LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, 1.4

Here I continue, on my somewhat fruitless quest to rewatch all of The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo.  I’m four episodes in and I’m still not sure what I’m getting out of this. Probably nothing.

I sure as hell am not watching because of the technical prowess behind the show. This show most certainly doesn’t hold up the way it could. The nostalgia wanes.

But enough about me, let’s go to Cocoa Beach, where teens get jobs at police stations.


Episode 4 – “Fool’s Gold”

00:28 – Ah Shelby, haven’t you learned that as the high school intern, you won’t ever get real police work? I love so much that you’re constantly surprised by your dull, low-impacts tasks of sharpening all the pencils and crossing guard duty for the local elementary school.

01:13 – Under the cover of night, someone is breaking into a surf shop to steal a rare coin that may be pirate treasure. All of that exposition came from an interview clip that was playing on the TV in the closed surf shop, after hours, when no one was around.


01:48 – Mr. Pappas, owner of surf shop and finder of sunken pirate treasure is wearing a great sweater, and is asking terrible things like “who would want to steal a priceless coin?” The answer is everyone. Everyone, Mr. Pappas. Meanwhile, no one notices Shelby taking notes, until she knocks down a row of oxygen tanks. Shelby is like all of the Marx brothers combined.

Shelby being really stealthy in the back.
Shelby being really stealthy in the back.

03:19 – Cindy, of course, can’t wait to hear about this break-in. She is ready to take some scuba lessons and swim with sharks. None of that sounds fun to me, but again, I’m an indoors girl. I do love the predictable banter between thrill-seeking Cindy and nervous WarrenNoah. I don’t even have to fill it in, pretty much everyone can guess what they will say and that WarrenNoah will never win and they will never just spend an afternoon watching TV and eating cheetos, or lounging in the pool like normal kids.


04:01 – 90s computer is back to show us the clues that Shelby may have only heard about including, like tar footprints that might lead them to the culprit. Like an episode of Blue’s Clues. Also, this is the second episode in a row that tar played a significant role, which is just weirdly specific.


04:42 – Shelby sees a cute scuba instructor and decides to stick with Cindy. I seriously do not remember Shelby as so “boy-crazy.” She also sees a sketchy figure on a boat watching them from afar. The boat is named “Revenge.” She tells Detective Hineline about this, in a fleeting moment of clarity and responsibility.

05:39 – Shelby does what all kids do best, con their grandparents out of money by professing their long-standing passion for something they just discovered. Except this grandparent is Pat Morita and he needs help running an inn, and you should always help Mr. Miyagi, you ingrate.

06:04 – A British guest is trying to check out but Shelby has noticed tar on her beige heels, which have left footprints all over the floor. Those are definitely the shoes of a b-level criminal. She is really apologetic, and Pat Morita reassures her that’s it’s just tar, and he can clean it in a second. I’m pretty sure he learned that in his criminal justice education because I’m not sure if that’s something that you can just find in Good Housekeeping. Never mind, I was wrong. DID I MISS A DAY OF HOME EC FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES?


06:35 – Of COURSE, this guest is a rare coin dealer, because why wouldn’t she be? In my head she works for Antiques Roadshow and now I want to be her friend.


07:30 – Shelby convinces Constance to let her call the airline to book a flight (because the 90s were terrible). She manages to trick Constance into calling a separate line in the house so that Shelby can pose as an airplane representative with the worst fake British accent ever to tell Constance that all flights are rescheduled due to alligators on the runway. Constance, a hypothetical criminal mastermind and adult, buys this.

09:18 – Shelby is trying to find ways into Constance’s room, but since she has no flight, Constance is just hanging out in her room. This is pre-Tumblr, so I’m not sure I even remember what people did then. Sleep? Dream of a futuristic world where you can book flights quickly? Grandpa sees this and is displeased.

09:53 – Shelby found a way into the room! British people love tea. Grandpa drinks Chinese tea. Constance will be joining him for tea. Grandpa clearly hates this, but who cares because teatime will be Shelby’s spytime.


10:18 – Shelby is trying to pretend that this is all because she’s thankful for the scuba lessons. Grandpa tells her to take out the trash and tells her of windows she will need to wash. Remember, all money from family is guilt money.

