'Scooby Doo Where are You' will always be my personal favourite of the Scooby Doo incarnations. "Go Away Ghost Ship" is not a personal favourite of mine, never was as a kid either despite being one of the episodes personally owned, but every episode of the show has plenty to enjoy even the lesser episodes and "Go Away Ghost Ship" isn't exempt from that.
It is agreed that while there are duller and more obvious (though the identity is not too hard to figure out) villains in the show (especially the Witch Doctor in "Decoy for a Dognapper"), there are far creepier and more interesting ones too. The Ghost of Red Beard is not particularly menacing or threatening, instead pretty routine and over-the-top (he gets some credit in looking pretty good). Even the butler was scarier than Red Beard, that was a quite effective character that was underused. John Stevenson over-compensates quite badly as his voice, all of it is pretty much overdone shouting and a laugh that grates more than intimidates. Stevenson has done some quite sinister vocals before but this is an exception.
Where "Go Away Ghost Ship" really excels is in the gags and the atmosphere. While there are more atmospheric episodes, the main pirate ship setting and the fog do create a creepy vibe. The gags are indeed tremendous and bring a much needed light-heartedness to the proceedings. The cooking of Red Beard's dinner, Scooby's bit with the fog, Shaggy and Scooby's accidental drinking of oil and Shaggy and Scooby's attempted escape under a bucket but falling into the water below. The bit with the bubbles is also very funny, but one doesn't think somehow that it was particularly intentional.
The mystery is somewhat formulaic and would have benefited better with a stronger villain, but the atmosphere, vintage Scooby Doo dialogue and jokes (endearingly silly and often hilarious) and gags elevate it to a higher level. Shaggy and Scooby provide some really fun moments, the energy is constant and great and the climax with the jack-hammer(?) while not particularly creative was quite amusing.
Shaggy and Scooby never fail to bring a smile to my face, likewise with their ceaselessly charming chemistry, and Fred, Velma and Daphne are no less enjoyable either. As always, Don Messick, Casey Kasem and Frank Welker stand out of the voice acting, Messick and Kasem are without equal as Scooby and Shaggy and one cannot believe that it's been nearly 50 years and Welker's still voicing Fred with no signs of fatigue or inconsistency. Only Stevenson disappoints in this regard.
The animation is lively, atmospheric, lushly coloured and nicely drawn as always. The music adds to the impact the atmosphere creates, and it is very difficult to resist the classic theme song, along with the opening credits where it is so fun spotting and recognising the villains, that is one of the most iconic in animation.
In summary, not a favourite but still a very enjoyable episode. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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