Honestly, the most terrifying dangers that the Mystery, Inc., gang faces are cholesterol and tooth decay.
Oh, the gang—Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and, of course, Scooby-Doo—have stared down their share of alleged supernatural spooks: They’ve dealt with supposed monsters and mummies and long-dead prospectors. They’ve crashed into their share of walls and fallen through more than a few trap doors. But when a skull-sporting alien turns out to be a not-so-scary real-estate agent, well … let’s just say you’re not gonna base a History Channel reality show on your collection of rubber masks.
No, those monstrously unhealthy sandwiches and a never-ending pantry of Scooby Snacks are far scarier to health-conscious, 21st-century audiences than anything these enduring characters have to deal with.
But now, the gang must deal with a truly unexpected peril that could mean the end of Mystery, Inc., as we know it: Simon Cowell.
See, Scooby Snacks are expensive. And that old ’70s-era Mystery Machine could surely use a tune-up by now. So Mystery, Inc., needs an influx of cash to grow, and Cowell is willing to invest in the business—but only on the condition that Scoob and Shaggy aren’t a part of it. I mean, really: Do they serve any legitimate business purpose at all? Outside of literally eating all the company’s profits?
Shag and Scoob know when they’re not wanted, so they tromp off in a huff to a local bowling alley. Alas, both the balls and the pins turn out to be vicious killer robots—servants of the aptly named Dick Dastardly, whose latest nefarious scheme goes way beyond your typical mask-wearing bank president.
It seems that Mr. Dastardly—sporting his trademark curled mustache and driving a seriously pollution-spewing aircraft—hopes to unlock a gate to the Underworld, where Alexander the Great allegedly stashed away all of his treasure. The catch: Ol’ Alex (who apparently was an expert supernatural metalsmith when not conquering the known world) fashioned the gate to open only by a dog. His dog, Peritas.
And guess who’s the only living descendant of Peritas? Scooby-Dooby-Doo, that’s who.
But the Underworld holds more than treasure. It’s, y’know, the Underworld, and thus populated by who knows what sort of ghoulies and beasties and demons.
And jeepers, I don’t think any of those supernatural critters will be wearing a rubber mask this time ’round.
While meeting with Simon Cowell, Shag and Scoob pitch their value to the team in terms of friendship. “What’s more valuable than friendship?” Shaggy says.
“Literally anything,” Cowell says. Friends grow apart. Friends don’t always do friendly things. Friends will let you down.
This, in a nutshell, forms the central moral tension of this show. The friendship between Shaggy and Scooby—which we see take shape in an origin story of sorts—is indeed tested mightily. But I don’t think we need to offer a spoiler warning here in telling you that Simon Cowell turns out to be dead wrong.
And Shaggy and Scoob’s friendship isn’t the only one we see here, of course. Scoob! proves to be a veritable Avengers-like gathering of vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters (or, maybe more fairly, a Captain America: Civil War gathering), and most of them learn valuable lessons along the way.
For instance, the tech-imbued superhero Blue Falcon (actually, the original Falcon’s son, Brian) shows up with his famous robot pooch Dynomutt, and he learns what it means to be a hero. One of Dastardly’s tiny robots learns the concepts of love and gratitude, and as such leads a cute rebellion against evil. And even Dastardly turns out to be not quite the hardhearted individual we might suspect him to be.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.