Who doesn’t love a traditional warm and cosy Christmas?
You’d think the answer would be a resounding “Nobody!” but in the festively besieged town of Winter Hollow, established 1764, everyone is afraid to celebrate Christmas, all too aware that when they do, a giant headless snowman – strictly speaking the head is there; it can just be detached as needed for scaring and intimidation purposes – comes to town, destroying the homes of the town’s frightened populace.
But why are the homes, and specifically, the chimneys, being reduced to rubble by a snowman with branches for arms, jagged teeth (very malleable coal lumps at work there) and a thoroughly nightmarish disposition?
Why, that’s the big, burning question, and yes heat lamps do make an appearance in his wintery landscape-set tale, at the heart of A Scooby-Doo Christmas, a 2002 special which is the 10th episode of the first season of What’s New, Scooby-Doo?
As always the gang – Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), Shaggy Rogers (Casey Kasem), Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Velma Dinkley (Mindy Cohn) and Daphne Blake (Grey DeLisle) – are initially off on a delightful romp, this time to spend Christmas Eve in Daphne’s uncle’s cabin, when events force them to find a room in Winter Hollow.
Expecting a town wrapped in all the trappings of the season which is so hope springs eternal of them as they never arrive to find a place in a normal state of non-terrified being, they find the good folk of Winter Hollow sheltering in the local inn, owned and run by Asa Buckwald (James Belushi), in fear of being in their homes should the snowman arrive.
Given the special is a scant 21 minutes long, there’s a not a lot of time for much sleuthing beyond a few red herring suspects such as Sheriff Ellen Perkins (Kathy Kinney), the innkeeper himself and strange old Jed (M. Emmet Walsh) who mutters darkly about the trouble the town is in and of course the inevitable chase scene set to music which is a staple of every Scooby-Doo episode worth its nightmarish salt.
Given it’s a Christmas episode, there’s a happy ending, one that celebrates the spirit of the season, especially pertinent in a town where everyone has been too afraid to get festive and who, now freed from their of the snowman – no spoilers here; Scooby-Doo is the very essence of cosy mysteries and A Scooby-Doo Christmas is no exception, are all ready to get their festive on.
Why, the villain of the piece is even forgiven for his frightening misdeeds in a sign that Christmas, as always, is a time when you shower others with good and wonderful things such as absolution of their crimes.
True, the law enforcement angle is a tad flaky, and the Sheriff, like all the other townspeople, kind of gets bought off, but hey, it’s the spirit of the season and everyone is feeling wonderfully kind and beneficent.
Even Scooby and Shaggy, who naturally give each other Scooby Snax as presents and who spend the entire time in Winter Hollow, a wintery stand-in naturally for the legendary Sleepy Hollow, either running from the snowman or drinking hot chocolate, are inclined to embrace all the bonhomie and joy.
It’s warm and fuzzy, silly and funny and full of the Scooby tropes you could ask for, and even features the entire gang sailing through the air in an outside toilet which looks to all the world to a young boy in the town as Santa flying overhead.
So, yes, while the ending is ridiculously cute and twee, there’s a great deal of sly, witty humour bundled in their too – watching Shaggy and Scooby flee the snowman by using a long strand of Christmas lights is worth the slapstick price of admission alone – all of which gives this special a double whammy of meaningfully saccharine, and whimsically wacky which, let’s face it, is what every Christmas needs wherever you may be and whoever you are (excepting, possibly, headless snowmen who seemingly only want to scare people).