Monday, October 31, 2011

The Scooby-Doo Show - The Headless Horseman of Halloween

Time to conclude Halloween special month with the most famous "spooky" cartoon in the history of spooky cartoons. Scooby Doo. Or rather, Scooby-Doo, because according to the title cards, his name actually has a hyphen. I just learned today that I've been spelling a cartoon dog's name wrong all my life.

See? Hyphen.
I really don't think there's a person alive who would seek out a cartoon blog such as this one and just doesn't know who the hell Scooby-Doo is, but in case you didn't know, it's a talking great dane that goes on mysteries with his stoner friends and they end up running into jerkwads who feel that dressing up like ghosts or monsters will scare people off of property or give them an edge in the diamond theft industry. That's really it. I'm not going to explain something that has been such a huge part of our animation culture for so very long, if only because anyone and everyone has cracked at least one Scooby-Doo joke.

As for me, I grew up in a period of time where 50% of Cartoon Network's programming was constant Scooby-Doo reruns, so of course, I'm very familiar with Scooby-Doo. It was a sad, barren period before the Cartoon Cartoons were born, but hey, at least it gave me the knowledge of which Scooby-Doo show is which. Maybe if I ever make it onto Jeopardy, that can help me win the bonus question.

And this Scooby-Doo show I'm covering happens to be the third incantation of that ever-famous canine, following the original Scooby-Doo show and The New Scooby-Doo Movies which were almost an hour long and included guest stars. Arguably, this could be considered when Scooby-Doo hit his prime. He had already gained an audience with his original show and worked out his formula, the second run was a brief experiment that showed that the formula could still work, and now he was back doing what he did best. And best of all, this was before Scrappy-Doo was added. Truly this dog was at the top of his game in this show.

...except for Scooby-Dum. Why the hell does this character exist. Why did this show introduce this character.

It's a testament to how bad Scrappy-Doo is when THIS guy is considered more bearable.
Buuuut I'm getting ahead of myself. Time to dig into one of the most famous cartoons of all time and conclude my Halloween month with possibly the most fitting topic ever, Scooby-Doo tackling a ghost on Halloween! So kick back, fondly remember the times when Cartoon Network would air 12 hour marathons of the Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo to celebrate Halloween, and let's see how a talking great dane and his grey, mentally challenged cousin take on...

The Headless Horseman of Halloween

October 9, 1976

Availability: On DVD

Before I actually get into the show itself and therefore paint a giant target on my chest for making fun of America's childhood, I just want to quickly point out an animation glitch in the cartoon's opening. At one point during the song, Shaggy has no arms. Kind of fell asleep at the wheel there, Hannah-Barbera. It's probably not a good sign when the theme song consists of purely recycled animation and episode clips and yet they still managed to go off-model. Quality!

"Zoinks, Scoob! I've contacted leprosy!"
But anyways, the fabled Scooby-Doo. Like most of its episodes, our tale begins with a spooky backdrop, a brief glimpse of our main villain, and the overall sense that we're going to need those plucky teenagers/college students/whatever the hell they are to solve the mystery, rip off the mask of evil, and drink in the golden rainwater of triumph. Probably because Hannah-Barbera is never going to make an episode where it's just the Mystery Machine on the road with Shaggy having to shovel out dog crap out of the back while Fred and Daphne are rooting underneath the seats in order to gather enough change to get through the toll booth.

That was nice of the party goers to all dance in pairs in front of open windows like that.
In this episode's case, we find a strange, most assuredly haunted mansion situated in the Middle of Nowhere (I'm just going to assume this is in the Deep South, because I can practically smell the barbecue just from looking at this), where a Halloween costume party is being hosted. While the crème de la crème is dancing their cares away and celebrating the fact that they're not poor, a man with a terrifying pumpkin-related physical deformity laughs and then rides around through the night on top of a horse with crazy, yellow eyes and a mouth permanently stuck in mid-yell. Hmm, I wonder if this is The Headless Horseman of Halloween the episode is named after.

I'm half-expecting that horse to turn to the camera and say "It's a living", just from that expression.
But it's too early for our gang to encounter The Headless Horseman of Halloween just yet. First we need some classic "Shaggy has some major psychological issues with overeating" while a laugh track tells us just when we need to laugh. Even as a kid, I never liked these stupid laugh tracks. They were the things that kept showing up in the cartoon reruns on Cartoon Network and I didn't like them one bit. It's one thing if there's a live studio audience and they're obviously responding to what's taking place, but Scooby-Doo's laugh track is false-sounding and full of lies. It's not the echo of human beings that we're hearing; this laugh track is digitized and soulless, and they never disguise the fact that the same damn laugh is being made every single time.

