• Member Since 15th Dec, 2017
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Scholarly-Cimmerian


A guy who loves movies, comic books, video games, as well as stories with colorful talking ponies in them.

More Blog Posts202

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May
23rd
2021

My Top Ten Episodes of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (#10 - 6) · 4:16am May 23rd, 2021

I debated whether or not to split this up like my previous countdowns. Finally I decided to keep with the theme, so this is the first half of my write-up.


Part Two will be forthcoming on Monday, most likely.


In October of 2019, the classic cartoon series Scooby-Doo, Where are You! celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. It's a heck of a milestone in many ways, and seeing as the original show was a major part of my childhood (my parents having taped a marathon of classic Scooby episodes running on Cartoon Network in the late '90s) I thought I'd pay tribute to the show that started the whole franchise, and run through my personal list of best/favorite episodes featuring that lovable cowardly Great Dane and his friends.


So, without further ado, let us begin!


Number 10: "That's Snow Ghost"


While on a skiing vacation at the Wolf's End Lodge, Scooby and friends have an encounter with a yeti-like monster. Said monster is known as the Snow Ghost, and is said to turn his victims into ghosts as well. Naturally, Fred and Velma can't resist investigating further. The gang's search for answers leads them to some pretty surprising places, ranging from the cave of a Tibetan hermit (who believes that the Snow Ghost is after him) to an old lumber mill... and by the time it all comes to a close, there's been a LOT of mayhem in the wintery setting, right down to the old "snowball of doom" gag.


I chose this episode in particular for a few reasons. One of which is the setting, as the snowy mountainside backdrop makes for a pretty unique shakeup from the typical Scooby-Doo locations of haunted houses and the like. The wintertime location adds some extra sparkle to the episode, be it in Mystery Inc's attire, the use of snowmobiles to get around... or in providing some choice gags, in particular in one wild sequence where Shaggy and Scooby wind up partially encased in ice trying to slide away from the monster! Another is the fact that the episode's ultimate culprits, ski lodge owner Mr. Greenway and his associate Mr. Leech, are references to the classic actors Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre; making for a fun bonus for classic Hollywood fans in the audience. (Scooby's reaction to Mr. Leech giving him a "friendly" pat on the head is priceless. :rainbowlaugh:)


This is also an episode that has a surprising edge to it, beneath the usual comedy typical to a Scooby-Doo episode. The Snow Ghost proves to be a rather vicious foe for the gang, one who's quite willing to outright KILL at some points; given that he tries to saw Velma in half (and when that fails, sends dynamite after her and Scooby!) and you have, beneath the jokes and laugh track, a pretty ruthless villain for a typical episode of classic Scooby-Doo.


The mystery of the episode is admittedly really basic, but all the same, the unique setting, a fierce villain and some pretty inspired gag sequences make this a good contender for a great episode in my humble opinion.


Best Funny Moment: In terms of sheer zaniness, it's hard to top some of the cartoony antics that Shaggy and Scooby get up to in trying to escape from the Snow Ghost. My favorite being when they get partially frozen in ice and end up flying into the sky. In desperation the duo try flapping their arms in the futile effort to stay aloft. (Scooby squawking like a bird doesn't help at all either. :rainbowwild: )

Best Scary Moment: The Tibetan hermit Fu Lan Chi's story of his encounter with a Yeti is honestly a little unsettling, mainly for the fact that this is never answered or addressed after the fact... leaving one to question, "did he *actually* encounter a monster?" That's a good contender for a creepy implication, though in terms of immediate scare factor, I also think that the most effective comes from the Snow Ghost trying to straight-up throw Scooby off a cliff at the climax of the episode. Compared to the more roundabout dangers that the gang usually face, this time the bad guy is going for the most direct solution.


Number 9: "The Backstage Rage"


While walking home with a pizza, Shaggy and Scooby witness a mysterious driver swiftly speed away, dropping a violin case by accident. Discovering that said case is stuffed full of money, Shaggy leaves Scooby to watch over the case while he goes to phone the rest of the gang. Unfortunately, the Great Dane winds up distracted by an attractive poodle in distress, and the case (and then the poodle too) swiftly vanish on him. Mystery Inc's investigation of the situation leads them to an old theater and more and more strange goings-on...


