Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Own Personal Mystery Machine

I think the Scooby-Doo gang got it all wrong.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I love me some Scooby-Doo. But from a straight-up mystery-solving perspective, they were up the creek from the get go.

First things first. Why the hell is the name of their program “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”? I don’t think the grand, overriding mystery of the series was trying to locate Scooby Doo. First off, he was a Great Dane. Has anyone ever seen a Great Dane? They are bigger than most buses. It’s not like he’s hiding under the couch cushions. And we all know where he is at, anyway. He’s doing what most dogs would do in his situation: hang out with Shaggy, smoke pot, and beg for snacks. This ain’t a mystery that needs to be solved.

But what is a mystery is why there is an exclamation point in the title. I’m not sure if Hanna was pissfaced drunk or Barbara joined some punctuation-sensitive cult, but that’s a question, not an excited declaration.  Even if it was something to be shouted, it should be properly both a question mark and an exclamation point. Velma may look like a nerdy librarian, but she was shit as a proofreader.

Enough meta discussion, though. I’m not sure how their mystery-solving gang operated. Did they even take cash? I don’t recall they ever did, and the Mystery Machine wasn’t using hopes and dreams as fuel.  Did they advertise? Craigslist wasn’t around back then. Was that Daphne's job? To find old rich men who made up mysteries for them to solve? It wouldn't surprise me.

Now let’s take a look of who was in charge. Why the hell was Fred there? He didn’t know anything except how not to get barbeque sauce on his nice white sweater. All he did was be recklessly aggressive in his sleuthing skills and getting everyone in much more trouble than they should have. He was really only good for two things. First, he was probably the only one who would be able to get Shaggy off his lazy ass to do anything. And secondly, there was always a good chance that one of the fake ghosts would take one long look at Fred’s smug ascot-adorned face and punch him right in the nose, immediately blowing his cover and saving everyone a half hour of running through doorways that have impossibly random exits.

And how about Daphne? All he had going for her was the rarity of natural redheads in the late 60’s. She never offered any useful insights except how to sneak away from that nerd and the stoner and that horse of a dog so that her and Fred could go to third base without getting interrupted by boner-killing shouts of “G-g-g-g-ghosts!” The only apparition that Daphne should be worried about would be the thin Fred-shaped line of dust that will appear as he heads out the door the second he hears that she’s knocked up.

Don’t get me started on Shaggy. Lazy slacker who contributes nothing? Sure, he takes care of Scooby-Doo and I’m sure was everyone’s supplier (surely you’ve figured out by now that Velma pretended to have glaucoma by being blind without her glasses, right?), but he also make many two-minute mysteries into days-long adventures in dry incompetence.

Why did they bring Scooby along? No, seriously, why? Dogs are great, but mystery-solving isn’t really something you’re going to see at the top of too many canine resumes. My dogs can barely crack the Case Of Where Did That Ball Go or the Mystery Of Why You Shouldn’t Eat Your Own Poop, let alone figure out the identity of the Miner 49er. I guess his snoot might be useful in some context, but there were waaaay too many random ham dinners and apple-pies-on-windowsills in Scoobyland for this to be particularly effective. 

Which brings us to Velma. Velma’s about the only one who gave two shits about solving mysteries. I don’t know if she was getting paid in Indigo Girls albums and vegan cupcakes on the side or something, but she was a pro. She’d always have some book to crack open or some nugget of arcane knowledge that perfect fit like a puzzle piece to solve the whole thing. Personally, I think she took an interest in solving the mysteries because she just wanted the night to the over, and she only hung out with them because if she wasn’t there they’d all be in jail with a DUI every night.

So, I can hear you say, what would you do, smarty-pants?

Well, if I had to gather a small ragtag group of professionals to go around solving mysteries (a profession I would love getting into, mind you—think of the Fuelperks alone!), I’d have to go with:
  • My wife’s about three-quarters Velma anyway, so we’ll go with her. I’d actually consider her to be Velma 2.0: better hair, better eyesight, better fashion sense, and waaay bigger boobs.
  • Instead of douchebag Fred…well, the boring answer is me, but I am using executive privilege and state that I am an extra sixth member. So instead, I am putting my money on John Hodgman—that’s right, the guy who played PC in those commercials but, more importantly, is a well-regarded judge and purveyor of arcane knowledge. Now, our little group might need a bruiser, and while I certainly can’t do it, I suspect that John could more than hold his own, having grown up in the mean streets of Brookline, Massachusetts.
  • We will need another lady to balance things out, but preferably one who isn’t going to be a total waste of space and actually have some critical thinking skills. I am going to go with Amy Poehler on this one. I was going to go with Tina Fey, but I’d rather not have the whole van smell like Greek food all the time. Also possible backup: Marilyn vos Savant, if she can keep up.
  • We don’t need a scuzzy distributor, but we still need a wild card. If Charlie Kelly isn’t available, I’ll gladly go with the Shamwow guy, Vince Offer. Yeah, I’d want to punch him in the face most of the time and there is zero chance he’ll shut the hell up when he needs to, but he’s good with gadgets and if we need to beat up any hookers, we got ourselves a ringer.
And, of course, I’d still bring my dogs. They’re horrible at solving mysteries and Dexter in particular doesn’t care for riding in cars, but if I have to spend hours on end with these people, I’d rather have them with me to keep me sane. Maybe I was a little too harsh on ol’ Shags after all.

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