LadyGhosts of TV Past

Retro Recap: The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, 1.6

I really thought I could handle all the episodes of this show, but I think one season is good enough.

“The Missing Astronaut”

00:27 – Shelby is wearing a bright red vest that has horses on it.


00:50 – Shelby is wearing the best dress in the world. IN THE WORLD.


01:08 – Okay, maybe I’ll actually focus on the story here. There is a famous astronaut who is staying at Grandpa’s inn. There are lots of people in somber suits because this is a joyous occasion. Shelby is harrassing interviewing the astronaut, until he decides he needs to get away. He is promptly kidnapped, because that’s what happens when you abruptly end a Shelby Woo interview, bitch.

01:34 – Detective Hineline is on the case and Shelby is promptly on his. She promises to approach the case in an investigative journalist capacity, which you know is a position famous for their cooperation and good relationship with the police.

02:05 – Grandpa is appalled that someone went missing at his inn. I mean, he has an extensive background in criminal justice, and it was a cocktail hour at a beach town inn. Meanwhile, in case you thought Shelby was going to fulfill the role of meddling reporter in this episode, another reporter swoops in to ask Grandpa how many people have been abducted from his inn. I would’ve assumed that her job would’ve been to maybe research this fact beforehand, but children’s TV likes to keep it very exposition heavy.


02:34 – Oh good, guests are starting to check out early because they don’t feel safe. Maybe if Cocoa Beach had any police presence that wasn’t just Detective Hineline and two extras from central casting, maybe, MAYBE people would be safe in a bed and breakfast.

03:14 – Pat Morita does a Bela Lugosi as Dracula impression and it’s adorable. Also, they are concerned about the bad press and the potential drop-off in guest reservations. The important part is that impression though. It was so cute.

03:47 – The police didn’t find any clues about the missing astronaut, but that’s because the clue (a pin) was stuck to the bottom of Shelby’s perfect green vinyl platform Mary Janes. ’90s!


04:01 – Rather than take the clue to the police, Shelby instead goes to Cindy and WarrenNoah at the One Hour Photo to look over Cindy’s pictures from the event. Cindy has a lot of photos that would make her instagram famous, such as lipstick smears on empty glasses.

04:26 – They are off to get burgers because they have a rigorous work schedule. They discover a suspect in a creepy guy who used to go to their school.

05:04 – Waiter at CJ’s whose name I don’t remember remains my favorite by interjecting about how the glasses at the restaurant don’t break if dropped at the right angle (which leads to a very obvious punchline, which I won’t spoil for those people for whom it’s not that obvious).

05:55 – In addition to creepy guy from school, we’ve added a NASA scientist and the astronaut’s ex-wife which leads us to some wonderful internalized misogyny courtesy of Cindy:

Cindy: “Mmmm, the bitter ex-spouse, sounds like a suspect to me.”

Shelby: “Well we don’t know she’s bitter.”

Cindy: “They’re always bitter.”

Cindy, no!

06:21 – Shelby is now using the ’90s Internet to look up the suspects while sitting at work at the precinct.  I’m struggling to remember the Internet before Wikipedia. Did she use Lexis-Nexis? Did she use Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia?

06:54 – Detective Hineline is scolding Shelby about not having his lunch. He also mentions that he is currently working on two burglaries, an arson, and the astronaut kidnapping. More evidence to my “Cocoa Beach needs a better police force” argument. Shelby tries to show Hineline the clue she found, but all he cares about are melted cheese and fries. I understand that feeling, Hineline.

07:50 – WarrenNoah and Cindy are off to question the astronaut’s ex-wife by using the clever ruse of confronting her to pay her ex-husband’s overdue magazine subscription fees. Youths.


08:25 – Bitter ex is bitter just as Cindy predicted. She describes missing astronaut Jack Griswold as a “lying, cheating, money-grubbing, ego-maniac.” This is what she tells random strange teenagers at her door. She also tells them that he cheated her out of royalties on the book they co-wrote and that she is still fighting for that money. Not at all suspicious.

