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Team Free Will Meets the Scooby Crew in ScoobyNatural



Like millions of Supernatural fans who grew up watching Scooby Doo, I was ecstatic to learn of an upcoming crossover episode of Supernatural and Scooby Doo. Some of Supernatural‘s most legendary episodes have been when the show has dared to go meta, and I’m expecting no less from this. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

On the surface, the connection between the two shows is obvious. On Supernatural, for 13 seasons and two networks, the Winchester Brothers have been cruising down the winding roads of the USA in their trusty Impala hunting down and fighting supernatural creatures and saving humanity from one Big Bad after the other, including God and Lucifer themselves.

In its many incarnations on Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Scooby, along with Fred, Velma and Daphne, have been riding around in the Mystery Machine encountering one whodoneit after another and exposing fake supernatural beings for nearly 50 years.

To fans of Supernatural, the list of common factors is far greater. Dean Winchester loves puns, pie and bacon cheeseburgers the way Scooby and Shaggy love Scooby Snacks. Sam Winchester is as dry witted, logical,  skeptical and academic as Velma.

So the myriad questions about tonight’s episode are many. Would Dean hit on, and get shot down, by Daphne? Would he get into a pissing contest with Fred over it? How much taller than Fred and Shaggy Would Sam be? Would Scooby and Dean buddy up, leaving Shaggy feeling left out? Or would they form a ridiculous trifecta, dramatically gulping in unison and devouring every bit of food available as every strange detail of their case is revealed?  Would Baby and The Mystery Machine drag race? Would Sam’s insanely long legs mean he’d always be five steps ahead of The Gang when they’re fleeing whatever it is they’ll flee? Would whatever the Mystery of The Week is prove to be a Scooby Doo style hoax? Or would we get a more grown up blood and guts Winchester style outcome? Would we be graced with guest appearances from the ghosts of Charlie, Bobby, Rufus or Jo? Would Castiel manage to zap himself into the story? Jinkies! Jeepers! Zoinks! So many questions!

8 p.m, rolls around and I guess it’s time to tune in and find out. I have to admit, getting into the first couple of minutes of this episode definitely felt like something was off. This was probably because I’ve grown so accustomed to the ever-present continuity Supernatural has shown over the years. Not to mention that there hasn’t exactly been a lot of levity on the show of late. Things felt very two-dimensional, unusual for the shows main characters, but makes sense when considering that I’m watching the live-action portion of a cartoon crossover.  

The episode opens with the Winchester brothers inside a pawn shop wrestling a giant stuffed dinosaur and causing it to explode. The Boys exit with a flat screen as a thank you gift from the incredibly grateful shop owner, his friend ‘the guy who owns practically the whole neighborhood’ watching them suspiciously.

Back at The Bunker, Sam dives into the books in search of an explanation for the animated plushie attack while Dean drops some choice one liners including ‘Be like Elsa. Let it go.’ He then leads Sam to ‘The Dean Cave’, complete with a foosball table, jukebox and a set of double Lazy-Boy recliners. There’s a giant kid side to Dean we’ve barely glimpsed for several seasons, but it’s front and center here.  He fires up the television and Presto! The boys are toons.

What is amazing is that the moment the episode transitions into animation, the continuity and fully developed characters I’ve come to expect from this show are back in force. Dean is thrilled to be a cartoon and gleefully up for the challenge, Sam is all questions.

The return of Archangel Gabriel aka The Trickster is hinted at  while simultaneously giving a nod to Changing Channels, the last meta episode where The Boys were on TV. Baby arrives and The Boys hit the road to work the case. When they stumble upon The Scooby Gang at a Malt Shop, Dean’s childlike fanboy joy at being in an episode of Scooby Doo is contagious and Sam remains grumpy. Unsurprisingly, Dean calls ‘dibs on Daphne’.

Dean’s explanation of the role Scooby Doo played in their childhood and how dear they are to him is heartwarming and the banter between The Boys is spot on. A MYSTERY presents itself and Sam and Dean jump in to tag along. But not before Dean chows down on Road Food with Shaggy and Scooby, of course.

