- This article is about the episode. For the game show, look here.
At the HBTV station, the gang is watching For Letter or Worse live. After Shaggy and Scooby get insulted by Bobby and Betsy Brainy (with Betsy questioning whether Scooby is a dog or a pig), Shaggy accidentally drops a hot dog he was eating, and Scooby goes backstage to retrieve it. Scooby then runs into a floating ghostly gangster with long white hair, grey skin, and a mobster-like accent. He runs back to tell the others of the ghost, but Daphne just dismisses it as a costumed actor for another show.
This exchange is interrupted by the start of the game show, and both Shaggy and Scooby and the Brainy Bunch are picked as contestants. Before the show begins, Davie is congratulated by Prestina the magician, who seems to take the fact that her show got canceled so that Davie's would be aired all day long quite well. Daphne expresses a dislike of said cancellation, explaining that while she is not a fan of Prestina's show, she does like her costumes, especially the golden rings she is wearing.
After Davie the Letter Guy explains the rules (where contestants fish letters out of a pool, and the losers get dunked), the first round begins, and the Brainy Bunch instantly guess the very-long word without even needing to fish for a letter. After a while, the score becomes 25,321 to 0 in the Brainy Bunch's favor. As the final round begins, Scooby accidentally catches Davie's pants instead of a letter when a blackout occurs and the ghost of Al Cabone attacks the studio, frightening everyone out of the room except for Daphne, who stubbornly refuses to leave because of her skepticism and has to be physically carried out by Scooby driving a forklift. After regrouping outside, the gang learns that HBTV has decided to sell the station and meet Pop O'Connor, a former stagehand who tells them of Al Cabone's backstory: During the days of gangsters, Al Cabone was the meanest criminal in Coolsville, committing both big bank robberies and typical "jerk" or "bully" behavior such as stomping on flowers and had a secret vault where he kept all his loot, but the cops came for and arrested him before he could empty it. Cabone swore that he'd get out and get his money, but he spent the rest of his life in jail, and now his ghost has started haunting the studio, having already done something terrible and gruesome to a group of people who found his vault that O'Connor assures the gang they "don't want to know" (implying that his vault is buried on the grounds of the studio somewhere). After O'Connor leaves, Fred tries to motivate Shaggy and Scooby to investigate the station and try to capture Al Cabone, but is interrupted by a horrible sound. This sound turns out to be the Great Mel, a terrible magician and polka musician whose singing is so loud as to shatter car windows, Velma's glasses, and even Scooby, and who cannot properly execute the famous "rabbit in hat" trick, accidentally pulling Scooby out of his hat instead.
The studio executive to whom the Great Mel is auditioning tells Mel that he doesn't have a place for him since the ghost started attacking the studio, and Mel responds with the notion that the ghost would probably leave if he's hired. The executive is unconvinced, and Freddy notes that Mel's insinuation implies that he is (or at least is in league with) the ghost. After Mel leaves, the gang convinces Scooby to go inside the station with a truckload of Scooby Snacks, and they enter the station. Shaggy and a corpulent Scooby find themselves in the set for Count Shockula's Friday Night Horror Hangout and are scared by the Velma coming out of Count Shockula's coffin, with Scooby accidentally jumping on and squishing Shaggy. The trio takes a minute to admire the spooky props in the set, with Scooby making funny faces in a mirror until the ghost of Al Cabone frightens him so much that he loses all the weight he gained from eating a truckload of Scooby Snacks, and Velma notices that the "wall" of the set is made of papier-mache and cuts out a door, which the three promptly use to escape.
Elsewhere, Fred and Daphne notice a trail of peanut shells, following them to a wall. Fred erroneously deduces that Al Cabone must be working with Martians to steal Earth's peanut butter, which Daphne dismisses, and Shaggy, Scooby, and Velma run into the two, pushing them into the "wall" which is actually a revolving door leading to a secret room containing Pop O'Connor's diary. The diary says that Pop used to be a famous radio star and that his career was ruined when the radio station became the HBTV station. Shaggy and Fred note that this makes O'Connor a suspect, and Daphne points out a tunnel that the gang goes through. The tunnel leads to the set, where Cabone is waiting to ambush the kids, leading to a short chase scene in which the gang traps Cabone inside a closet and returns to the set, reviewing the facts of the case. Shaggy and Scooby suspect the Great Mel, Daphne suspects Pop O'Connor, and Fred suspects Red Herring (though Daphne shoots this down because Red isn't even in the episode). Velma does some calculations and concludes that all suspicions are correct except for Fred's, and explains to the gang her plan.
Scooby baits Cabone out, leading him to a false staging of "For Letter or Worse" with Shaggy disguised as Davie and modified rules that more closely follow "Wheel of Fortune". During this "game show", Scooby and Cabone compete, and Scooby correctly guesses that Cabone is really Prestina the magician. This causes Prestina to break character, and Shaggy instantly dunks her. As soon as the police (and Davie and the executive) show up, the gang explains that Prestina learned of her show getting canceled months ago and created the Pop O'Connor and Great Mel identities in preparation for the caper while pretending to be fine with the decision.
