Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Recap/Review: Scooby-Doo, Mystery Incorporated; "Heart of Evil"

First things first: Thank you all for helping the NewtCave reach 2,000 hits! I hope you'll all be here for 2,000 more!  As is now apparently customary, here's a bonus post to celebrate!

Storytime! I wasn’t planning on being home Saturday, but it turned out to be the case. With nothing planned for the day at that point, I turned on the TV. Nothing was on, so I turned it to Cartoon Network, and decided to watch the Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated reboot, because I’d heard good things about it. I came in at, like, Chapter 36, but I managed to follow the plot reasonably well, and I’m quite impressed with what they’ve done with the material.

So, I’m recapping the second episode that I ever saw… which is actually the fortieth episode of the show. So… looks like I’ll have to summarize a bit, if you’re not familiar with the rebooted show.

1. The team lives in Crystal Cove, a place world famous for its monsters and hauntings.
2. After debunking some hauntings (perpetrated by townsfolk to draw tourists), they uncover a conspiracy.
3. One of their on-and-off enemies goes by “Mr. E,” and owns a local company, Destroido Corp.
4. There’s an ancient MacGuffin that the bad guys want that the gang’s now in possession of.
5. Fred (who, in this continuity, has an obsession with traps, and is also on the run from his parents for various legitimate reasons) and Daphne broke up, but still have feelings for each other.

Don’t worry if you didn’t follow most of that, this is a stand-alone episode, with only token references to the ongoing plot. And with that, let’s recap Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, Chapter 40: “Heart of Evil.”

 Also, apparently, Harlan Ellison (voiced by himself) works at Miskatonic University in this continuity.  No, seriously.
There’s a “Previously On…” segment, but I’ll skip that, because it’s not important to this recap.
The episode proper opens on….

A shot of Quest Research Labs with the caption “FIVE YEARS AGO.”  Huh, that’s a nifty little reference to one of Hanna-Barbera’s other shows, The Adventures of Jonny Quest. We see a security guard making the rounds with his dog, Reggie, and we learn that he wants to be more than a rent-a-cop who like ornithology, because he comes right out and says so.

Guard: "I know I’m meant to be more than a simple security guard with a keen interest in birds; Radley Crowne was made for greater challenges! If only destiny would step in…."

Radley Crowne…. Why do I know that name? Suddenly, there’s an explosion, and Radley runs to investigate with a cry of “Great Heron!” What is he, Birdman in disguise or something? Anyway, Radley jumps into the hole made in the building, and sees a giant demon-robot attacking the lab. He fires his gun, but the bullets bounce off. The robo-demon makes its way towards him, and picks him up. Reggie, the dog, responds by jumping on its back and biting into it, zapping the robot and Reggie, and forcing the robot to drop Radley. As the robot gets ready to attack again, it’s suddenly hit and knocked outside by a rocket, fired by…. OMG.

It’s Race Bannon!  From Jonny Quest! Then, he’s joined by Dr. Quest himself! I… I can’t explain in words how awesome this is. They engage in some 60’s style dialogue and note that the “demonic dragon” seems to be gone… for now.

Meanwhile, Radley’s on the ground, urging Reggie to get up.  Ooh, it looks like the dog’s badly hurt after helping stop the robot. Radley begs Dr. Quest for help, and the doctor name drops his dog from the old cartoon, Bandit, and offers to do what he can.

Dr. Quest: “Race! Ready the Quest Lab! This dog isn’t dying on my watch!”

Pure, unadulterated awesome for any fan of the old Ruby-Spears cartoons. And, if you can believe it, it doesn’t stop there. After this, the intro plays, and I have to say, it’s awesome. The music’s vibrant and catchy, and the individual character shots set the stage for their personalities very well. After the theme, we’re back in the present day, where Fred’s setting up home in the woods.  Daphne’s not impressed.

Daphne: “Jeepers, Fred, you’re living in a van down by the river!”
Fred: And loving it!”

They quickly bring Fred over to city hall, and he’s ecstatic just to see electric lights again. Velma called them all down to the hall because Velma found a way to read what’s on the MacGuffin. After some SCIENCE, it spits out the word “Nibiru,” the arc-word for the series. It also means “doomsday.”

Forget doomsday, though, there’s a noise in the records room! They enter the dark room with a flashlight, and they find the caretaker on the floor with a reel of magnetic tape in his arms. Fred deduces that he’s passed out from exhaustion after trying to load up a reel-to-reel hi-fi stereo.  elma points out that it’s actually an old computer, and he was probably knocked out. They soon see the culprit, the demon-robot from the beginning!

It roars at them, but suddenly, bombs fall from the sky and detonate, knocking everyone back. As the camera pans up, we see a man in blue looking down from a hole in the roof. Looking through the smoke…

Velma: “Jinkies!”
Fred: “I can’t believe it!  It’s…”

Shaggy: “Blue Falcon!”
Scooby: “And Dyno-Mutt, Dog Wonder!”