But ignoring that pointless feature for a second, I just love how Shaggy just kind of walks up to the snack table and just starts taking whole fried chickens and entire pizzas because he's feeling a little bit peckish and plans on dislocating his own jaw. Hey, thanks, asshole. Maybe you could've saved some for the other guests? Remind me to never invite this man to any of my parties.

He is so baked right now...
Through a series of patented cartoon Hannah-Barbera physics, the tower of pilfered snacks ends up falling right into Scooby-Doo's mouth, all while the laugh track just eats this up. No, seriously. There's a laugh for Scooby eating the food, a laugh for him removing his horse mask, and then a laugh for him say "Delicious". Or "Reericous", because he's a dog, get it? Dogs don't talk, therefore one being intelligent enough to speak our language is a logical misdirection that creates the presence of humor!

Personally, they should've saved the laugh track for when Scooby starts choking on pieces of broken porcelain for swallowing several pieces of china whole. That dog's going to have some major digestive problems down the road.

...and I didn't know Dino from the Flinstones was part of an equine evolutionary line in the Hannah-Barberaverse, because that horse costume looks just like him. Learn something new every day.

And then Scooby ends up puking half of that food out all over those nice, expensive carpets.
But then we meet Mrs. Crane (oh good, I always wanted to know what Scarecrow's mom looked like), the host of this lovely shindig, and she looks like she takes classes on how to look like a stereotypical old rich lady. With nothing more than a mere "you're a friend of my niece", we just assume she's totally fine with inviting some jobless, unshaven man who shows up at parties just to stuff whole pizzas into his intelligent pet's mouth. But hey, she's essentric and possibly senile, so what can you do?

I'm going to avoid talking about the damn laugh track for much longer, but I just want to point out something it thought was funny. She says that friends of her niece are always welcome at Crane manor, Scooby says "thank you", and then the laugh track starts up. So what, being polite is a joke now? What the hell?

"You're so well-spoken and educated for a dog. Truly a credit to your species."
But then Crane asks that there was a second dog with them, a line that will no doubt chill any veteran Scooby-Doo viewer to the bone, and sure enough, Shaggy says "Oh sure, Scooby-Dum, Scooby-Doo's brother". Yep, I too like to refer to the family relations of everyone in my party whenever someone mentions them in a conversation. Also, note the fact that Scooby-Dum is named as Doo's brother when, later on, Shaggy calls him his cousin. Well, okay, they are pure-bred great danes; I can buy that there's some massive inbreeding in their family tree. Just didn't expect the cartoon to be so blunt about it.

Sure enough, the moment someone mentions Dum in a conversation, he arises from the smelly, sweaty, crumb-filled pits of Scooby's costume and lets his presence be known. I find it hilarious that Scooby Doo is a four-legged animal and therefore could just operate that horse costume all by himself, and yet he still stuffed his cousin-brother-whatever into the horse's ass cavity and continues walking. I imagine that thing must be pretty cramped and, considering Dum's head is in there, incredibly oxygen-deprived. No wonder his brother's stupid.
Whatever you do, don't try to think of Scooby-Dum's body in relation to Scooby-Doo's body in that thing.
Shaggy points out the apple bobbing station, and who else but the rest of the gang is there, surrounding the vat full of other people's saliva and germs. It's kind of sad that the cartoon is well aware that no one really cares about Fred, Velma, and Daphne, because the moment Shaggy walks into the frame, they're quickly overshadowed by Shaggy being an apple-bobbing champion. Geez, man. Fred is voiced by the great Frank Welker, Shaggy! Show some respect!

On the bright side, Daphne's costume is so adorable. She was dressing up like Tinkerbell before it was cool, even if her body doesn't budge an inch during this scene.

"Hey, guys! I just got sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore!"
"Guess what? No one cares, Velma."
We quickly leave the other three, because they're not a giant talking dog or Spotlight-Stealing Shaggy, when a bobbing apple rolls away from Shaggy's grasp and both he and Scooby (and Dum, still nestled in that fabric prison in his) run after the rolling fruit even after it makes its way outside. Eww, don't put that in your mouth, Shaggy! Just give it to the dog!

...although he was deprived of all of his stolen treats earlier, so maybe he's still suffering from the aftereffects of his munchie attack.
But then again, Shaggy has a history of putting dirty things into his mouth, amiright?
Oh, and since I simply must point these things out, at some point, Scooby moves his head slightly to the right and sprouts an extra eye. He's not doing a smear and he's not making a quick head turn that would explain the extra eyes; his head just stutters (because this is cheap, TV brand animation we're talking about here) and suddenly he's an alien monster from Venus. Dig that quality 70's animation! Surely we should let nostalgia blind our eyesight and use this show as an example on why today's shows suck!

