The mystery machine page 2 alternate history discussion bp gas prices chicago


2) This is also a world where supernatural or hyper-natural events do demonstrably occur. In the original series of Scooby Doo, the ‘ghosts’ are always disproven. However, even the original series features an apparent talking dog with human levels of intelligence and some physical dexterity. Subsequent series expand the cast of talking sentient animals. Some of the subsequent series also introduce the Mystery Machine crew to genuinely supernatural beings – Vampires and Werewolves (in the 70’s), and supernatural threats like zombies (in the 2000’s). There are also indications of super or unusual science – as with ‘Shaggy and Scooby Get a Clue’, but also dating back to the original series where many of the villains use extraordinary or apparently impossible technology to achieve their spurious spooks.

3) Despite the existence of the supernatural or hyper-natural, oddly, there’s almost no recourse to religion or conventional superstition. In the original series, the Mystery Machine encounters one fake ghost after another…. but none of these fake ghosts ever triggered an exorcist, a medium, religious or ritual trappings, etc. It’s as if whatever it was that created a widespread belief in the supernatural, such that faking a ghost story is a logical plot, also discredited religion.

4) As has been pointed out – there’s some suggestions that the world of Scooby Doo is not quite our own. No mention of Russia or China or of the cold war… perhaps a forgiveable lapse. But town after town, as has been pointed out, seems to be thinly populated or underpopulated and run down.

5) Despite this, I disagree with the concept of the Scooby Doo universe as a post-apocalyptic world. Or at least a freshly post-apocalyptic world. The America of the Scooby Doo world seems to give every indication of a fully functioning and viable economy and society – there’s always gas for the mystery machine, everyone is wearing clean clothes, society despite a few quirks seems to be operating normally. I’d suggest therefore, that if there was an apocalyptic event, or a trauma of some sort, it occurred early enough that by the time of the initial Mystery Machine tour in the 1960’s, that the American economy and society had essentially normalized. Seems to me that whatever happened, must have happened at least a couple of decades earlier, possibly a full generation or more.

6) A controversial note – it’s possible, given the incredibly long sequence of their animation careers in series after series, that the Mystery Machine Crew are functionally immortal, or at least unnaturally youthful and long lived. I’m just going to leave it out there.

I’m going to discard the notion of a Soviet/Chinese war/holocaust in the 60’s. Way too recent to be an effective pod, and it doesn’t have the triple effects of bolstering the belief in the supernatural/loss of belief in religion, and the emergence of hypernatural phenomena.

Instead, I’m going to argue: Cthulhu. Or something similar. Here’s my suggestion. Instead of, or parallel to the Manhattan Project, another branch of the American War effort was concentrating on… for lack of a better word…. a supernatural or occult superweapon. Most likely the release or creation of a supernatural being who produced a horrific mortality in its geographic vicinity.

They managed to create or release it, putting paid to Nazi Germany, and quite possibly to the USSR and subsequent Communist China. However, it became clear that this newly discovered and explored Supernature had nothing to do with any faith – Cthulhu or his cousin might exist, but not Jesus or Allah or Yahweh. The Christian cosmology was proven to be nonsense. And worse than nonsense, utterly ineffective in stopping, coping or combating.

But it also produced hyper-nature phenomena, talking dogs for instance, or applications that specific technology or science could take advantage of to do things that can’t be done now, and possibly dragged or made previously existing supernature or hypernaturals more visible in certain circumstances… a la later seasons, when Shaggy gets infected by genuine lycanthropy.

I like the theory, but a Cthulhu based event would probably cause points 3 & 4 to be voided. If there was a Cthulhu event, based on the Lovecraft stories, religions and certainly the cults that ordered them ( e.g. The Order of Dagon, the Cult of Cthulhu) would have certainly capitalized on those events. Second, people would have mentioned their points of departure ( e.g. "Let’s Go to Maui!"). Third, consider that there are too many people staying in one place for a domestic event including celebrities such as Don Knotts, the Harlem Globetrotters, Batman & Robin, and Sonny & Cher,….

The Sino-Soviet border conflict may not be the cause, but the gang has visited Turkey, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Kenya, South Africa, Costa Rica, India, Italy, Australia, Greece, Japan, Jamaica, Haiti, Antarctica, Egypt, and Germany,…

When they visited China in 1978, there was no Communist Party or PLA. They have encountered the Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan though, who are American-born Chinese. In 2010, they meet up with Chinese exchange students, who speak of ghosts, but no Communist Party, and certainly no PLA. They do have Internet cafes though. Russia isn’t visited until 2005…,

I reference Cthulhu as a well known placeholder. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘the Cthulhu’, only a dangerous, supernatural manifestation on the power level of an atomic or hydrogen bomb…. possibly one which could be more specifically directed at least initially. I call it a ‘Cthulhu Event’ because everyone will recognize what that means, but it doesn’t have to be Cthulhu itself, or anything from Lovecraft’s or any other known or fantasy pantheon.

1) It would tend to create a Post-WW2 Victory society in America, which would parallel our own version of a Post-WW2 Victory society. We won, the depression was over, the various changes and dislocations from full scale militarization and then demobilization would all be similar. It would be a society that we would recognize easily.

2) Many of the cultural elements or persons were already in place. Don Knotts for instance was in the army, a frustrated ventriloquist, and looking to break into Hollywood. Martin and Lewis had their first show in 1946. The cultural fixtures and staples that emerged from the talking movies and Hollywood system in the 30’s and 40’s, would have shaped television and culture through the 50’s and 60’s. The result would be a world we would recognize, or thought we recognized.

3) Politically, the ‘fallout’ from a ‘Cthulhu Event’ – a supernatural hydrogen bomb, say, would have similar but potentially divergent effects. Japan and Germany would have been utterly crushed and surrendered. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether it was the atom bomb or a ‘Cthulhu’ dropped on Nagasaki, Japan is done for. However, something initially more controllable and selective than the atom bomb might well have been deployed to stop Mao in his tracks, or to destabilize Stalin’s regime. Alternately, in the case of Stalin, the regime may have been destroyed by their attempt to replicate a ‘Cthulhu event.’ The middle east would have decolonized on schedule, but the outcome in this case would have been a reinforcement of traditional power structures – Caliphs and Sultans, Hashemite Kings, etc., and a reassertion of local control – in OTL these were pushed out by either Islamists or westernized militarists.

Overall, I tend to see the Depression and WWII as the twin cultural touchstones which shaped America and the world between 1945 and 1980. Set your POD too early, and these events may be substantially changed. The world just wouldn’t be recognizeable.