Welcome to Halloween HAVOK 2019, where we dedicate several columns to "October" themed topics that can loosely tied together with Halloween due to their gothic nature. My goal is to try and avoid the easy stuff and dig out something obscure (see: Mad Monster Party or a random episode of Nickelodeon's Weinerville). OK, I may have covered an episode of the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horrors, and spent hours dissecting Jaws: The Revenge to the point I wanted to sit in a bathtub and rethink my life, but I generally go for something you might never think of.
Enter: Scooby-Doo... OK, OK, again, not exactly obscure. Scooby-Doo might be the easiest franchise to pick for something Halloween themed without having to avoid taking screenshots of excessive gore, but this isn't just about Scooby-Doo, it's the episode of the New Scooby-Doo Movies featuring The Addams Family... I've lost you by now, haven't I? Surely, the Addams Family is far from an obscure franchise, especially with a brand new animated film due out this month, but did you honestly know they had a cartoon series in the early 70's created by the famed Hanna-Barbera studio?
I'm not going to say I'm an expert on the Addams Family, though I am very fond of the characters, with a decent knowledge based on the works of Charles Addams' New Yorker comics, the live action series of the mid 60's, and the two feature films of the early 90's. It was years before I knew there existed a Hanna-Barbera cartoon version of the show. Considering I watched Cartoon Network regularly in the mid 90's, before the influx of new shows like Johnny Bravo and Dexter's Laboratory, when you would get hours of uninterrupted Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and I never saw a second of the Addams Family, it goes to show what the executives thought of the quality of the show. My first exposure to the cartoon was a $0.99 VHS found at a Big Lots in 2006 (yes, I bought VHS tapes into the 21st century), and I must admit... I wasn't a fan. I have the complete series on DVD sitting on my shelf and have yet to pop in any of the discs.
Now that I've got my Grandpa Simpson rambling out of the way, we're going to take a trip back to 1972.
We open with a shot of the Addams estate, and quickly establish the Mystery Machine is in the neighborhood, lost in a fog as thick as pea soup. Scooby and Shaggy are quickly spooked by the howling of what sounds like a Wolf. "A giant pair of eyes" approaches them, sending them off the road and into a swamp. Those mysterious eyes? A vehicle driven by an old couple, hired as housekeepers, making and escape from the Addams' house and warning the gang to avoid it just the same. Daphne thinks the house looks familiar but can't put her finger on it. Unfortunately, for the group, the battery is dead. Suddenly, the Addams' butler, Lurch (voiced by Ted Cassidy), approaches them, offering assistance. Everyone is STILL clueless to who he is, or who owns the home.
We segue to the interior of the Addams home, where Gomez (voiced by John Astin) is literally pacing the walls, concerned that their vacation to the Okefenokee Swamp will have to be canceled without babysitters for Pugsley and Wednesday. He's so mad, he can jump up and down shouting pleasant dreams. All the while, Morticia (voiced by Carolyn Jones) is knitting a sweater with four arms and Wednesday is sticking a creepy voodoo doll. As for Pugsley, he's playing in the sand box, trying to dig his way to China. Gomez and Morticia crush the notion that such a thing is possible. As they exit, we get THIS...
Yeah, Pugsley not only got there, but brought a friend back named Ling-Pu, who is obviously voiced by Casey Kasem. The design of the character may be questionable, but the voice is too funny to be too upset by it. Gomez is still depressed, not having the Okefenokee Swamp ooze to squeeze between his toes. Lurch returns to the home with Scooby and Friends, or as he calls it, "the end of the line", as he gives a creepy smirk. Shaggy runs inside in a panic and is caught by a six-armed statue that is more than alive. Finally, in the presence of Gomez and Morticia, EVERYONE comes to the realization this is the Addams' home, just like they've seen on TV. We get the roll call of the family, including the random appearance of Uncle Fester (voiced by Jackie Koogan) from beneath the floorboards. Heck, even Cousin Itt makes a cameo! Oh, and that howling? It's just Grandmama listening to her records.
It turns out Lurch has fetched the gang to be the replacement housekeepers. Gomez and Morticia quickly exit, accepting their presence as enough proof that they've agreed to the position. Shaggy talks big about exiting but is quickly scared straight by Lurch's presence in the threshold of the front door. The remaining Addams' and Mystery Inc. sit down to break bread (or "break your teeth on bread" as Shaggy says). Lurch offers up a live chicken, which doesn't bother any of the Addams', but has Daphne and Velma convinced to go on a diet. Shaggy attempts to chow down on some brown edibles, but Cleopatra, Morticia's giant fly trap, takes it for herself. Dinner is quickly interrupted by loud squawking and flapping. The lights go out, and when they return (thanks to Thing emerging from Uncle Fester's soup), Wednesday is missing.
A note is left behind demanding the Addams Family leave the property and is signed by "The Vulture." Shaggy is keen on the idea of leaving. Confronted with the question about wanting to see Wednesday again, he agrees, as well as Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, too. Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby check the upstairs while Fred and Daphne remain on the ground floor (insert obvious sex puns here). Add another notch on Shaggy's scare belt, as a living suit of armor scares the bejesus out of him. The armor manages to levitate but quickly comes apart falling to the ground. Meanwhile, Gomez and Morticia are enjoying a miserable (great) time feeding the Crocodiles and fishing for an Octopus. Unfortunately, for Gomez, he gets away from the Octopus.