"Rikes, Raggy! Ri'm rutating!"
Of course, since they're outside, they get to spot the Headless Horseman who...isn't actually headless, now that I think about it. He has a pumpkin on his neck, it clearly has eyes, and he clearly has the means to see and talk. I'm so not seeing the problem here, but I guess since he has a horse that looks like some sort of space lizard due to its vacant, yellow eyes that burrow into your soul, he's the one writing the rules.

The Headless Horseman doesn't even bother with the troupe of clowns either. He just kind of rides around on his horse, laughs at the fact that some stoner dressed like a vampire is eating things off the ground, and then turns his crazed pony around and gallops off in the opposite direction. Threatening!

...also, I have a question. Is the horse supposed to be a ghost too, or did we miss a scene where the Headless Horseman raided some person's stable? And how often would the ghost have to switch out his horses?

"Yeah, I'm so the Headless Horseman. You dig?"
Since this ghost sighting freaks Shaggy and his dogs out (they would so not last on Ghost Adventures), some comic Hannah-Barbera-style shenanigans ensue. It's really hard to describe just what the hell happened, because watching Hannah-Barbera physical humor is the closest thing you can get to being on PCP without actually taking it, but it ended up with Scooby-Doo having to be fished out of a pool while his dumb cousin/brother of a dog just kind of sits there and looks like some sort of genetic accident gone wrong with that broken horse/dinosaur outfit. I bet the Cranes loved the fact that Shaggy's giant animals ended up wrecking their pool toys and getting hair and dog urine in their fancy, rich person pool.  

Meanwhile, while this is going on, the three less interesting characters are getting a tour of the mansion by someone who has a pink cat fursona and doesn't know where to stick the tail. Great costume there! It really brings out the true horrors of Halloween!

And who's the gentlemen in the painting? Why, the great Ichabod Crane. Yes, turns out Crane Manor is situated in Sleepy Hollow, Mrs. Crane's niece Beth happens to be related to the same guy who saw the Headless Horseman, and my suspension of disbelief just got shattered by the sheer amounts of what-the-hellery filling the air. You got all that?

Beth Crane's story is so full of bullcrap that it made Daphne's mouth disappear!
But then Shaggy barges in, screaming like a crazy person about head-deprived broncobusters, and Scooby demonstrates some pretty fantastic charades by actually defying the laws of anatomy and withdrawing his head into his chest cavity in order to show that they are, in fact, talking about a guy with no head.

So this dog can talk, grow an extra eye, and then suck his head inside of himself. This is why the bridesmaids of Cthulhu shouldn't be running puppy mills.

I tried doing this yesterday. The doctors say it'll be five weeks until I can remove my neck brace.
Shaggy describes the Headless Horseman, but of course, like most of us when we tell a story to our friends, he embellishes the story just a tad. For starters, he said that the Horseman practically ran over them, when he got nowhere near them, and then he describes the horse as glowing even though it looked just like a normal horse. It's the mystery equivalent of "and I nearly caught a fish THIIIIIIS big!".

I like how, at one point, the dogs have to pull out a pumpkin in order to illustrate that the Headless Horseman did, in fact, have a pumpkin for a head. They're just assuming that their friends are such morons that they need visual aides in order to get the fact that there's some decapitated ghoul running around with a head squash.

Also, haven't said this before, but I really like Shaggy in his vampire costume. He looks very dignified for someone who eats dog food.
"Now, if you study my Powerpoint, you can clearly see that the Horseman was in fact riding a horse.
Daphne, would you like me to repeat the last slide?"
And sure enough, Beth Crane is all "oh no, just like in the stories!", and I rolled my eyes so hard they morphed into rollerskates. Sure enough, she even has a book about the Revolutionary War within arm's reach, containing full color paintings (or photographs; it's hard to tell considering the style of the show) and it turns out the Revolutionaries were pricks and just shot some guy's head off with a cannon, creating a ghostly specter looking for his severed body part. Although, personally, they probably shouldn't have burned his body after he died. According to Beth, they didn't bury him in a cemetery; they "burned" him in a cemetery. Whoops!
"Maybe if we swing the swords at each other instead of in the air, this fight would be a lot easier."
Finally, her little story concludes that the Headless Horseman chased her great great great grandfather Ichabod Crane and they never saw him again. So wait, Ichabod had already married and produced an heir before he got run down by some ghost? That's not what Disney told me! Man, think of the look on that poor wife's face when she heard that her husband was killed in a drive-by haunting.

And yep, same horse as the photograph. Unless some horse drank from the Fountain of Youth and is now immortal, apparently Headdy likes them white. What a racist.

