Oct 27 2010 12:37pm

Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc.: “The Shrieking Madness” (No, Really.)

Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. episode

The first thing you need to know about this episode of the new Scooby Doo, Mystery Inc. series: it is about “H. P. Hatecraft” (you can figure that one out on your own) and Harlan Ellison and tentacular horrors.

I am not joking.

I’ve been watching this show because it’s ridiculously, hilariously self-aware and has so much under-the-surface commentary on its source material. Frankly, I’m not sure what the target age group is, because it certainly seems like it was made for people between the ages of 20-45ish who grew up watching the original Scooby Doo. Some of the episodes also have weirdly cool lighting and animation techniques. Oh, and the Sheriff is voiced by Patrick Warburton (a.k.a., Brock Sampson of The Venture Brothers), though he’s not in this episode.

I laughed consistently for the entire thirty minute airing of this episode. Sometimes so hard that it hurt. This script is just made for speculative fiction geeks. It’s basically a giant commentary on fans, writing, and the business of Being a Writer.

You know it’s going to go well when six minutes into the episode we jump to the end of a Harlan Ellison lecture which Velma is attending and his line is “And that’s why there hasn’t been anything good written since the 1970s!” followed by applause from the college-age audience. I burst into giggles, which only continued when Scooby Doo!Ellison rips apart an audience member asking him questions and ridicules the kid’s love of “Hatecraft’s” books.

There is no possible way this episode is intended for anyone in the 7-11 age group. There is no way. “Holy Bradbury” is used as an exclamation. Aside from the incessant literary puns that are scattered through the episode and the commentary on literature/science fiction/horror that underlies most of the characters’ dialogues, the crazy music and the tentacled monster-(god) are entertaining enough on their own. Drums! Darkness! Shadows and terror! Pounding chanting music! (Though I’m pretty sure Cthulhu did not have sonic burst waves.)

The only thing better than meeting Harlan Ellison is meeting Lovecraft—er, “Hatecraft.” Ahem. And then them meeting each other.

Just—trust me. I’m not going to spoil the best parts (Howard E. Roberts, that’s all I have to say), but I might actually have had tears in my eyes I was cackling so hard. When can you get that kind of goofy pleasure from the television, really? An episode catered to nerd-dom and filled to the brim with in-jokes and grammatical puns (and tentacular horrors)?

You want to go watch this. You really, really do. I promise.

Brit Mandelo is a multi-fandom geek with a special love for comics and queer literature. She can be found on Twitter and Livejournal.

Steven Halter
1. stevenhalter
This was a GREAT episode. Its a must see for any Harlan/Scoobie/Lovecraft fan. That should cover most of us here.
Harlan does his own voice and on his site, he mentions it being a hoot to do.
Also, as an added bonus since I've met Harlan Ellison (briefly and unscathed), and Harlan has met Scooby, I'll take that as only one degree of Scooby seperation, lol.
Jessica Reisman
2. jwynne
Yes, I've been watching it, too, for much the reasons you mention. This was a very fun episode--I even watched it twice.

My one complaint, however, is the show's ongoing depiction of Velma as needy and shrill and selfish enough to try and make Shaggy choose between her and his dog. That is not my geek girl power Velma. It makes me sad for any little girls for whom this is actually first Scooby gang incarnation.
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
Yeah, in this incarnation of the show, the characters are somewhat different than we are used to. However, I think they are intending to have the characters actually learn and grow. If this happens it will be really nice. If not, then the Scoobies are a tad whiney in this series incarnation.
Brit Mandelo
4. BritMandelo

I love it. *g*


Hmm--I've been seeing that plot arc as reflecting not Velma as needy but Shaggy as childish and immature. At first, she's just pissed that he won't actually tell anyone they're dating, which seems fair to me. This episode isn't her finest moment, but I feel like Shaggy is usually the one Behaving Badly in the relationship. (On the other hand, I would have liked this incarnation to be capable of having boys & girls be close friends without romance. We've already got Fred and Daphne, I would have much rather seen Shaggy & Velma as best-nerd-buds or something.)
5. bill1
I've caught a few episodes here and there, but this is the one that hooked me, the Galaxy Quest reference in particular.
6. tom nackid
Many shows these days seem to cater to nerd-dom, but most don't get beyond Star Wars and Star Trek references. The fact that a cartoon caters not only to nerd-dom but to LITERARY nerd-dom is nothing short of miraculous! Who is behind this incarnation?
Jessica Reisman
7. jwynne

I'd like to see them manage nonromantic girl/boy friendship, too. And I see what you're saying about Shaggy and Velma both, but asking someone to give up their dog is just the height of selfishness to me. Plus, where's the Velma-Scooby love?
Laura Jones
8. Parrot00
I hate that I live in Canada sometimes - I can't watch any of the online shows!
9. Markgm
My ten-year-old daughter loves this series. I don't think she gets even 10% of the references but she still laughes.
10. Lady HaHa
The four year old boy I babysit watches this show and is absolutely obsessed with it. He has seen every episode like ten times and it has influenced him to buy a Scooby-Doo lunch box, Scooby-Doo crox, Scooby-Doo halloween costume etc. His parents speculate that he is gay and I can totally see why this show would appeal to a little gay four year old. The colors are saturated, the wardrobe is soooo fashionable and chic and the banter is witty, self absorbed and playful. Not that all gay guys possess those qualities but hey, I'm just doing some basic gay algebra and it appears to add up.

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