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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Scooby-Doo, Season One, Episode One: "What a Night for a Knight"

Season One, Episode One, "What a Night for a Knight"
Original Air Date: September 13, 1969
Air Order: 1


We start out this weeks episode with a dark and spoooky night, because I guess no mysteries ever occur during the day. Also, if a mystery occurs at night, the mystery is suspended during the day, and automatically becomes mysterious again when the sun sets.
OMG, what's that spooky thing coming into view?
It's a spooooky video player button...
...because all of the better-quality copies of this episode have players where the fucking play button appears in the middle of the screen whenever you pause them.


Anyway, this scene has no dialogue, only sounds of a dude driving, plus some music. The music is simultaneously spooooky and grooooovy, cuz I guess that's how they rolled in 1969. Tunes to Groove to With Your Mummy. (Truthfully, if I wanted to be both spooky and groovy, I'd just straight-up watch some Addams Family. Far out, man,)



Oh, noes! The box in the back of the truck is opening! This guy's kidnapping victim is going to get away! Will Scooby and the Gang solve The Mystery of the Hidden Human Trafficker?


Ah looks like the kidnap victim is giving as good as he gets. What a creeper.


And now we meet our intrepid heroes: Stoner and Doggo.
Stoner and Doggo are walking through a dark wooded area at night for some reason, while Stoner bitches to Doggo about staying late at the movies. It is apparently Doggo's fault that they are traveling off the path in the middle of nowhere.
WHAT'S THAT SCARY NOISE?
Doggo tracks it, because Great Danes are known for their frog-hunting abilities.


And then, the scariest thing of all: a fucking laugh track.
At some point, people who are now dead (or just dead inside) laughed at something as a group. It was recorded and then used over and over and over again to indicate that someone is funny. It's probably cheaper than doing twenty takes of a sitcom in front of a live, actual audience, but you're still kind of getting the same effect, like you're pretending that there actually was a live audience present. I don't know who the hell thought it would be a good idea to suggest that this was live-animated, though. 
So the frog (which does not talk) hops off Doggo's nose (to a boi-oi-oing sound, no less) and hops away. Talking Doggo runs after it barking, for some reason insatiably angry.
"That frog was sitting on my nose, and then hopped off like a little BITCH!"
There's an extended chase scene, and some running in place moments that are supposed to be comical because dead people are laughing again. The basic gist is that they follow this frog, which is now gone forever because they're in the forest in the dark in the middle of fucking nowhere, and of course, they stumble upon the truck we saw in the first scene.
The human trafficker is gone, the kidnap victim-knight is sitting in the driver's seat, and the truck is parked.
"Anybody home?" asks Stoner, which is kind of a weird-ass thing to ask when you stumble upon a truck in the middle of nowhere.
The knight's helmet wobbles, then falls off.



Stoner and Doggo laugh nervously, then run, because I dunno? Is it scary when you come across a seemingly abandoned truck in the forest, and you see a suit of armor in the driver's seat, and the helmet falls off? Seems like they would have expected that. There are two logical answers here: someone who is wearing the armor was driving the truck, and parked; or a dude got out and replaced himself with the empty armor.
But this is The Stoner and Doggo Show, so the answer is C: it's a go-go-ghost!


When they laugh, the laughter is overlaid with the laugh track. The laugh track then fades away while they are running, and it is not replaced by music, leaving a weird transition where you see them running, and all you hear is the sound of their feet. It's like first person POV video games, where the audio is entirely "running sounds" and the player muttering "Where the fuck is Khajit when you need him?"

So Doggo and Stoner have apparently brought their friends back to the truck to check it out. There's Smart Girl, Hot Girl, and Neckerchief. For no particular reason, Neckerchief is the leader, though I can't figure out why.
They all stand around and talk about why it's weird that someone would park a truck by the side of the road and put a suit of armor in the drivers seat.
Dad Joke: "Maybe he went out for the night," laughs Stoner.
The dead people laugh as well. That says you're supposed to be laughing - are you laughing? Obey the laugh track, dammit!
Neckerchief notices that the box in the back is labeled as belonging to Jameson Hyde White, and Smart Girl announces that that's a British name. People with other nationalities can also have British names, but it's your mystery, so okay...
Hot Girl finds a piece of paper on the ground that says that the armor is supposed to be delivered to the county museum.
They discuss why the guy with the British name isn't with the truck, and Neckerchief says, "Well gang, looks like we've got ourselves another mystery."


