Review: Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated

I alluded earlier in the week that I would comment from time to time on media, and that included Scooby-Doo.  Since it’s a Friday, I’m going to take that opportunity.  I’m a big fan of animation.  There are a lot of quirky shows on these days (Regular Show, Adventure Time among others).  One of the more amazing shows is Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated.  The show uses the Scooby-Doo gang and the mystery solving meme that’s existed since the late sixties.

This version of Scooby-Doo, though, goes well beyond the-monster-is-really-a-guy-in-a-rubber-mask.  The 52 episodes contain numerous subtle and not so subtle references to pop culture that makes one do a double-take at times.  Consider the casting.  One recurring character, Mister E (get it?) is voiced by comedic icon Lewis Black.  Science fiction author Harlan Ellison played himself in an episode that focused on the world of H.P. Lovecraft in extreme detail.  Udo Kier voiced the character of Professor Pericles, a super intelligent but evil parrot.  Kier has worked with many important directors and appeared in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein among other films.  Sheriff Stone is voiced by Patrick Warburton who may be best known for playing Joe on Family Guy.

The pop culture references built into the show are both diverse and amazing.  One episode, The Battle of the Humungonauts, is an homage to the Toho Studios film The War of the Gargantuas.  Toho is the studio that brought us Godzilla and other Japanese monsters.  It even features the song “Stuck In My Throat” from that film.  Devo incorporated the song as a closer to their live act in the late 70s.  Another episode, Art Of Darkness, features artist Randy Warsaw, a parody of Andy Warhol, and a band called Sunday Around Noonish.  The song the band performs is a spot-on parody of the Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.  It’s played twice, in fact, with Scooby-Doo replacing the Nico character when she is indisposed by a piece of animated artwork.  Sample lyric:  “And what would you do if you met a caribou?”  The Lou Reed character was the villain.  It turns out he only wanted to play Polka music.  One episode takes place in the red room from Twin Peaks.  A significant character is the dancing man who is voiced by the same actor from that show.  I can’t list everything, so I would suggest checking the Wikipedia page that details each of the episodes and references.

The story arc tells the tale of Mystery Incorporated seeking a lost treasure supposedly buried underneath their town of Crystal Cove.  In reality, the treasure is a crystal sarcophagus containing a trapped alien, identified as one of the Anunnaki, and an evil one at that.  He has manipulated mystery solving groups for the last 500 years in order to free himself at the imminent coming of Nibiru.  Velma references Zecharia Sitchin at several points in the series to explain this plot point.  Anyone who is familiar with late-night radio dealing with paranormal subjects (I’m looking at you, George Noory) will be comfortably aware of this story element.

Scooby and the gang collect artifacts throughout the episodes that lead to the ultimate confrontation with the evil alien.  Along the way we are treated to emotional relationships between members of Mystery Incorporated, underwater Nazi bases, violent ends for major characters at times, and even a little bit of parallel universe theory.  And Harlan Ellison makes another appearance at the end that neatly ties up all of the loose ends.  My reaction to this show is that one has to be at least 50 to get all of the references, and at an elevated level within the blogosphere to appreciate them.  This is definitely not your standard Scooby-Doo.

Ok, what does this have to do with libraries?  Library and archival holdings are significant plot points that move the story along.  One episode’s villain turns out to be the town librarian.  So there.  The show is out on several DVDs.  It stands up to repeat viewing.

Mark

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