Let’s just cut to the chase: this episode was epic. To paraphrase Sam and Dean, the concept fell into the “beyond weird” category of TV show concepts and that’s simply what Supernatural delivers the best. This episode blended the classic elements of Scooby-Doo with the dark humour of Supernatural into a recipe for a near-perfect hour; undoubtedly an episode that will go into the Supernatural archives of classic episodes, alongside some of the other notorious and favourite landmarks of this series.
Atmosphere and World
It shouldn’t come as a surprise at this point in the Supernatural run, but I’m always impressed with how well these seemingly-ridiculous concepts are brought to bear. The underlying story here was both dark and touching, with the notion of the little boy being manipulated by the evil real estate developer (of course) to drive business owners out of the area and sell at a cheap price. Though not a prominent part of the tale, credit to the writers for not over-complicating the way the boys jumped into TVLand (again) AND for the ultimate nod to Velma’s thesis that it’s mostly evil real estate people!
The opening of this episode was ridiculous, and perfect for the episode we knew was about to unfold. Was I the only one reminded of the giant teddy bear back in season four as Dean lit up the dinosaur and remarked about a “giant flaming pissed off teddy”? From these opening moments to the very end, the episode was rich with humour. There is almost too much to comment on. It was wonderful to watch the boys being brothers, arguing over the TV and how to carry it, bossing each other around (“she? Really? She?”) just as brothers are want to do. It was pretty obvious who the villain was from the get go, but then – that is typically true in the cartoons.
The show did a good job of keeping the essence of the cartoon feel present even during the live action moments, sometimes in slightly more subtle ways (i.e. our villain looked pretty villainous) and sometimes with the very clear nod – like the end.
What about the actual world of Scooby-Doo? It was brilliant, wasn’t it? The boys translated beautifully in 2D. The animators did a great job of capturing the Winchesters as cartoons – and Baby too! Though, I will say I’m a touch sour that Baby lost to the Mystery Machine. I mean….she didn’t even have a rematch opportunity!
The “C” Word
The actual hunt alongside the Scoobies was a lot of fun to watch, particularly since Dean was thrilled while Sam couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of the cartoon logic swirling around the world – including a newspaper with no actual words. Dean’s somewhat zen approach to the scenario was an ideal opportunity to drop some references to not only previous like-experiences- “last time we got zapped into TV, we got out by playing our parts.” – but of course the possibility that the Trickster is not dead:
“Maybe this is an angel thing. Or-or the Trickster.”
“No, he’s dead.”
“Or is he?”
Nicely done, writers.
One of the best exchanges between the brothers came in a brief moment of nostalgia to add the history of the Winchesters and a connection to Scooby-Doo – having watched it no matter which motel they were in as children, no matter where Dad took them, it was always on TV and they could relate, to some degree, to what the Scoobies did. Definitely sweet. Sam may have been more resistant, but his contribution to the “rally the troops” speech made it clear he had the same connection as Dean.
The relationships with the Scoobies and the Winchesters – and later Cas as well – were also well done. The Scooby gang is so blissfully oblivious to most everything, which is what makes it laughable. Fred is a ridiculous alpha-male who fumbles most of his plans – and Velma is fighting her crush on that beautiful, broad-shouldered lug, Sam. And poor Dean, Daphne is totally unaware that he is flirting with her:
“Boys and girls don't sleep in the same room, silly!”
I admit, that made me laugh out loud.
The actual mystery was fun too, since it was relatively simple – but with the addition of people who don’t know about the supernatural and rather are used to logical explanations for things like hauntings. I also had to laugh at Colonel Sanders – was this a reference to our current Prince of Hell and his resemblance to a chicken monarch? Or total coincidence?