"The Backstage Rage" is not exactly a favorite episode of mine, but it is a unique one in that this is one episode where the gang really does do a fair bit of detective work in trying to investigate the goings-on, which is a nice touch. Also, the theater setting and the motif of puppets that run throughout the episode add a good, sinister touch to the proceedings. (This is doubly impressive when the villain of the episode is just an old man in a black cape with an evil laugh; while not some chain-rattling phantom or snarling monster, the Puppet Master manages to be plenty creepy!)


The finale of this episode has a real nice touch in that Scooby-Doo himself plays a decisive role in chasing down and catching the bad guy. Considering how the usual formula of this show, or its many follow-ups, often involve elaborate booby-traps (which more often than not go hilariously awry) it's also pretty fun to see the cowardly Great Dane suddenly take charge as he does in apprehending the villain. :twilightsmile:


Best Funny Moment: A certain kind of dark humor, perhaps, but I get a kick out of a moment when the Puppet Master tries to off Shaggy by pushing over a stage set on him. However the beatnik is skinny enough that the falling set misses him - the open window falling right around him. It's a moment right out of Buster Keaton.

Best Scary Moment: There's a surprising number to choose from, given the whole "creepy puppets" motif in this episode. A surprisingly understated little moment is when the gang sneak back into the puppet shop, past the sleeping doorman and his puppet "Johnny"... and while the old man doesn't stir, Johnny opens an eye. Brr! But for my money, the *best* scare is when the gang - well and truly creeped-out by some spooky experiences - run back to try and wake the doorman, and find him replaced by a life-sized puppet. One does not blame Shaggy for throwing in the towel and running for the door, let me tell you!


Number 8: "A Clue for Scooby-Doo"


The second episode of the series is where one of its most iconic monsters comes from - the glowing, seaweed-covered ghost of the deep-sea diver Captain Cutler. When this eerie phantasm surfaces briefly and frightens the gang during their beach party, Scooby and the gang are initially willing to leave well enough alone; at least until later when they read in the paper about a rash of yacht disappearances, with a local skipper blaming the ghost of Captain Cutler. Mystery Inc. pays the skipper, one Ebenezer Sharp, a visit to talk to him about this, and he directs them to Cutler's widow if they want further information.


Mrs. Cutler is one spooky old lady. She lives in a lighthouse that is full of witchcraft paraphernalia and other weird stuff, and when asked cheerfully claims to have raised her husband's ghost from the dead. Thoroughly creeped out, Shaggy, Scooby and Velma excuse themselves, only to find a clue when they come across an eerie batch of glowing seaweed nearby. Velma analyzes the specimen and discovers it is found only in "The Graveyard of Ships," where Captain Cutler was believed to have died. So, the gang don their diving suits and head off on an undersea investigation...


"A Clue for Scooby-Doo" is an episode that devotes a fair bit of time to setting up the mystery and the gang's involvement in it, but the setup works quite well at establishing the background of the case and some of the clues (or false leads) that play a role in the rest of the story. The monster is appropriately spooky (in particular thanks to a wonderfully creepy groaning roar that he makes, oof!), and the underwater setting adds some nice flavor to the situation, as well as setting a good precedent for the Scooby gang going to some pretty wild places in the name of solving a mystery! :rainbowlaugh: As for how the gang ultimately catches the monster, well... the best way to describe it is perhaps by the words "comedy of errors". Fred's traps rarely go according to their design, but in all honesty that's just part of the fun of the show.


And, on a final note, believe it or not, Shaggy is the one to figure out the identity of the culprit! That alone is almost enough to qualify this episode for a "top ten" in some regards.


Best Funny Moment: While underwater, Shaggy and Scooby run afoul of the Ghost Diver, and try to fend him off with an old ship's cannon... Shaggy tries to light the fuse with a book of matches, forgetting completely that they're, well, underwater. :XD:

Best Scary Moment: Most any moment to do with the Ghost Diver's unearthly groaning. It's a sound to raise the short hairs on the back of your neck!


Number 7: "Don't Fool With a Phantom"


While attending a local game show to watch Shaggy and Scooby perform, the gang winds up getting an eyeful of a monstrous phantasm, whose appearance plunges the set into panic, and appears to kidnap the station manager! At first thinking the whole crazy occurrence a screwy publicity stunt, Mystery Inc. finds out there's more than meets the eye when they discover the theft of a safe full of money, as well as threats made by a former station employee who promised revenge for the cancelation of his show...