Wait, how can this be another mystery? This is the first freaking episode. There's no origin story? I mean, sure. They can start out as a group of friends with a talking dog, but no one is going to discuss how they came to be that way? They just walk around Sherlocking, clueing for looks?
Also, where the hell did the others come from? Doggo and Stoner were walking through the woods by themselves, and there was nothing else around but trees. They also stated that it was hella late. But suddenly, they've produced three friends who are not only still awake, but wearing pants and are willing to tromp through the woods to see "some scary thing"? If either of these guys showed up on my doorstep after like nine pm, the answer I would give would be "Fuck you, Stoner. I'm Netflixing, and I don't give a shit about some abandoned truck in the woods." Of course, that's how one gets texted selfies with armor at one in the morning.
Maybe with Stoner and Doggo, it's just easier to put on pants and go with them.


So now it's day, and you're not supposed to have mysteries during the day - that's the law - but they're going to the museum to talk to someone.
Scary, one-note piano music!
They talk to some dude who looks like a human-mole hybrid.
There's no closed-captioning on this player, so I have to guess at the dude's name. Wriggles? Rickles? Wickles? Pickles? Wiggles?


No? Okay.
Anyway, they've brought the armor in, which I guess is nice, but a little weird. Like, how did they pack it out of the woods? Did they steal the truck and drive it to the museum? If you were the curator of a museum and something of yours was lost, and some rando teens and a talking dog found it, would you be pleased that they had man-handled something that was possibly priceless?
But Mr Pickles is not concerned about that.
Nope. He's worried because the armor comes alive at the full moon. And now Professor Hyde White is missing.


"The moon was full last night!" says Stoner.
"Why did the professor have the armor?" asks Smart Girl.
"He was delivering it to the museum, all the way from England," replies Mr Wriggles.
Doggo gulps dramatically, and the laugh track gets set off.
...whut?
Firstly Smart Girl, the paper that Hot Girl found was self-explanatory. It should have been really obvious that the British dude was delivering the armor to the museum.
Secondly, why the hell is Doggo reacting to the fact that British dude came from, you know, Great Britain? Is he afraid of the Commonwealth or something?
Thirdly, who the fuck was that armor supposed to fit? Yao Ming?
Mr Tickles tells some worker guys to take the armor into the Medieval Room, Doggo follows them and finds a pair of strange glasses on another exhibit. Not knowing what they are or why they might be in the museum, he steals them.


So these kids have a Krieger van, and like all good Krieger vans, it has a name:


What I can't figure out is why A) the van only seems to have the one bench seat, and B) why they've all squeezed onto it. It's a van. There's plenty of room, and you can't convince me that Doggo is large enough to take up all that space in the back. You can sit there. You have a Great Dane, not Clifford.
I guess they're sitting like that, with Smart Girl sitting on the laps of Hot Girl and Stoner, because there's a panel of some kind blocking the back from the front?



They're talking about the mysterious mystery, and Stoner says he's hungry, which prompts Doggo to pop up behind the girls. How is there room for him back there? Were the girls pressed against the dashboard?



"What's Doggo wearing?" asks Hot Girl.
"Some kind of crazy-ass glasses," replies Smart Girl.
"What kind of far out shit can you see with those?" asks Stoner.
"One way to find out," Neckerchief says.



Um, okay. That's another way too, I guess.
Smart Girl reads from the encyclopedia, telling everyone that the glasses are specially-made for jewelers and archaeologists, and come from England.
"England? Archaeology?"
They all look straight into the camera like they're Jim from The freaking Office, and yell "Professor Hyde White!"
And then they all get kicked out for fucking yelling in a library.
Naw, that's just what should have happened.
Dad Joke: "There's something fishy going on in that museum, and tonight, we're going fishing," announces Neckerchief.


Because it's night again, the mystery is mysterious again.
They show up at the museum, and Neckerchief tries the back door, which is cleverly labeled as "museum rear entrance."
"It's locked up tighter than a drum!" he complains, pushing on the door.
No shit, Sherlock. It's locked because it's a business. It's after hours. The museum is filled with priceless artifacts. They don't want teenage dirtbags dicking around inside without supervision. Pick one.


Sadly, this means that Neckerchief will have to find another way to commit a misdemeanor.
He will need an accomplice. He directs Stoner to climb through a tiny-ass window on like, the third story of the building.
"Why the hell do I have to do it?" demands Stoner, asking himself if he actually likes Neckerchief enough to get arrested for him.
"Because you're the skinniest one," replies Neckerchief, pulling an impossibly long ladder out of the back of the van.
Based on this flimsy logic ("I broke into the museum because I have a very fast metabolism"), Stoner sets up the ladder. It is too short.
"If we don't get in, we can't solve the mystery," reasons Neckerchief.
The proper reply to that is, "Who the fuck cares?" But alas, they seem to want the answer, so everyone is willing to risk Stoner's safety and clean criminal record to find out.

cw: fucking stupid-ass plan.

