Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is still the best representation of Scooby and the gang | PoV

Scooby-Doo and the iconic group of meddling kids from Mystery Inc. are celebrating theirs 50th Birthday today, sparking a celebration around one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest success stories. And isn’t it ironic that it is set on Friday the 13th?

Among the celebratory tweets, fan art, and an overall appreciation for the mystery solvers, the most common topic is discussing the best memories and moments spent with the gang.

From favorite movies to classic jokes, Mystery Inc. has given fans endless hours of content and memories over the years, both good and bad.

But since we are celebrating the impact a talking dog and rag-tag group of teenagers have had on our lives, I wanted to reflect on what I think is the best representation of Scooby-Doo. Obviously this is going to be subjective, but as someone who grew up watching the gang and has seen every show and movie, I feel comfortable with my decision.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is still the best representation of Scooby and the gang

50 years of the Doo and fans had to wait until 2010 to get what, in my opinion, is the best the gang has ever looked.

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is the perfect marriage of classic Scooby and the newer stuff too. As the eleventh incarnation of the franchise being made for television, this was also the first time the gang wasn’t specifically being forced to cater to Saturday morning audiences. 

Because of that change, the show directors, Victor Cook and Curt Geda were given a lot of freedom to play with the franchise’s history and really carve out a story that Scooby-Doo was not known for. And it was a much needed change that, I think, really helped the brand in a strange time. 

Around the same period, Warner Bros. was really struggling to give the gang anything good to work with. Between when Mystery Incorporated started airing in April 2010 and concluded in April 2013, the company released five movies, with only Scooby-Doo! Legend of the Phantosaur really standing out as an entertaining product. 

In my opinion, from the release of Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! in 2006 until 2015’s Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness, there were only three good films made with the Doo on the cover, and all three of them were just mentioned.That is nearly a decade of bad movies, which is why Mystery Incorporated is so important. 

The show returns to a simpler time in the gang’s history, when they are just starting out and keep busy by solving mysteries in their hometown of Crystal Cove, which is different than the original town of Coolsville, Ohio that the series typically refers to. It doesn’t rehash anything just for the sake of doing so, instead, introducing each character in ways that play up their stereotypical mannerisms in a new light. And Fred Jones is the perfect example of this. 

Fred is a trap enthusiast, which is taken to a new extreme as shown by his subscription to a monthly magazine and catalogue on the subject. And he isn’t just played up as the lovable, doofy leader of the group either, despite how it may seem early on. 

Throughout the show, Fred is just trying to do his best to help the rest of his small group of friends, despite never knowing how to properly do so. And a subplot around Fred’s relationship with his Dad, focused on how the trap lover wants to please him despite his father, the Mayor of Crystal Cove, not approving of the mystery solving hobby. 

The writers also flipped the trope of Fred’s relationship with Daphne Blake on its head by having the red-head be the one enamoured with the group’s leader. Which of course, he is completely oblivious too, at least until later on. 

And Fred isn’t the only one who is more complex either. 

Daphne is much more capable of a character, relying less on her friends and more on her own intelligence and skills to get our of sticky situations. Velma Dinkley isn’t just the smart one anymore, she is also in love with Shaggy Rodgers, who, along with Scooby himself, are the only two who didn’t receive a character makeover. 

That isn’t to say the two are lacking in the character department though, since they are usually the highlight of each episode. Especially when we get moments like this:

These are just some of the many changes the series made to its core cast, which helped give them much more than the shallow, one dimensional personalities that have been at the forefront of the franchise for so long. 

But it doesn’t just forget about the vast history of the franchise either, no, I think Mystery Incorporated does the absolute best job of any Scooby-Doo property at paying homage to and building upon its lore.

From bringing back fan-favorite characters like the Hex Girls and Vincent Van Ghoul to bringing back the original voice actors like Casey Kasem (Shaggy) one last time before he passed away to voice Shaggy’s father, the show has it all. 

It was also host to several cameo appearances from other characters Hanna-Barbera Captain Caveman, Jabberjaw, The Funky Phantom, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt, and more, which never really feel like they are forced. In several instances, those characters just feel like strange parts of this new story, fitting into the plot perfectly. 

