I never thought I’d be posting about Scooby Doo ever again, much less be enthusiastic about it – but I happened to catch a few episodes of Warner Animation’s new Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated on my flight back from a quick trip to New York last month and became fascinated with them. My mind was saying “hate this”, “turn the channel”… but my eyes and ears were sorta digging it. I’d totally ignored this show for over a year – and now I found myself liking it. A lot.

I’d always been partial to A Pup Named Scooby Doo, but there’s something odd – and cool – about this latest take on the series. First off, there’s now a story arc for the entire show, Scooby apparently has more “dialogue”, Jonny Quest and Yogi Bear make cameos, Harlan Ellison (!!) plays himself (see clip below), Shaggy gets a crewcut (and it takes several episodes to grow back!), the characters poke fun at their personalities, yet stay true to the original series — and dammit, it’s fun! Heck, it even looks a hell of a lot better than any of the previous “takes”. So I contacted producer Tony Cervone and asked him to give me the scoob… err, scoop on this show. Here’s what Tony had to say (edited for space):

“We started with the premise that they really are “meddling kids”; teenagers going to high school, doing things they shouldn’t be doing. The show is a reboot universe, but we borrowed things from the entire history of Scooby-Doo. The characters elude to things in the past, from Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, they meet characters they met in the direct-to-DVDs, references to things in the live action movies, Vincent Van Ghoul from The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo is in it. We pick and choose what to include.

“There is a 52-episode story arc, and in Season 2 (currently airing) every episode counts to tell the larger story. The characters are now more like normal teenagers – they hook up on occasion and break apart. We started the series with Shaggy and Velma paired off, but then Scooby found out and there was a weird romantic triangle. Yeah, Shaggy broke it off with Velma because he didn’t want to upset his best friend too much.

“We learn who the original “Mystery Incorporated” were. They were a high school club from decades past. They come back as adults (voiced by Lewis Black, Vivica A. Fox, Tia Carrera, Udo Kier and Tim Matheson) and they’re not what the gang thought they were. It’s deep and it’s dense and it only gets deeper, denser and stranger from here on in. Dan Krall art directed the first season and set the style for the show, Steve Nicodemus has followed up on the second 26 episodes. It’s so great – I don’t even know how why they let us make it.”

The show airs every weekday at 2pm EST/11am PST on Cartoon Network, right after the classic Looney Tunes, and it’s worth a look. Cervone tells me that next Thursday’s episode (Heart of Evil) contains a new, “Dark Knight” take on Dynomutt and The Blue Falcon. Those who hate Scooby-Doo will never watch this (and I totally understand) – but I’d love to hear from anyone who’s been following it. What’s your take? C’mon Scoobie fans, back me up on this.

NOTE: The black-light publicity image at the top (above) – drawn by Derrick Wyatt, painted by Peter Girardi and Dan Krall – was never printed as intended (it was supposed to be in day-glo inks on those giant bags they give away at Comic Con). Click it to see the full rich colors that were never used.

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