3 April 2018

REVIEW: "ScoobyNatural", the animated crossover you never knew you needed

Scoobynatural 13x16 directed by Robert Singer.

I do not own any of these images.

In it's 13 seasons, Supernatural has gone above and beyond ordinary television with it's out of the box episode ideas. From The French Mistake, an alternate universe where the characters become the actors who portray them, to Changing Channels where they are trapped in a reality tv show by a powerful archangel (and remember the one where they tried to help a depressed stuffed teddy bear?) Supernatural has never shied away from the bold and the wonderfully insane episodes. Even in it's 13th season the show has once again proved it is one of the Greats by pulling off an animated crossover episode as Sam, Dean & Cas AKA Team Free Will join forces with the Scooby gang.

While working on a case Sam and Dean unknowingly take home a cursed object which is possessed by the spirit of a young boy. The object (a pocket knife hidden within a television) transports them to the two-dimensional cartoon world of Scooby-Doo, where they come across the Scooby gang who are about to embark on a new mystery solving adventure. The two end up joining forces as they attempt to solve the mystery and defeat the 'monster in the mask'.

The plot of ScoobyNatural fits perfectly within the Supernatural universe. Sam & Dean have faced the weirdest of the weird before and as Dean points out this unexpected turn of events is somewhat similar to their past experiences (Changing Channels). Therefore they are able to navigate this strange reality and the audience can enjoy it without questioning how such an episode could be possible. Scooby-Doo is also the perfect cartoon choice as the two shows share characteristics and are somewhat similar on paper: find clues, solve the mystery and defeat the bad guy. It's no wonder Sam & Dean grew up watching the show and were able to relate to it more than most people. It's for this very reason why this crossover episode worked so well.

Scoobynatural perfectly captures the spirit of both shows: both the Scooby Gang and Team Free Will successfully maintain their individual traits as they fall in together. Certain characteristics of the Supernatural world seep in to the Scooby-Doo world and elements of a typical cartoon are reflected in Team Free Will: it's the perfect crossover in every sense of the word. The violence-danger-salt-shotgun and swears eventually make their way into the episode, yet the simplistic nature of cartoon world remains (such as the face-slap, the heart eyes, the hand gestures, all of the impossible physical expressions and movements). The comedic tone relied on the ridiculousness of the situation. Sam & Dean point out the absurdity of the cartoon world several times through-out the episode (do they just leave the dead bodies?) and the Scooby Gang have a full on melt-down when their reality is put into question: think of Fred's reaction to his nosebleed, Shaggy's reaction to his broken arm and when the gang realise that there is a real possibility of death - before that Fred would run head-first into the enemy, not even considering the danger. Why would he? He is a cartoon character created with no concept of his own death. Scoobynatural reflected that issue and worked it into the story, illustrating the show's ability to deal with such story-lines. They don't go in just for the fun of it, and although they don't take it too seriously they still manage to create something of value with depth.

Supernatural is well aware of the risk and by continually questioning and poking fun at their wild situations they keep the show in check. It could have gone wrong in so many ways but the History and nature of Sam & Dean's lives make the ridiculousness work, and not in a camp-y way. Moreover because the characters are so established at this point their scenes between the Scooby-Gang were truly believable. Of course Dean would flirt with Daphne. Of course Sam would be the one to ask all of the important questions.

Supernatural successfully intertwines both worlds in a bold and fun way, cementing the episode as one of the best of the series so far. No other show on television could dream of pulling off an animated crossover episode, yet Supernatural does so in a truly wonderful and effortless way.

It can be difficult for a show to come up with fresh and intriguing storylines after 13 seasons but Supernatural proves that it is entirely possible to do so. Overall, season 13 has delivered some great moments and Scoobynatural goes to show that even after more than a decade this series continues to deliver beautifully crafted episodes: it knows it's audience, it isn't afraid to take risks and the well-established characters remain the strength of the show. With the announcement of a 14th season, the CW cult show isn't stopping any time soon and after this latest episode, who can blame them?

Summer & Holly

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