Mystery Incorporated was smart without being overly complicated, focusing on a simple plot that expanded like all good mystery stories do. 

The gang finds themselves living in the self-proclaimed “Most Hauntedest Place on Earth” and having to uncover the mysteries of their home’s long history of strange disappearances and monster sightings. They end up at odds with most of the adults in the series, namely Fred’s father, as he notices their mystery solving is driving down tourism. 

This is the theme that resonated with me the most, as these teens are forced to face their loved ones and other townsfolk lying to cover up various parts of either their personal or Crystal Cove’s history. The gang, especially Fred are left to cope with a lot of information as they continue to follow the cryptic clues left by the mysterious Mr. E. 

This all culminates in season one ending in a dark place for most of the characters and real feeling of suspense left to settle over fans as they waited for the second season. And when that second season came around, it upped the stakes even higher, and ended on the perfect mix of a satisfying conclusion and potential for more. 

Unfortunately, a third season was never meant to be, as the series was officially cancelled after two seasons and 52 incredible episodes of masterful, mystery storytelling. But even if it felt a bit short-lived, Mystery Incorporated is still where I point people who want the best of Scooby-Doo

This is the absolute best performance of long-time voice actor Frank Welker in both his role as Fred and Scooby. The emotion he brings to the character Fred after playing him for more than 40 years at the time was incredible and has yet to be matched. 

It was also the first time Matthew Lillard voiced Shaggy, taking over for Kasem. Lillard, who famously played the role of Shaggy in both of the early 2000’s live action Scooby-Doo films does an incredible job in his major role as the character. 

What makes this show so special is its ability to tackle adult themes like single parenthood and depression, while also giving long-time fans of the show a good kick in the nostalgia. It also helps that Mystery Incorporated was able to play on things like the works of H. P. Lovecraft, various mythologies, and more in order to weave together an overarching plot that always left me wanting to know more. 

Mystery Incorporated can be parodying old horror tropes one minute and then make the viewers feel a heavy sense of dread the next as the gang delves deeper into the mysteries left behind by their predecessors. Oh yeah, it also builds its own lore about the group’s name, Mystery Incorporated that is both deep and extremely satisfying. 

If you haven’t given this show a chance yet and you are a lapsed fan of Scooby-Doo or just a fan of a good mystery story, I think this show will prove worth your time. 

Or you could just watch Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery and enjoy just how far the writer’s can stretch a story without it totally collapsing in on itself. And there is that new movie coming out next year too!

Happy 50th Birthday Scoobert, and here is hoping for many more mysteries shared in the future.


At the time of writing this article, you can watch on both Boomerang and VRV, with seasons available for purchase or to rent on most digital platforms.

EA’s Press Conference Recap – E3 2017

Each year it feels like the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 starts earlier and earlier. With that being said, I took a day to process the information shown in the first major conference of E3 2017.

Electronic Arts or EA is one of the biggest game developing companies in the world and this year they were also the first of the large-scale conferences that large developers hold each year to show fans their latest games or updates.

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New Pokémon games? What happened in the Pokémon Direct?

To many, Nintendo’s Pokémon Direct that happened early on Tuesday morning was disappointing.

Being heavily involved in the Pokémon community on YouTube, Twitter and pretty much anywhere else I got to see the reactions to those announcements even while I was unable to watch the actual event. Continue reading “New Pokémon games? What happened in the Pokémon Direct?”

Is Cartoon Network doomed?

Cartoon Network is one of the reasons so many people, including myself, have such a fond memory and passion for animation. They were one of the three main sources of cartoons for American audience alongside Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

 

While the animated motion picture market was, and still is, dominated mostly by Disney; Nick and Cartoon Network have been battling it out for the tops spot in the television department for nearly three decades now.

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A Deeper Look at NateWantstoBattle

When most people think of poetry they think of the traditional, on paper kind. Their thoughts drift to that of haiku or romantic poetry that they have heard, read, or learned about in school. While that is the most well-known form of poetry, one of the most abundant forms is music.