"You start climbing," Neckerchief tells Stoner. "And I'll get the car jack out of the van, and start jacking up the ladder."
SAY FUCKING WHAT?



Stoner wonders if he is stoned enough to think this is a good idea.
The answer is no.
Never, in the history of Ever, has any person ever been stoned enough to think that was a good idea.
Stoner might want to consider if Neckerchief wants him dead for some reason.
Yet he does it.


Professionally trained acrobats wouldn't do this shit.


Pretty sure, right now Hot Girl is remarking to Smart Girl, "Fuck this guy. Worst plan ever."
Naw, she didn't say that. But she should have.
And Smart Girl says, "Um, still didn't reach the window."
But then Hot Girl reassures Smart Girl that Stoner is "the swingingest gymnast in school."
Dude, he's like five feet shy of the bottom of the window. But this is a cartoon, so somehow, Stoner is able to leap from his perch on the precarious ladder-on-a-car-jack, and fly through the tiny window at the top of the building.


My question here is, why the holy hell does a museum have tiny open windows at the top of their building? Windows that are not closeable. Windows that could let in wind, rain, snow, or fucking reckless teenagers. Into a building that probably has artifacts that need to be humidity and moisture protected. Who designed this dumbass building?
Stoner also didn't fall into some kind of attic. The building is open to the top, which means that he just dove head-first through the window and fell three stories. To a laugh track.
Smart Girl: "At least we know he's inside."


Yes, he's inside. Multiple artifacts broke his fall. Miraculously, he gets up unharmed and walks around. He passes a statue, whose eyes follow him.
Confused, hesitant laugh track...?


Stoner lets in the friends that allowed him to possibly fall three stories to his death, and because it is late at night in an empty museum, Neckerchief decides to break up the group.
He tells Stoner and Smart Girl to go in one direction, while heading off to make out with Hot Girl in the Krieger van. He makes Doggo stand guard.
"Ruck rou," replies Dooggo in his distinctive speech impediment.
But then he agrees to do it for snacks. He sets upon the snacks like a guy on Atkins being given a bagel.


There's an extended scene of Doggo on guard duty, but then he literally becomes afraid of his own shadow, and he runs straight for Stoner and Smart Girl.
We hop over to Neckerchief and Hot Girl for a hot second, and some disembodied hand closes a sarcophagus from the inside.
Meanwhile, Stoner is walking by a window and sees the moon outside. He pulls down the window shade, because for some reason, there's a window shade.
"Why did you do that?" asks Smart Girl.
"Because it's a full moon, and you know that the Black Knight comes alive at the full moon," he replies.
Smart Girl should have educated the audience by saying, "The full moon is technically only full during that moment when the moon is directly between the Earth and the sun, so it's really only full for one night, even thought it looks full for closer to three," but she doesn't. She doesn't even point out that, in legend, werewolves are only in their lycanthropic form for one night a month. She also does not point out that, based on the fact that the Black Knight was supposedly alive last night, he wouldn't be "alive" for another month. Nope, she instead tells him that that's superstitious nonsense. I guess that works, too.
So now we've reached a moment where there needs to be a commercial break, but it's too soon for a reveal, so they have to make up some reason for there to be drama.
So what do they do?
They have Smart Girl and Doggo peer around a doorframe into a another room, while Stoner just keeps walking by behind them. Smart Girl and Doggo walk fully into the room, and Smart Girl announces that they've lost Stoner.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Is this the crappy animation, or the crappy player?

Smart and Doggo are walking around in the Medieval Room, looking for Stoner, instead of backtracking to the last place they saw him. Doggo indicates that he is afraid by chattering his teeth. Smart Girl scolds him for being too loud. When he can't control it, she ties his fucking muzzle with a random piece of cloth she just produced from... somewhere. 
Bitch, that is animal abuse.
Cue the laugh track!


Smart Girl and Doggo tiptoe through the Medieval Room, and apparently, the Black Knight is also unaware of moon phases, because he starts to follow them. I guess the windows in the museum that are not covered by shades are letting in enough moonlight to cast shadows because the Black Knight casts a shadow over Doggo. Instead of thinking the most obvious thought - that he is about to be eaten by vashta nerada - Doggo turns and sees the Black Knight.



Doggo tries to get Smart Girl's attention by tapping her on the back. He can't just say something, because she bound his mouth. When she doesn't respond to the tapping, he runs in place, and knocks her over.
Doggo has declared every dog for himself.