Ye Olde Wacky Races.
With storytime over, Fred helpfully concludes that Shaggy and his two talking dogs (I'm assuming Shaggy is the owner of Scooby-Doo considering they're the ones that pair off all the time) just saw someone in a costume and that there's nothing to worry about. Sure, okay, Fred. Say that AFTER the guest of the mansion decides to tell her a long involved story about her ancestry in fear that some centuries old curse has come back to haunt her.

In fairness to the Headless Horseman, from what we've seen of him, he can't be as scary as that pink thing Beth dressed up as. I was just fine with her not wearing a mask. Now she's some sort of hideous pink monster and I wish she would go away.

But then, the lights go off and then the Headless Horseman shoves himself into the house, demanding a head. That instantly changes the gang's mind and everyone in the party runs out of the house and into the mist-cloaked, uncharted woods that surround this delightful mansion. Man, the upper class are a superstitious, easily spooked lot.

...okay, several questions. One, Fred brought up a very good point. They're at a Halloween costume party. The ghost isn't doing anything special other than saying he wants a head; for all they know, it could be someone in a costume (and it IS, since this is Scooby-Doo) and he's just pulling one hell of an asshole prank. Two, why is Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Dum freaking out? No way is that man gonna want a dog's head! Three, okay, how many Halloween parties have these guys gone to? Like, zero? Because where I'm at, people messing with the lights is just standard procedure just as much as smashing pumpkins is.

In short, it's one thing to freak out if you spot a ghost in, say, an abandoned mine or some sort of amusement park in the middle of the night, but it's just silly to scream and run away the moment you see a ghost at a goddamn Halloween Party.
All he needs is some toilet paper and a cartoon full of eggs and he can truly crash this party.
With everyone gone, Fred wastes no time in splitting up his gang and instructing them to search the house for clues. And yes, Fred does in fact split up the group so that Velma and Shaggy are stuck with the big, smelly dogs while Fred and Daphne disappear to parts unknown. And yes, only this group makes any progress. When we later check up with Fred and Daphne, we find that they've done nothing productive. Ten bucks says they just hung out and ate dip while the less attractive people of the group got eaten by a crazed member of the undead. Nobody likes you and your orange socks, Velma!

"Lately I've been questioning Fred's leadership. I could swear he always pairs us up on purpose."
It is during this scene we learn just how vital of a part Scooby-Dum plays to the rest of the group when he wastes valuable time thinking that a bowling ball is the pumpkin head of the Headless Horseman. Get it? Because his name is one letter away from dumb! Comedy!

...and yes, I'm sticking by what I said earlier. This character is still more bearable than Scrappy-Doo. I'm not sure how the hell the Scooby-Doo makers manage to keep topping terrible characters with even worse characters, but all I could feel during this really stupid scene with the bowling ball was relief that I wasn't watching Scrappy or, god forbid, Flim-Flam. Little asshole single-handedly ruined 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo for me, and that cartoon had Vincent Price in it!

"Yep, this is definitely a bowling ball."
There's some trickery with a mirror and a clothes rack, and finally, we get the actual Headless Horseman who's...inside the house for some reason! And boy, is he mad! He even throws off his pumpkin head (which makes a delightful squish sound, meaning the sound effects department is doing a fantastic job) and demands that they hand him a head. So assertive for someone who isn't even swinging any weapons and is relying on fear alone, Mr. Horseman.
A bright man would use that candle as a weapon and try to fight off the evil spook.
Unfortunately, all we have is Shaggy here.
And, once again, Scooby-Doo proves that he's not just a dog, but also a terrifying soul-sucking aberration that disregards the laws of anatomy by once again drawing his head into his chest cavity. Stop doing this, Scooby! You're giving me nightmares! No matter how many times he does this, it still weirds me the hell out. I'm not sure if its the sucking sound effect they use or the frightening flat area where his head once stood that creeps me out the most.

And yet his collar still manages to stay on.
Scooby-Dum makes up for this temporary lapse into madness by actually trying to rip his own head off to give to the scary ghost. You know, because he's Dum, get it? Although, in fairness to the writers, they actually had a "look at how stupid this character is" joke that actually made me smile instead of making me want to kill myself like the rest of this episode. Maybe it's the fact that I was kind of hoping he'd actually succeed. 

...why is he considered dumber than Scooby-Doo? I've seen Scooby-Doo do this in other episodes. Plus, if he was really dumb, he wouldn't be able to speak, being a dog and all.

Home Alone 6: Canine Edition
After that failure in providing a head that would be suitable for their ghost host, they decide to show the value of teamwork by pointing at Shaggy, as if saying "He's the one you want". Not sure how the hell the ghost is even supposed to know where they're pointing at without a head. I know I'm focusing so much on this one scene, but there's just so much to comment on. It's like the writers, after getting all the boring exposition out of the way, just went nuts and did what they did best. I just wish the rest of the cartoon had this level of energy to it.

