Still Miss Buffy? You Should Be Watching Scooby-Doo

Geek Culture

The Scooby Gang. Image courtesy Cartoon Network

It’s funny that back in the day, the monster-fighting sleuths on Buffy the Vampire Slayer liked to refer to themselves as “the Scooby gang,” because the current incarnation of the seminal talking-dog-and-teenagers-solving-mysteries animated series has more in common with Joss Whedon’s great geek drama than just two degrees of separation via Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Okay, let me explain that. Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the live action Scooby-Doo movies with Gellar as Daphne, is now the official voice of Shaggy on the animated series. To add to that, Linda Cardellini, who played Velma in the movies, plays a different character (nicknamed “Hot Dog Water”) who was a sorta-baddie in Season One, and is now Velma’s friend and the sixth wheel of the Mystery Inc. team — not unlike Tara on Buffy. I know, it’s complicated — which is perhaps the most amazing thing about Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: It’s wonderfully complicated.

It’s a half-hour animated series with multi-season meta-plots. There’s something going on with pieces of an ancient artifact that may lead to a treasure. And a former teen sleuth with mixed motives, who manipulates people. And the bad guys from previous episodes aren’t always really bad, and are seeking redemption. And Shaggy and Velma dated, but broke up. And so did Fred and Daphne, but Fred can’t get over her, even when she’s going out with a Taylor Lautner clone.

Plus, the actors: Holy carp! Let’s get past the fact that Frank Welker, whose first acting job was doing Fred on the original Scooby-Doo, still does him perfectly (as well as Scooby). Patrick Warburton voices the sheriff of their home town, Crystal Cove. And this season, we’ve already had Mark Hamill, Vivica A. Fox, and Lewis Black in guest roles, with many more to look forward to.

And two vitally important points: first, all the monsters are fake, as it should be in the Scoobyverse; second, who the baddie turns out to be at the end isn’t always as easy to peg as it was in the original series. These writers grok the Scoobyverse and while they are always faithful to its spirit, they’ve added huge amounts of texture and richness.

So yeah, call me crazy, but I see the current incarnation of the Scooby-Doo franchise as the true inheritor of the Buffy crown, which in many ways owes a lot to the original Scooby. One might suggest that this has all happened before, and will all happen again. But that’s a whole different franchise.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is airing every single freaking weekday at 2pm on Cartoon Network for the next couple weeks. Tune in, or record them and watch it all together. If you feel at all nostalgic about the original Scooby, and loved Buffy, this show will blow your mind.

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