The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo: The Mystery of the Mice that Roared

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…


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!

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

90’s children rejoice! Nickelodeon has finally indulged us and plans to rerun the stories of our youth on a new segment called “The Splat.” Beginning October 5th the programming block (including VSB favorites Salute Your Shorts and Clarissa Explains it All) will air between 10 pm and 6 am to perfectly align with your quarter-life-crisis induced insomnia. For the well-adjusted of you who have to go to sleep in order to make it to your jobs on time, you’ll probably need to DVR this.

I searched for an eternity just now and couldn’t find the article I read earlier this week that basically explained why millennials love the TV shows of our youth so much. It was a lot more profound than this, but it boils down to the fact that we lack the financial resources to meet all of the “adult” milestones we feel like we should (i.e. house-owning, loan paying-off-ing, marrying and acquiring offspring, etc). Basically, we’re comparing ourselves to how we imagined adults to be when we were youngsters and we’re failing because we don’t live in that world anymore (see: mountains of student loan debt et al). We’re also overly educated, underemployed balls of anxiety who’ve put tremendous amounts of pressure on ourselves under rules that don’t exist anymore only to also be told by society that we’re whiny, extendedly-adolescent people.

And you know what, that makes us feel bad. It literally feels like being kicked when you’re down. I’m sorry for the douche bags who make our generation look bad, but most of us are quietly spinning our wheels and trying to figure out how to adjust. So we watch TV shows (which costs way less than a vacation) that remind us of a simpler time. Also, I know I joke about a lot of the stupid crap messages these shows were sending, but their hearts were in the right place. And some of them (Boy Meets World, Clarissa Explains it All, The Secret World of Alex Mack) had really great writing that I can still legitimately enjoy today.

So that was all a very long introduction to say that I feel like The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo was wrongfully overlooked on this lineup. Shelby Woo lived with her grandfather (Pat Morita from Happy Days and The Karate Kid) in Cocoa Beach and she solved mysteries. But we’re not talking dinky The Adventure of Mary-Kate and Ashley mysteries. We’re talking like genuine thrillers. Okay, well like thrillers for kids, but I found this show to be like a 7.5 on a 1 to Are You Afraid of the Dark? scale.

For example, the episode I’m watching right now (The Haunted House Mystery) starts with a bunch of cuckoo clocks going off and an old lady screaming alone in the middle of the night. That’s genuine horror, right there. But I could always trust that Shelby would solve the mystery and put things right. She finds out about this scary case when the old lady (she’s no longer screaming at this point) checks into her grandfather’s B&B and says she likes her house but she can’t deal with the haunting. Shelby is fearless so she spends the night in the haunted house and solves the mystery. I’m not going to spoil it for you (like I do every other episode of everything) because there’s no very special lesson. It’s just a cool show. And I’m hoping “The Splat” decides to air it on Halloween.