Once upon a time, the online video industry was teeming with short films and web series based off popular franchises. These “fan adaptations” were often passion projects filled with fan service, and many of them got millions of views.
But a lot has changed since the days when Halo: Forward Unto Dawn and Mortal Kombat: Legacy earned Streamy Award nominations. Online video culture has shifted towards short-form content, and many IP owners have been unwilling to bless fan adaptations, so new takes on that bygone genre are now rare.
That doesn’t mean they’ve died out entirely. A group of Scooby-Doo fans has delivered the first episode of Mystery Incorporated, a fan web series that offers a unique spin on America’s favorite crime-solving Great Dane.
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The inclusion of frightening baddies instead of masked villains who would have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids steers Mystery Incorporated into gritty territory, but the show’s melodramatic, campy tone is similar to the CW’s Riverdale. One selling point is the high production value, which was achieved despite a relatively small budget. The cast is filled with up-and-coming actors; Jessica Chancellor, who plays Daphne, has a sizeable following on TikTok, and some viewers may recognize Dayeanne Hutton (Velma) from her role as Harriet on the web series Emma Approved.
Chancellor and Dade Elza (who plays Fred) are the co-creators of Mystery Incorporated. Dante Yore serves as the fan adaptation’s director and cinematographer. The episode embedded above was financed by a 2020 Indiegogo campaign, which raised more than $20,000. COVID-19 pushed the show’s debut to 2022, but that hasn’t deterred its creators. They’re now back on Indiegogo hoping to fund the second chapter of a planned 12-part series. The goal for that campaign is set at $15,000, though stretch goals could allow multiple episodes to be greenlit at once.
As Yore explains in the project’s pitch video, the next episode could be immediately funded if each of Mysterty Incorporated‘s 54,000 YouTube subscribers contributed a single dollar. This ragtag band’s take on Scooby-Doo is a welcome throwback to a fun era of online video production. For that reason, I hope to see the entire series come to fruition.