Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Scooby-Doo Halloween

"It's not "regular scary" it's "Halloween scary!""

Premiered October 25, 2003

The Mystery Inc gang (Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Fred, Daphne) is headed to Banning Junction for the town's Halloween celebration.  They plan to stay with Velma's (Mindy Cohn) Aunt Meg (Julia Sweeney) and Uncle Evan (Diedrich Bader).  Shaggy (Casey Kasem) is excited because the rock band Kiss will be performing at the Banning Junction Masquerade Ball.  He and Scooby Doo (Frank Welker) are also looking forward to pigging out on Halloween candy.

"Jeepers, it sure is spooky out there!"
When they arrive at Banning Junction, they're met by a pitchfork-wielding angry mob.  Someone has been slashing and burning cornfields at night, the mob is suspicious of the Mystery Inc gang.

Uncle Evan and Aunt Meg rescue the gang from angry corn farmers.

Thankfully, Velma's Aunt and Uncle arrive and vouch for them. They all go back to Meg and Evan's house.  Velma is also happy to see her cousin Marcy (Jenny McCarthy), whose birthday happens to be on Halloween.  Marcy flirts with Fred, which angers Daphne (Grey DeLisle).    Meg mentions that Marcy has been elected Corn Princess of the Masquerade Ball.
Velma greets her cousin Marcy
In addition to Halloween, October 31st also marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of Banning Junction.  Evan and Meg tell them a local legend: on that night, the ghost of Hank Banning (the town's long-time mayor) is due to rise from the dead.  After years in office, he became paranoid, began hearing voices, and grew unfit to serve, so he was voted out.  He died on Halloween night, promising to come back from the dead 100 years later to exact revenge from the town that turned on him.  The town expects a huge turnout for the Masquerade Ball, so that people can see if Hank's ghost shows up.

Will Hank Banning's ghost return as predicted?
The next day, they find new damage has been done to the corn fields. When Shaggy climbs a water tower, he sees that the field has been cut into the shape of a Jack O'Lantern.

Other parts of the field are cut into shapes of bats, ghost, witches, other symbols of Halloween.  Agnes (Rhea Pearlman), a local eccentric old woman, says Hank's ghost must be behind this.  Agnes' cat, Mr. Noodles,  doesn't seem to be a fan of Scooby.

Mr. Noodles steals Scoob's candy apple
Daphne suspects Marcy to be the culprit.  Fred and Velma disagree.

Velma, Fred and Daphne hit the library to research the case.  They learn that most of the surrounding lands have been bought by Eldon Reed (Daran Norris), a local businessman.  The damaged cornfields are the last independently owned fields.

Marcy shows up at the library too.   Daphne asks where was before she met them in the town square earlier.  She says she was at work and shows them a security tape that confirms this.

Mystery Inc checks out the cornfields that night.  They're attacked by scarecrows that have machetes and pitchforks for arms.

They figure out that the scarecrows are actually robots, operated by remote control. Scooby squirts them with a water hose and short circuits them.  Fred decides Scooby and Shaggy should disguise themselves as scarecrows and infiltrate the robots.  Fred uses the short-wave radio in the Mystery Machine to track the signal that operates the robots.  It turns out the scarecrow-bots are headed straight for the Masquerade Ball, where a crowd has gathered for the Kiss concert!


Kiss opens their set with "Shout It Out Loud".  Everyone is having a rockin' good time, but suddenly, the ghost of Hank Banning appears, and the scarecrow-bots attack!

Can Mystery Inc figure out who is destroying the cornfields?   Will the scarecrow robots ruin Banning Junction's Halloween celebration?  Has Hank Banning really returned from the dead to haunt the town?

J.A. Morris says:

Scooby-Doo was a big part of my childhood, especially the first 3 series.  But I haven't seen many of the "modern" episodes. 

Casey Kasem and Frank Welker reprise their classic roles as Shaggy and Fred, respectively.  Welker also does a nice job as Scooby-Doo, filling in for Don Messick (the original voice of Scooby, Messick passed away in 1997). Rounding out the principals, Mindy Cohn (yep, "Natalie" from The Facts Of Life) is great as Velma.

As we said in an earlier review, any Scooby-Doo episode makes for decent Halloween viewing.  So when an episode takes place at Halloween, you can expect it to be more fun than usual.  Like most Scooby stories, you can guess who committed the crime early on, but it's still a great ride.   

Adding Kiss to the mix adds to the fun.  I'm glad they used "Shout It Out Loud" as their song, instead of more obvious choices ("Rock N Roll All Night", "Detroit Rock City").  It made for good background music during the closing chase scene.

Shaggy and Scooby rock out to Kiss!

There's a subplot that goes nowhere that involves Agnes, Banning Junction's resident cranky old lady. Her cat Mr. Noodles has some humorous interactions with Scooby. Noodles also has glowing, demonic red eyes, this is never explained.  This digression is one reason I can't give it a higher rating.

A Scooby Doo Halloween is available on a dvd called What's New Scooby-Doo:Monster Matinee  and
it usually airs on Cartoon Network every October.

This special can be enjoyed by Scooby-Doo fans of all ages, I've watched it every year since I discovered it several years ago.

J.A. Morris' rating:
3 Jack O'Lanterns

RigbyMel says:

This is a fun Halloween episode that doesn't jar tonally with "classic" Scooby-Doo episodes.  There are some amusing nods to the tropes from older incarnations of the series.   I also find the segment where Shaggy attempts to drive the Mystery Machine and grinds the gears, freaking Freddy out to be rather funny.

The appearance by Kiss is kind of random seeing as I have doubts as to the band's continued relevancy - they were "monsters of rock" in the late 1970s ... are they still really one of the biggest bands in the world in 2003?   It does fit in with the 70s recurring musical bits from the old show, though.

Also, I find it interesting that the animators chose to make Velma a lot skinnier than in the "classic" Scooby episodes.   This bothers me a little bit, as it sort of implies that there was something wrong with Velma in her earlier incarnation.  Velma was (and is) really the brains of the operation. Her weight shouldn't factor into it one way or another and the retconned lost poundage seems to imply that it DOES matter.

It was fun to hear voice actors that I've liked in other shows like Deidrich Bader (of Batman: The Brave & The Bold) and Julia Sweeney (an SNL alum) too.

Also, this image makes me smile:

Scooby with a "Shaggy" looking jack o'lantern

This is a fun addition to your Halloween viewing, but maybe not a "classic."

RigbyMel's rating:
3 Jack O'Lanterns


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