This episode actually resulted in a fair bit of meta commentary on the cartoon world. Let’s be honest, one thing our show does so well is make fun of itself – and other things too. It’s never afraid to walk the line either, which makes it even better. Sam and Dean first encounter ScoobyDoo and the gang in the Malt Shop. They are pure innocence and everything they’ve ever been on the cartoon: goofy, sweet and genuine, and to Dean’s delight, champion sandwich makers too. Throughout the show the jokes develop at the expense of cartoon logic, not just Sam’s questioning, but the notion that the boxy van could beat the Impala, the idea of Fred’s ascot, and of course as Dean points out the book that is not painted into the background of the car-..err…wall. Sam is one of the most vocal about these ridiculous things – in particular the way the Mystery Inc. gang just walks away from slaughtered (brutally, might we add) bodies and blood.
The strongest – and funniest – of the humour comes when the boys have to give The Talk to Fred, Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne and Velma which results in a complete and total meltdown. These are cartoon characters, and as Dean states earlier – they are pure. Watching the spiral is side-splitting, considering who and what they are:
Velma: Werewolves, vampires, demons? I thought I was blind without my glasses, but I was just blind. Oh, how could I be so stupid?
Fred: We've been stopping real estate developers when we could have been hunting Dracula? Are you kidding me? My life is meaningless!
Daphne: If there are ghosts... that means there's an afterlife. Heaven. Hell. Am I going to Hell?!
Shaggy: We told you every freaking time. But did you ever listen to Scoob and me? No!
Scooby: We're doomed.
To top this off, during “training” the music shifts from cartoon to proper and classic Supernatural for the trunk shot. Weapons upon weapons. But no gun for Fred. And – one of the best exchanges, the writers take full advantage of the environment:
“But we can help. We have to.”
“F*&%ing right you can. You’re going to do what you do best – build a trap.”
An F-Bomb. Oh, Dean. That was beautiful. Finally, after the discovery of who and what the phantom is, when Daphne and Fred are offering to shoot the ghost once, twice, three times.
Bits and Pieces
This is one of those episodes that had so much and was so much fun, it’s hard to know what to say – other than it was great – go and watch it again! A few other things that were pretty great about this episode worth mentioning include that Fortress of Deanitude. Can we please see that again! It was so much fun. I love that Sam was questioning how in the hell Dean managed to get it set up (really, I think he’s wondering how Dean did it without him knowing) and Dean replies:
“When it’s important, you make time Sammy.”
So – let’s get a new TV and see that room again!
Second, though brief, the episode did a good job of dolloping real-life scenes throughout, to break up the cartoon episode. One of these included of course how Cas got sucked into the show. This entire scene, from Cas walking into the bunker, talking about being married to a Djinn queen and then watching Sam and Dean in cartoon form – again though brief – was a perfect boost to the show. 2D was wonderful and the animation was very well done, but this little sprinkle of reality in the middle gave an extra bunch. And it was funny.
Finally, the relationships between the characters were quite fun to watch – in particular Sam and Velma. He is clearly annoyed by her most of the time and she is laser focused on his shoulders most the time – which of course Daphne points out she likes. Will there be a moment quite like Sam asking:
“Why do you keep talking about my shoulders?”
There aren’t quite words to describe the final kiss, as tiny Velma dips a surprised Sam and plants her lips on him. What a surreal experience.
And of course, poor Castiel. First referred to as the “talking dog” of the group (Really, Dean? That seems a bit mean.), he ends up with Shaggy and Scooby, much to his disdain:
“Wonderful. I once led armies, and now I'm paired with a scruffy philistine and a talking dog.”
It’s especially amusing to hear the gravelly Castiel voice coming out of the cartoon – so deadpan, so serious. Later of course, he’s glad to have known Shaggy and Scooby and this is very sweet.
I admit, I was never a ScoobyDoo fan as a child – I wasn’t not a fan either – I just usually watched other shows. But ScoobyNatural has left me with a wonderful appreciation for Mystery Inc. This episode was just so much fun from the opening with the exploding discount Barney (seriously, who comes up with this stuff!?) to the “meddling kids” and Dean’s outlandish ascot. Worth a few watches and a spot on the favourites list!
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(Images courtesty of HomeoftheNutty.com)