Posts Tagged ‘Scooby Doo

23
Dec
12

The Christmas Special Day 23: A Scooby-Doo Christmas (2004)

Scooby Doo ChristmasDirector: Scott Jeralds

Writer: Jonathan Collier & James Krieg

Cast: Mindy Cohn, Grey DeLisle, Casey Kasem, Kathy Kinney, Frank Welker

Plot: A group of kids find an enormous snowman in the woods. When they try to take its nose, it comes to life, removes its head, and hurls it at them, making them run away in a panic. Nearby, the gang in the Mystery Machine is on their way to Mill’s Corner to spend Christmas at a condo owned by Daphne’s (Grey DeLisle) uncle. The bridge to the condo is out, forcing them to detour through the town of Winterhollow, where they meet the kids fleeing from the Headless Snowman, who also startles Shaggy (Casey Kasem) and Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker). When they walk into the local diner, a man called Old Jeb is raving about the Headless Snowman who has been terrorizing the town for years. Sheriff Perkins (Kathy Kinney) calms him down and tells the gang there’s no way to get to Mill’s Corner that night with the bridge out. The gang checks into an inn, which is full to bursting with people who have had their homes damaged by the Snowman. The innkeeper, Asa, tells them the town doesn’t celebrate Christmas anymore due to the snowman… some of the children have never even seen a Christmas tree.

Everyone is summoned outside when a loud noise signals an attack by the snowman. There they find a boy named Tommy telling the Sheriff the snowman startled him and smashed his chimney, ripping open a wall in his house. Fred (Welker again) tries to comfort the boy, promising they’ll try to save Christmas. As the gang searches, the Snowman chases them all into a tiny shed, when they send plunging down the side of the mountain and hurtling through the air before smashing to safety. Asa calls a professor from Mill’s Corner to help, and Velma (Mindy Cohn) takes note that Asa’s business seems to benefit greatly from the snowman. Professor Higginson tells them the story an old prospector called Blackjack Brody who froze to death hiding gold bricks he stole from a local man, and that his ghost is sending the snowman to destroy the older homes in Winterhollow searching for his gold. Velma brings the gang to Jeb’s house, expecting the ghost to come there next. They hide when the Snowman appears and starts tearing apart the walls. A sneeze alerts him to our heroes and chase resumes via the classic horror movie technique of the musical montage. Eventually, Scooby and Shaggy lure it away and Sheriff Perkins arrives, claiming to have followed a set of mysterious footprints. Fred, Daphne and Velma go off to set a trap for the monster, but it attacks Scooby and Shaggy instead. They lead it into a series of heat lamps the others set up, melting the snow and revealing a robotic core being piloted by Professor Higginson. Velma reveals that Higginson is a descendant of the man Blackjack Brody stole his gold from in the first place, and he’s been searching for the gold he believes is rightfully his. Remembering how heavy the bricks in the smashed chimneys were, Velma finds the truth – Brody painted the gold and it was used to build the houses in the town. Tommy gives the shivering Higginson his scarf to warm him up, and he realizes the error of his ways. As the gold is rightfully his, he donates it to the town to help them rebuild. The gang sets up a Christmas tree – Winterhollow’s first in years – and everyone gathers around to watch it glow.

Thoughts: This is pretty atypical for a Christmas special, but a perfectly normal episode of Scooby-Doo. The formula is time-honored and well-worn for these characters. Like virtually every episode of the assorted cartoons, a “monster” shows up terrorizing people for reasons that are dubious, but usually somehow financially motivated. The gang investigates three or four suspects, all but one of which are red herrings. They catch the monster, Velma unmasks him and explains how she knew it was really him. Lather, rinse, repeat. I’m told some of the more recent Scooby-Doo cartoons actually try to mix it up by having real monsters, but I haven’t seen any of those… in fact, with a 2004 air date, this is the most recent visit with the original Scooby Gang I’ve ever seen. I do, however, have to give the makers of this cartoon credit for managing to tell a story with a Christmas feel without restoring to many (if any) of the typical Christmas tropes. Don’t misunderstand – I love those trope, those tropes are great. But I’ve been watching these specials for weeks now, and one can’t help but appreciate the change of pace.

