The Scooby gang doesn’t spend a lot of time in America’s South West, preferring gothic settings or exotic locales to dusty prairies and ghost towns, but still, they are certainly no strangers when it comes to phantoms of the West. The gang tackled Miner Forty-Niner in the episode “Mine Your Own Business” from the original series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, and more recently in the series What’s New Scooby-Doo? , they tackled crazed robots in the old western town of Cyber Gulch in “Go West Young Scooby,” but with Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown, we not only get a true cowboy-themed mystery but a little more “relative” history for one member of the gang.
Mystery Incorporated is invited to visit the Crazy Q Ranch owned by Shaggy’s (Matthew Lillard) third cousin twice removed Tawny Rogers (Melissa Villaseñor), but upon arrival, the gang is quick to learn that the ranch and neighbouring town is being terrorized by the ghost of Dapper Jack Rogers, and the townsfolk freak out upon seeing Shaggy mistaking him for the ghost. Turns out Shaggy is a direct descendant of this notorious outlaw, which causes Shaggy to question, “How come no one in my family has ever mentioned this famous relative?” and is informed by Crazy Q’s chief ranch hand, Rafe (Gary Cole), “Probably because he’s mostly known for being a violent gunslinger, so evil that his ghost has come back to terrorize the whole town.” This has me wondering if the writers of this movie understand how fame and notoriety work. Are we to believe that somehow Shaggy’s parents have never mentioned there is a tourist attraction based on a distant relative?
While the backstory of Dapper Jack is rather fascinating, with him and his ferocious dog Atlas terrorizing the town and committing such acts of villainy as cattle rustling, cheating at cards, and returning library books late, sadly, the plot of Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown isn’t nearly so interesting as there was pretty much no mystery to be found here (the secret behind the ghostly apparition of Dapper Jack being fairly apparent from the outset). So, instead of a good mystery, we are subjected to many long “comedic” sketches that range from the sad to the pathetic. The writers tried to throw a few suspects our way, but none of them hold water; first, we have emo-goth teen Desdemona Gunderson (Jessica DiCicco) who clearly would rather be anywhere than at a dude ranch with her parents and little brother, but as a suspect, this is rather ridiculous and comes off as a time-filler. Next, we have two movie producers who could be using the ghost as a publicity stunt for their upcoming movie on the legend of Dapper Jack, but this is debunked before it even has a chance of becoming interesting. Finally, we have sisters Carol (Tania Gunadi) and Sharon (Lauren Tom), a pair of guests who constantly prank each other, in the most unfunny ways imaginable, but there is a big difference between dumping paint on your sister and harassing an entire town with a phantom rider.
So who was behind this terrifying apparition? Almost from the moment of their arrival, the gang hears about a company called Black Rattler Management who have been buying up all the surrounding land and business, getting the real estate cheap due to the ghost driving tourists away, so the “big reveal” that they are the ones behind the ghost of Dapper Jack is not in the least surprising. Even Daphne (Grey Griffin) pointed out that approximately 98% of the ghosts the gang runs into have ties to real estate. Despite her allergic reaction to horses, Velma (Kate Micucci) and Fred (Frank Welker) are able to collect enough clues to lay the blame on Rafe and fellow ranch hand Kyle (Eric Ladin). Turns out Rafe is Black Rattler Management and he was buying up the land to turn the whole place into a Dapper Jack-themed resort, but what sucks is the fact that he was never delivered up as a possible suspect. The “proof” against him isn’t revealed until the end — the computer font he used on the ranch’s website matched the font on the business cards of Black Rattler Management— so there was no way to guess his involvement.
• Velma is revealed to have an obsession with fonts, which not only makes her look like a crazy person — she even hyperventilates over them — but it’s only there for cheap laughs and the big reveal at the end.
• The Crazy Q’s ranch house bears a striking resemblance to the famous Winchester Mystery House — a mystery I’d rather see the Scooby gang tackle than this bit of Wild West tripe.
• With Velma and Fred acting like complete idiots in this outing, it’s nice to see Shaggy being shown as not only brave but athletically competent, even winning a Bronco Busting competition.
• This film continues Fred’s increasing obsession with traps, only this time it’s combined with a sudden clumsiness that results in him netting himself. Remember when Fred was the cool dependable leader of the group?
Due to Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown lacks an actual mystery, the bulk of the film is full of lame comedic shticks that have little to no bearing on the mystery; we get the two sisters pranking each other, Desdemona’s little brother being afraid of horses, and Shaggy entering the rodeo to save the ranch, all to fill the eighty-minute run-time. There is a section that is all about the missing diary belonging to the Sheriff who defeated Dapper Jack — which later reveals that Jack was innocent and that the Sheriff had framed him — but it didn’t add much to the proceedings other than to clear Shaggy’s ancestor. Overall, this was a wasted effort by the people over at Warner Brothers Animation and not an outing I can recommend to anyone other than die-hard Scooby-Doo completists.
You can find all my reviews of the various Scooby-Doo shows and movies collected here: The Wonderful World of Scooby-Doo.
Scooby-Doo! Shaggy's Showdown (2017)
Movie Ranking - 4.5/10
If Scooby-Doo! Shaggy’s Showdown is guilty of anything it’s in subjecting fans to a collection of overly long and unfunny comic moments – with brief amounts of character assignation of beloved characters – all wrapped in a terrible mystery and a boring adventure.