Festively scary goings-on: The spooky fun of A Scooby-Doo! Christmas (2002)

(image courtesy Warner Bros.)

Do creepy town-scaring ghouls, ghosts and monsters take Christmas off to be with their own demented loved ones?

They do not, which frankly is a very good thing for 2002’s A Scooby-Doo! Christmas which sees Scooby (Frank Welker) and Shaggy (Casey Kasem), Velma (Mindy Kohn), Daphne (Grey DeLisle) and Fred (Frank Welker) on their way for a lovely time of festive R&R at Daphne’s friend’s gorgeous condo at Mills Corner.

It all sounds so inviting that Scooby and Shaggy, already neck deep in the Christmas spirit, are wrapping presents in the back of the van – how on earth do they manage this? I can’t even wrap them neatly on a table in a decidedly still home – ready for the festive fun and frivolity to come.

Alas, or not alas if you’re the kind of person who like a good Christmas mystery to solve, the gang never reach Mills Corner as a “Ho-Ho-Horrible!” (thank you Shaggy) snowman with a removable head and severe dental issues is threatening the town of Winter Hollow, wrecking the chimneys (he’s anti-Santa?) and terrifying the children of the town who apparently, despite the snowy monster having been freaking out the town at Christmas for years, still don’t know a scary major plot device when they see one in the woods.

But Scooby and the gang never let a little, or a lot, of town stupidity get in the way of solving a spooky mystery and so as the townsfolk gather at the inn where the owner Asa Buckwald (James Belushi) is cleaning up big time – is he the one in the Headless Snowman suit? He might be! Or not … – and explains how the town has had ever Christmas ruined by the snowman since, well centuries really.

The town’s sheriff, Ellen Perkins (Kathy Kinney) despite seeming like a lovely, sweet, highly-personable and capably law enforcement officer always seem to arrive just after the monster has done something – is she the one in the snowman suit? She might be! Or not … – meaning the snowy ghoul gets free rein, breaking down chimneys as they go.

As the gang settles into their room for the night – the only room left is the supplies closet which Daphne, in a precursor to her delightfully loopy persona in the later Be Cool, Scooby Doo! incarnation of the show (this episode is part of the What’s New Scooby-Doo? series which ran from 2002 to 2006) turns into a Christmas tree-decorated luxury suite with A DRILL – it’s clear that Christmas is doomed at the hands of the snowman!

What? No! Of course not! Have you watched a single episode of the best cartoon series ever?

The Scooby gang always gets their twisted, life-done-me-wrong man or woman, and a A Scooby-Doo! Christmas is not different, thank you with everyone making the most of this riff on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

There’s even a requisite chase scene, to “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” – one of three songs in the episode, along with “Merry Christmas Day” and “Christmas Fight” – an unveiling of the bad “guy” who could be the innkeeper, the sheriff, the weirdly knowledgable history professor from Mills Corner University, Professor William Fagen Higginson (Peter Scolari) … or well, anyone really because in the world of Scooby Doo, to my eternal delight, what matters is not unveiling the perpetrator, accompanied by a lengthy explanation by Velma god bless her, but all the running and the screaming, mostly by Shaggy and Scooby.

Although rather hilariously, and to my inestimable joy, some of it is done by the whole gang this time around with everyone caught in an outside toilet which, thanks to ways best observed by watching the episode itself, becomes airborne, with Scooby out the front looking rather Rudolph-like and prompting the idiot kid who found the snowman and didn’t who/what he was to delightedly exclaim that Santa really has come to town.

It’s a great visual gag that will have you laughing like a fiend and gay-clapping your hands in merriment but you do have to wander how it is that this kid, already snowman-illiterate, can possibly think that people in an outside wooden dunny as we call them in Australia, look anything like a fat man in a red suit in a sleigh?

No matter, it’s a great sight gag, very Christmassy, as is Scooby and Shaggy, twisted up in merrily blinking lights on the run from the snowman (by the way, the lights NEVER go out which you know is impossible if you have ever tried to get them working for your tree the first time around; sneeze, or so much as ill-time a finger wiggle and they go out).

The mystery is solved, of course but in the spirit of Christmas, things do not follow their usual course with a lot of chimney bricks, goodwill to all townspeople and happiness, as befitting the season, going around.

The ending is, honestly, a little twee and forced, but hey this is Christmas and if you, or rather the interloping kids who fixed in one night what you couldn’t for years and years and well, you get it, have seen off a Headless Snowman, then dammit, you can be as freaking twee as you like.

Merry Christmas from the Scooby gang – and remember, finding a Headless Snowman in the snowy woods is a bad thing and best avoided …

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