The average person doesn’t consider music as a form of poetry, but instead they put it in a category all by itself. This isn’t a wrong way of looking at it, but many others, including many respected historians and poets label music as one of, if not the most popular form of poetry.
Nathan Smith considers himself as someone who goes against the norm of the music industry. Even before becoming the big-time personality he is today, he advocated for his listeners and fans to do what they cared about and not what would get them the most payout.

The base of his fan community is built on how relatable he is and the feeling of friendship he conveys in each production he is involved in. His work ethic and slow build up to his current standing brought more people into his corner as his productions picked up steam. He is the embodiment of the phrase “started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
Nate ‘NateWantstoBattle’ Smith was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 1, 1989 and works out of an office in Los Angeles, California with his roommate and editor Brett Ultimus. He has been uploading music and other videos on his Youtube channel since 2013.

He has revived his second channel where he uploads gameplay and vlogs in his spare time, while his best friend Hunter ‘dookieshed’ Hughes has also moved out and into the same office so they could continue working together. He has recently started going on tour and announcing projects for both 2017 and 2018.
His work mainly consists of covers of video games and anime theme songs. He has stopped doing parodies of songs as he stated he prefers working with the original product rather than messing with it. His focus on gameplay has shifted to only the occasional series on his secondary channel and his co-op commentary with Hunter on their collaboration channel NateandDookie.

He has announced another completely original album and the sequel to his popular cover album ‘Thnks Fr Th Cvrs’ will be released between summer 2017 and 2018 and he has released many characters he will be voicing in the upcoming months in Funimation’s dubs of popular anime. In March, he launched a Patreon for anyone who wished to help fund the projects he does on his channel.

The fact stands that NateWantstoBattle was not the first and will not be the last independent musician to achieve success. He is however one of the most interesting examples.

He actively talks to fans and tells them to follow their dreams. He frequently hold question and answer streams hosted on his Youtube channel so he can get to know people in his online community. Most musicians would be limited to at event fan interactions, but Nate actively seeks it on social media and in his production.

Conventions around the United States and even a few overseas will fly him out so that his fans get a chance to meet him at their venues. His gaming background and videos opens another avenue for people to feel an attachment to him. When people watch him play games and tell stories with his friends it feels like they are conversing with him. This makes him seem more like a friend than an idol to the thousands of people who frequent his videos.

This lets him impact people on two major levels. Both as an inspirational person who for some is a goal they wish to reach and others can look up to, while also being a friendly person who anyone can view as a friend.

I picked the title song Sandcastle Kingdoms from the album of the same name to analyze for this article to give you all an example of his musical stylie. This song is a perfect showcase of how Nate’s individual style mixes with his lyrics and the unique type of instruments being used in the background.

The theme of both the song and album is time passing and how things change throughout the years. The opening of this song leaves you with an uncertain feeling because the sounds used at the beginning are not traditional. From there it talks about death taking everything and oceans full of dreams with someone being stuck on an island, alluding to the end of life and the many dreams left unfulfilled.

Strong reference to people not being able to trust their own words in life is used a few times and strengthens the base message of change in people. The entire beginning of the song is just comparing the goals of people in life to those of the dead before pulling them all together by saying it is all the same.

The theme never changes throughout as the lyrics move from talking about death being the end all and only your name meaning something to waking up and doing something to change your fate.

The song makes commentary about social structure and following blindly with no information being wrong and yet common. A few lines about kingdoms could be related to religion if you look hard enough at the context, but Nate tends to stay away from controversial topics in his music.

The final two lines in this piece strike two chords to the core. “Maybe one day you’ll find humanity. Until then don’t you dare say that we are the same…” The first strike is the theme culminating with this finale. The people who are dying without realizing their dreams and those that are just blindly following others are nothing like the people who put their all into getting everything they can out of life. And until they realize those faults they will never be the same.

The second strike is that this is a reference to one of his other top songs ‘No More’ which has a very similar theme (Smith Youtube). That gives fans some insight into the more serious context of the song. This is a great piece that has a lot of similarities to an elegy. The take on humanity and the undertone of helplessness is a great driving force to a strong song.

