TV Review: Supernatural: 'Scoobynatural'

A trio of Sentries team up to present their reaction to this special episode.
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In conjunction with the Supernatural gang meeting the Scooby-Doo gang, three Sentries (a Supernatural fan, a Scooby-Doo fan, and an agnostic fan) have teamed up to review the episode “ScoobyNatural” from their various perspectives.

Todd Karella (Supernatural fan): When I first heard that Supernatural was going to do an animated episode where they would team up with Scooby-Doo and the gang, I shook my head. While I’ve always been a big fan of the original cartoon, they weren’t always as successful with later incarnations of the show. Even so, I had faith that the Supernatural writers would find a creative way to make it work. They may not have done a completely animated show before, but the Winchesters have found themselves in odd storylines that the writers managed to make believable. “Changing Channels” (Season 5, Episode 8) comes to mind when the Trixter had them leaping through a group of TV show parodies that they had to play along with in order to escape. “The French Mistake” (Season 6, Episode 15) has them transported into an alternate universe where monsters don’t exist and they are two actors playing a part in a television series.

In “ScoobyNatural,” they arrive in a town that has had several lizard man sightings only to find themselves in a pawn shop fighting a giant stuffed dinosaur trying to kill them. After they manage to defeat the monster in an explosion of green felt and cotton batting, the pawn shop owner rewards them with a big-screen television set.

Dean (Jensen Ackles) is overly excited at receiving the gift and sets up his own Dean Cave, or Fortress of Deanitude as he calls his new man cave that is equipped with the television and comfortable chairs. But as soon as he tests it out and turns the TV on, it begins to spark with eerie purple lights and before they know it they are sucked into the set and find themselves in “A Night of Fright Is No Delight” (Season 1, Episode 16) of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?. The good news is that Dean has seen this particular episode many times before as a kid. The bad news is that there’s one major difference. The phantom is real and it’s murdering the victims and leaving body parts scattered about the room.

I’m a big fan of Supernatural as it’s one of my favorite shows and I’ve watched all 13 seasons. While it was fun to see the Scooby gang and Winchesters have an adventure together, I have a mixed reaction to the episode. And the strange thing is that I really enjoyed the Scooby portion but didn’t enjoy the Supernatural side as much. If anything, I was expecting it to be the other way around.

The characters and the way they would react to situations kept true to the original cartoon Scooby (Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Mathew Lillard) were chickens and loved to eat. Velma (Kate Micucci) was the brain who knew that there was some rational explanation to what was happening. Daphne (Grey DeLisle) was just as ditzy and Fred (Welker) made the plans while charging head first into trouble. Along with their behavior all the regular sight gags were there, the enormous sandwiches, the musical chase scene through a hallway filled with nothing but doors, the overreaction to seeing the phantom, and the setting of the trap that ends up not working as intended. And if you looked really hard in the hallway scene at one-point Scrappy-Doo ran from one door to another and caused me to burst out laughing.

On the other half of the show, the biggest issue I had was that the animated characters looked nothing like Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean, or Castiel (Misha Collins). They were unrecognizable. Dean was super happy even before he went into his childhood. Dean is never happy. And even if he is, it’s never to such an extreme where he would intentionally wear an ascot. He was completely out of character the entire episode. And finally, I did not find the reveal about who the ghost turned out to be very exciting. It was anti-climactic and resolved pretty easily. Nothing ever goes that smoothly for the brothers. There is always a catch or some unforeseen twist even after they find the culprit.

But even after considering those issues, I really enjoyed the episode. It brought back some fond childhood memories and mixed together a couple of my favorite shows. Comparing Castiel to a talking dog; hearing “zoinks, jinkies, jeepers, ruh-roh” followed by Dean’s “Sonofabitch;” a drag race between the Mystery Machine and the Impala; and watching Dean getting blocked while hitting on Daphne made it easy to forgive any issues I had.

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Shawn Bourdo (Scooby-Doo fan): I come to this episode as someone who has watched nearly every episode of every Scooby-Doo incarnation and has never watched an episode of Supernatural.  I come to this episode envisioning Supernatural as an alternate world extension of the Angel and Buffy universe.  Now that you know where I'm at starting this episode, I had a few observations.

