Sunday, April 01, 2018

'Supernatural'/Scooby-Doo' Crossover Is Brilliant

I don’t watch Supernatural.  Well, I saw some episodes a couple of seasons back.  But since it’s now on its 13th season, that was already years ago.  And even then, I had not tuned in on an entire season.  So, technically, I don’t watch Supernatural.

However, I decided to check on its recent episode.  It’s because it’s a weird crossover with Scooby-Doo.  Even though, again, I don’t regularly follow Supernatural, I had seen enough episodes back then to understand what it’s about, so I just knew such crossover was going to be sensible – even brilliant.  And indeed it is.
The episode is titled “Scoobynatural”, and (here’s a SPOILER-y synopsis) it starts with brothers Sam and Dean defeating a possessed Barney-analogue mascot costume (or is it a giant stuffed toy?) haunting a pawn shop.  The grateful owner then tells them that they can take anything in the shop as a reward.  Dean picks a TV.  Back at their place, they plug in the TV and give it a test run.  But sparks starts flying, and the next thing they know, they have been sucked into the TV, into a cartoon world, and have become cartoon characters themselves.  Soon, they learn it’s an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (“A Night of Fright Is Not Delight”).  Dean – who is elated because he loved the show as a kid, and it gives him the opportunity to hit on Daphne – convinces Sam that they should hang out with the Scooby Gang, arguing that the best chance of them getting out of there is to let the episode play out.  However, when the ghost at hand turns out to be not a crook in a mask and bodies begin piling up in gruesome fashion, the Winchester brothers must take over and do their thing.

Supernatural and Scooby-Doo mesh impeccably.  The former has the premise in which anything goes, and the latter has always been big on crossovers.  Plus, the execution itself is supremely delightful and logical from start to finish.  It unfolds exactly like what you would expect from a Supernatural adventure within a Scooby-Doo world.  Beyond that, it also has, in recent memory this side of Brigsby Bear, the most thoughtful exploration on how a TV show – or any pop culture property, for that matter – that one grew up with can have a profound, lasting impact on his or her life.
“Scoobynatural” is notably hilarious.  Since Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was a kid’s cartoon (one of the best), it operates within simplistic sensibilities and worldview.  Thus, Scooby-Doo tropes are gleefully deconstructed and ridiculed by the narrative, Supernatural-style.  And when graphic violence and deaths and legitimately dangerous paranormal phenomena begin happening in such a made-for-children show, the shocking “out-of-place” sense from these things actually create a comedic effect – a dark comedy, it becomes.  The Scooby Gang, who are basically unfamiliar with this gritty stuff, laughably behave in a disconnected, naïve manner – as if they aren’t equip to see the seriousness of the situation.  But when it finally dawns on them that what’s happening is “real” – that there are indeed things such as ghosts, vampires, and werewolves – they are thrown into an existential crisis.  It’s adorable and funny.

Moreover, this episode almost made me want to follow Supernatural.  Almost.  I’m simply into a lot of ongoing shows already, and its 13-season run is pretty intimidating to catch up with.  Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that I really enjoyed the chemistry of Sam and Dean, and I think it must be fun seeing them regularly in their adventures.
To sum it up, “Scoobynatural” is a perfectly conceptualized and executed crossover.  By utilizing humor and nostalgia in smart, efficient, and fitting bursts, it ends up with a highly entertaining, utterly pleasing product – easily one of the highlights of 2018 TV.  And it might not have completely compelled me to let myself be a Supernatural fan, but as far as this episode goes, I was shown what I assume is the best that the show can offer.  If so, it makes sense that this show is still ongoing after 13 years.

Five out of five stars.

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