ScoobyNatural (2018) – Review

When Sam and Dean are not saving the world from an oncoming apocalypse, or bickering over keeping secrets from one another, they occasionally get to have a mystery that is just pure fun with no dire consequences looming in the wings. The episode titled ScoobyNatural is a great example of the show runners knowing exactly what their fans have been dying to see, even if they didn’t know it, with a crossover to end all crossovers as the Winchester Brothers team up with Scooby and the gang.

With a show that has lasted thirteen seasons so far, which is especially impressive when you consider how many end of the world scenarios and monsters of the week the writers have had to come up with, it’s good to know that they can still surprise the fans with a delightfully goofy episode. In the season six episode “The French Mistake” the brothers fell into an alternate world where their life of hunting monsters was a television show and Sam and Dean had to pretend to be actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles to solve the mystery to get home, so now when the brothers find themselves in the animated world of Scooby-Doo they kind of take it in stride.

Dean also gets to try his best moves on long time crush Daphne Blake.

The episode starts off like a routine “monster of the week” with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) fighting and dispatching a monster/ghost, only in this case it’s a large plush dinosaur at a pawn shop that allows the boys to cathartically kill Barney, and they seemingly dispatch it with their usual flair. The pawn shop owner (Michael Girardin) is so appreciated of the boys saving his life that he offers them anything in the store, an offer Dean can’t resist, and thus the “Dean Cave” soon finds a large flat screen television as its new centerpiece. Of course there is more going on than just a random killer toy attack, that this kind of thing does randomly happen to the Winchesters is part of the show’s charm, and so upon turning on the television the two brothers are zapped into a cartoon dimension, one that contains another mystery solving group who just so happen to have a talking dog.

Note: The episode Sam and Dean find themselves trapped in is “A Night of Fright Is No Delight” from season one of Scooby-Doo, Where are You!

When Sam comments that being sucked into a cartoon is “Beyond weird” Dean wisely replies, “Well, and “beyond weird” is kind of our thing. So whatever happened, we’ll figure it out. This is a case, so let’s work it.”  It’s lucky for Sam that Dean is a super fan of the Scooby-Doo cartoon and so solving the mystery should be a breeze, but when Sam suggest that if Dean knows the ending of the mystery why don’t they just “Skip to the end” Dean fires back “Sometimes it’s about the journey not the destination.” Of course Sam wisely deduces that his brother just wants time to get with Daphne (Grey DeLisle), his long time animated crush.  Dean’s plan hits a nasty wrinkle when the murder of Cousin Simple veers from how the episode should have happened; instead of Cousin Simple being mysteriously missing, as he was originally, he is instead found stabbed to death and lying in a pool of his own blood. This needless to say kind of freaks out Dean, “Dude, this is not the way things went down in this episode. I remember everything that happened in Scooby-Doo, and no one ever got stabbed in the back and ended up in a pool of their own blood” and Dean is even more put off by Fred (Frank Welker) and the gang’s rather nonchalant attitude to murder and gore.

Aside from the standards “Jeepers!” “Jinkies!” “Zoinks!” and “Ruh-roh!” the gang take this rather well.

The plot of the original “A Night of Fright Is No Delight” dealt with Scooby-Doo finding out that he was a beneficiary in the will of Colonel Beauregard Sanders, whom Scooby had saved from drowning in a fish pond years before, and if the heirs stayed the night in this haunted house they would divide up a million dollars. As this is a Scooby-Doo Mystery it would turn out to be the lawyer Cosgood Creeps and his partner Crawls behind the ghost shenanigans, as they were trying to scare all of the heirs off of the island so they could keep the million dollars to themselves, but this time round Cousin Simple is brutally stabbed to death, and later when Cousin Slicker is found torn into pieces Dean comes to the conclusion that, “This cartoon is haunted.”

Fred’s comment after seeing this, “Well, that’s not good,” and then just calmly walking away is priceless.

What follows is a brilliant comic homage to one of my favorite childhood shows with Sam and Dean trying to convince the Scooby gang that they are dealing with actual ghosts and not their usual unscrupulous real estate developers, with Dean futilely hitting on Daphne who is completely oblivious to his intentions and Velma (Kate Micucci) being hypnotically drawn to Sam and his “linebacker shoulders” and it is all comedy gold with some of the classic tropes of the series lovingly rolled out.

Here are a few of the nice nods to the original Scooby-Doo cartoons:

• Shaggy (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby (Frank Welker) have their standard huge appetites and Dean does his best to match them bite for bite.
• There is of course no sex in the Scooby Universe so when Dean offers to share a room with Daphne she innocently informs him, “Boys and girls don’t sleep in the same room, silly.”
• Fred’s plan of “Split up and search the house for clues” is met by Sam’s reluctance to separate as the brothers would then have a harder time keeping the gang safe.
• A startled Scooby and Shaggy will leap into the arms of one of the gang only now it’s Castiel (Misha Collins) who also got sucked into the cartoon world after finding the cursed television still on.
• Fred will come up with an elaborate trap that will fail.
• One of the episodes highlight brings us the classic “Chase Montage” only instead of the usually 60s pop song providing background music we get the theme to Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!

Keen eyed fans will also notice a certain Scrappy Doo during this scene.

One of the best moments in this episode is when the Scooby gang finally come to grips with the fact that they are actually dealing with a supernatural force and then they all proceed to have mental breakdowns.  Fred bemoans the fact that, “We’ve been stopping real estate developers when we could have been hunting Dracula” and Daphne has an existential crisis when she realizes, “If there are ghosts that means there is an afterlife, Heaven, Hell.”

“Am I going to Hell?”

Will Sam and Dean be able to pull the Scooby gang together in time to defeat the evil spectre? Who is behind our heroes being sucked into a cartoon world? Does Dean have a shot at getting into Daphne’s pants? All these questions and more will be answered in one of the best episodes in the show’s thirteen seasons. The comedy blend between the two shows works so beautifully that one almost wishes we could have regular team-ups with the Winchester’s and Mystery Incorporated, but if that never occurs we at least have this one moment of animated madness to keep us happy. So if you are a fan of either Scooby-Doo or Supernatural, and for some reason didn’t manage to catch this episode when it aired, do your best to track it down as I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Will we ever again get a cross-over this fun?

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