Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Scooby-Doo, Where are You Now? (Halloween Special)

For 52 years, Scooby and Mystery Incorporated have been unmasking monsters. If you haven’t kept up with their recent Cartoon Network series and straight-to-DVD animated features, you might not realize they are as busy now as they ever were. They haven’t aged a day in all that time—it must be those giant dagwood sandwiches keeping Scooby and Shaggy youthful. There is a diet book somewhere in that, but their next project is a reunion special. They never broke-up, but reunion specials are hot, so Warners booked studio time for their reminiscences. Yet, wouldn’t you know it, they end up with a haunted soundstage in Scooby-Doo, Where are You Now?, a new hybrid animated-live-action special premiering Friday on the CW.

A gig is a gig for Mystery Incorporated, so they are happy to sit down with the host and producer (both “real” people) in their old soundstage to discuss their past cases. However, weird noises keep interrupting them. The Warner employees did not want to admit it, but reportedly the studio is haunted. Recently, their old nemesis the “Snow Ghost” has been scaring away productions, so they naturally ask Mystery Incorporated to sleuth it out.

Even by the standards of the early Saturday morning cartoons, this mystery is pretty simple, but the “reunion” format facilitates some amusing self-referential humor, including testimonials from the likes of Batman, Johnny Quest, Jabberjaw, and the Power Puff Girls. There are also clips and soundbites from the real-life voice-over artists, including Frank Welker, who has portrayed Fred since the show’s inception and Scooby himself, for almost twenty years.

It would be a bit of an exaggeration to call this the Scooby version of
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, but for a network Halloween special, it is pretty clever. It definitely touches all the nostalgic bases and gives the current creatives a chance to take a bow. Technically, nobody mentions the word “Halloween,” but it still makes appropriate seasonal viewing.

Seriously, how can you go wrong with a big goofy dog debunking ghosts? The producers admit the shows are obviously based on a formula, but it is a good one.
Where are You Now proves two things: the formula still works and Cheri Oteri still isn’t funny. Fortunately, it is easy to look past the latter point. Highly recommended as Halloween nostalgia with a slightly hip and ironic edge, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You Now? airs this Friday night (10/29) on the CW.