11:00 – I am so impressed with Shelby’s game right now. She just pulled the, oh there’s an odd number so you’ll have to be my partner trick to get to talk to the James Franco/James Marsden hybrid scuba instructor, Nick, Mr. Pappas’ nephew.

I don’t blame you girl.

11:45 – Mr. Pappas is putting up posters offering a $10,000 reward for the return of the coin. In case you missed this, Cindy will ask what the poster is for, and WarrenNoah will tell us, just because we’re keeping it as clear as possible. Shelby tells us that Detective Hineline hates when civilians get involved, which Shelby I’m sure knows all about.

14:13 – The gang goes to search the “Revenge” for clues, but don’t seem to notice they are moving. I notice that it’s pretty nicely decorated for an eccentric creepster named “Mac.”

Look at his tapestries and framed photos!
Look at his tapestries and framed photos!

15:10 – Mac is a descendent of the McPhee clan and wants his grandfather’s treasure or something. A not shocking twist if Shelby had read any Nancy Drew ever.

16:04 – The gang is getting snacks at CJ’s burgers, when the waiter, Will, brings over a bowl of chili and asks them to smell if it is off. When they all groan and get grossed out, he admits to have already eaten four bowls. Will is me.

16:24 – Grandpa and Constance are having a grand old time talking about old crimes/ Shelby is “cleaning,” aka looking for clues, and has knocked over Constance’s bag and has found an old coin. She is being responsible again and is calling Detective Hineline.


18:04 – Constance says the coin is from the British Museum to verify the authenticity of the coin. Her shoes had tar on them from the beach. Florida, is that a thing? Okay I just googled, and now I’m sad, so thanks Shelby Woo.

18:30 – Grandpa is pissed. How could you disappoint Mr. Miyagi? Shelby is tasked with dusting the attic. “But it’s nothing but dust!” Jokes!


19:47 – The gang is watching Mr. Pappas’s interview at the surf shop as they prep for their first dive. The video is apparently on permanent loop because Mr. Pappas is a narcissist. If I have faith in Shelby, she will soon do a double take and realize that the tape is a clue and tells her what happened to the coin.


20:29 – Shelby, I knew I could believe in you. It took until you were a mile out to sea, but I knew you’d get there. Time to loudly recap to your friends!


20:46 – Mr. Pappas was lying about going diving! He’s on the boat with them! He heard Shelby say everything. Pappas emptied their oxygen tanks, because who wouldn’t murder teenagers if it meant millions of dollars and some minimal guilt?

21:46 – Surf instructor Nick checks the tanks and refuses to take everyone out with no oxygen because of the whole chance of death thing. Everyone is afraid now, except Pappas, because he’d be the one doing the murdering.

21:58 – Mr. Pappas has the coin. I am deeply ashamed that I laughed when WarrenNoah said, “Oh there it is!  And all this fuss over nothing.” In my defense, it’s after midnight.

22:33 – G-rated mild action scene as Shelby rolls an oxygen tank at Nick, who ducks, as Mr. Pappas trips over his nephew and plunges into the sea. They immediately throw a lifesaver out to him because while low-level crime solving may look great as an extracurricular for college, murder won’t.

He would've gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling kids.
He would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.

23:34 – Detective Hineline knew that the crime was staged and that the coin was fake. He also had people (aka McPhee) watching the surf shop, so basically Shelby and company nearly died for a crime that was pretty much already solved. Way to communicate, everyone. This is why cell phones are a pretty great invention.  Also, actually speaking to each other, ever.

That’s it.  That’s how this episode ended, with Hineline saying hey thanks for nothing Shelby, I knew this already, and you almost got killed, please mind your business. And they say you can’t learn anything from TV. I also learned a lot about tar, more than I ever cared to know about.

Will Cindy will be excited about something that might get them killed? (She will.) Will WarrenNoah be worried about dying? (Yes. Can you blame him?) Will Shelby disappoint her grandpa? (Yes.) Will Det. Hineline be mildly annoyed by Shelby? (Yes.) Check back next week if I’ve found a reason to keep this going, or follow along as The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo is available on Amazon Instant.


By Karishma

Karishma is a twenty-something living in New York City and is trying her hardest to live out every cliche about Millennials. This involves eating her feelings, drowning in debt and mocking infomercials. She likes sociology so much that she has two degrees in it, and is still warding off her parents' questions about a real career.

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