So as you all know, I’m a hard sell. I’m quick to critique. Maybe it’s my innate cynicism, maybe it was too many super pretentious film classes in college, who knows? The fact is there are parts of me that really want to pick apart the tiny flubs in this week’s Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover.
But I can’t.
I want to get into how there’s no way Sam (Jared Padalecki) didn’t know Dean (Jensen Ackles) watched Scooby-Doo or vice versa. That, once again, Sam was relegated to being the dry, dismissive, boring killjoy while Dean gets this shiny new facet to him.
I just can’t.
Because I’m not going to ruin this for myself or anyone else…
The episode was cute. Point blank. It was fun, and it was unique. It was everything that the 200th episode, “Fan Fiction,” or “Baby” should have been. It was also written, for the most part, by the Scooby-Doo writers, not the Supernatural writers, who admittedly are O.G. fans of the show, so I’m hard pressed to fault them for their love letter.
And that’s exactly what it was, a love letter to the show. It was a throwback to Dean’s musings on Daphne from “Playthings,” it was a callback to Dean needing a bigger mouth in “Changing Channels.” It was all of that and more. Was it deep or meaningful? No. Was it flawless? No. The very end was absolutely forced and weird. But what it was a nostalgia ride that I couldn’t help smiling at. I admit, watching the episode early at Paley gave me a buzz, but I’m naturally and unintentionally a little bit aloof and affected, it’s my way. However, the second the chase scene kicked in and we got the Scooby theme I turned to my friend and said, “okay, they got me.”
The Scooby gang having breakdowns over finding out that ghosts and monsters are real, the reveal of Baby’s trunk arsenal, the tradition of Fred’s absurd plans, Dean’s need to keep the Scooby gang unsullied by everything he and Sam have had to deal with; all of it just worked. I’m especially fond of Daphne running in and yelling, “kill it with fire.” That line was the episode winner for me. These moments are ones that will be classics for both Supernatural and Scooby-Doo.
What didn’t work? Honestly? Castiel. It’s unfortunate because on the one hand animated Castiel was the most in character we’ve seen Castiel be in a long time, on the other hand, his presence was unnecessary and awkward. He was superfluous to the story. One has to wonder if he was included simply to sell Hot Topic t-shirts.
Speaking of such, I’m going to inelegantly segue into a bit about attending the Paley Fest earlier this month. Now, I’m no novice when it comes to a convention format. I’ve been going to Creation conventions for a decade, I’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con and ATX Fest, so I have some basis to compare different formats and such. The Supernatural segment of PaleyFest was… well, it was bad, y’all. And I’m not saying this as a member of the press. I’m saying it as a fan. As many of you know, those who attended Paley were treated to an early screening of ScoobyNatural. With zero warning to not spoil or stream. I was stunned. I thought for sure a warning would be issued. However, none was, and all we got was a sarcastic acknowledgment after the fact by the moderator. The episode was available in full on Periscope thanks to a “fan.” Contrast that with the Riverdale panel, where we were allowed to watch a very early screening of the upcoming musical episode. Not only were we politely asked to not spoil it in any way, all the attendees complied. It’s been nearly a week, and I’ve yet to see any details of it floating around on the internet.
Honestly, Supernatural fandom, I’m disappointed in you.
I was also very disappointed in the moderation of the Supernatural panel. Of the three panels I attended (the third was Stranger Things) it was by far the most poorly done. Directing four questions to a series regular before directing any specific questions to the leads and executive producers is bad form. Having those four questions all be about something that happened 13 episodes prior was also bad form. When it was clear that the subject of The Empty was not on the showrunners’ minds, had no plot importance, and when it was clear that Misha Collins himself really didn’t want to continue talking about it because he was being mocked by all? Bad. Form.
The rest of the cast was all but ignored, with one or two throwaway questions lobbed at them. And while I appreciate the fact that being onstage like that is nerve-wracking, I can’t get past the fact that it was overall extremely disappointing to not only watch, but to have paid money for. I’m honestly not entirely sure the moderator (Entertainment Weekly’s Samantha Highfill) has watched most of this season since all her questions focused on the first quarter of the aired season.
Not to be all Debbie Downer, I would like to throw a shout out to Tim Stack of EW who did a magnificent job of moderating the Riverdale panel. He was fair, organized, knowledgeable, and his love for the show really shone through. Wil Wheaton also did a stand-up job moderating the Stranger Things panel, and that is no small feat considering boundaries are not something that fandom seems to be aware of yet.
So overall, was ScoobyNatural a win? Definitely. The premise and extra promotion garnered it a nice ratings bump, unlike previous episodes that received similar promotion. It was fun and infinitely rewatchable. Now the question is, Supernatural, how do you top this one? Guess we’ll find out next season.