Back in the Addams' home, Fred and Daphne are being chased by a flying carpet. Thankfully, the "Open Sesame" trick works, causing the carpet chasing them to crash into a closed door. The good news is they've escaped their pursuer. The bad news is they've entered a hall of doors. The first door they come to is conveniently labeled "The Closet." Inside it?
Oh-Kay. I mean, it's the Addams Family home. That's as normal as seeing a mop and bucket in your closet. "I've heard of skeletons in the closet, but this is ridiculous." They search a few more rooms, including Pugsley's Experimental Laboratory, home of weird animals like a mouse that neighs and a parrot that needs to get back to delivering mail. Despite a deep search of the estate, Wednesday is nowhere to be found. Shaggy is defeated in the groups task, playing a game of chess against living pieces that are blatantly cheating. Only now does Fred notice a door they haven't checked. YOU MEAN THE DOOR IN THE ONE ROOM THEY'RE ALL HANGING OUT IN? Scooby barges through the door in fear of Velma using the phrase "Skeleton key" after Fred discovers the door is locked. Velma identifies it to be Gomez's bedroom, because this is what it looked like on TV. ENOUGH WITH YOUR FOURTH WALL REFERENCES! Shaggy tries resting in the nearby bed, but Scooby pushes it away, revealing it to be a bed of spikes.
Despite the discovery of the new room, there's still no Wednesday to be seen. Luckily for the gang, Shaggy sits on Wednesday's Voodoo doll (and tacks), meaning they are on the right track. Scooby violently sneezes, busting the doll, and inadvertently revealing another note from "The Vulture" that was tucked inside it. Scooby picks up the scent and leads them upstairs to the kitchen. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Grandmama arrives and reveals that wasn't soup on the stove top, it was her Iguana's bath water that Scooby devoured. Scooby dives into a giant hole, onto a large cage attached to a wire. Where could this possibly lead? Further upstairs, where they discover a room with a huge padlock on the door. Velma picks the lock with ease, and inside? Wednesday, of course, playing with Homer, her pet Spider, masquerading as a Yo-Yo. The mysterious vulture shows up, looking like... a giant vulture.
Anyway, The Vulture™ flies overhead, dropping an egg like a bomb. Inside the egg is a third letter that declares this the final warning for everyone to scram. As if Shaggy and Scooby needed much convincing to run like cowards. Gomez and Morticia have returned, unphased by their frantic scurrying and screams. They somehow find themselves inside the remains of a Brontosaurus, much to the delight of Gomez. Morticia and Gomez aren't understanding of this Vulture's scheme of making them leave as they relax playing ping pong and reading a newspaper while standing on their head (respectively). More searching leads to the accidental discovery of the flying carpet. They're unaware of the carpet's flight, taking them out of the house. They once again encounter the Vulture, which is magnetically pulling the carpet and the duo further into the air.
Meanwhile, Fred, Daphne, and Velma come across a room full of "Candles". It's Uncle Fester's Lab, and those candles are sticks of "roman candles" (I guess they didn't want to promote dynamite to children, even though the Addams Family was a family-friendly sitcom). The box of fireworks all have their fuses lit, sending them all over the place, including knocking the Vulture out of the sky with a "direct hit to the tail feather." The Vulture is REALLY a helicopter, controlled by the housekeepers met departing the estate earlier in the night.
It turns out the couple were only concerned for the neighborhood children. They bugged the home with magnetic devices to control pieces of their furniture to frighten them, unsuccessfully. Instead of turning the couple over to the local authorities, the Addams' home is opened for the children to play and show that the Addams are hardly people to fear. Scooby and the Gang are offered to remain as housekeepers but decline as Gomez has a hard time containing his admiration for Morticia and her French. We wrap things up with a farewell from Gomez, Morticia, Thing, and Cleopatra. Lurch arrives to help lift the Mystery Machine out of the swamp, sending them on their way. Shaggy lights a candle to navigate a map, only to discover another box of Uncle Fester's "Candles" has found it's way into the back of the van.
Final Thoughts: I love Scooby-Doo, and I love the Addams Family. This seemed like a perfect marriage, but I feel it under-delivered on the Addams Family appearance, especially in the second half, as it developed into a standard episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?, minus several suspects instead of just the one couple interacting with them. I won't deny there's a few decent laughs, mostly from John Astin voicing Gomez, but it left me wanting more from the "guest stars" and the Addams' home in general seemed too sterile for what had so many possibilities. Even the bits inside Pugsley's and Fester's lab seemed toned down and unremarkable with bland backgrounds and kiddie-friendly altering to a character's trademark (speaking of, not ONE Fester with a lightbulb in his mouth bit?!). Unless you find this episode online to stream, you'll have a hard time finding it, as the Addams Estate has blocked production of the episode for commercial release for reasons unknown. Regardless of availability, unless you're a hardcore Addams Family fan, I couldn't recommend going out of your way to find it.