And it is. It’s really them. 
I love Blue Falcon! Of all the Hanna-Barbera/Ruby-Spears heroes (there were a lot; Blue Falcon, Birdman, Frankenstein Jr., Captain Caveman, Space Ghost, The Impossibles, The Robonic Stooges, and more), he was always my favorite! I can’t wait to see him in action! 
Blue Falcon jumps down and growls in a half-Dark-Knight-Batman, half-Clint Eastwood voice,

BF: “Better think twice, dirtbag….  If you have nerve endings and pain centers like any other perp….”

He seems a little… gruff.

BF: “Let’s make this dragon scream.”
Dyno-Mutt: “Whatever you say, BF!”

The hero we deserve and the one we need.
A fight scene ensues as the robot breathes laser at them, and the gang rushes for cover. Falcon and Dyno-Mutt dodge, and Falcon throws a set of bolas at the robot. Being a robot, it breaks its bonds, and lasers again. This time, it’s stopped by Dyno-Mutt’s shield, so that Falcon can jump up and throw more bombs.

Velma: "Hmmm… I can’t say I fully endorse the concept of a masked vigilante."
Fred: "Velma! He’s a super hero with a belt full of traps!"

Wow, this is probably the best day in Fred’s life since he won a Chinese finger-trap at the fair. The fight continues as Dyno-Mutt launches glue, sticking the robot to the floor. Unable to walk, the robot fires a pair of missiles at the gang, which Falcon proceeds to CATCH IN MIDAIR AND THROW RIGHT BACK. And that was the moment I knew I had to recap this. After more AWESOME fighting, the robot deactivates for a moment, then flies off. With the robot gone, the Blue Falcon turns towards the Scooby Gang.

BF: “Don’t even breathe. There are 17 methods to incapacitate you. AND ALL OF THEM HURT.”
Fred: “We’re not bad guys, Mr. Falcon! We’re Mystery Incorporated!”
BF: “Corporate greed is another symptom of a society rotting from the inside out.”

That was when I got it; Blue Falcon’s a parody of Frank Miller’s overly-dark The Dark Knight Returns.
but that’s…  
Scooby-Doo using the Blue Falcon to parody Frank Miller?! I am so on board with this!

"I'm the G*****N BLUE FALCON!"
Scooby and Dyno-Mutt seem to really hit it off, and Daphne asks Falcon why he’s come to their town, and Falcon reveals that they’ve been tracking down that robot to follow it to its “evil master.” Velma steps in, saying that Crystal Cove’s their turf, and that wow Velma’s skirt’s really short. Um, she tells Falcon that if he wants to operate here, they’re tagging along. Falcon growls at this, but Dyno-Mutt sniffs them out, and gives them his seal of approval.

BF: “Very well... but you should know that should I need to sacrifice any of you to get my prey… I’ll gladly do it."
DM: “(giggles) Oh, BF! Heh-heh-heh-he’s not kidding, either.”

And with that, we cut to commercial, and return with everyone at Fred’s van. Scooby and Dyno-Mutt chew the fat, and Daphne remarks on how filthy Fred’s ascots are. He explains that LIVING ON THE EDGE means he has to give up some things.

Daphne:  "A person can’t live like this! What’s going to happen if someone you care about… but who’s still on the fence about you, wants to… I don’t know, visit? By herself?"
Fred: "Well.. uh, I suppose I could move the shark cage out of the back seat to make room, but the lizard hammock stays; I’m firm on that."

Daphne walks off, obviously not understanding the importance of lizard hammocks. Meanwhile, Velma’s impressing  Blue Falcon with her 1337 haxxor skillz, and impressing me with the bows in her hair that keep disappearing between shots. She hacks into the town's financial records, and it turns out that the dragon had been looking at the files for Quest Industries, which had been bought out by Destroido Corp. Isn’t that always the way, DC buying out other businesses? ….wait, was that intentional by the showrunners? Nice jab at DC, if so.

They head to the corporation, and Falcon and Dyno-Mutt B&E, beating up dozen of guards. The fight scene is very visually impressive. It’s honestly better than anything from Avengers Assemble, and most of what Ultimate Spider-Man has to offer. Really, it’s fast-paced, you can see all the action, it’s funny at points, and the choreography’s some of the best I’ve ever seen in a TV show, animated or not.

The gang walks in, and Velma asks what all that was about. The CEO, Mr. E, walks in and wonders the same thing, asking why he didn’t just make an appointment. Mr. E is voiced by Lewis Black, for some reason. They inform him about the robo-dragon, and he only offers info in exchange for the MacGuffin. No deal, and Blue Falcon grabs him by the neck and orders Dyno-Mutt to get out the dentistry tools. Wow, even Nolan’s Batman wasn’t this hardcore!