The atypical part comes in at the very end, when Higginson repents instead of being carted off shouting that he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those rotten kids. It’s a Christmas special, so I can accept the villain who repents at the end – that’s what Christmas is all about, after all. But the way the people of the town are so willing to forgive is nothing short of supernatural. This is the man who has terrorized their town, destroyed their homes, and stolen Christmas itself from an entire generation of children, and they’re ready to forgive him even before he offers to use the gold to help them fix their houses. Ladies and gentlemen, either Winterhollow is the most forgiving town on this or any other planet, or the good Professor had some sort of mind-control apparatus that the gang somehow missed while they were hopped up on Scooby Snacks.

Come to think of it, it’s not like he even really needs the gold. The man has the money to either purchase or develop and build a robotic upside-down top that has the ability to animate and control snow, which it somehow endows with superhuman strength sufficient to rip apart a brick… freaking… wall. If you can do that, what do you need hundred-year-old gold for? Market it! The possibilities for a Vegas stage show alone are staggering!

It’s not the strongest mystery, but then again, Scooby-Doo ain’t exactly Sherlock Holmes. I pegged the professor as our culprit even before he arrived for one simple reason: he told Asa he was coming into town from Mill’s Crossing – the same town the gang was unable to reach because the bridge was out. When he walked through the door I nodded to myself and said, “Yep, he was there all the time.” Startlingly, though, when Velma is doing her Reveal Sequence, this nugget of information is never mentioned. Deleted scene? Serendipitous screw-up? Who knows? I’m just going to take it as further evidence that I’m smarter than most cartoon characters, with the obvious exceptions of Simon from the Chipmunks, Brainy Smurf, and Snarf.

This is a relatively recent cartoon, particularly when you look at the rich history Scooby and the gang enjoy, but they still manage to work in most of the classic bits. My favorite scene is, indeed, the musical montage, when the gang tries to outwit the monster. They even usually succeed, at least for a few seconds. Scooby and Shaggy douse him in syrup and almost have one monster sno-cone, the others start singing Christmas carols and he temporarily forgets he’s a demonic hellbeast and offers them hot chocolate… This may not be a laugh-a-minute show like some of the other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but when it’s on, it truly has some of the funniest tropes in the cartoon kingdom.

Like I said back when we discussed A Flintstones Christmas, it’s a shame I couldn’t work in more Hanna-Barbera into this countdown. There are dozens of cartoons spread out amongst their various franchises that just fill you with the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, almost all of them fall into one of the three categories that I disqualified from this project: they were run as part of the regular series, they’re too long and therefore count as a TV movie rather than a TV special, or they’re a take on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol – such as one of my favorite Yuletide adventures with the Scooby gang, “A Nutcracker Scoob.” But fear not, friends. Reel to Reel is a long-term project. There’s always next year.

Don’t forget, The Christmas Special is the third Reel to Reel movie study. The first, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, is now available as a $2.99 eBook in the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords.com bookstore. And you can find links to all of my novels, collections, and short stories, in their assorted print, eBook and audio forms, at the Now Available page!

26
Jan
11

Classic EBI #74: The Recruitment Drive

A big change happened in the world of comics last week, as both DC and Archie Comics announced that they’re ending their association with the Comics Code of America. This week I look back at where the Code came from and whether or not a rating system is the way to go.

Everything But Imaginary #384: Collapsing the Code (Bring on Sex and Violence!)

And in the Classic EBI for this week, let’s go back to August 4, 2004, when I was thinking about what it takes to get new folks reading comics. Let’s talk about…

Everything But Imaginary #74: The Recruitment Drive

Here at Everything But Imaginary Global Headquarters, there are two topics of conversation we never get tired of: how cool it would be to get a job applying body makeup to actresses for science fiction TV shows and movies, and how to get new readers into the comic book world. This isn’t meant as an insult to longtime fans, of course. The comic industry has been kept afloat for years by people like myself, who own every issue of Superman since 1988 and who will actually spend hours arguing over which is better, G.I. Joe or the TransFormers. (The answer, by the way, is that G.I. Joe has a better comic book, while TransFormers has a better TV show.)

