Mystery Incorporated was the most recent instalment in the Scooby-Doo franchise, and it was awesome.
Mystery Inc ran from April 5th, 2010 to April 5th, 2013, and though it was short-lived, it was by far one of the most interesting and well-done Scooby series out there. Gone are the days where the gang – Freddie, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and, of course, Scooby-Doo – would go around solving mysteries willy-nilly. In this two-season-long series, Mystery Inc solves mysteries in their little town of Crystal Cove, and uncovers a huge mystery about themselves and a group of young sleuths that existed before them, who are not too coincidentally also called Mystery Inc.
Any fans of the Scooby-Doo shows – be they the original series, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! from 1969, or newer ones from recent years, like What’s New, Scooby-Doo? – have probably always been waiting for a Scooby show like this one.
Although the intended audience is still children, it’s also definitely made for those who grew up with older instalments of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. There are references to older series – some for the kids and some for the adults. For example, reference is made to many old cases from decades ago, as well as many clever plays on Scooby motifs we’ve heard possibly too many times over the years, such as “…And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids”. This has been slightly altered to get a snide laugh from older fans of the show. There are also points made about characters from older series, such as Scrappy-Doo, whom some might have missed a real appearance from, but most were probably happy to only hear about in passing.
Some references are much less obvious, and are meant to entice nerdy glee for those who simply know way too much about the franchise. Such as Linda Cardellini, who played Velma in the live-action films, coming back to play Hot Dog Water, Velma’s competitor in Mystery Incorporated. There are also throwbacks to other Hanna-Barbera cartoons that will excite and one who watched and enjoyed older cartoons.
The way the series was re-imagined was absurdly cool; one gets the feeling that the writing crew are huge Scooby fans. Certainly the spirit of the Scooby-Doo franchise is kept alive – kindly kids help to solve mysteries and their talking Great Dane helps to save the day. Shaggy is still the ever-hungry slacker (or stoner. Let’s be honest, he’s probably a stoner), Velma is the super-smart nerdy girl, Daphne is the slightly-dim fashionista, Freddie is the plan-making, handsome leader, and Scooby is … well, the talking animal of the group. This time around, those characteristics are really just skimming the surface of who they are, in the grand scheme of things. Freddie’s dad is the mayor of the town, and though Fred’s helpful, he makes life difficult for him. Daphne has a ton of sisters this time around, and feelings that are more than just selfish, Velma’s parents run a haunted tour of the town (even though every haunting has technically been debunked), and Shaggy could be shipped off to the military if he doesn’t get his act together. Plus Scooby has actual lines, and a character arc all his own. Even all this expands as we learn more and more about the mystery surrounding the group, which is simply too awesome for me to want to spoil it in this article, until the characters end up more fleshed out than any of their personas in past series, or films.
Possibly the most fun for fans is the almost well-written-fanfic-style relationships. Everyone’s dating each other! It finally happened! Obviously Freddie and Daphne would be an item in any slightly-grown-up rendition of a Scooby series, but how is it no one’s ever thought of putting Shaggy and Velma together before? Maybe because the relationship is bound to fail, what with Shaggy’s best friend being his talking dog, and Velma being infinitely smarter than him, and all. It’s still incredible to watch these relationships unfold, making the characters and plots an even richer experience, and making Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated one of the very best Scooby series out there. Even if it was only 52 episodes long.
There are rumours of a third season coming about, but credible sources are hard to find. We can hope, though.