Sometimes, when it seems as if Supernatural is losing steam, it produces an episode with such creativity and boldness that it’s no wonder the show is currently in its thirteenth season. The long-awaited Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover, “Scoobynatural,” is not just a breath of fresh air for the season, but a triumphant chapter in Supernatural’s canon of out-of-the-box episodes.
This isn’t the first time Dean and Sam Winchester have been cartoons, and it’s not even the first time they’ve been sucked into a television show (Dean mentions one other time, but I count two — “Changing Channels” and “The French Mistake,” though the latter was more of a parallel universe). However, this is the first major crossover the show has done. It sounds completely ridiculous to pull off, but it all happens quite naturally. Sam and Dean are fighting a giant dinosaur plushy they believe was a cursed object meant to kill the pawn shop owner. As a reward for their services, the pawn shop owner says they can take whatever they want from the shop for free. Naturally, Dean takes a flat screen TV and he and Sam lug it back to the bunker. Dean sets up a room for it (“Welcome to the Dean Cave”), and before he can properly brag to Sam about his job well done, some weird purple sparks light up the screen, zapping them into a cartoon world. It happens fast, but with Supernatural’s colorful history, it doesn’t need to do a lot for its audience to be on board.
The brothers soon discover they aren’t just in a cartoon, but they’re in an episode of Scooby-Doo. Dean’s ecstatic — being on the road and living in hotel rooms as a kid, Scooby-Doo was always on. It’s a nice little insight to Dean that we haven’t had in a while. Plus, as Dean rightly points out, he and Sam are exactly like the Scooby gang, except they hunt real monsters. Somehow, the Impala made the journey to cartoon-land as well and after parking it next to the Mystery Machine, the brothers meet the Scooby gang. The gang is celebrating Scooby’s newfound fortune after he was made heir to a wealthy man he had once saved. The brothers think it sounds fishy, so they ask the gang if they can come along to the reading of the will. Dean seems to recognize the episode they’re in, and so is comfortable in knowing everything that’s going to happen.
What follows is a pretty typical episode of Scooby-Doo. There’s a creepy old house, a bunch of extra people, a ridiculous chance to win one million dollars, and a haunting that can’t be a haunting according to Velma. There’s even the classic chase scene with the Scooby song! But the biggest feat of the episode is how easily Supernatural and Scooby-Doo co-exist with each other. Sam and Dean mostly drive the narrative, with the Scooby gang often times feeling like an abstract entity (in part because Dean sees them as legendary TV characters, which they are, to him and to us), but they get plenty of screen time. Even though their stories aren’t particularly deep, their journey into discovering real ghosts, and then subsequently undiscovering them, is charming in its simplicity. As Dean says, the Scooby gang is pure and innocent and good. The criminals they catch may just be men in masks, or sleazy real estate guys, but they’re heroes as well. Dean’s pep talk to them was the most uplifting thing I’ve seen on television this week.
There’s also some nice commentary on the nature of cartoons delivered by Sam. Sam seems pretty grouchy for most of the episode, but I think he’s more meant to be the cynical voice of today’s audiences, who like to nitpick every little thing. When Sam reveals he knows Scooby-Doo history, Dean accuses him of actually liking the show, to which Sam smiles and shrugs, proof it’s sometimes better to just sit back and enjoy something.
All of the voice work is phenomenal. Fred is voiced by Frank Welker, who has been voicing Fred for decades. Daphne and Velma are voiced by Grey DeLisle and Kate Micucci respectively, both of whom voice the characters in Scooby-Doo’s current form. Shaggy is voiced by Matthew Lillard, who played the character in the live-action films and has done subsequent voice work in the recent series, while Welker also voices Scooby. Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins do great work as well, all three showing clear enthusiasm for the episode. It’s been a really long time since I’ve avidly watched Scooby-Doo, so I’m sure I missed some huge references, though I’m pretty sure Scrappy-Doo managed to sneak into a scene. But the template was there.
Somehow, Supernatural was able to pull off this ambitious and clever idea and have it work flawlessly. Even the resolution, which could have been handled clumsily, seemed to work. Sam and Dean take care of the ghost, who had been tethered to a knife that a sleazy real estate guy was using to scare businesses into selling (Velma’s always right), while the gang stays relatively pure and good and innocent. There was a moment there when they were all in hysterics. Just a moment, though.
I could have done without Dean hitting on Daphne in every scene, though.
- “Be like Elsa. Let it go.”
- “You guys saved me from an evil plushy. It’s all good.”
- “Maybe it’s the trickster.” “No he’s dead.” “Or is he?” Good god, hello meta.
- “Cas is kind of a talking dog.”
- “How do I look?” “Two-dimensional.”
- “There are no words in this newspaper.”
- “Do they always just walk away from dead bodies?”
- “Wonderful. I once led armies and now I’m paired up with a scruffy philistine and a talking dog.”
- “There are way better real estate scams.”
- “That stupid ascot.”
- As an old guy laughs maniacally: Dean: “Turns out, he’s the bad guy.” Sam: “You don’t say.”