WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover "Scoobynatural," which premiered Thursday on The CW.
"Scoobynatural" begins, as all good -- if somewhat-unlikely -- crossover episodes should, with a haunted television. What follows is gimmicky, of course, but it's also a warm-and-fuzzy reminder of why fans love both Supernatural and Scooby-Doo.
There's precedence, on both sides, for such a scenario, from the early-1970s New Scooby-Doo Movies to such Supernatural episodes as "Changing Channels," in which Sam and Dean Winchester are trapped in a succession of TV shows, and "The French Mistake," in which they're sent to an alternate universe where they're actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles on a series called Supernatural. But while "Scoobynatural" blazes new territory as the first animated episode of the long-running CW drama, its real accomplishment is blending two disparate properties with a surprising amount of heart, and respect.
It would've been easy for the Winchesters to arrive in a classic episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1970's "A Night of Fright Is No Delight," to be precise), and immediately wreak havoc. Instead, Dean reveals his childhood love for the characters -- well, except for Fred -- and in the process exposes another sad chapter in their upbringing. "Growing up on the road, no matter where Dad dragged us, no matter what we did, there was always a TV," he tells Sam. "And you know what was always on that TV? Scooby and the gang! These guys, they're our freaking role models, man. Except Fred; he's a wad."
That love leads Dean to be protective of the characters, and respectful of the laws of their cartoon world, to the point that he, Sam and Castiel are actually swept up in a classic Freleng Door Gag (aka Scooby-Doo Doors) and other animated tropes. But this being Supernatural, and not Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, the inescapable horribleness of the Winchesters' lives begins to intrude, resulting in some hilarious, disturbing and poignant moments. Here are the highlights.
Dean's Hatred For Fred
Admit it, deep down, we all hate Fred, although perhaps not as much as Dean Winchester does. Fred is a wad, after all. "He thinks he's so cool," Dean explains to his brother Sam. "His perfect hair, his can-do attitude, his stupid ascot."
It's certainly a compelling argument, but by the end of "Scoobynatural" Dean has gained a begrudging respect for Fred, who's maybe "not so bad." Heck, he even adopts Fred's signature fashion accessory when he returns to the live-action world of Supernatural: a stupid ascot. It's downright fetching.
Unrequited Love (or Maybe Lust)
Dean being Dean, he sets his sights on Daphne Blake from the moment he recognizes that he and Sam have been transported to the world of Scooby-Doo. While certainly in keeping with his character, his dogged pursuit is nevertheless creepy because he's aware that they're cartoons while Daphne most certainly is not. However, Dean's remarks about Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! being among the few constants in a tumultuous childhood places his interests in another, somewhat more wholesome context: It's likely Daphne was an early boyhood crush.
Unfortunately for Dean, Daphne is also consistent, remaining oblivious to his intentions -- and impervious to his "charms" -- while signaling her own interests in Fred. The same can't be said for Velma, who can't seem to stop making observations about the broad shoulders of that big lug Sam, even as she scoffs at his suggestion the supernatural is real. In the end, it's Velma who acts on her feelings, to Sam's discomfort and Dean's chagrin.