By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The CW’s Supernatural is a strange beast. I once truly loved the show, especially the super early years. When it decided to go meta, my interest faltered. I accepted the idea of their story being chronicled by a third party and the episode, “Changing Channels” was cute. However, the later seasons lacked a certain je ne sais quoi which original creator/producer Kripke imbued into the series. He remained as a producer, but with the control in other hands, the foundations were shaky. Not every mythological figure was nicely adapted for pop culture appropriation.
When the series went too crazy meta with “The French Mistake (season six),” I did not know if I should always tune in for the next episode. Some ideas were terrific, but others, like season ten’s “Fan Fiction” just went too far; enter the Scooby-pocalypse. Originally, I just did not know about this crossover with Scooby Doo, a beloved property from my youth. Mystery Incorporated easily rivals Supernatural for its grande scheme and does it right. With a nervous finger, I finally triggered the play on the PVR with this episode.
Curiousity and several views were required. I call this standalone episode a guilty pleasure. It takes all that’s ‘real and terrifying’ from Supernatural’s universe — the blood and gore — and puts it into a kids cartoon! Plus, there’s more depth of character in those meddling kids. Just why this happens is not because of a crossover of different realities, but were of a ghost (we can almost blame Casper here) under the control of a bad guy, and ordered to do bad deeds.
The good, the animation style is faithful to the early 70’s character design. I enjoyed watching Dean nerd out at being inserted into a cartoon he loved watching as a kid (heck, I would too, although my show would be Gargoyles) and laughed at him putting the moves on Daphne. Velma was hilarious at being the juxtaposition. She had eyes on Sam. This Winchester tries to make sense out of what’s happening in a story adapted from “A Night of Fright is No Delight.” This episode does a lot more to flesh out the Scooby gang. They represent bravado. I have always wondered how they would behave if they did meet something truly beyond their means of “disposal.”
However, Sam and Dean never worried about how they can escape from this world. If Castiel did not get sucked into this toon, the Winchester brothers would truly be on their own. They hardly had clues to explain their situation until they teamed up with Scooby and gang to solve their mystery. The ghost they were looking for is the cause and only he can transport them between realities, if not change the channel on the weird television Dean wanted. As for whether this animated reality exists, it seems to me this realm is real because the people who love the show want it to be.
The bad? Honestly, there is no bad. Supernatural lives up to its name and quantum physics suggest alternate realities can exist. A cute Easter egg is inserted into this episode for Scooby enthusiasts to spot. The “I think, therefore I am” mentality was introduced to me in Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s episode “The Ship in the Bottle.” This episode brings philosophy and sentience into an entertaining examination. Followers of this science fiction show will know this incident was studied years later, during the time of Voyager. But this time, an alien intelligence gave life to the imagined.
Many years have passed since that incident with The Trickster (“Changing Channels”). I’m still waiting for a different crossover, namely hooking up with the good ol’ boys from Ghost Adventures instead of Ghostfacers. The farcical episode lacked the bite than be appropriate. It was produced after the 2008 Writer’s Strike and did not strike at the heart enough. I feel another jab is required.