09:35 – Shelby is off to visit the creepy guy from high school, Donovan, who maybe asked her out once. This is a terrible idea. Donovan has a lot of space exploration paraphernalia.


He also has a life-sized astronaut’s space suit with OH SHIT IT’S THE MISSING ASTRONAUT IN THE SUIT.


10:05 – JK, it’s a dummy.  A terrifying dummy. Shelby is caught. Shelby quickly gives up the game: “I’m trespassing and that’s against the law.” Have you no dignity, Shelby?


10:54 – The show is trying to make me believe that Donovan is gross and creepy, but it’s Shelby who is so awkward that it’s hard to watch right now. She’s insisting that she definitely wanted to go out with him but was busy. Shelby, this is going to backfire. Donovan goes on a rant about how he’s going to be the greatest astronaut ever. Donovan’s life is going to change when Reddit comes into the world.

13:29 – Shelby manages to escape but runs into Detective Hineline. The usual conversation follows with Hineline telling her to stay out of the case and Shelby insisting that she could be helpful.  This time the case is actually impacting her life and Hineline is reluctantly allowing her to participate as she may be able to identify some angry loud voices she supposedly heard during the party.

14:40 – Back to the inn where people are still leaving and Grandpa is getting increasingly saddened. Shelby assures him that the case will be solved and then the solved kidnapping will be a way to drive up interest in the inn. Shelby tells Grandpa that she’s going to NASA with Detective Hineline and he makes great annoyed faces. How many phone calls a day do you think Grandpa gets from Detective Hineline complaining about Shelby and reminding Grandpa that he’s doing this as a favor and out of respect for him? At least five.


15:25 – When I was still an undergrad, my cousin and I went to visit my aunt in Orlando for a week. We spent half a day at Kennedy Space Center, and for an entire afternoon, I briefly entertained the idea of changing everything about my life and finding a way to become an astronaut. Instead, I work with educational non-profits and I blog, and my only encounters with space are the times I write about sci-fi. I did go to college with a guy who’s training to become an astronaut, so I’m pretty much an astronaut.

15:42 – Security clearances attained, Shelby and Detective Hineline make their way to the “NASA Shuttle Loading Bay” or large soundstage at the Nickelodeon or Universal Studios backlots. Hineline and Shelby are apparently given some jumpsuits to put on because there’s a shuttle launch later that night, so it’ll be pretty festive, and it’s what everyone else is wearing. They don’t want to be too dressed up, or not dressed up enough.



16:32 – They are meeting Robert Merchant, NASA scientist and kidnapping suspect. Shelby is so tactful. “Oh, that’s why you’re not famous. The encyclopedia didn’t mention you at all.” #shade

17:11 – Shelby is just finding out that her pin clue is actually not that helpful since anyone can buy the pin at the gift shop. They also watch as Merchant tells workers to leave a case aside as it might be contaminated. (It’s a clue, definitely.)

18:10 – Shelby and Hineline are debriefing and trying to grab some food from a food truck only to be rudely interrupted by a car trying to run them over. Hineline throws Shelby into a dumpster and then jumps in himself. The dumpster saves them. It does not save the hot dog that Shelby was eating.

19:59 – Shelby is going through the pictures again with Cindy and WarrenNoah after her near-death experience. She spots the death car that tried to mow her down in one of the photographs and manages to make out the license plate. Cindy’s instagram skills save the day.

21:05 – They’re watching the news about the shuttle launch and Shelby has solved the case. She is now racing to stop a shuttle launch and I am laughing hysterically at the most convoluted revenge plot ever.







Robert Merchant kidnapped the astronaut, stuffed him in a box, planned to smuggle him onboard an unmanned scientific space mission to be released into space. I have never been happier to watch an episode of Shelby Woo.

Shelby learned that you should never meet your heroes, because they’re probably lying assholes. Hineline learned to be a little kinder and even went as far as to buy Shelby lunch. We learned that the writers of Shelby Woo were a special breed of genius.



While this is the end of the Shelby Woo recaps here at Persephone (because I don’t want to know if they can top a space kidnapping in my quest for nostalgia-induced happiness), you can keep watching Shelby and her friends on Amazon Instant Video.

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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