Unfortunately, when Doggo knocked over Smart Girl, he also knocked her glasses off. She bitches about Doggo's clumsiness as she pats the ground, looking for her eyes. However, this works to everyone's advantage, as the astronomically-challenged knight trips over her and goes flying.
Crash!
Laugh track!


Some stocks nearby, which were miraculously open, close on top of the knight, who has miraculously fallen into them in the correct position. When they close on him, they then miraculously lock into place, trapping him.


A near-sighted Smart Girl mistakes the growling knight for a cold-beset Stoner, and for some reason, she has cough meds on her?



Stoner comes running into the room and essentially runs right into the spoon full of cough meds. Interestingly, in the next shot, Smart Girl is wearing her glasses again, and fails to notice both the knight in the stockade and the fact that Stoner came running at her from the opposite side of the room, instead of standing right in front of her.


Stoner, realizing that the Black Knight is there in the stockade, runs in place for a few seconds, before grabbing Smart Girl and high-tailing it from the room. Doggo peeks out from his urn and also sees the knight in the stockade, and runs.

Canned laughter! Commercial break!

Doggo, now without his muzzle, goes into a dinosaur exhibit. He's a dog, so of course he's thinking about the fact that he now has access to a ton of bones. (It's a literal ton. They're dinosaurs.)  You know how this gag will go. It goes the same way any time someone enters a room full of dinosaur bones in a comedy.



So now Doggo is in the middle of a giant pile of bones, and the Black Knight is revealed to be nearby, so Doggo tosses the bones in the air, which miraculously reform into the completed dinosaur skeleton on the platform. *sigh* Was this gag tired in 1969 as well? Sooo much laugh track.

Stoner is in the next room, telling Smart Girl, Hot Girl, and Neckerchief about how he thinks that the Black Knight is wandering around the museum. Smart Girl says they need some clues.
Doggo comes flying into the room and knocks Stoner back a few feet.
"What the hell?" demands Stoner.
Then he notices that there's a painting missing from the wall.
"It's a clue!" he says.


They run to get the others, but let's not forget that the others are standing just off-camera.
No, now they're standing quite a ways away, because Stoner and Doggo have to lead them back to where the painting is missing. But now there's a painting there.
They accuse him of being stoned.
Naw, but they should have.
Hot Girl notices something red on the floor and asks "Is that... blood?" in a bit of really terrible voice acting. Her voice is cheery and chipper, but she was supposed to sound hesitant or afraid, so... it was cheery, chipper, and with a long, awkward pause.
Anyway, they follow the conveniently-placed trail of red paint back to that mysterious sarcophagus that the disembodied hand closed earlier,
"Open the scary door, Stoner," declares Neckerchief.
"Fuck you," replies Stoner. "Why do I have to do all the shit jobs?"
So Neckerchief ends up doing this one, and of course there's a secret room behind the sarcophagus.
It's a room to make counterfeit art.


"I know the answer to the mystery," says Neckerchief, "but I'm not going to tell any of you, because I'm a giant d-bag."
He says there's no time to explain, but there's totally time. Just once, instead of milking a story for tension, I'd like a mystery to go "find a clue, explain to your friends and audience what it could be" rather than "find a clue, announce that you know the connection, insist that you can't tell them now." That shit gets old. At least Sherlock usually got caught up in some action that prevented his explaining, so you were distracted for a moment.
Oh, wait. They're going to try for some action here.
Hot Girl says, "Let's get the police! We can go out the back door!"
But when the door opens, guess who it is?
That's right, it's the Black Knight who was locked in the stockade until no one noticed, and he managed to escape.


This would be a good time for a plot twist where Hot Girl announces that she was in on it the whole time, and that she's in cahoots with the Black Knight because Neckerchief doesn't reciprocate, but that's not what happens.
Stoner makes a weak joke, Doggo looks afraid, and there's some half-hearted laugh track.

Commercial break!

When we come back, there are a handful of awful art-related gags, and the knight gives chase.
Chase gags.
Laugh track.
Physical impossibilities for cheap laughs.
More laugh tracks.
Neckerchief and the girls hide in a tank in a military machines room. Doggo and Stoner hide in a biplane. Stoner throws his voice to get the knight to leave the room, and when it works, Doggo laughs. His prehensile cat tail turns on the biplane, but you probably saw that coming.


This, of course, goes about as well as you'd expect. The plane goes through a door that's too small, which shaves most of the wings off. They chase the knight into a long exhibition hall, but find themselves flying at the wall opposite, so Doggo does a flip-turn, and they fly the length of the hall upside-down. 



Lots of laugh tracks.
Eventually, they crash the damn thing, taking down the knight in the process.
Doggo hops out and pulls the helmet off.
"Just as we thought!" declares Neckerchief. "It was the curator, Mr Trickles!"