But let’s face it, we aren’t getting any younger. Some of us are not getting younger at a particularly advanced rate, in fact (these are the ones who have every issue of Superman since 1968). And while successful movies and TV shows and an increased awareness in the mainstream media can only help comic books as a whole, I’ve found that nothing is as great a tool to get new readers as plain and simple word of mouth. Last week, for instance, Jeff Smith released the giant one-volume edition of his epic Bone series. 55 issues. Over 1300 pages. Probably (although I have no official documentation) the longest single-volume comic book ever produced.

And I bought two copies.

No, it’s not because I’ve got that kind of money. It’s because I wanted one, and so did my brother. As we grew up, I tried to get him to read several comics, and he did, but the one that he stuck with more than any other was Bone. So when I was picking up that giant volume for him (that reminds me, he still owes me money), I felt like I had at least accomplished a little something. I’ve also had limited success with my sister — she enjoys Liberty Meadows and occasionally looks into other titles with an artistic eye, but she’s not quite the rabid fan.

I tried to get friends, throughout high school and college, to pick up comics, and again I met with limited success. My old buddy Jarrod Friloux has, to my knowledge, a single long box that he doesn’t add to anymore, but still looks on fondly. My goombah Ben Clark collected with almost the ferocity I did for a while, then cut down to almost nothing. James Pinkard, my old roommate, still picks up the occasional trade paperback, such as the aforementioned Bone saga, and he was getting into some of CrossGen’s stuff as well, like Sojourn, before the bottom fell out of that one.

My biggest success, and I say this with as much pride as a human being can muster, is Ronée Garcia Bourgeois. After we met at the Thibodaux Playhouse about three years ago, Ronée and I became fast friends, and got even closer when we worked on a few plays together. She’d had a love of comics and cartooning at a younger age, and reading my columns and other posts on this site slowly began to draw her back. She started to accompany me on my weekly trips to the comic book store. She puts her son in Green Lantern t-shirts. She has become one of the few comic-loving women I know, and it pleases me to no end to think I had something to do with that.

And what’s even better, is that I see her passing along her love to her children. Her son, Tré isn’t quite two years old yet, so he doesn’t really grasp the significance of the Spider-Man shorts his granny made for him, but 6-year-old Tori is a kick to take to the comic store with us. Ronée usually allows her to pick out a book or two, and she’s definitely developing her own tastes. Teen Titans Go appears to be her favorite, although she’s also picked issues of Scooby Doo, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories and, to my utter surprise and delight, new reprints of old Classics Illustrated Junior comics like Cinderella and The Wizard of Oz. This is a child who’s going to grow up loving reading, and whether that’s comic books or that kind of book that doesn’t have quite as many pictures, that’s a love that not nearly enough people have in this day and age.

However, now that Ronée is not only reading, but recruiting as well, that makes things doubly dangerous for anyone who crosses our path. Just this past weekend we wrapped the Playhouse’s summer musical, The Fantasticks. During the rehearsal period, I got into a discussion with another cast member, Michael Cato, who had seen Spider-Man 2 and had really enjoyed it. He and I got to talking about comic books and I found out he used to read them, but after a series of moves and a lack of availability, he’d fallen out of the habit.

So I did what any red-blooded comic book fan would do — I directed him to the comic shop we frequent and specifically told him to pop in on July 3 — Free Comic Book Day. And he did. And he seemed to like what he found.

Poor Michael didn’t stand a chance at this point, because once he went to the comic shop and admitted to reading Ronée’s “What a Girl Wants” and my “Everything But Imaginary” columns, the two of us were relentless. She got him buzzing about her columns, she got him to try out one of her favorite titles, Regent St. Claire’s Candyappleblack, and she started to cajole him to join us on our quest to the comic shop sometime. I imagine it’s only a matter of time now.

