I’ve been meaning to write this all summer, and I suppose I finally found the time. If you are the parent of a child in the 5-7 year old range, and you’re looking for some new programming, I would like to humbly suggest giving Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated a try.
It originally aired in 2010 on the Cartoon Network, but Mad and I have only discovered it this summer. True, the gang looks exactly like they did back when our parents were watching the show, but this version (found on Netflix) also possesses some wild differences.
First, while the original Scooby Doo series always hinted at a kind of danger or suspense, the mysteries were almost always of the hokey variety. There are explosions and harpoon chases and other anxiety-inducing sequences which seem out of place in a Sc0oby Doo cartoon. Second, the old series featured stand alone episodes with no relationship, but the latter half of the new series actually features a long-term story line. Finally, in what might be the biggest break from the original series, there are real elements of the supernatural (I know that’s a paradox, we’re talking about Scooby Doo, here.).
Most of all, though, I get the feeling that the writers of this show are people my age of have similar interests and shared experiences. There are traces of sarcasm and irony in the characters and dialogue that are out of place in a traditional Scooby Doo series, but fitting for a self-aware, postmodern piece of brilliance. There are jokes and pop-culture references (Blue Falcon shows up as a cut-up of the Frank Miller and Christopher Nolan Batman). There are episodes built around the awkwardness of romantic relationships within the group. There’s a frickin’ First Blood reference for goodness sake.
I never watched the series growing up, and I had zero interest in it as Madison started watching it, then I heard one of the characters say something ridiculous for Scooby Doo. I watched that episode and I never stopped. Madison’s favorite episode “In Fear of the Phantom,” centers on musicians. Fantzee Pantz, a cross between Vanilla Ice and the Backstreet Boys, is featured singing a song called “Dance in My Pants” that apparently has other fans, because someone has turned about 5 seconds of footage into a 15-minute loop:
Madison also loves the Hex Girls, a band featured in the same episode. It is not uncommon for her to break out into renditions of the Hex Girls songs at random times: car rides, watching tv, at the beach, whatever.
On a personal note, however, I am most proud that Madison has displayed a distinctly “Phil” trait through all of this. She’s watched “In Fear of the Phantom” so many times that she’s memorized the lyrics to some of the songs without really trying. I know that sounds ridiculous, and you’re right. It is: