Let me preface this by saying, this show was the best. If you were a child of the 90’s who loved Nancy Drew Mysteries, then you were into The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. In each episode, Shelby shows us one of her case files (on an old ass computer that was very innovative at the time). She also lives with her grandpa, Pat Morita, who I recently learned once had his own detective series!
This Christmas episode is kind of weird. The mystery starts at a restaurant where someone has swapped out an entree with um…live mice…
The very easy solution here is to not serve covered dishes at the table…but this restaurant is very into the room service aesthetic, so unfortunately live mice have been served up for dinner. Yikes.
When the health department closes the restaurant. Shelby not only tries to find the culprit because she loves a good mystery, but also because her friend’s parents own the place.
Clue #1: An empty strawberry basket filled with cheese is in the kitchen trash. (Both Shelby and the detective think it’s mouse-related because obviously this kitchen wouldn’t have cheese for any other reason. But to be fair, the cheese in the strawberry container is odd and does look just like the cheese on the mouse plate).
Back at the station, we’re introduced to a B-Plot: Secret Santa! (More on this later.)
Clue #2: The chef destroyed the original plate of food before the detectives arrived. (Okay, but seriously who sends a detective to respond to mice at a restaurant? Is this a thing?)
Oh also the C-plot is Pat Morita playing Santa for a bunch of underprivileged kids. He takes knowledge of Santa’s backstory very seriously and studies the lore extensively throughout the episode.
In the midst of all these happenings, the restaurant owners’ older daughter finds the time to help the younger daughter study fractions by using measuring cups and the restaurants supplies…but okay that also feels like another health department no-no. Anyway…
Clue #3: A very small attempt at arson in the restaurant’s kitchen with a type-written note that mentions going out of business. Bold move to leave a paper message in the midst of arson. (Also note, the couple’s younger daughter tries to throw the half-burned note away before Shelby can read what’s left of it.)
Clue #4: The chef buys cooking spices at the market. Buying his own ingredients is suspicious cause he’s trying to destroy the restaurant and take it back from the owners (according to Shelby) but…I dunno…I’m not buying it.
Later on at the restaurant, the food has been spiked with chilies!!!
Clue #5: One guest’s table doesn’t get any spiked food. Shelby also remembers that she saw this guest drive past the restaurant on the night of the fire.
And time for another C-Plot, Pat Morita appearance. This time, he’s testing the authenticity of his beard.
Clue #6: Shelby’s friend’s eyes hurt from the chilies but all she touched at the restaurant were the plates, not the food. She also touched the sugar dispenser.
This final clue helps Shelby solve the mystery…
Did you solve it as well?
Time to find out…
THE YOUNGER DAUGHTER IS THE CULPRIT!
She doesn’t see her parents anymore because they are sooooo busy. They’re even working on Christmas Eve!! And before you’re like woah woah woah but that arson was still psychotic — the fire was an accident. The note was the intention (the candle was presumably to call attention to it). The good news is they decided to keep the restaurant but just close for family time on Christmas Eve. And hopefully, that child decided to stop handling live mice for good.
And now back to the B-Plot: Shelby and her crush are each other’s secret santas and they each got one another thoughtful gifts and they are probably in looooooooveeeeee. Shelby made him a painting and he made her a mixtape. The 90’s awwwww.
And Pat Morita finally nails the Santa thing.
And in what we now know is workplace sexual harassment, Shelby’s boss makes her kiss her crush underneath the mistletoe.
Very Special Lesson(s): Really what I learned is that it’s important to STATE YOUR NEEDS and not BE RUINING EVERYONE’S LIVES because you’re being passive-aggressive. Yes, this culprit was a child and so I’m willing to grade on a cruve. Now that I know she’s not literally trying to burn down the place, she seems fine. However, I think we could have avoided this whole thing if she had simply left a note (without an open flame) saying she wanted to spend Christmas Eve at home as a family.
Also Pat Morita is the perfect Santa. I mean. Wow. I didn’t know I needed to see Pat Morita as Santa, but my heart knew. You know? And it was awesome.
I also do have some questions about how long they left that food unattended in the kitchen long enough that the kid could swap out a plate of food for a plate of mice but oh well it’s Christmas so I’ll overlook it!
I hope you have a Merry Christmas, Very Special Readers! See you in 2022 for more very special episodes!