Yes, Neckerchief. Plenty of time to say it now.
Also, are they shitting me?
That tiny mole man was operating that huge suit of armor? On what planet?


The cops come, and thank the teens who broke into the museum and then destroyed a bunch of priceless artifacts. The cops are pretty impressed by the kids, and say they never would have figured out that it was Mr Wrinkles. Neckerchief. Hot Girl and Smart Girl exposit how the curator and his gang (why is everyone on this show in a gang?) were replacing museum pieces with fakes they made in the back. They had to get rid of the British professor, because he was the only one who could tell they were fakes.
Oops. Never found the professor.
Doggo comes running in with a shoe he found on that statue with the moving eyes. When the cops remove the sheet on the statue and the mask, guess who they find?


Later, the kids go back to some office to talk to the professor.
The last piece of the puzzle is that Mr Dickles went down to the train station and got into the box that contained the armor, then climbed inside, attacked the professor and tied him up.
Just so we're clear: while at the train station, the armor was conveniently out of Hyde White's eyesight long enough for someone to climb in what was probably a sealed box. It also had to be out of the way of everyone else, because someone would have said something to the guy who is sneaking into a box at the train station, right? Then he had to get into a suit of metal without making any noise, a suit of metal that has proven to not be stealthy or quiet or easy to move in...
Fuck it. It's bullshit. "Could only happen in a cartoon" type material.


There's some clanking and moaning behind them and they turn to see the armor sitting behind the desk. And even though they just finished talking about how the armor isn't haunted, ect, they all kind of gasp and go, "OH, noes! Black Knight!"
But the much-shorter knight stumbles from behind the desk, and it's Doggo.
Cue character laughter, and also laugh track.




Okay, let's be frank here: this is my first, last and only post of Scooby Don't. There's no need, as every episode is exactly the same. Well, alright, there were two differences I noticed between this episode and every other episode of this show, and probably only because it was the first. Both have to do with recurring phrases. The first one is when they're hauling Mr Wickham away, he doesn't spout off the typical "...and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" That must come later. And the second is that Smart Girl, when making an important discovery, didn't use her catch-phrase, preventing me from writing it as "Jenkies, motherfuckers!" A disappointment, to be sure.
Now, there's nothing wrong with a show that presents the same episode over and over again, with little difference. There are some shows out there that I enjoy that are exactly that: highly formulaic, with the same set of characters in the same kinds of situations, and plenty of catch-phrases. These can be very comforting when you just need stability... or something safe to plunk your kids down in front of when you need like, 22 minutes to yourself. But there are two things you should never do with a repetitious show - write a weekly review blog about them, or marathon them. They become incredibly tedious, and before long, that show you thought you liked blends into one big blob of "Ruh-roh, Raggy!" and nobody wants that.

Fun Facts:

- Doggo was originally named Too Much, and the writers couldn't decide if they wanted Too Much to be a big dog or a little one. When they decided on a big dog, they almost went with sheepdog over Great Dane.
- The original voice actor for Hot Girl was Stefanianna Christopherson, but she quit after the first season to get married....I'm so glad it's no longer 1969, and women leave promising careers "to get married."
- The replacement voice actor for Hot Girl was Heather North, who was the roommate of Nicole Jaffe. Jaffe voiced Smart Girl.
-Stoner is voiced by radio DJ Casey Kasem.
-This show began the long voice acting career of Frank Welkes, who voices Neckerchief.
-Doggo's speech impediment is called Rhotic Replacement, and only two people in the world have it: Doggo and Astro from The Jetsons. Both were voiced by Don Messick.
- This show came about because concerned parent groups in the late sixties were upset that so many of the superhero cartoons of the day were filled with violence. Together, the parent watchdog groups and  producers came u with this show.
-Originally, the Mystery, Inc gang were supposed to be a band (maybe accounting for the van?), much like The Archies from The Archie Show.
- The human characters from this show are based heavily on the main characters from The Dobie Gillis Show.
- The movie that Stoner and Doggo saw twice at Doggo's insistence was called "Star: Dog Ranger of the North Woods." In a DC comic of the series that takes place ten years after this episode, they finally see the sequel, "Return of the Star Dog."

Times Doggo gets a dog treat: 2
Times Stoner says his catch-phrase "zoinks": 4
Terrible Dad Jokes: 2
Number of teenagers that committed a misdemeanor: 4
Number of teenagers charged with said misdemeanor: 0





2 comments:

  1. Even your April Fool alternate-history blogs are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  2. back in those days you could get away with anything if you were a teen, had a van and a talking dog

    ReplyDelete