As of late Nate has taken a more personalized approach to his productions. Doing more and more original songs or covers of things he personally enjoys rather than the popular ideas. His tone has shifted from all fun loving and laid back to a friendly and yet emotional style that has seen his channel art and posters for recent works change to something that fits this new him.

Fans have shown their love for the new style and it appears to have amplified his already astounding creativity. But, while his style and look might have changed, his motives and message are still the same. I think his tagline sums it up better than I ever could.

“Hi, I’m Nate! I make music about anime and video games and other stuff I like. I hope you like it, too!”

Two-Sided Superheroes

Collin goes in-depth talking about actors who have portrayed more than one hero on the big screen.

With the dawning of the Batman vs Superman movie, we saw a former hero reprise his role and play another. I took a look at other actors who have seen two sides of the super hero lifestyle:

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Worth the Watch? Samurai Jack: Season 5 Episode 2

When I turned off the NCAA tournament to watch the latest episode of Samurai Jack, I honestly thought I might regret it. After watching it however, I can safely say that I made the best decision of that entire day.

While the premiere and therefore first episode of season five was great for introducing us to the world and giving us a glimpse at what Jack has gone through over the last 50 years, nothing could have prepared me for what the follow up was.

It might seem like I am exaggerating this episode a little bit, and to be fair I might be. But in my opinion, this is the single best episode of Samurai Jack to date.

Take into account when I say this however that I have not rewatched the original four season in upwards of two years so I am going off of memory and it is still a close call between this and a few other classics. But I stand by what I said.

If you are not caught up or for some reason have either not been watching the newest season or seen the original, then stop reading now and go do so, because this next portion will delve into spoiler territory. You have been warned.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

In the last episode, the writers slowly got us used to the new voice of Aku by making use of the villain of the episode calling him on a cell phone like device.

Many people took this to mean we would not actually see Aku for many more episodes until the buildup was over and there was a grand reveal, probably in some sort of menacing or evil fashion. What we got, in my opinion, was a much truer to style reintroduction.

How do we meet the conqueror of the world and lord of all evil? Well by seeing him wake up, don his iconic flaming eyebrows and go through a morning routine of stretches of course.

This introduction to Aku makes things perfectly clear that despite the much darker and meaningful tone of the final season, things have not changed so drastically as to make our favorite demon lord lose his comedic side.

We see him stretch and talk with a few groups wishing to pay him tribute, which while cool, defeats part of the significance for the back story of the Daughters of Aku from episode one. Part of the reason they are born and trained so thoroughly is due to their mother and apparent matriarch of their cult wanting Aku to come back to the world.

Hopefully we get a little more details about where exactly Aku is located and maybe some information about why he is there.

The second group of people who visit Aku are three scientists who show him a giant version of the beetledrones from the previous episode. They state it will finally rid Aku of the Samurai.

To my surprise, Aku talks about how he does not care for the defeat of Jack anymore and that he actually finds it amusing to see him run around with all of the issues going on in his head. This was a route I was not thinking we would see.

At this point it is still assumed that Aku knows not of Jack’s sword being lost, which I am hoping we see more about soon, so that makes this train of thought come as even more of a surprise. He tells them to keep trying anyways and slinks back down to his domain.

I took him seriously until he started talking in a slightly higher tone, and the next scene when he is talking to himself as a shrink made me laugh. It also gave us some insight into the events that led to the current timeline.

Aku said he destroyed all of the time gates in hopes that by doing so Jack would just die of old age over time. Instead he found out Jack does not age and he is distraught over that fact, but refuses to do anything about it.

Thus, ends our time with the main villain and we enter a scene with a single white wolf. I immediately thought we would see Jack hunting the beast, but soon found it was instead a simultaneous use of imagery for the fate about to befall our hero.

After the wolf runs into the shadowed tiger and its companions we see Jack riding his motorcycle and choosing paths on a fork in the road. He stops suddenly in a clearing and is attacked by the giant drone we saw previously.

We get a brief flash over to the Wolf before Jack uses his trusty spear to one-shot the large mechanical beast. As he is riding off again however his bike is destroyed by what appears to have been a steel trip wire and he is assaulted by unknown assailants.