Shaggy and Scooby return to the For Letter or Worse competition, and Betsy fishes out the letter "Z". Davie reveals that there are two Z's in the word, confusing the Brainy Bunch and allowing Shaggy and Scooby to guess the correct word: "Pizza." This gives them 30,003 points, winning Shaggy and Scooby a year's supply of ice cream, comic books, and Scooby Snacks.
- Davie the Letter Guy (only appearance)
- Brainy Bunch (only appearance)
- Ghost of Al Cabone (only appearance)(Prestina's disguise)
- Prestina (only appearance)
- Pop O'Conner (only appearance)(Prestina's disguise)
- The Great Mel (only appearance)(Prestina's disguise)
- Audience (only appearance)(miscellaneous speaking)
- Announcer (only appearance)
- Al Cabone (only appearance)(flashback only)
- Station manager (only appearance)
- Red Herring (photograph)
- Police officer (only appearance)(no lines)
- Station manager's car
|Great Mel||Angry that he wasn't hired by HBTV.|
|Pop O'Conner||His career was ruined when the radio station was turned into the current TV station.|
|Prestina as the Ghost of Al Cabone, as well as Pop O'Conner and the Great Mel||Revenge against Davie the Letter Guy who took her timeslot with his own show, cancelling her own and then, to add insult to injury, became his assistant.|
- This is the first episode not to feature Red Herring in the flesh; Daphne points this out to Freddie while breaking the fourth wall, no less.
- This is the first episode not to have a chase song, and it's also the only non-season 3 episode not to have one.
- This is the first episode of this series in which the culprit is a female.
- The title of the gameshow/episode is a play on the phrase: For better or worse.
- The Brainy Bunch correctly guess that the first word is "Antidisestablishmentarianism," which is the longest non-scientific word in the English language (it refers to a political movement that started in 19th-century Britain as an opposition to the Liberal proposal for the disestablishment of the Church of England as the state church of England, Wales, and Ireland).
- This is one of the few episodes in the entire franchise where the monster's identity is revealed before he or she is unmasked.
- Foreshadowing: When The Great Mel is auditioning for the station, he pulls an actual magic trick where he pulls Scooby from his hat. This hints toward Mel actually being Prestina who was a magician.
- Al Cabone is a parody of notorious 1920s crime lord Al Capone. His vocal tic is modeled on actor Edward G. Robinson, who played Capone-like characters in several movies.
- The Brainy Bunch are named after The Brady Bunch, a comedy series which premiered in 1969, the same year as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
- Davie the Letter Guy's name is a play on then late-night talk show host David Letterman.
- For Letter or Worse is a parody of Wheel of Fortune.
Animation mistakes and/or technical glitches
- The ghost of Al Cabone's mouth doesn't move when he says "Blah, see? Blah!" after Scooby baits him out.
- When Freddy confronts The Great Mel, Mel's arm is used to poke Mel instead of Fred's.
Inconsistencies/continuity errors and/or goofs/oddities
- One of the kids in the background strongly resembles Shaggy.
- The rings Prestina wears are used to connect her to her two-human disguises, Pop O'Conner and the Great Mel, since they also wore them. Why would she wear her rings while in disguise, since they served no purpose other than acting as hints to her true identity?
- Daphne admires Prestina's fashion sense and pointed out the rings. They may have simply been in style at the time. Also, while the rings hint at Pop O'Conner and the Great Mel being disguises of Prestina, they do nothing to implicate her as the ghost of Al Cabone, as he does not wear them.
- There is no explanation for how the ghost of Al Cabone can fly.
- Considering Prestina is a magician and that the ghost was only seen inside the station, it's possible that she used a levitation trick using hidden wires, much like much like numerous other stage magicians do in the Scoobyverse.
- How did the Brainy Bunch not know of any five-letter word in the English language with two "Zs" when two such words ("dizzy" and "pizza") are fairly well-known?
- This is a gag. They are so obsessed with intellectualism that they overlook common sense.
- It's not clarified whether Pop O'Connor's diary is a forgery that Prestina created to give credibility to her disguise or if there was a real "Pop O'Connor" whose identity Prestina assumed for herself after discovering said diary. Likewise, though it is implied that Al Cabone's vault of stolen goods is somewhere in or beneath the station, it is never found, which could imply that "Al Cabone" was just made up by Prestina
- While monsters falling for terrible disguises is nothing new to Scooby-Doo, the ghost of Al Cabone really should have been able to see right through Shaggy's "Davie the Letter Guy" disguise, as (s)he's seen the real Davie before.
- What on Earth was Velma doing inside Count Shockula's coffin?
In other languages
|French||Le Fantôme de la Télé||The Phantom of the TV|
|Greek||Γράμμα ή Βουτιά||Letter or Dive|
|Polish||Literka albo wpadka||A Letter or A Fall|
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Volume 2 DVD released by Warner Home Video on July 19, 2005.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo: Complete 1st Season DVD set released by Warner Home Video on March 19, 2008.
- Best of Warner Bros. 50 Cartoon Collection: Scooby-Doo! DVD set released by Warner Home Video on August 13, 2019.
Shaggy: (narrating) We were all in the audience of our favourite TV show, For Letter or Worse. And I was sharing a snack with a pup named Scooby-Doo.
Station manager: But Prestina didn't seem upset about losing her job.
Shaggy: Like, I knew we could win. But I couldn't have done it without a little help from a pup named...
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