...and I'm really trying my best not to look at Scooby over there. Excuse me, but after this episode is over, I'm going to have a good long cry. That is not a dog! That's a demon in disguise!
"You know what? I'm pretty sure I'm just hallucinating this entire thing, man."
Think this cartoon can't top this bastion of insanity? Oh buddy, you ain't seen nothing yet, because Shaggy proves how bad his head is by demonstrating that he's been possessed by the devil and spinning his head 360 degrees. You know, maybe cartoons are harmful for our children, because watching this, I can't help but think of the psychological effects this would have on a developing mind by seeing this.

"Your mother's in here, Karras. Would you like to leave a message?"
Once the nightmares are over, our heroes do the stupidest thing they could possibly do. They somehow manage to trap the Headless Horseman in a sewing machine (yeah, just bear with me here) and then they run away, leaving him all by himself and giving him ample time to escape. The plot would've been solved, they could've had the culprit, but no, apparently everyone had to be dumbasses and run away just so the episode could fit the twenty minute time slot. I'm ashamed in you all!

...wait, there an entire room on the upper floor dedicated to making clothing? Man, somehow it's disappointing to hear that Ichabod's descendants sew dresses for a living.

"He's ineffectively waving his arms in the air! Run!"
Stoner and Talking Dogs convince Useless Teammembers to come up to the attic and, of course, the Headless Horseman managed to free himself from his sewing-themed prison and get away. Duh? I wish Scooby-Doo had some sort of pointless cousin named Scooby-Genius so that stupid things like this wouldn't happen.

Luckily, in his haste to get away, the Horseman left behind a clue, which means that Shaggy's adventure in crapping up wasn't entirely pointless. Our funky phantom left behind a pile of wood shavings somehow even though he's walked around this house and not once did he drop a single wood shaving anywhere else. So what, did he just not notice the clippings falling out of his costume while disentangling himself from the sewing machine?
"These cashews laying on the ground will tell us who did it!"
Meanwhile, while this amazing discovery is going on, we find out just how classy and sophisticated Mrs. Crane is when we find her passed out in a chair, probably because of all the wine she's been drinking behind the scenes, snoring away while adorned with diamonds. I mention the diamonds because, even though they were in other scenes with this character, this is the first time the cartoon actually pays attention to them, giving them sparkles and overall drawing attention to them. I wonder if they'll be important later.

A revenge-seeking specter tied to her family name ruins her Halloween party and she just falls asleep? Huh?
But then, a hand comes out of the wall and tries to attack her for some reason. It doesn't take a genius to realize the hand is after the diamonds, but she thinks he's after her head and it's the Headless Horseman. Why, sure, because a poltergeist renowned for galloping around on a horse and throwing his flaming pumpkin heads at people randomly sneaks into the walls of mansions and takes swipes at wrinkly old ladies. And why the hell would he want her head? That'd just be embarrassing!

And this is the scene that made me realize that these characters actually have four fingers instead of the typical three fingered hand you see in cartoons. Clearly Scooby-Doo animators are aiming for realism while they're drawing a dog suck his own head into his chest.

Thing was a bit of a delinquent in his early years.
Since she was sort of filling the house with a bloodcurdling scream, the gang meets up with her, all while having the hopes that this could end up being the first mystery they have that has a murder involved too. It isn't, and here is when we get introduced to a new character, a giant brick wall of a man named Elwood who's suddenly filling the air with talks of curses and leaving the diamonds in the vaults. He apparently also owns a giant industry dedicated to making shoes. Not sure why we needed to know that, but okay.

 ...just going to call it now, even if I haven't seen the ending. He did it. He's the ghost. He's bringing up a curse when no one else is, he innocently showed up within the second half of the cartoon, he's kind of a grouch, and wants his relative to leave her diamonds in a place he can access. Mystery over. Everybody go home.

"I'm totally not suspicious and don't have a reason to steal diamonds! I'm going to whistle nonchalantly now!"
Velma quickly ignores the man who's obviously the Headless Horseman and declares, in a voice that doesn't sound like the one from the original Scooby-Doo show, that there must be a hollow panel. This leads to Scooby-Dum switching out his hat for a Sherlock Holmes hat (Dum carries more than one hat for special occasions?) and starts searching the house for clues. The fact that the character has a mystery hat and a magnifying glass is one of his character quirks, because clearly a character named "Dum" needs more than one gimmick!

