Cartoon Review – “Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated”
A mysterious event takes place, and then the opening titles roll. The gang rides into town and gets themselves involved in the mystery. Clues are collected and a trap is set, leading to a musical chase sequence. Our creep-of-the-week is unmasked, and is revealed to be someone they met earlier in the episode. Scooby-Doo does something funny, and the end credits roll. That, my friends, was the simple formula of the Scooby-Doo series for the past few decades. And it has worked well for their several years of crime-solving. While Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue did attempt to change-up the formula, it did so in a way that made it no longer feel like Scooby-Doo. The DTVs lampshaded the formula, and made homages to past incarnations, but they never truly broke away from the popular Scooby formula. And now comes Mystery Incorporated, which tosses out the old continuity and begins anew. Is deviating from the formula a good way to go, or would it have been better to stick with the tried-and-true? It is time to take a visit to a town called Crystal Cove, and check out…
Unlike past installments which had Mystery Inc. traveling the world and being praised for their work, this series has our main characters as teenagers living in a small tourist town called Crystal Cove. Instead of being applauded for their mystery-solving prowess, they’re disliked by the police chief and their parents wish them to cease this activity. All this group of teens (and their meddling dog) want is to solve and honest-to-goodness mystery, and it seems like they finally have their chance. To spoil a story-arc that already long spoiled by the sneak peek months ago, it becomes apparent that there truly is a deep-dark mystery behind this town. The characters are “stuck” in Crystal Cove, a hub for all sorts of paranormal activity. An idea like this isn’t necessarily bad: it forces creativity and can give way for some pretty interesting stories. Crystal Cove is a nice mixture of the 60s/70s and modern-day, with the general atmosphere being that of nostalgia; respect for the original series was quite evident.
That said, the character designs are reminiscent of those from Where Are You?, with the original outfits and such things are Shaggy’s dot eyes making a return. Unlike WAY, the characters are far less stiff and move smoothly across the screen. Nothing seems jerky with character movements, with the simple character models happening greatly with that. The entire show is colorful and vibrant: the background designs are wonderful, achieving a nice watercolor look. There is little I can say about the art: everything works, and works together well.
The stories are episodic, but with each one building up to the climax: the reveal of the secret of Crystal Cove though the use of major clues recovered sometime past episode. Other than The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, this is the only Scooby series that has an over-arcing plot. Mystery Incorporated also shares something with What’s New Scooby-Doo, in that the characters have real personality beyond their base attribute. Shaggy is a big eater and coward, as he always was. But some insecurity and intelligence is presented at times, in his relationship with Velma and when it comes to making plans. Velma is more than a genius in this series, becoming a bit of a cynic and more prone to anger. Fred is still the man who comes up with the traps, but he is also more one-track minded and is oblivious to Daphne’s affection. We also see Daphne’s attempts to get Fred to notice her as more than a friend. SDMI is just as much about the human characters as it is about their Great Dane. The humor is well-done and the chase scenes are still decent, despite the lack of musical accompaniment.
At the end of the day, I find Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated to be one of the best installments of this series. If you weren’t a fan a Scooby-Doo before, then this series might be the one to bring you into the franchise. If you are a fan, then expect some surprises. And if you just the average viewer, then I greatly insist that you check out the adventures of these kids and dog at least once.