A look back on the 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo

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The 7th Scooby-Doo incarnation, was the final incarnation of the first run of the original 1969-1985 broadcast (from here the incarnations would start to go for a more modern edge with all sorts of up-to-date technology). Much like Mystery Incorporated 25 years later, the show had a continuous plotline that established itself from the beginning and continued to the end (although it didn’t have the same depth or character development): Shaggy and Scooby are tricked by a pair of ghosts into opening the Chest of Demons which contains 13 powerful ghosts and demons. The ghosts can only be returned to the chest by the ones who freed them. Thus Shaggy and Scooby, with the help of Daphne, Scrappy-Doo, a con artist named Flim-Flam, and a warlock named Vincent Van Ghoul (the latter two who were stand-ins for Fred and Velma) set out to go to find the ghosts. The show was the last incarnation to feature Scrappy-Doo (who has gained a great deal of notoriety among fans) and is the shortest running series in the franchise. However, with a follow-up film involving the 13th ghost, who never appeared in the show’s run coming out this year, I thought it best to look back on the show.

Flim Flam is basically the kid sidekick designed by the creators for the younger audience to relate to. Sadly this is one of the show’s lower points as the characters we know and love, Shaggy, Scooby, and Daphne are relegated to being mere background characters to give this character more screen time and it often gets very distracting.

While Scrappy-Doo saved the franchise from extinction, he was beginning to wear out his welcome by this point. Like Flim Flam, he is given a great deal of screen time where Shaggy, Scooby, and Daphne are often relegated to the background. With Fred and Velma being absent for the majority of this series, neither Scrappy nor Flim Flam fill in the void that their predecessors left.

Vincent Price’s voice acting gave a great deal of life into the character of Vincent Van Ghoul in both satirizing and paying homage to himself. In early episodes he’s mostly relegated to complaining about being with the gang on the journey, but gradually grows a heart as the series goes on. The show also has a nice horror-movie reference with him having a friend named Boris Kreepoff (a reference to horror-movie actor Boris Karloff), which ties into his nature as a warlock.

Having the team fight real monsters as opposed to just men in masks was a strong point. An example of this is Daphne being turned into a werewolf in the first episode and the gang has to avoid hurting her or risk her being a werewolf forever. However it comes at the price of the story and tone. The ghosts are mostly played off as comedy. And there isn’t so much mystery and crime solving as much as just finding the whereabouts of the ghosts. With the ghosts free to roam all around, they could have had them attacking a site or something of the sort. Some of the monsters however, have some neat designs such as Time Slime, Rankor, Zomba, etc. Others like Bogel and Weerd are much more comically animated and voiced to fit the tone of the show.

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo is something that has potential with the setup and the monsters. It is quite admirable for the show at the time, to have a continuous storyline. However the execution and its characters left a lot to be desired. With the upcoming movie planning to have all the original gang together with them exploring the mystery of the 13th ghost (as the show was cancelled before the gang caught them all) we can only hope the show manages to follow all the way through.

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