I know other comic book readers in my life who have tried to pass on the love. My uncle Wally, a freelance artist, has taken his son Norman to FCBD. My uncle Todd reads comics with his son, Ben. My longtime comic geek group — Chase, Jenny and Mike — have spent years trying to get our buddy Jason to pick up some comics. Even when he accompanied us to Free Comic Book Day, he didn’t partake. Then this year, to everyone’s astonishment, he picked up a Joseph Michael Linsner art book. Mostly, we suspect, for the pretty paintings of scantily-clad women, but hey, it’s a start.

If you’re reading this, chances are it’s because you love comic books. And you’re right to do so. Comics have been very good to us over the years — we’ve gotten gems like Astro City, Kingdom Come, Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. Even bad comics are part of a unique art form, a blending of words and pictures that can tell stories no other medium can achieve. But it’s an art form with a dwindling audience that is misunderstood by the public at large.

So it’s time to give back, folks.

You’ve all got friends and family that have never touched a comic book, or who stopped reading years ago. Lure them in. Figure out what they’d like and make suggestions. Invite them to come to the comic shop with you. Show them this website, the debate, the columns, the reviews.

Show them why comics are cool.

Remember, Uncle Sam wants you. And so does The Shield. And Captain America. And Batman. And The Flash. And…

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: July 28, 2004

No character in all of comics has had his origin revamped and revised as many times as Superman. From his very first appearance to his very first origin story, to the silver age updates, the John Byrne revamp, the movies, the television shows, even the radio show — every so often his story has been changed, modified to meet the sensibility of the day. That lastest revision concluded in last week’s Superman: Birthright #12, my favorite of the week.

Superman is on the ropes. Lex Luthor has staged a fake Kryptonian invasion of Metropolis. People don’t know if they can trust this guy or not. The whole city is about to be overrun.

Cue the John Williams score.

Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu were spot-on perfect with this series. They showed what Superman is about, why he’s important and what he really means. This is the comic to give someone who thinks big blue isn’t cool enough or is too powerful or has some perfect life. This is the book that redefines the greatest hero in comic books. This is the best origin Superman has ever had.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

 

26
Aug
10

Everything But Imaginary #364: What If… DC Comics Merged With Archie?

Comixtreme is back! Kind of! You can find it at Comixtreme.net for the time being, while we try to sort out the .com issue. But this week’s Everything But Imaginary column is waiting for your scrutiny. This week’s column is based on what happens when my mind starts wandering. What If?-style questions get asked. And we’re looking at a big What If this time… what if DC Comics merged with Archie Comics?

Everything But Imaginary #364: What If… DC Comics Merged With Archie?

Oh, and don’t worry, Other People’s Heroes fans. This post isn’t replacing that one for today. I’ll be up a little later. I’m editing even now.

24
Dec
08

A gift from Erin — and more Christmas Comics

I’ll link you guys to this week’s Everything But Imaginary column in just a moment, but before that, I want to show off a little. Everyone’s best friend, the UPS man, stopped at the door yesterday with a box for me, sent from the far-off reaches of Pittsburgh. I popped it open to find a couple of sweet gifts from Erin:

A little bag of “Snowman Poop” sits atop a canister of “Snow to Go,” which is a nice little powder that turns into faux snow with just a dash of water. Also, arriving in a separate package, the DVD of Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, which makes her totally awesome. But the coup de grace was the Lenox China Superman ornament.

The Superman ornament is really cool — nicely sculpted, beautifully painted. The white cape took me by surprise, until Erin explained it’s kind of a Lenox trademark — every piece they make has the white China and gold trim on it somewhere. It makes a unique-looking figure. Erin tells me she’s got a Batman of her own. Eventually, we’ll hang the World’s Finest on a tree together.

Anyway, how about I show you guys this week’s EBI? A couple of weeks ago, I went through several of this year’s Christmas comics. This week, I finish the job!

Everything But Imaginary #290: Christmas Tales From the Longbox II
Inside This Column:




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