!”.

Beta Says: Awesome

Fred Has a Personality

First of all it’s great to see Frank Welker playing Fred Jones again. Frankly I was pretty bummed that Frank was not hired to reprise his classic role of Megaton in the live-action Transformers movies when Peter “Optimus Prime” Cullen got cast, so it’s nice to see at least one of his old characters is still within his grasp. I guess he’s been playing Fred ever since they started producing Scooby cartoons again after the long gap, but like I said I wasn’t watching them. Anywho as much of a deal I made about the ensemble cast aspect of the show it’s important to note that for most of its history only Shaggy and Scooby had well defined personalities. Fred had little going for him other than he was clearly the leader and made all the plans. That dude was dull as dirt and about as interesting as white bread. However here we at least the creators try to give him a character. Apparently in this show he has a very public obsession about traps and cages and is borderline retarded in regards to social interactions (Sadly for Daphne who apparently wants to “hit that shit”). I think he may have needed a little more work; maybe throw in some character traits from his counterpart in A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Seriously, how awesome would it be for every once in a while Fred claim that Red Herring must have been the monster all along?

Beta Says: Sure, Why Not?

Also voiced by Frank Welker

Velma is the Biggest Loser:

Velma undergoes a character redesign here. She has slimmed down considerably since here days in the 70’s. Truthfully this may have been the case prior to this specific show, but as I said I didn’t watch the slightly earlier stuff this past decade so it’s new to me at least. I have to assume that it’s a byproduct of her being played by Linda Cardellini in the live-action movie, who isn’t a chubby girl at all. Look, I’m not saying they’re sexing the character up exactly but I’m not certain why else they felt the need to the need to take the realistic body typed Velma once had and make her thin as rails (I am exaggerating, obviously. This is all knee-jerk reaction stuff, as I mentioned). Real women have curves, goddamn it!

The amount of porn dedicated to this character is staggering

Beta Says: Lame


Matthew Lillard is Shaggy Rogers

I’m not the biggest fan of Lillard (Why the hell was he cast as Maniac in a damn Wing Commander film?) but, much like Sir Patrick Stewart to Professor X, he was born for the sole purpose to eventually play this role and thus shall play it for the rest of his days. He’s a bit too old to be playing Shaggy in live-action stuff anymore (Or even at the time, now that I think about it), but luckily voice actors rarely age out of roles.

Now here's a man with a perfect face for voice acting!

Beta Says: Awesome

Velma and Shaggy On the DL

The most out there thing I noticed about the show was that for the first time Shaggy and Velma are portrayed as being in a romantic relationship, albeit in a secret one. That’s so weird to me. It never occurred to me to that these two could or would date, but apparently many fans of the franchise have been calling for this for years. Really it only seem to me that pairing up these two feels a lot like the creators just pairing them up just for the sake of it rather than any real logic behind it, but then again with Fred too busy admiring the rope to notice Daphne trying to get into his ascot I guess it doesn’t seem too bad for the only other boy and girl on the show to be dating. I suppose they are cute together.

Beta Says: Sure, Why Not

Final Verdict: Probably Worth Watching!

I’ll have to check it out more before I can do a full review but my gut tells me that it’s worth a watch. Perhaps one day I’ll give my full thoughts on this show, and perhaps the franchise as a whole. Lord knows I have deep rooted feelings towards Flim Flam.

Flim Flam delenda est

2 comments:

  1. Yeah yeah, but where's SMCS?

    Anyway, about SDMI. I've now seen two full episodes and parts of the first.

    Judging by the third, someone thinks Fred is gay.

    Also there's a recurring bit about a secret adversary/mentor called "Mister E." (How many of those have there been? Marvel's is now part of the Twelve, DC's was a Vertigo title...)

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  2. My roommate says that Fred isn't gay but actually attracted to traps or something. That's weird.

    (Also Mister E is also apparently the name of an Israeli rock band. So yeah. It gets used a lot).

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