LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, 1.5

Who knows what death-defying stunts Shelby will pull this time around?


00:37 – Oh good, Shelby is looking through old cases and guessing their crime based on mugshots. There’s a Tumblr idea for you. There’s a lesson here, of course. “Criminals come in all shapes and sizes.” Thanks for spelling it out, Shelby.

01:13 – Someone is whistling to a dolphin at a marine lab. I will refer to this as menacing whimsy. That’s also a great band name. Take it, it’s free. A dolphin is kidnapped. I’m pretty sure this was also the plot of Ace Ventura. (It was.)

01:36 – Unsatisfied with their one-hour photo developing jobs which they never seem to actually go to, Cindy and WarrenNoah are selling dolphin tee shirts outside of the marine lab. Capitalism! No one is around to buy except a few sad hippies. No sales today.


01:53 – OF COURSE one of the hippies has a guitar and is singing to free the dolphins. ACTUAL LYRICS OF THE DOLPHIN LIBERATION SONG:

“I am the dolphin, set me free.

Let me go home back to the sea.

I’m not for science, I’m for sea.

Set me free, set me free, set me free.”

I am moved to tears at the raw emotion of the song, this sonorous poetry, a melody like which we have never before truly heard or felt. Human creation lead to this moment in pure, perfect songwriting. Save the dolphins, y’all.


02:13 – Shelby sees the police and runs over to see how she can best hinder the police investigation. Cindy is focused on her money making scam/enterprise.

02:17 – The dolphin’s name is Coco. Concerned lady scientist is concerned. The lab owner is insisting that the dolphin swam away as her pen leads to the ocean. I’ve seen Blackfish, so I’m guessing that everything in this episode will be super terrible, but still not as terrible as real life. Oh, he’s already insisting that they file insurance claims. Children’s television was way darker than I remembered.

02:56 – Shelby is interrupting to suggest that the audiotapes used for research on Coco may have picked up a clue. Hineline is unimpressed.

Seriously I’ve had enough of your shit, Shelby.

03:10 – Scientist lady, probable insurance fraudster, Hineline and Shelby listen to the tape and hear mystery whistling. The whistling is a clue! No one knows who it could be because it is a mystery. This is also The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. (Say “mystery” one more time.) Mystery.

03:47 – Scientist lady runs to man on the dock, who’s popped his shoulder out of the socket, like one usually does when exiting a boat. Scientist lady is concerned. Hineline and Shelby are suspicious.

04:34 – The next morning, Grandpa puts Shelby on lizard retrieval duty at the inn, as some guest brought their pet lizard on vacation with them, or something, I don’t know. I’m not really paying attention, but apparently there are hijinks involving lizards. Florida, am I right?

04:40 – The hippie protestor is at the inn looking to rent a room. He’s talking to Grandpa slowly and loudly, prompting a game I didn’t know I’d have to play: stoned or casually racist?


05:21 – Hippie protestor has many strikes against him. He tried to pay for the room in quarters. There was the whole awkward check-in. Now, he’s whistling the tune that Shelby heard on the tape of Coco’s capture. Suspicions are aroused, and considering Shelby’s flirting track record, I’m pretty sure that’s not the only thing.

05:55 – Shelby heads to the police department where Hineline is leading a 3-second meeting with his staff of five. Based on the amount of crime we’ve seen in the past few episodes and the cases that Shelby references in passing, you’d think taxpayers would be scrambling to expand the police force, but maybe they’re okay with smoke bombs and kidnapping.

06:12 – Shelby is insistent that the hippie kidnapped Coco. I’m not surprised that Shelby is not questioning how one man managed to sneak off with a pretty large sea mammal in the dead of night, but I do applaud her persistence. Hineline reminds her that everyone who’s been in the park has heard that song (because it’s terrible, simple and earwormy). Just in case you think this show is being too subtle, another detective walks by singing the song.

06:31 – I spoke too soon about Cindy and Warren’s one-hour photo job! They’re actually at work. It’s only been five episodes. Either they have the loosest work schedule ever, or the writers forgot they established that.


06:51 – Cindy turned the dolphin T-shirts into “Missing” poster T-shirts. Cindy, you precious simple child.

07:52 – Shelby is really forthcoming with marine lab employees about other pending police investigations. She’s just walking around telling people about a smuggling ring that’s bringing in ivory. Meanwhile, they overhear a fight between scientist lady and lab owner about insurance claims.