A brief assault shows how helpless Jack is against these attackers and he is soon left in but a shell of his armor and trying to mow them down with a gun. It doesn’t work and he is forced to hide.

This scene where he confronts what appears to be the Jack of long ago is deep and very well written. It shows how truly at war he is with himself and touches on the idea of Jack walking to his own death with honor.

He manages to ignore his inner musings and makes a break for a temple, which is shown through a sequence that is amazingly done. His assailants are revealed to be the Daughters of Aku and we now truly see how much trouble Jack is in.

We see Jack outwit the sisters before he himself is outwitted and pushed to the brink. With one last ditch effort, he hides in a coffin with only a nearly broken sword as protection.

His position gets compromised and he begins to fight in what appears to be a hopeless battle against seven enemies. He once more manages to escape and faces down one of the sisters alone.

At this point I realized that no words had been said since the conclusion of the inner dialogue and I was speechless. Through nothing but music, sound effects and animation this episode hooked me more than I have been for an episode of anything in years.

The fight concludes with Jack slashing the sister’s throat and realizing that his attackers are actually human. There is blood on the blade when he drops it and looks at what he has done.

He does not have time to dwell on that as he has been stabbed by a dagger in the torso and the others are gaining on him. He grabs the vibrating sword he took from his opponent in the last episode and uses it to escape.

The last two things we see before the credits are a bloodied Jack floating down the river in a pool of his own blood, and an equally bloodied white wolf lying dead in the clearing from earlier around the dead bodies of the tigers.

Once more I am left with a hole in my heart where the next episode is bound to fit and waiting with baited breath for it. This series is shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites.

Does Samurai Jack Season 5 live up to its hype?

Samurai Jack Season 5 aired on March 11, 2017. Cale breaks down whether it lives up to the hype or not.

Thanks to Adult Swim having the foresight that this would be a big night for them, I watched the premiere of Samurai Jack Season 5 online along with upwards of 30,000 other people.

As I said in my previous article on the subject, the fourth season of Samurai Jack finished airing on September 25, 2004 before being cancelled. This left fans distraught and worried that they would never truly see the Samurai from the past accomplish his goals.

After series creator Genndy Tartakovsky announced the fifth and final season would air on Adult Swim in 2016, pushed back into 2017 after production slowed, fans rejoiced and began hyping the series up.

Many people looked at the outcry of joy, support and hope with a critical eye and said that even with many of the same people working on it, 13-years of hiatus will deteriorate the product.

Well I am here to say that the revival of Samurai Jack blew my expectations away. Other than the budget getting a boost, which shows in how beautiful the episode looked, and the show now airing on an adult network, so the creators no longer need to censor violence, the show is as strong as ever.

I watched the episode two times, back to back, and time seemed to fly because I was so enamored with it. It took me back to when I was a little kid, staying up late to watch it with my little brother and dad.

The art style looks more polished and less constricted by both the technology at the time and the vision of the creator. 13-years has given some of the characters a reimagining, but the feel of the show as a whole is identical to previous seasons.

The signature backgrounds and stylized characters are back and look better than ever. The cuts during action still draw you in and odd framing choices point you to areas that might have gone unnoticed to the average eyes.

On the note of drawing attention to something, Jack is seriously messed up after those 50-years have passed. I won’t delve into spoilers since this is an experience I want everyone to have for themselves, but let’s just say there is a large case of PTSD in store for the near future.

There are things shown, talked about and foreshadowed that I cannot wait to see more of in the future. As soon as I turned off the stream I was already anxious for the second episode.

The blood is minimal, but shows that coupled with the already darker tone, this season might get really personal for our favorite time-traveler.

Starting with next week’s episode I will break down each new one, but for the first week I hope you go and enjoy the final chapter of a cartoon classic.

The Best and Worst of Big Sean

Big Sean has risen out of Detroit as a prominent artist in today’s rap community. With the aid of Kanye West, Sean has now released 4 albums. Upon the release of his newest album, I Decided to rank his albums from best to worst.

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