“ScoobyNatural” Crossover Premiere: Supernatural Team Talks Animation, Archangels, and Apocalypses
Things got a bit spooky at the Dolby Theater on March 20th, and it took a group effort from legendary monster hunting teams to handle the problem. I of course mean Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), along with Castiel (Misha Collins) … and the Scooby-Doo Gang (the real one, not the Buffy one). Honestly, as the meme goes these days. Avengers: Infinity War has nothing on this crossover.
The stars and producers of the longest running show in American genre television stopped by the PaleyFest stage to screen “ScoobyNatural,” as well as talk about the remainder of the season, and the genesis for this unique episode of television. The panel was as effervescent as the episode, with the cast joking and showing exactly the kind of chemistry and sincerity that has kept the show on the air. They discussed how this new season has literally opened new worlds, and how their own worlds have changed thanks to their involvement in the show. Though there has been no official announcement from the CW on season 14, the crew sounded pretty excited about the stories they have yet to tell. And they were also rightly excited about the story we all got to see prior to the panel.
The “ScoobyNatural” episode, to put it mildly, is nothing like you’ve ever seen. It’s hysterically funny, but it’s also a perfect monster-of-the-week Supernatural episode that takes the Shaggy, Scooby, Velma, Daphne, and Fred to some, shall we say, slightly darker places than we usually see them. And that’s what makes the episode brilliant—the contrast of Sam and Dean, rough and rugged, with the Scooby Gang in all their optimism and hopefulness. It reminds us why we love both these shows: because they’re about saving people, and hunting things. I loved seeing the pure joy of Dean especially, getting to step into his favorite childhood show, and I felt that same glee watching the episode. The pairings of characters, especially Castiel with Shaggy and Scooby, are so fun, and even Dean’s pursuit of his childhood crush, Daphne, has a fun pay off. Jeremy Adam and Jim Krieg—writers for Scooby, not Supernatural—as well as the Supernatural showrunners should absolutely be commended for pulling off something so ambitious and making it so entertaining and work so well.
As we’ve reported before, this episode has been a long time in the making, with the script being written early last year and voiceover work with the actors done in March. They clearly had a blast on the episode. Ackles (Dean) related that he laughed out loud in his ADR sessions when he got to the amazing moment of Dean unhinging his jaw to scarf down some sandwiches with Scooby and Shaggy. According to showrunner Andrew Dabb, who, with the cast and other writers, stopped by to chat before the panel, this wasn’t an obstacle for the season. Some dialogue was added to the few live action portions to connect the episode to the larger season arc, but it very much stands on its own. Serendipitously, there is a line early in the episode theorizing that the boys are in Scoobyland because of the Trickster, aka Gabriel, who maybe isn’t dead. Ironically, he’s not, as was revealed at the end of episode 13 earlier this season, but no one knew that would be the case when the episode was written. It’s almost … supernatural.
Speaking of Gabriel (Richard Speight Jr.) and the larger season arc, I asked the writers what sort of role we can expect the erstwhile archangel to play for the remainder of the season. Dabb made the assurance that, while some characters come back to Supernatural for one episode then disappear, “that is not the journey we’re taking Gabriel on. He’s he for a while. He’s going to be a big part of our story.” Writer and Co-Executive Producer Brad Buckner teased that “the actual mechanics of how he survived will be revealed in a kinda fun way; just keep in mind that Gabriel was the trickster and always has something up his sleeve.”
Buckner’s writing and producing partner, Eugenie Ross-Leming, hinted that this season is very much about redemption: “Everyone wants to redeem themselves … and Gabriel gets to do that. He’s pretty heroic.”
Does that mean there are others on a redemptive path this season? Maybe Satan? Well … it doesn’t sound like the turning of a new leaf for Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) is too likely, though according to Dabb, “Lucifer would very much like you to believe that.” We may keep seeing glimpses of good in Lucifer, as Ross-Leming teased, but it may not work out. One person learning some tough truths about the Prince of Darkness is his partner in his heavenly takeover, the angel Anael, a.k.a. sister Jo, played by Danneel Ackles (you may have heard of her husband). She revealed that things aren’t going great for Anael and Lucifer when we next meet them, and life back in heaven is “not going exactly like she thought it would go.”
We’ll see how it works, as Ross-Leming teased that Anael may prove she can turn her back on Lucifer. Someone else who’ll be dealing with their relationship to the devil is his son, Jack (Alexander Calvert), who will finally meet his father in episode 21 and spend some serious quality time with him in the following installment. Calvert revealed, “It’s such a complicated relationship, because he has a desire to truly know his father, but at the same time, he’s so lucky to be found by the Winchesters that he already has a family.”
Speaking of the Winchesters, after a bit of disagreements in recent episodes, Dean, Sam, and Castiel will come together to fight the good fight as the season enters its final run. According to Collins, “I think the phrase ‘team free will 2.0’ is apt. I think we band together and serve as a little militia in fighting spirit at the end of the season.” That team will include Gabriel, as well as everyone’s favorite witch, Rowena (Ruth Connell), who will continue to be a frenemy to the boys. Dean especially sounds very committed, according to Ackles: “There’s gonna be a moment of a kind of call to arms for him. And he’s gonna make a very difficult decision.” Could this have to do with the recent reveal that Ackles will be playing a character other than Dean soon? We’ll have to see.
I asked if Padalecki, Ackles, and Collins, who all have small children, would be letting their kids watch their dads get animated, Padalecki (who it turns out auditioned for the role of Shaggy in the live action Scooby-Doo back in the day) answered yes with no hesitation, while Collins thinks it might be a bit too dark for his kids, who think Up and Frozen are terrifying. Both Ackles wanted to wait and see the episode in full before making a decision. Having seen “ScoobyNatural,” it is darker than a typical Scooby outing, so it’s not really for kids, but that’s also what makes the episode brilliant and so funny, and the reason I certainly think you should take a look.
Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.
(images: courtesy of the Paley Center)
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