He ends up finding a button on the ground, which is pretty suspicious now that I stop and think about it, and he starts pressing it nonstop. Not once does anyone address the question of why someone would build a button in the floor. Did the people making this just assume that mansions have strange buttons built into the most inconvenient places just to mess with the occupants?

Scooby-Dum manages to find a button that summons the butler (yeah, because elderly woman love it when the button designed to summon assistance is right on the goddamn floor) and we get a very strange, unneeded red herring in the form of this strange, monstrous looking fellow. They waste a scene pointing out that the butler's hands are covered in white powder, making them look like the same ghost hands that came out of the paneling on the wall. Obviously he's set up after Elwood makes a nitwit out of himself, but really, why are we even considering him as an option? I'm pretty sure if this chap wanted Mrs. Crane's diamonds, he could just strangle her with his bare hands and then leave a path of destruction and dead bodies in his wake.

"Don't be too frightened. All of my servants are reanimated corpses. I save a
whole bunch of money because I don't have to feed them."
After that, who else but the suspicious relative shows up, declaring that he's going to take the diamonds to the vault personally. Really, we're seriously supposed to trust him? Fred points out that the bank isn't open at this hour, and we get a real humdinger of a line with class A delivery from Elwood. Here it is in its original form.

"The night manager is a friend of mine we both fly airplanes I'll phone him at home."

Oh. My. God. Anymore wooden and he's going to turn into a tree. And why the hell did we need to know that you two both fly airplanes? Why are you listing a potential getaway vehicle? Are you trying to make yourself look suspicious?
"My face is frowning I like airplanes this discussion is making me mad. Airplanes!"
 Mrs. Crane happens to have the brains of a dried up piece of dog crap, so of course she doesn't notice anything suspicious and just hands the man her diamonds and he drives off with them.

Now, any sane jewel thief would just have that be the end of the heist. After all, she trusted him with the jewels. He can just say that the Horseman mugged him on the way back and I'm sure these gullible dumbasses would totally eat up that story. He doesn't have to do anything on top of this.

"Hey, while I'm going to the bank to deposit your diamonds into the vault, I can deposit everyone's
life savings into the vault as well. Hand over your wallets."
But no, Elwood has to take a turn for the very dumb and absolutely asinine by over-complicating matters, because the moment the car disappears into the fog, he actually stages a car crash and then the Headless Horseman arrives, only he has Elwood's head, making it look like the Headless Horseman killed him.

...let me rephrase that because this is probably the stupidest plot point I've ever seen. We see Elwood clearly take the diamonds, and then we see the Headless Horseman, only it's Elwood with ghost paint. I've seen some pretty lazy Scooby-Doo villains but this takes the cake, the pizza, and the comically oversized pie. He isn't even wearing a mask. Elwood is basically hanging a giant sign around his neck that reads "I DID IT" and yet the gang seriously thinks that the ghost got Elwood's head while he was driving a car. What the hell. There is no way a mystery could be persisting. He's right there, riding the goddamn horse!

...and how was he able to change his clothes, apply face paint, jump from car to horse, and somehow manage to make it look like he didn't do it? Elwood's got some mad skills!
I'm pretty sure if Batman was involved, this episode would be over in ten seconds.
But yes, we're going to get a commercial break, because too much unadulterated stupid flying into our eye sockets is toxic for the brain, and when we tune back in, we find Elwood's car smashed up against a tree and a pile of clothes and a pumpkin on the driver's seat. Beth cries about the fact that the Headless Horseman took poor Elwood to the grave with him, but that just leaves me to wonder where the rest of Elwood's body supposedly went when the Headless Horseman took his head. I mean, come on, you can't seriously tell me that that pumpkin manifested from the remains of the grisly decapitated corpse that most assuredly got bruised when the car hit that tree.
Personally, that pumpkin makes a way cooler head than Elwood's flabby excuse for a body part.
...but I'm not too concerned about that. Mostly, I'm concerned with the fact that Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Dum switched bodies! Look!

Ignoring the dogs' rapidly degenerating cell structure, Fred tells Beth and Mrs. Crane to get back to the house where it's safe, and then they decide to do some fast detective work. This causes Scooby-Dum to once again get a scene entirely to himself where he proves that he is, in fact, stupid. Keep hammering that point, Hannah-Barbera! You're still being too subtle with this character!

I demand a gritty reboot where it turns out the reason his cognitive skills are severely weakened is because of a tragic accident that took the lives of his mother and father, and he's constantly dealing with the guilt.
For some reason, after having only one clue for most of the show, suddenly it just starts raining clues down from the sky. Scooby-Dum discovers a picture of Elwood hiding in the gas tank of the car (wait, what?), Fred discovers that the car has no keys in the ignition, and the Scooby relatives discover a newspaper clipping. Sloppiest villain ever. I feel no sympathy for Elwood when he gets caught because there's a difference between getting kicked in the nuts and getting on your knees and begging for someone to kick you in the nuts. This is the latter.