08:43 – Coco is worth as much as my graduate school loans. There’s a cold unfeeling part of me that’s screaming, “TAKE THE INSURANCE CLAIM!”

09:29 – Dan/Dave (I forgot already), the lab employee with the dislocated shoulder, suggests Shelby take over the case.  She promptly walks into a wall to show us at home how together she is.

09:44 – Sirens start blaring and everything is now lit by bright red emergency lights. Shelby backs into another room when she hears the menacing whispering and gets herself locked in a tank that’s rapidly filling with water. She ends up in a large pool where she overhears the scientist lady and lab owner fighting. She does what anyone would do in this situation: take a huge breath and get back underwater.



11:37 – OH GOD, they’ve turned the stupid protest song into the background action music. Everything is terrible.  Also, Shelby is still trapped underwater.

12:16 – Shelby escapes and runs to the one-hour photo to meet up with Cindy and WarrenNoah. “I think somebody tried to kill me!” “Really, why?” Cindy. Cindy. Why do you think?

SW-After Tank

12:47 – Time for an awesome ’90s computer recaps of the suspects. Shelby is betting on lady scientist.

13:46 – Shelby is not willing to rule out any suspects and says she knows a way in to the hippie’s room.  I bet you do Shelby, I bet you do.  Oh, anti-climatic, she was pretending to look for the plot device lizard.

14:46 – Hippie just said that there aren’t enough songs about seals. There are however, many songs about rainbows. Hippie thinks it was the guy with the boat with no lights. Shelby wants to know more about this boat with no lights.

15:13 – We’re back at maybe the most diverse police department in American TV (joking, that probably is the Brooklyn Nine-Nine team), where we are back to discussing the ivory smuggling. I have no idea how or why this is relevant. Maybe Coco found out about the smuggling and they had to take her out. That’s how these plots work, right?


15:45 – COCO IS HOME. She is not literally and figuratively sleeping with the fishes. Shelby doesn’t have a case (or does she?). Seriously, if you don’t think the dolphin and ivory are bizarrely connected in some way, you have not watched as much TV as I have.


16:15 – Coco is injured! It looks like some slashed the dolphin with a knife. What the hell is happening? What happened that the dolphin got in a knife fight?

See artist rendering below:

You came to the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker.
You came to the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker.

17:28 – Shelby and co. suspect the lab owner. They plan on a stakeout to see if they can catch someone attacking/kidnapping Coco in the dark of night. They found the ivory smugglers! It’s all connected! Time for Shelby and company to needlessly endanger themselves by following the smugglers. These kids know how to party.

18:56 – WarrenNoah is scared. Cindy is ecstatic. It’s concerning. WarrenNoah blows their cover warning Shelby not to sneeze. Ivory smugglers are after them, surprisingly unarmed, bumbling ivory smugglers. You know, to make ivory smuggling kid-friendly and accessible. Two smugglers get taken down by falling pipes. One by a cardboard box. WarrenNoah gets caught on a staircase between two smugglers who then run into each other as WarrenNoah grabs a dangling rope and Tarzans his way to freedom.

20:50 – I know it’s life or death because they’re being pursued by inept ivory smugglers, but escaping in the smugglers’ van seems like a terrible choice. Then again, it’s the best choice they’ve made so far.


21:42 – Shelby, Cindy and Warren bring the ivory to the cops. They are super proud of themselves. Hineline is angry as the smugglers were not caught. Shelby sees a photo in the case file. Maybe the investigation isn’t yet over!

22:42 – Randy/Dave, the lab employee whose shoulder was dislocated is the ringleader of the ivory smuggling. I picked up on this because Randy was super creepy and awkward. I’ve also seen my fair share of Law and Order. His suggestive remarks to lady scientist are met with her squeezing his injured arm.


23:23 – Hippie is leaving the inn and taking the lizard with him. He is singing to it. The song is exactly the same as his previous songs. Shelby is eating chicken soup on the couch and getting over a cold she caught when trapped in that tank. Hineline is grumpy, Grandpa is doting and all is pretty much exactly as it always is.

I learned a lot this episode. Cindy might actually have some criminal talents. Everyone should listen to WarrenNoah. The Cocoa Beach Police Department is so small, you kind of understand why they keep Shelby around. Dolphins are surprisingly badass.


The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo are available on Amazon Prime 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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