If this is the fun of every episode of this show, then I'm ready to settle in to watch all the previous seasons.  If you can't appreciate the sheer fun of this, then you have no business watching horror-comedy shows or movies.  

Setting the episode within a previously established episode of the Scooby-Doo cartoon universe is something we haven't seen before and instantly gave me respect for what they were trying to do here.  This wasn't a generic haunted house, talking dog, mystery crew solving crimes and mysteries - it was the actual Scooby Gang with their actual voices and set within an episode that many people will be familiar with.  That comfort led to the very clever transition in the tone of the episode when someone was actually killed and when Shaggy breaks his arm.  Turning the ending back into a "there are no actual demons or ghosts" for our Gang lets us have the rest of the Scooby Universe untouched.

Cartoon physics and tropes are respected.  Not only are the episode titles incredibly authentic but you get the musical chase scene, all the expected "Yoinks" and characters followed their usual positive outlooks.  I think the moment I appreciated the most was the sandwich-eating scene where the Supernatural characters are amazed how far Sam can open his mouth to fit in a huge sandwich.

From a network that is becoming more and more meta and deconstructionist, this was a perfect addition to their stable.  Flash and Legends of Tomorrow have been telling very self aware and parody versions of their own genre.  Legends goes that a step further telling superhero stories within the context of historical (Caesar, Revolutionary War, etc) and popular-culture (Groundhog's Day) events. They have been talking '80s-defining shows like Dynasty and setting them in current times to some success.  The best example of where this episode fits in is probably with their dark, self-reflective revamp of the Archies in Riverdale.  Much like the bright and positive Scooby-Doo, Riverdale takes the Archies' universe and looks behind the veneer.  I will have to watch more Supernatural to understand their world but this crossover showed just enough reality to the Scooby Universe to really entertain.

Any word on a sequel?  Zoinks!

scoobynatural 2.jpegGordon S. Miller (agnostic fan): As a Gen X-er, I watched various versions of Scooby-Doo in the '70s and into the early '80s, which included a lot of fun crossovers such as the gang meeting Batman, Don Knotts, and the Three Stooges. I haven't watched any of the TV series since and just a portion of a movie that was screened years ago at San Diego Comic Con, but was so bored, I walked out. I came to “ScoobyNatural” having seen one episode of Supernatural years ago, possibly not even in its entirety, with the impression it was reminiscent of The X-Files as they were dealing with a monster in a hotel (I think). With my bona fides established, I'll state I enjoyed the episode a lot.

It began with the Winchester brothers in the middle of a case, which seemed like just an excuse to get Dean the big-screen TV so the adventure could begin, but it proved to be an important part of the story, so kudos to writers Jim Krieg & Jeremy Adams. Once animated, the show is filled with a lot of meta jokes as the brothers are aware they are in a cartoon while the Scooby gang isn't. For example, there's a newspaper that doesn't have any legible words and a signature Scooby musical montage with everyone running around a haunted house. Also, there's a funny twist in that the Scooby gang presumes the ghost isn't real, but the brothers know and the viewers are shown different, including the gruesome endings the victims face.

I can't speak to the Supernatural aspects, but Dean was very funny and the main focus of the episode. No idea if it's been established before, but he's a big Scooby-Doo fan. He desires Daphne, which makes him jealous of Fred, although that later turns into respect as back in the real world Dean wears an ascot. Sam and Castiel don't have as much to do in the episode. It was interesting that Dean was so into Daphne while Sam was indifferent to Velma's attraction.

The writers did a great job capturing the spirit of the Scooby-Doo characters and the old shows. It took me a moment to adjust to the unfamiliar voices coming out of the familiar characters, but the actors do a fine job. The episode also has me curious about Supernatural because of the quality of the writing, but it's intimidating thinking about starting a show that is in the middle of its 13th season.

Feel free to join the discussion about this crossover and share your thoughts about the episode below.

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