‘Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated’: We Snoop For Scoop!
by Matt Webb Mitovich
A real monster of a mystery is brewing on Cartoon Network, where the first season of ‘Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated‘ is currently unspooling.
In this latest take on the iconic animated adventure saga, the names and faces and some places are the same, but little things are different. For one, ‘Scooby-Doo: MI’ sprinkles in a larger mythology in which Fred, Shaggy et al are dogged by Mister E., an unseen puppet master intent on leading the youths to unearth a long-buried secret.
Also new: hormones.
Assisted by my own “Scooby gang” – that is, my twin 7-year-old sons – I asked ‘Scooby’ producer Mitch Watson to share a few clues about why much is new with this ‘Doo’ (which premieres new episodes every Monday at 7/6c).
Why is Daphne pining for Fred? Why is Velma in love with Shaggy?
One of the first things we did when we started developing this show was to look at the gang and find ways to make them really seem like teenagers. Oddly enough, when we asked people, no one was sure how old they were. Some thought they were adults, others thought they were in college… To us, they felt like high school students, and high school students have romances – and usually they start with the girls, because girls mature quicker.
I tend to watch the assorted ‘Scooby’ series out the corner of my eye, and of course was a fan of them myself as a kid. Is there any precedent for the ‘crushes’ in Scooby canon?
I think the Daphne/Fred thing has always been there; we just decided to pull it out more. Daphne sees the true Fred, she really does think he is a genius. And Fred is not stupid, not at all. We actually think of him as very intelligent. He has a singular way of looking at the world. Everything to Fred is about mysteries, traps and friendship – very black-and-white, and Daphne respects that because she sees herself as the one person in the world who can champion Fred because she understands him.
As for Velma and Shaggy, I don’t know whether it was ever really hinted at in other shows. I do know it has been a big part of the fan fiction. We did it as a way of showing people right off the bat that this was going to be a different show from past incarnations.
One of my sons is blatantly looking for scoop: “What is the title of the ninth episode (airing September 6)?”
“Battle Of The Humongonauts” – it’s an homage to the great ’70s Japanese monster movie ‘War of The Gargantuas.’ We even got the rights to a song from the movie that will be in the opening.
How many episodes can kids count on this first season?
We did 26 half hours, with a season-long story arc that will climax in Episode 26 and I guarantee no one will guess the surprise twist.
My other son wants to know: “Hey, where are the Scooby Snacks?”
They’re around, just not as prominent. We mentioned them in the first episode, and they reappear in Episode 14, which is a very special episode for the fans. Other than that, Scooby Snacks have kind of been replaced by clams in this series.
Velma seems a bit ‘different’ – not as bossy as in some incarnations. Is that by design?
Velma and Fred have probably gotten the biggest character makeovers. The idea for Velma was to make her more like a cool ‘Comic-Con’ girl who is really smart, quick with a comeback, into underground music and horror movies – a little like Juno from the movie of the same name. She’s also the kind of girl who makes up for her insecurities by being a little bit rough around the edges in terms of her interpersonal relationships with the gang. Velma’s biggest struggle is that she is smarter than everyone and it sometimes gets annoying to her that not everyone can keep up. In terms of her relationship with Shaggy, she is much more comfortable with it than he is. Shaggy is still a boy, whereas Velma is becoming a woman. As a couple, their biggest problem is that Velma is looking for a commitment that Shaggy may not be emotionally ready or mature enough for. And that hurts.
Another one from the sons: “What is with Daphne’s mother’s hair? It’s so long!”
Status. The Blakes have to have the best at everything, and that includes hair.
Do you have any input into the ‘Crystal Cove’ online game at CartoonNetwork.com that updates after every episode?
Oh yeah. We’ve been meeting with those guys since the beginning and they are awesome. They use our stories and artwork for the basis of all the levels, and run stuff by us at every stage. They are fantastic.
Regarding Episode 6, “Song Of Mystery”: Is Alice May the youngest villain in Scooby history? Frankly, I felt a bit bad clobbering her with an umbrella in the online game! I mean, my sons did….
I do believe she is the youngest, although the ["spookified"] children who help her in that episode are even younger. That said, don’t put it past us to have a baby villain in the future. Babies are scary!