DRIVE-BY GEEKERY: Scooby Doo Mysteries Incorporated: “the Shrieking Madness”

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Harlan Ellison turned up on Scooby Doo tonight! No, really! It wasn’t just a name-check or anything, it was Harlan playing himself. There was also a throwaway Galaxy Quest gag (“By Grabthars’ Hammer!”) and the whole thing revolved around the Cthuhlu Mythos, which itself has some SF aspects here and there. Put it all together and it’s a perfect storm of geekery.

The plot involved Shag, Scoob, Fred, Velma, and Daphne checking out the college they’re eventually going to attend for the weekend, and falling into a series of attacks and abductions by creatures from the writings of H.G. Hatecraft, and his monster, “Chargargothica, The Creature With No Name.” (“How can it have no name if you just named it?”) After badmouthing Hatecraft at a book signing, Ellison is attacked by the monster, which pisses him off, so he leaves. He’s got a lot of typically Ellisonian one-liners and rollicking insults leading up to it, however. He shows up in the close as well, discussing writing a book with Hatecraft, and the two of them instantly getting on each other’s nerves.

It was cool.

I’m gonna’ come right out and say it: I hate Scooby Doo. I loved the original show, when I was like six, but everything since then has been drek. Scooby Dum, Scrappy Doo, Thirteen Ghosts, What’s New, it’s all crap, crap, crap, crap a thousand times crap. And looking back on it, the original show wasn’t really all that good to begin with, now was it?

All that said, I genuinely like - nay, look forward to - the new show. It’s funny, it’s aimed at a slightly older audience, there’s scads of in-jokes, the writing is sharp, the animation is flat-out great (Very nice use of light and shadow), and it’s the first show ever to flesh out the character’s lives and relationships, which, yeah, I know, sounds stupid and boring, but it’s actually pretty hilarious.

Premise: partial reboot. The original show happened, but everything since then has been jettisoned. The original show is “Last summer,” and everything in this series takes place the following school year, in their home town. The show is arc-driven (If you can believe that), and involves their ongoing attempts to solve the two-decade-old disappearance of four high school kids. A “Mister E.” occasionally drops them elliptical clues.

It is actually - and I never thought I’d say this - a good show, well worth checking out. Just goes to show that anything can be good if you find the right angle on it.

And for those of you who doubt it was really Harlan, he’s got a fairly unmistakable voice to begin with, but having talked to him on the phone quite a bit in the last couple years, I can testify it was him.

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