ABC seemed to really like changing up the Scooby formula whenever the wind shifted. It was their time that led to the show being just about chases, and when the mysteries finally returned, it was still with an extra layer of the silliness. Just when things started getting back to normal however, the wind shifted again and we got The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby-Doo.

Scoobypedia, the website I’ve been getting my Scooby refresher from since I don’t have time to rewatch the whole show even though it’s on Tubi as of this writing, suggests that the success of Ghostbusters leading to both The Real Ghostbusters and Filmation reviving the comedy show that the movie licensed its name from as a cartoon may have lead to this change in direction. My official view on this show is I don’t hate it but the only reason it’s not my least favorite is that we got two other incarnations that I actually either don’t like even more or outright hate for being terrible as well as a bad direction for the franchise. However, what they put together for the most part was amazing, especially given the horror celebrity they got to co-star in the show: Vincent Price himself!

Well dang…that was the spookiest this show would get until the direct-to-video movies and Mystery Incorporated. It really does set up not only the plot, in a way that make the exposition interesting, but the tone of the show…or rather I wish it did. My biggest problem is that it backslid into the sillier nature of The New Scooby-Doo And Scrappy-Doo Show and then doubled down by breaking the fourth wall, a weird skit where Flim-Flam is a news host and Scrappy is trying to interview a dragon, and these jokes didn’t hit. Meanwhile there were jokes that played on the horror tropes that actually did hit, including ones that show Vincent Price could be as funny as he was scary. We lost a legend, folks, and from what little I’ve seen of the DTV movie that decided to suck the supernatural out of this show (not too soon after a crossover with a show so supernatural in nature it was called Supernatural) Maurice LaMarche did a good job impersonating him. Too bad Curse Of The 13th Ghost decided to make him a con artist.

As for Flim-Flam…I don’t hate him the same way the Scrappy-Haters come down on the puppy but that’s because you have to be on the level of Cliff Carmichael from the Fury Of Firestorm comics to get that negative a response from me. He worked as a character but he also served as a deux ex machina a bit too often thanks to that hoodie with pockets so large on the inside he must have bought it from Gallifrey. The “hoodie of holding” if you will. Curing the werewolves shouldn’t have been foreshadowing his role, it should have just been a good introduction.

See, I don’t have a problem with the paranormal being real in the Scooby universe, so long as it still has the gang busting fake spooks. That’s why I enjoy the early DTV movies and take issue with the current ones trying to “expose” the older ones or 13 Ghosts while ruining a proper Scooby/Dynomutt reunion. Outside of not wanting to be killed by a guy in a suit any more than being eaten by a monster, it explains why Shaggy and Scooby still believe in monsters enough to run scared from one, except for horror movies because that monster isn’t chasing them…not counting the episode of this show where they end up in a Frankenstein sequel parody thanks to one of the 13. The only time I like what the recent films have done was whether or not Kissteria is a real place during the crossover with KISS. (Somebody release footage of KISS singing “Don’t Touch My Ascot” in full makeup and gear. Please?)

Getting back to the tone problem, I don’t have a problem with the jokes either. However, the humor in previous versions, and sometimes even here, was meant to break the tension and make it less scary for kids. Given that this was a show about 13 supernatural terrors so wicked they were shoved into a chest you do have to think of the children (and for once that’s not parent group Doo-gooding…sorry, that was a typo but it fit so well…nonsense) but some writers didn’t know when to stop and hurt the presentation overall. It became a disappointment and that’s from a non-horror person.

Meanwhile the intro promises something along the lines of Goosebumps only with the heroes actually winning, the absence of which is one of the reasons I’m not a horror person. Usually even when the protagonist(s) win, he/she/they still lose in the long run or are teased to still be in trouble as the credits role. The music, Price’s narration, that part where the ghosts grab for Scooby…even the part with the two comic relief ghosts, the ones who trick Shaggy and Scooby into opening the Chest Of Demons because they hope to be rewarded by the spirits inside (but being so bad at everything else that it never really happens) getting steamrolled by the released spirits show a mix of the usual Scooby humor among a more scary concept. If they hadn’t overdone the comedy this would have been a better show but the end result is a show that doesn’t live up to the promises of the intro.

Did this hurt the franchise? There wouldn’t be another Scooby show on ABC for a few years but Scooby, Shaggy (still sporting his new red shirt–I also like Daphne’s new look), and Scrappy would star in a set of TV movies I won’t be covering because this is about the series intros. However, the original gang would finally reunite for more mysteries…but it may be the silliest version of them all without getting stupid…yet it was the best thing for that version. I’ll explain next time.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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