Velma, Shaggy and Scooby pay this former employee, Mr. Grisby, a visit to see if he knows anything. And Mister Grisby is a character whose home makes Mrs. Cutler's lighthouse witch-haunt seem almost suburban in comparison. He gleefully admits to practicing black magic, claims to have seen the mayhem at the TV station courtesy of his crystal ball, and believes that his magic summoned the monster ("The Wax Phantom"). This part of the episode is pretty memorable for both Grisby himself - the guy looks like he could very well be a ghoul himself! - and also for some of the phenomena in his home, which notably never gets explained in the actual episode itself. (My favorite example? At the end of the scene Scooby waves goodbye to a chained-up skeleton, which suddenly pulls its arm out of its shackle to wave back. How the hell did THAT happen?)


After the encounter with Grisby, it's off to the wax museum to try and reunite with Fred and Daphne, who nearly run afoul of the Phantom in the meantime. From there, it's a memorable parade of chases, clues, and a few very close calls as well; most chiefly in a sequence where the Wax Phantom captures Shaggy and Scooby and comes within a whisker of boiling them in hot wax. Though this does give Shaggy one of his greatest lines in the episode, if not the entire series: "Not the old 'ride the conveyor belt into the wax' routine, oh no! Like, that one went out with the silent movies, phantom old pal!"


This is an episode that might be familiar to those who know the formula of the show as a whole, but I feel that it still works quite well as an excellent example of a classic Scooby-Doo story. The monster in the episode is legitimately nasty (see again with the hot wax threat) but he also has a few funny moments as well, especially in one moment where he joins Shaggy and Scooby at a dinner table. Grisby is such an obvious culprit that it's little to no surprise he's actually innocent, but I feel that this works because: a) he's still such a creepy, memorable presence in the scene he has, and b) the bad guy's plan counted on him being such an easy suspect to begin with.


Helping things along also are some inspired gags, especially in the episode's signature chase sequence, wherein Shaggy and Scooby run from the Phantom while the song "Pretty Mary Sunlight" plays. The final gag to that whole bit could come right out of a classic Looney Tunes short. :rainbowlaugh:


Best Funny Moment: Fred devises a plan to catch the Wax Phantom by luring him under a wax-spray device and trapping him with a big dose of the stuff. It works... with the unfortunate side effect of also catching Shaggy and Scooby too. The kicker comes when Fred chisels the two of them out - "All right, Scoob?" the blond leader asks the Great Dane. "You gotta be kooky!" the Great Dane answers indignantly. (And small blame to him, honestly! :pinkiecrazy:)

Best Scary Moment: Again, that the monster of the week is perfectly willing to commit murder to try and cover up his scheme. Cliched as the idea "conveyor belt of doom" trope might be, the fact remains that the culprit was willing to condemn Shaggy and Scooby to a horrific death by boiling wax... and laugh about it too. Yikes!


Number 6: "What a Night for a Knight"


Every show has got to start somewhere, and the very first episode of "Scooby-Doo, Where are You?" is a choice offering in more than a few ways. (Funnily enough, this doesn't seem to be the gang's first *official* mystery, at least in universe: given that Fred says they've got "another mystery" on their hands when they decide to investigate, it almost feels like Hanna-Barbera predicted the eternal recurrence of Mystery Inc. solving cases.)


When walking home from a late-night movie, Shaggy and Scooby come across a stranded truck with a medieval suit of armor inside. They alert the rest of the gang to the find, and discover that the armor is supposed to be delivered to the county museum. The curator tells them that the armor, having belonged to the mysterious "Black Knight," is rumored to be cursed - coming to life when the light of the full moon touches it. Later, upon reading about the disappearance of the archaeologist who was transporting the armor, Mystery Inc. sneak back into the museum to look for clues... and of course, the Black Knight turns out to be on the prowl...


