odds and ends: scooby doo, it

A quick word of thanks to all of you who’ve been so kind in the past two weeks toward my wife Ellen and I. Ellen’s father Ken passed away last week; while his passing was not unexpected, it’s never easy to lose a parent. Ken lived a long, eventful life and although I met him in his “twilight” years, I’ll always remember him as being an affable man who resisted the tempting urge to beat me up when he found out I had gotten his youngest daughter pregnant.

I missed a BIG chunk of school because of the funeral arrangements – three days, plus one extra day of already scheduled professional development. It’s the second longest stretch of time I’ve ever been out of the classroom during the school year and certainly having it happen so close to the beginning of the first quarter will end up being something of a challenge as we go forward.

……………………..

Well, it finally happened – my boys have discovered Scooby Doo.

I am AMAZED at the longevity Scooby Doo enjoys, especially in light of the fact that almost nobody my age remembers The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, the show from which all the characters on Scooby Doo, Where Are You? are lifted.

I myself was a huge fan of Shaggy, Velma, and company when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of my father egging me on into loud paroxysms of annoyance when he’d come home and tell me he thought Scooby Doo, in his words, “stinks.” How I would howl in protest… but time has once again proven my father to be correct. Scooby Doo does kind of stink.

Of course, it has charm! The character designs remain top shelf and some of the voice work is spot-on. I’m just shocked at how… similar every episode of Scooby Doo is from one another. I remember them being quite distinct from one another in my mind’s eye, but watching two or three episodes just reaffirms the sameness that pervades most of the episodes.

Also, has there ever been an episode of Scooby Doo in ANY of its’ dozens of incarnations where the writers actually play fair with the mystery element of the show? I know most children at home aren’t aspiring sleuths, but most of the solutions to the mysteries in the episodes we’ve watched make no good sense. I’d love to watch a Scooby Doo series where the writers paid more careful attention to the mystery parts of the series. Maybe that version of the show exists somewhere! Let me know if it does; I’d eagerly watch that with Elliot and Henry on a weekday afternoon.

……………………….

After the Dune debacle of this past summer, I thought it might be time to retreat into some comfort reading for awhile. I chose It by Stephen King. I’m a fan of King’s work and I remember loving It when I read it in seventh grade.

King’s always copped to being more of a writer of “the moment” than he would like and for sure, a lot of his books provide a window into what was going on in America during whatever time his novel was written. Sometimes this serves his books well- ‘Salem’s Lot holds up remarkably well as years go on in its’ portrayal of a small town disintegrating in the face of forces it can barely comprehend. That idea works great in the 1970’s, ’80’s, ’90’s, and today.

It, however… It doesn’t seem to have aged well so far. The book seems to have “everything and the kitchen sink” thrown in and while that can be interesting to read, It never seems to focus very hard on anything in particular. That’s a flaw.

I’m interested as to what it’s going to be like to read the ending of It again as an adult. I don’t want to spoil what happens in the book, but suffice to say… King writes a REALLY strange ending for his youthful protagonists in 1957. He devises a means by which the group of seven pre-teens can keep their bond intact after facing the titular monster of the novel… and it’s downright strange. As a seventh grader, that weird ending sort of washed over me; today I’m curious to see what my reaction will be.

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6 Responses to “odds and ends: scooby doo, it”

  1. Kevin Hellions Says:

    Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated is a bit more grown up version of the concept. The current series has a season long arc, and at times a bit more dark and serious tone. Maybe too much for the kids, but if you can track it down enjoyable for the kid-at-heart adult.

    • Christopher Pearce Says:

      Someone e-mailed me about this too. Is it true that it basically treats ALL of Scooby Doo over the past 40 years as canon? Like, they reference stuff that happened in the original series but also on The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo?

      • Kevin Hellions Says:

        I’m not sure about “official cannon” but enough winks and nods and easter eggs from previous versions.

      • Mystery Inc doesn’t really play fair with the mysteries. It assumes you know the basic Scooby-Doo formula, then takes that formula as far as it can stretch. The villains are regular people, consumed with greed or love or hate, and willingness to go to insane measures to get what they want. The mysteries sometimes play fair with the motives of the villains, but almost never with the means (“Ah ha! He was pretended to be a ghost by stealing light-manipulating technology from a secret government lab!”), which are hilariously ridiculous.

        The focus isn’t on the villains though. It’s on the characters and the series story arc. The characters and their friendship are given some dimensionality, for maybe the first time, and it’s done without sacrificing their personalities or making them needlessly angst-ridden. And the series arc is a grand thing, epic in scope, and we’re only now, halfway through the second season, starting to see all the pieces come together. Really though, it’s all about four mystery-solving friends and their animal mascot.

        It doesn’t use any previous Scooby-Doo series as “canon”, but it does create a universe where every element from a previous series (and much of Hanna-Barbara!) exists in some form. Kind of like an Ultimate Scooby-Doo. For example, Vincent Van Ghoul appears in several episodes, but as a classically-snobby B-movie actor. The Hex Girls, show up, Scrappy is mocked then swept under the rug, Quest Industries makes a cameo, even Blue Falcon and Dynomutt star in an episode (in which Dynomutt is his goofy self, but Blue Falcon is a side-splitting Dark Knight Returns parody).

        And at one point, Captain Caveman rides Jabberjaw to stop a ghost driving a cargo ship. This…may have been a dream sequence.

        The show is full of loving details and examines many aspects of popular culture without dragging down the plot. For example, there’s an episode where the villain is a cross between David Bowie’s Goblin King and Marvel’s Nightmare who traps his victims in dreamscape labyrinths patterned off the Dungeons and Dragons-esque game they played as children. This will likely go over the target demographic’s head, but you don’t need to “get” any of it to really enjoy the episode. The show pokes at just about every horror franchise, from Freddy to Jason to Hellraiser to Lovecraft to Batman.

        (Yeah, I said Batman. Mark Hamill voices a psychotic clown in the season 2 premiere. It’s great).

        Mystery Inc is highly enjoyable. If you like comics, and you liked Scooby-Doo as a child, I can’t recommend it enough.

  2. Boy, that did not seem that long when I was typing. Oh well!

    • Christopher Pearce Says:

      No, I appreciate it! I’m going to look into the show. I’ll be honest: You had me at “Quest Industries.”

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