The gang is back!
Although I've never had anything against the Scooby-Doo franchise, I've never really felt it lived up to its potential. There's plenty of monsters, madmen and cheap thrills to go around, but in the end its all proven to be a fabrication of some bumbling criminal or high school revenge plot. Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated sets out to change that with plots that, while admittedly just as cliche, are authentically spooky and surprisingly well written.
As the eleventh incarnation of the franchise, following an embarrasing string of live action films and the simply abhorred Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, Mystery Incorporated seems to be both a reboot and an homage of the original 70s cartoon series. All the mainstays are present (Shaggy, Scooby, Velma, Daphne and Fred), though they've been given a facelift in terms of visual appearance and characterization. For instance, in the first few episodes it appears that Shaggy and Velma are having somewhat of a "secret romance" (*gasp*) while Daphne swoons over a clueless Fred with 75% less vanity than any previous version of the character.
The new series finds the gang living in Crystal Cove, the "most haunted town in the world," where mysteries abound, but aren't necessarily begging to be solved. You see, being the most haunted town seems to have proven a killer tourist attraction and so no one seems to mind a little mischievous with the exception of a certain group of meddling kids and they're dog. Undeterred, the gang sets out to solve these mysteries while simultaneously uncovering a possibly more sinister subplot courtesy of the enigmatic Mr. E who has some sort of affiliation with a group called Mystery Incorporated (a predecessor of Scooby-Doo and the gang).
The real thrill, and testament to the strength of the series, are the writers' (Mitch Watson and Tony Cervone) understanding of the iconic monsters of the original series. It's this appreciation for the history of the series that shows in the designs for the new monsters as well as several throwbacks to fan favorites like The Creeper, Miner 49er and... wait for it... yes, even Vincent van Ghoul! That's right, the ghoulish Prince of Shadows returns and is featured several times in the show thus far, though never in as a character in direct relation to the show itself. Finally, solving mysteries is cool again!