And how did a clue manage to get several inches underground?
After that piece of detective work, instead of actually inspecting the car for any other clues, since I'm sure Elwood's got plenty of proof to show that he did it, they figure their job is done and go to the cemetery where the grave of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman reside. It is during this scene where they're walking to the cemetery that I discovered that Dum's feet are a good deal larger than Doo's feet. For some reason, that just creeps me out, the fact that this poor animal is hideously mutated. The inbreeding must be so strong among the Scooby family tree that it's not so much a tree as it is an overgrown shrub. Pity this poor canine, viewers.

"Hey guys, why did we name Scooby-Dum after his severe mental handicap? That's not very nice."
While they're walking there, they run into the butler, who exists only for exposition and for the dumber members of the audience to assume that he did it. They really try to overplay this character's suspicion too, on account he wears the same cloak as the Headless Horseman and his voice is really creepy. Needless to say, it really doesn't work, especially after we saw Elwood take off and all that. If the butler wanted to commit a crime, he could just drink her blood and recover the jewels from her lifeless corpse, considering he is a shambling ghoul and all that.

"I am Snape, the Potions Master."
So they make it to the cemetery and...holy crap, is Fred seriously desecrating a Revolutionary War grave with a crowbar!? I'm sure that's against the law, gang!

I love that he has a crowbar on hand at all times just in case he has to go grave-robbing.
After being unsuccessful in destroying a national landmark, Fred then concludes, in a way that both puzzles the dogs and cracks up the laugh track, that not finding any clues at the graveyard IS a clue.

...wait, huh? Stop playing mind games on me, Fred! You can't just attack someone's grave and then turn around and act like you're operating on some form of logic.

He's so logical that he talks to dogs, assumes that every ghost he runs into is real, and thinks
raiding a Revolutionary War grave is a good idea.
The group piece the clues together in their head without telling us, jump into the Mystery Machine, and head to the airport, where they know the Headless Horseman is going to be. Hey, way to say "we both fly airplanes" when you were describing your night watcher friend, Elwood. You dumbass. When some homeless children in a flower power van can figure out that you're a thief, you know something's wrong with you.
"It's a good thing Elwood randomly mentioned that he flies airplanes or else we wouldn't have a lead!"
 So they make it into the hangar where Elwood...whoops, I mean The Headless Horseman (since technically, before the gang pulls the mask off, we're supposed to pretend we don't know who did it) is going to make his getaway and...


...sorry, I got distracted, because of what happened to Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Dum. Look at them! They're hugely obese!
Pictured: What Scooby Doo should look like considering his eating habits.
There is a saying that if you've seen one Scooby-Doo episode, you've seen them all (although that could really apply to any Hannah-Barbera cartoon, since they're pretty formulaic), and in this scene, it definitely applies. Why? Because Fred, like in every episode, just came up with a plan to trap the ghost that will definitely not succeed. Everyone knows that when you speak the details of a plan out loud, it immediately renders the task moot.

Anyways, what's the plan? It's a surprisingly simple plan that just involves dropping a parachute onto the ghost before he can take off in his biplane and cross the border. What I'd like to know is how the hell those characters (one of them being Scooby, a DOG) climbed up on those rafters. I see a ladder leaning on the side of the wall, but the fact that they're bent over on those things just looks wildly unsafe.

"Couldn't we just, I don't know, overpower the Headless Horseman instead of doing this the hard way?"
"Who's the leader here? Certainly not you, Velma!"
The Headless Horseman shows up right on schedule and, I have to admit, I just love this little scene where he gets into the plane and puts on his goggles. It's like he seriously believes people are still falling for his charade because he just looks so freakin' determined. It's probably the use of eyeliner. It gives him a really hard stare.

"Come at me, bro!"
And of course the plan fails, because Scooby managed to fall off the rafters, and of course Scooby and later Shaggy end up in the plane with the monster of the day. This can only end in Hannah-Barbera style slapstick! Instead of a horrendous plane crash that destroys half the hangar in a fiery explosion like you'd expect a situation like this to end up.

Man, Scooby is hideously fat in this scene. Maybe his owners should stop feeding him entire roasted chickens and pizzas and put him on a low calorie diet.

I'm not going to describe the full scene in too much detail, but it involves the plane swerving out of control while the rest of the gang cheer Scooby on instead of being frightened for their friends' safety. Fred and Daphne even get a scene where their facial expressions morph into something terrible. That is not the look you would give your friends if they were trapped in a runaway airplane, Fred!