Heading off to the Colonel’s mansion, there’s a drag race with the Mystery Machine leaving Baby in the dust, and we realize how much Dean hates Fred.

Dean realizes he knows the episode they’re in, one where Scooby is up for an inheritance on the provision of spending the night in a haunted house. Velma informs Sam that there’s no such thing as a haunted house and Dean sets out to insure that Sam doesn’t destroy the Gang’s naiveté.

Daphne shoots Dean down, Dean starts to get comfortable in the knowledge of knowing what comes next, and Daphne calls Velma out on having a thing for Sam. When Dean expects a houseguest to go missing an actual dead body turns up instead, the thing has gone off script and with Dean’s trademark ‘Son of a Bitch!’ we’ve heard the first swear word in history on Scooby Doo.

The Gang remains as obtuse and two dimensional as ever, while the Winchesters hunker down to solve the case while keeping them in the dark. Deans declaration of ‘It doesn’t matter if we die, Scooby-Doo could die, and that’s not happening. Not on my watch. I’d take a bullet for that dog.’ is priceless.

Velma clings to logic,  asserting that ‘There’s no such thing as ghosts.’ just as Castiel arrives and the shenanigans get ridiculous in the best kind of way.

The first ghost sighting occurs and another dead body appears. Everyone splits into teams, Velma obsessing over Sam’s broad shoulders and Dean unable to shake Fred and get  Daphne alone. Unexpectedly, Castiel bonds with Scooby and Shaggy. ‘Wonderful. I once lead armies and now I’m paired with a scruffy Philistine and a talking dog.’ may be one of Castiel’s top ten best lines ever.

Sam and Velma take the attic, where he gives her the low-down on the family business. She laughs it off, letting him know that ‘monsters are nothing more than crooks in masks. Usually unscrupulous real estate developers.’ right before being attacked by a trunk full of ectoplasm dripping, glowing toys.

Dean gets shot down by Daphne in the library where with Fred they discover a secret tunnel to the basement and have another run in with the ghost.   

Castiel, Shaggy and Scooby have their own run in with the ghost and a classic Scooby Doo chase montage to the shows iconic theme song ensues back and forth through hallway doors, with pauses for Dean to leer at Daphne. Sam, incidentally, is at the rear of the pack, rolling his eyes at his brothers ridiculousness.

The ghost attacks, Shaggy gets an arm broken and with that, it’s decided. For their safety, Team Free Will must break the truth about monsters and demons to The Gang and they proceed to have a collective nervous breakdown until Dean gives one of the best motivational pep talks of his life.  Dean finally gets to drop an f- bomb, albeit bleeped out, but it’s been a long time coming.

A trap is set, the ghost is captured in classic Scooby Doo fashion in a salt circle trap that’s classic Supernatural. Castiel doing the ‘Scooby creep’ is a highlight.  

Turns out the ghost is a little boy  being used as a tool by the unscrupulous real estate developer from the pawn shop. They cut a deal to con The Gang back into innocence,  and get back to reality in exchange for, freeing the ghost. But first Velma dips Sam for a smooch and Castiel heals Shaggy’s arm.

Back at The Bunker, The Boys and Castiel free the ghost, then head to the pawn shop where they save the owner from being swindled in a bad real estate deal and have the real estate developer arrested for tax evasion, declaring ‘I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!’  Annnnnd Dean goes right back into kid mode looking right into the camera and doing his best impression of Scooby himself with a gruff Scroooby Dooooby Dooooooo

This is unquestionably one of the best episodes of Supernatural to date. I feel like going in, I had a pretty good feel for what to expect. Without question, the episode delivered. It manages to walk the line between being pure Scooby Doo and pure Supernatural. I give it an A++

Written by: Lynn C. Albers

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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy



Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.

The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.

I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.

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Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?



Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.

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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!  



Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.

So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.

The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.

Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.

First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.

Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.

Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.

Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.

To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!

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