Archives on TV: Be Cool Scooby-Doo, "Silver Scream"
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
In my formative years as a child raised by television, I was in the right age group to see re-runs of pretty much the entire catalogue of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! among them. Since those early days, I've seen just about every iteration of Scooby and the gang driving around in the Mystery Machine solving crimes and de-masking old men who go to elaborate lengths just to make a quick buck.
It just so happened I was channel surfing, looking for a suitable program to watch with my three-year-old nephew when I happened across Be Cool Scooby-Doo. The episode was "Silver Scream" and it just so happened to feature a film archives as part of the story. Imagine my delight!
The core mystery surrounds the haunting of Fletcher Films Studios by the "ghost" of Archie Barnes, a comedian of the silent film era who notoriously hated the studio interfering with his last film that he supposedly burned every copy of it. The movie was thought to be lost forever until an archivist uncovered a print of the film, which the studio plans to release. Unfortunately, Archie doesn't seem to like the idea. The gang happen to be on a studio tour and learn the pertinent information from their very informed tour guide, Tony, and decide to look into the matter themselves, because reasons.
In the 22 minutes afforded the episode, the film archives features in two major scenes. The first in the cold open when Russ (Eric Bauza), the archivist who found the film, is attacked by Archie's ghost and the second when Daphne (Grey Griffin) and Fred (still voiced by Frank Welker, who originated the role in the 60s cartoon!) head to the archives to question Russ. And I'll say this for the writer and creative team behind this episode, they don't fall into the stereotypes most shows, animated or live action, tend to lean on when depicting archives and archivists.
Firstly, the film archives is on the second floor of a building on the studio lot! It's not a dank dungeon of a basement surrounded by cobwebs and dust, but a clean-looking room with banker and clam shell boxes, reels of film, and other storage containers. It's not optimal to have those film reels stored in a non-temperature controlled room, but hey, I don't know the storage facility situation entirely at Fletcher Films. All I have to go on is the Archives Department itself and it's pretty slick, if I say so myself.
Of course, going to an archives wouldn't be complete without someone making a joke at the expense of people not knowing what an archives is. Daphne, taking on the role of tour guide as her "thing" for the episode, directs herself and Fred to the archives and, upon reaching the door, says:
We are now entering Fletcher Studios' film archive room. This is where...people...archive film? In a room?
I mean, she's not wrong. Not entirely.
Anywho, let's move on to Russ, the archivist. Look at this guy!
Look at him being a youngish, Kevin Smith type person! He's not old and decrepit! His hearing is good and he's relatively sane! This is a huge win for archivists! I mean, yes, he talks to a cardboard cutout of Archie Barnes like it's a real person, but, ya know, that just means he's eccentric.
Don't take this away from me!
The only other thing I want to point out is the style of the show is modeled after Family Guy, which is just a weird disconnect on my part when I initially watched the episode. It's odd watching Shaggy and Scooby running from a ghost and waiting for the non-sequitur to begin at any moment. The show itself, however, was really entertaining and I had fun watching it with my nephew as well as re-watching it to write this article.