Meanwhile, Daphne's just bored because she's seen this happen dozens of times already.
The sequence ends with the plane disintegrating (yeah, really), but really, this whole scene is kind of fun to watch if only because none of these characters realize how hazardous their situation is. There's loop-de-loops, no one's wearing any protective gear, the plane makes these wild maneuvers that are usually reserved for The Flying Blue Angels, and at one point, they actually exit the plane's seats and step onto the wings with no one driving the plane. All while the plane is several hundred feet in the air, way into the area where a fall would be lethal. Do you want to die, guys? For a man who wets his pants whenever he hears there's a ghost, Shaggy sure likes to take some big risks.

Yeah, sure, Elwood. Exit your vehicle to attack the teenagers attached to your wing. Perfect strategy!
The sheriff manages to arrive, probably surprised that these kids managed to escape that plane incident totally unscathed, and we have our classic "the Scooby-Doo gang unmasks the bad guy and tells us their entire plot by pointing out the clues they left" scene that has been parodied a countless number of times by practically every form of media on the face of the Earth. And before I dive into this scene, I gotta admit, I love Elwood's face while he's still pretending to be a ghost. He just looks so angry at the fact that he's dead. It's a great expression.
And whatever happened to Elwood's horse...?
What's the catch? There is no mask. Turns out it really was Elwood all along. It's sad that this is the closest a Scooby-Doo cartoon from the 70's gets to a twist ending.

...and holy hell, what is up with the dogs' faces? They're enjoying Shaggy pinching that guy's cheek way too much.

Elwood gets carted away without even saying the "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids" line (geez man, first no mask and now that? Progressive for a Scooby villain!), the gang has no choice but to do the traditional plot rundown in the mansion instead of at the airport.

And, for those keeping track, here's a quick rundown of the clues Elwood left.

*The missing keys = Elwood taking them out, out of habit
*Butler saying the phone lines died = Elwood was lying when he said he called his night manager friend they both fly airplanes
*Elwood photo = a part of his passport to fly out of the country
*The wood shavings = a remainder of when Elwood chopped down the tree to kill the phone lines. (how the hell did no one notice Elwood chopping down a tree...)
*The newspaper clipping = contains a story of Elwood's business filing for bankruptcy. Not sure why he would need a newspaper clipping of his own business failing, but then again, Elwood is kind of a dumbass.

Personally, I feel like all those clues weren't necessary. The man wasn't wearing a mask, remember. Also, none of that explains the horse!

I like how while they're describing all of this, Mrs. Crane looks like she just had a heart attack and died while their limited animation was going through the motions and describing everything for the audience not keeping track of all these dangling plot threads.

And in a bizarre twist of fate, it turns out that Mrs. Crane left the diamonds to Elwood in her will.
And with that, the cartoon concludes on a high note (well mostly; they felt the need to sneak in one last "Scooby-Dum is DUMB!" joke), and we get some delightful patented Hannah-Barbera music to issue in the ending! Happy Halloween!

The Moral of this Cartoon
If you're going to steal your relative's diamonds and leave the country, just shell out the extra money for a stupid plane ticket instead being a dumbass and trying to pilot a plane yourself.

Final Verdict

Well, this certainly was a Scooby-Doo episode alright.

It's hard for me to judge this cartoon because it was made during a period of time before advances in TV animation, but for its time, it was a pretty cool show. For what its worth, there is something appealing about these characters, these situations, and these monsters that makes the Scooby-Doo name remain strong even to this day. There's just something harmless and fun to this.

This episode in particular just had two hitches. One, Scooby-Dum, while not a Scrappy, is still the low point of the cartoon and just made me want to wish doom on the litter of puppies that he was spawned from because clearly natural selection didn't run its course and keep him from growing to adulthood. Two, the villain is just an idiot. I know, technically none of the villains in this show are really the sharpest tools in the shed, but come on. Elwood's disguise for half of the episode was himself. I rest my case.

But that being said, really, this is a fun, if a bit limited (keeping in mind that at this time, TV animation didn't have the extravagant budgets we have now) piece of animation, and if you're going to watch Scooby-Doo, it might as well be the versions that didn't have Scrappy-Doo in it. I'm going to say it's good if you approach it for what it is; a great example of what Hannah-Barbera had to offer at this time period. If you approach it with the idea that it will somehow be as good as the animation out now, you're going to be disappointed.

Also, luckily, if you do choose to watch The Scooby-Doo Show (and not, say, Scooby-Doo Where Are You like a sane person), Scooby-Dum is only in four episodes so there's a pretty good chance you'll avoid him.

Because if this cartoon's taught me one thing, it's that grey Great Danes are nothing but trouble.