I have a confession to make. I’ve been watching way too much Scooby Doo lately. Boomerang, the channel where old Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network shows go to be endlessly rerun, has been playing the most recent weekly incarnation of the Mystery, Inc. gang, and I’ve gotten hooked.
The next thing I have to acknowledge is that Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated is actually pretty good. The show ran on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013, and it managed to update the characters to current times without diminishing the innocent charm of the original. There’s more realistic problems plaguing the gang in addition to the usual monsters and mysteries–things like romance and friendship and parents. People who were kids when Scooby and company first burst onto the scene could watch with their kids, and everyone would have something to identify with (which I suspect was kind of the point).
One of the things that got me interested (besides the multi-faceted story arc that seems to run through the entire show) was the way they pay homage not just to the Scooby gang’s past, but to other kids-and-a-nonhuman sidekick mystery shows that sprung up in the wake of the success of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? Classics like Jabberjaw, Speed Buggy, and Captain Caveman were worked into one episode. The gang’s past mysteries were part of a Spook Museum that Velma’s mother ran. But the shows writers also cleverly worked other pop culture phenomenon into the show (the Twin Peaks references were my personal favorites. For a Scooby Doo cartoon, this was pretty highbrow stuff.
The only thing this version lacks is a catchy, top-notch theme song. They got Pop maestro Matthew Sweet to compose the opening music, but it just didn’t have the same pop as other Scooby songs have had. The show really did have a long history of incorporating music that wasn’t half bad. Well, at least we still have the original theme (and it was even performed by Matthew Sweet for Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits).
The mystery will finally finish tomorrow afternoon, when the latest string of airings shows the last episode of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and I’m looking forward to it. If you’ve got cable (or if Netflix/Hulu/streaming service of your choice), I suggest you try this version out. It’s a lot more fun than you might think.