Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Scooby Doo Show: "The Headless Horseman Of Halloween"

Premiered October 9, 1976

The Headless Horseman rides through the fog in search of a new head

Scooby and the Mystery Machine gang are attending a Halloween party at Crane Manor, owned by Gertrude Crane.

The Scooby gang in their Halloween costumes

Scooby, Shaggy and Scooby Dum are goofing around in the yard, when suddenly a Headless Horseman rides past them!

Their friend Beth Crane (Gertrude's niece) tells them that she is the Great Granddaughter of Ichabod Crane, famous for his encounter with the Horseman in The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. On dark, foggy nights, the Horseman rides around looking for a new head. Fred thinks that the Horseman is just another costumed guest, but then the lights go out and the Headless Horseman appears again! He screams "I want a head!" and scares away all the party guests...except the Scooby gang. Fred says the Horseman won't get away with what he's done. The gang splits up (as usual) and tries to find the Horseman.

Great-granddaddy Ichabod Crane

Shaggy, Scooby and Dum catch the Headless Horseman briefly, but he gets away, leaving behind a clue (of course!). Gertrude is napping in her library, when suddenly the wall opens and a "ghostly white hand" reaches out to grab her. The gang hears her scream and comes to the rescue. When they arrive, Gertrude's cousin Ellwood is there offering advice. He thinks Gertrude's necklace is cursed and has caused the haunting. Ellwood wants to take the necklace out of the house. He suggests taking it to the bank and leaves with the necklace. As he drives away, the Headless Horseman catches up with him and seems to have acquired Ellwood's head!

Aunt Gertrude napping in her snazzy necklace, pre-ghostly hand

We don't want to spoil the episode, but you probably know the way Scooby Doo episodes work. The gang does some sleuthing, there are a couple of chase scenes and a criminal posing as a ghost is brought to justice.

J.A. Morris says:

This episode has some sentimental value for me, as it served as my introduction to Irving's The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow when I was a kid. You could say that any Scooby Doo episode makes for good Halloween entertainment, but this one is the Halloweeniest of them all.  It's fun to see Scooby & friends in Halloween costumes.  Moreover, the Crane manor's butler is named "Tarloff" (an obvious homage to horror icon Boris Karloff) and looks a bit like Lurch (from 'The Addams Family"), both nice "inside" references.

"Tarloff" the butler

It's also a bit darker than many 70s Scooby shows. When the Horseman (seemingly) takes Ellwood's head, Daphne exclaims that Ellwood has been "taken to the grave", an unusual reference to death for a Saturday morning cartoon from this era.

There is one continuity error I have to mention though: in the first scene, Shaggy refers to Scooby Dum as Scooby Doo's brother. Later in the episode, he calls Dum Scooby's cousin.

The Headless Horseman Of Halloween" is a solid Scooby Doo episode, with fun Halloween overtones.

My rating:
3 jack o'lanterns

RigbyMel says:

Although I love a good Scooby Doo episode as much as the next person, I have no memory of this particular installation from my childhood, which is strange.  Having re-watched it for blog purposes, I can see why it didn't make much of an impression on me.  For one thing, I was never a fan of the Scooby Dum character.  Dum just never tickled my funny bone as (apparently) intended.  For another, I feel that they could have handled the Headless Horseman connection better.  It bothers me that Ichabod apparently had grandkids still living in Sleepy Hollow seeing as the original Washington Irving story indicates that (at best), Icky left town and had a family elsewhere.  So although I agree with J.A. Morris about the fun references and the awesome Halloween costumes the gang has (Shaggy as a vampire particularly appeals - especially when he goes bobbing for apples), I am not quite as enthused about the episode overall.

My rating:
2 jack o'lanterns

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