For an introduction to the show, this episode works pretty well. Shaggy and Scooby are goofy and easily scared, but when confronted with a spooky, abandoned car, they go and get help, so they're established as good people. Velma is smart and usually no-nonsense, but blind without her glasses (as seen when she memorably mistakes a trapped Black Knight for Shaggy with a bad cough). Fred is the one in charge of the gang, as he is the one who declares that they're going to investigate these goings-on. Daphne is, admittedly, a bit of a non-entity at this point, but she does spot an important clue in the form of a trail of paint on the floor, so she still serves a role of some sort in the mystery. But essentially, all the major roles of the main characters are established here.


The mystery has a few twists along the way, but is fairly straightforward; the atmosphere of the dark museum is ominous, but allows for some good gags too (Scooby-Doo trying to take a dinosaur bone is a comic highlight), and the climactic chase inside a hall of war relics is delightfully over-the-top :rainbowwild: . One can even say that the mystery "plays fair" with the audience, because the culprit is someone the gang had met earlier and isn't just some stranger. And of course, there's one last bit of silliness at the very end - the first time the gag of Scooby dressing as the episode's monster to prank Shaggy and the others as a matter of fact! It's telling how many elements of a solid episode are right here in the debut of the show; to say nothing of the fact that the series was able to create so many variations on the usual plot through the years.


Best Funny Moment: The Black Knight confronts the gang in a hidden room of art forgeries. Scooby suddenly rushes off, comes back in a smock and hat, and makes a show of preparing a portrait of the monster. The Black Knight roars to try and scare the Great Dane... and then gets squirted in the visor with a tube of red paint. XD

Best Scary Moment: A surprisingly low-key and ominous touch is the moving eyes of a Native American display that the gang passes by multiple times during their investigation. The reason for the moving eyes is ultimately explained at the conclusion of the episode, but until that point, the slow zoom-in on those eyes following the gang (and the music to go with) add a nice touch of creepiness to an otherwise reasonably scare-free episode.


So that's it for the first half of the countdown, then. Next time we'll get into my top five picks, plus some honorable mentions of the classic show. :pinkiehappy:


Hope you all enjoyed reading!

Comments ( 8 )

Now this is a show I've not thought of in a long time, but I vaguely remember catching pieces of it on Boomerang as a kid. I was always more familiar with What's New Scooby-Doo and Mystery Incoporated. Though I DID catch a few episodes of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue.

I THINK I also gave And Guess Who a shot.

... MAN they have milked this cash cow. Though, I suppose I can't blame them. It WORKS.

5523555
Funny how things work out, isn't it? "Where are You" was the show I grew up on, though I did also catch some of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo (namely in elementary school) and also some of What's New Scooby-Doo? as well in childhood.

Believe it or not, I've never actually seen Mystery Incorporated. My older sister tried it and didn't like it, thought the humor was too mean-spirited/cynical. (Something to do with Daphne's sisters, rather offended her.) That and well, the way some fans talked about it as *THE* greatest Scooby show ever - and would sometimes crap over other incarnations - rather irked me, so I stayed away from that as a whole.

And shit, we're not even getting into the direct-to-video movies, are we? :rainbowlaugh: Yeah, they really have gotten a TON of mileage out of the formula, but yes... this is one franchise that works. You can play it more seriously, as in Zombie Island or Mystery Incorporated, or you can go more zany as in some shows (I frankly rather liked Be Cool Scooby-Doo), but there's a flexibility to it that I think has helped it throughout the years.

5523836

The show CAN get cynical, but, I think what makes it so different is that where most Scooby-Doo shows are episodic, you can jump into any episode more or less and understand things just fine, Mystery Inc is serialized. There's an ongoing storyline that spans the entire show.

5523841
Yeah, I do know about the "myth arc" (I guess that's kind of the term for it?) over the series.
And I'm okay with that on one level... I dunno, I guess I just had a bad introduction to the fandom of the show and that has just soured me on getting into the series itself.

5523845

Entirely fair. If you ever do want to, I recommend giving it a shot. And if not, so be it.

5523847
Of course. Thank you for being understanding about it. :twilightsmile:
And again, I'd like to add, I don't have anything against the actual series itself, really... I just have been slow to dive in. Hype Aversion, maybe? Hmm.

Time will only tell, I reckon.

But what of What's New Scooby Doo?

5524300
That was a cartoon I enjoyed watching, but sadly I don't have enough immediate remembrance of it to really make a good list. :twilightsheepish:

I definitely did like it. Always felt it kind of got overlooked amid some of the other series with the Scooby gang.

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