Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated has always been a little different from the other installments in the franchise’s 41-year history. It’s self-deprecating, witty and not afraid to explore the romantic situations earlier episodes only hinted at.
It’s also darker, and with Monday’s latest episode, “Shrieking Madness,” the Cartoon Network series gets even more macabre. Don’t believe me? Just check out Warner Bros. Publicity’s official synopsis of the story:
With Mystery Inc. broken up, the gang decides to check out life after High School and spend a weekend at DARROW COLLEGE. But things don’t go as planned when a creature called CHAR GAR GOTHAKON begins terrorizing the campus. Turns out this beast is a fictional character come to life. A creation of the author H.P. HATECRAFT who is a professor at the school. Although one of the other professors, HARLAN ELLISON, claims Hatecraft is a fraud, the creature is definitely real. And when it attacks and carries off Hatecraft to his doom, the gang realizes it has to come together once again to solve this mystery and save Hatecraft’s life.
If you think this sounds like Scooby-Doo is channeling the horrific spirit of H.P. Lovecraft, you’re right. Lovecraft’s work has influenced other writers (even his contemporaries couldn’t resist playing in his sandbox of gibbering abominations and scheming Great Old Ones, among them the monstrous Cthulhu) as well as modern comic books, games and filmmakers — even an episode of the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon The Real Ghostbusters. And now, it seems, the creeping madness has finally come to the meddling kids of Crystal Cove.
But it gets weirder. Harlan Ellison? It does appear, based on information on the legendary sci-fi writer’s own website, that he will be portraying himself in “Shrieking Madness” — and he’ll be joined by Jeffrey Combs, the creepy Star Trek man of a thousand faces and longtime horror film actor, who plays the role of Hatecraft. In addition to the role of Dr. Herbert West in the Lovecraftian film Re-Animator, Combs has played Lovecraft himself on screen in Necronomicon: Book of the Dead.
What’s more, Ellison says Phoenix native and DC Comics writer Adam Beechen is the episode’s writer. Jinkies! Maybe you can ask Beechen about it yourself when he signs his work next month at Atomic Comics in Chandler: