A new idea for the blog. Many US TV Shows present themselves as mystery shows, but the series are too long to review properly. Basically, by the time I’ve got to the end of the series, I’ve completely forgotten what happened early on – I’m not really a box-set binge watcher, I like to take my time. But these shows are often worthy of a look, so here’s the plan. I pick an episode at random, either from DVDs that I own or by whatever repeat ITV3 or Channel 5 is showing. And then judge the entire series based on that one episode. And first up, the show that helped to start my interest in mysteries. Start the randomiser…
Scooby and the gang (this is the classic set-up, btw, not one of the later versions that a 40+ year-old really should know nothing about) read about the problems of C L Magnus, a shipping magnate, whose last few boats have been stolen by the ghost of Redbeard the Pirate. So it’s out to sea to catch a sea-faring spook…
It’s very easy to mock Scooby Doo (or technically, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”). The notion of a talking dog who eats sandwiches and likes dressing up is enough for some people. Others would mock the notion of criminals who try to hide their goings on by dressing up as ghosts – because that wouldn’t attract the press at all. My favourite niggle is the fact that the ghost in question tends to show up in the opening scene, doing its ghost act with absolutely no witnesses. This one’s no different. Sure, the coast guard sees Redbeard’s ship in the fog, but there’s no way that he could have seen Redbeard on the deck having a good laugh at nothing in particular. I guess dressing up as a ghost is funny in itself.
This is Redbeard btw – sorry, the ghost of Redbeard. Apparently pirates are susceptible to being tickled by egg whisks.
As a mystery – it’s actually notable (well, if anything is notable here) that the gang don’t actually solve the mystery of who Redbeard is. There are a grand total of two characters that it could be and it’s no surprise who it is, in part due to lazy animators making one of Redbeard’s hench-pirates look like the other suspect (although oddly, it’s not that person). Even so, everyone acts surprised when he’s unmasked. There aren’t any clues either – just lots of running around a bizarrely prepared ghost ship (seriously, why would Redbeard set up an unfeasible floating sword) and a pirate’s cave followed by catching the culprits. As with the lack of clues, there’s a lack of a trap to catch Redbeard either. That’s the sort of thing that I remembered happening, but I guess not this week.
But despite all that, I’ve only one complaint. The stunningly half-hearted canned laughter. Yes, the jokes are weak, but the laughter cuts in at almost random points and it’s amazingly unconvincing – it sounds like there are only about three people watching it.
But for a show from 1969, it stands up really well. Yes, it’s not a proper mystery, but the idea’s there for a young audience. And it’s a lovely bask in nostalgia for me. I’m typing this with a massive smile on my face (in part because I left the disc running and it’s the one with the Spooky Space Kook). It’s such a shame that the formula was messed with over the years (Scrappy Doo and real ghosts!) as this works so well. Kids should be made to watch this as part of a basic education. Highly Recommended.