Before anything happens, a nearby computer screen shows a dragon-shaped blip. Blue Falcon authorizes the use of deadly force for Dyno-Mutt (oh my GOD) and they all run off, save for Velma, who “Hmmm”s at the computer screen. She’s probably noticing the heat signature coming from the robot. Looks like there’s a person inside!

They run into the dragon, and Daphne deduces that is must be absorbing information from the computer, and the other characters find her accuracy as weird as I do. A fight breaks out, and the dragon turns off for a second, before a voice orders it to continue absorbing info from the computer. Falcon recognizes the voice as his nemesis, Dr. Zin, an old Jonny Quest villain. Zin taunts Falcon, saying that he’s discovered where the “Quest-X Power Source” is! It’s powering Dyno-Mutt! Zin orders the robot to grab Blue Falcon the dog and return to base, so the robot grabs Falcon and Scooby-Doo, and flies away.

After we come back from commercial, we cut to Zin using an “agonizer ray” to torture Blue Falcon, who doesn’t give up any info. They use it on Scooby-Doo, but Blue Falcon still doesn’t budge. Zin notes that this is odd, because Falcon would do anything for his dog… except Scooby’s not his dog. We cut back to Destroido Corp, where Shaggy’s determined to get Scooby back. All Mr. E knows, is that the power source is… somewhere. Dyno-Mutt reveals that there’s a tracking device on Blue Falcon, and tracks him to Volcano Island, which is nearby.

Velma: "Funny, you’d think we’d notice a smoking volcano so close to our town."

Shaggy demands to fly the Falcon-Car there, and they set off. We cut back to Zin’s nicely Dr. No-ish volcano base, and some henchmen spot the Falcon-Car, and blow it up in a Hanna-Barbera-esque shower of sparks. He orders some mooks to find their remains and get the power source, but the gang rushes in the entrance, and Velma explains that wow she’s in a really sexy pose. Um, she explains that Shaggy expertly rolled the flying car over, and saved them all by dumping them in the water at the last moment.

Shaggy:  "Actually, that was totally an accident; I am not a great driver!"

And with that, Shaggy rips off his shirt, revealing camo makeup underneath, and a 70’s fight scene ensues! Daphne offers that Fred move into her house, while they kick in some skulls.

I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure that Fred's kicking that guy in the crotch
After beating up all the henchmen, Shaggy saves Scooby.

Scooby: "New look?"
Shaggy: "I had some makeup left over from military school."

…well, you learn something new everyday. 
After the fight, Zin cries over his deactivated dragon, blaming Dyno-Mutt. Blue Falcon finally tells Dyno-Mutt his origin: he was Reggie, and Falcon was Radley. Dr. Quest rebuilt him with robotic parts, and put the Quest-X Power Source, the most powerful engine on Earth, in his chest to power him.

We can rebuild him.
Velma then reveals that Dyno-Mutt wasn’t the only cyborg created that day, and Zin says that stealing the power source that night was supposed to be a test run for a dragon-battlesuit. His daughter was the test-pilot, and when Reggie attacked, the suit bonded to her, feeding off of her life force. Velma revealed that she figured it out when she saw the heat signature coming off the robot. (Called it!) This whole time, Zin wanted the Quest-X in order to power the suit and separate it from his daughter. Being a nice guy, Dyno-Mutt gives the armor a jumpstart, and it spits out his hot daughter. …well, that was easy.

Zin thanks everyone there, saying that with all is years spent trying to rule the world, he forgot the beauty of a simple act of kindness. Then he sets the self-destruct for the base and jetpacks out with his daughter, in an attempt to kill the heroes, saying the base will explode with the fury of a thousand suns. Oh, great, is the Sentry evil again? They all escape in Dyno-Mutt, who turns into a life raft right before the base explodes.

Looks like we're gonna have to JUUUUUUMP!
Blue Falcon vows revenge, but Shaggy talks him out of it, saying that Zin must not be that bad of a guy if he loves his daughter almost as much as they love their dogs. And with a “group laughing” ending, we come to the end of the episode.

Final Thoughts
I’ve only seen a few episodes of this show, but this one’s my favorite. It’s nice to see that Blue Falcon and Dyno-Mutt haven’t just been filed away like the Herculoids, or the Impossibles, or Frankenstein, Jr, or any of those other shows I used to watch back when Boomerang actually showed classic cartoons like they’re supposed to.

The animation’s top notch, the jokes are almost all hits (you can tell by the sheer amount of quotes in this recap), and the plot is excellent. Even the sound mixing is notable. They use classic cartoon noises when Dyno-Mutt fights, and the super-science all uses 60's sci-fi warbling and whirring. I highly recommend this episode, with the caveat that one might want to watch other episodes to understand a few details. Other than that, I’ve nothing negative to say. This episode was great, and I enjoyed every second of it. Don’t know if I’ll recap or review another episode of this series, but if I do, I’ll see you then!

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