“Sometimes I think the universe just waits for me to get cocky.”
There are evil spirits infesting your house, blocking up your toilet, and turning your girlfriends into dogs! Who ya gonna call? You bet your cute tushie that it’s gonna be the Boys in Grey, the one, the only, Ghostbusters! An instant horror-spoof-comedy classic when it came out in 1984, Ghostbusters lives on as one of the greatest (and most rewatchable) films of all time even twenty years later. Its lovable brand of irreverance, one line quips, and imaginative spin on the whole poltergeist phenom makes it unique in the pantheon of cinema.
Which is why, I suppose, it was inevitable that anyone and everyone wanted to cash in on the ecto-success. As far as me and my friends were concerned, they could keep their special cereals and coloring books; we just wanted new on-screen adventures.
When the movie was being made it turned out that Filmation Associates already had a show called “Ghostbusters.” This meant that, for legal reasons, a TV show couldn’t use the same name. So in 1986, Columbia launched The Real Ghostbusters — which was a potshot at the other show.
If you’re around my age (and either a little older or younger), chances are you caught The Real Ghostbusters after school in the afternoons. I loved this show. In fact, I saw this show before I ever watched the movie (which was banned to me on suspicion of being satanic or something). The first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters were a true delight to the senses, a cornucopia of wit, fairly good animation, and more slime action than the Garbage Pail Kids. There ya go, another obscure reference that you X-Cube-Station whippersnappers won’t understand, except for the promising ones full of the force.
The Real Ghostbusters carried on the spirit and mission of the show, performing exorcisms by brutal technology while chastising their idiot ghost pet Slimer. Slimer became a mascot of the show, whereas in the movies he’s just an annoying nameless specter, but that was okay. Okay… at least for the first couple years.
While none of the actors from the film reprised their roles (considering that most of them were fairly big stars at the time), a number of famous voice actors took over and did the Ghostbuster legacy proud. Among the recognizable voices in the first couple seasons were Arsenio Hall (yes, the woof-woof-woof dude) as the voice of Winston, and Garfield’s voice Lorenzo Music as the sleepy-sounding Peter Venkman.
All told, by the end of season two (1987), there were an astounding 78 episodes (some full-length, some 15 minutes) in the can.
“Cthulhu makes Gozer look like Little Mary Sunshine.”
Alas, all good things must end, and all pretty-good cartoons must be run into the ground by demonic network executives. Enter Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters (1988-89), a retooling of The Real Ghostbusters forumla. Like Scrappy Doo’s addition and sabotage to the Scooby Doo ensemble, so the networks forced the show to prominently feature Slimer in all stories and push the Ghostbusters to the back of the room. And the less said about the “junior Ghostbusters,” the better. This spin-off lasted one miserable year (and was aimed at the little kiddies), but that was enough to tarnish the good Ghostbuster name.
As Season 3 of The Real Ghostbusters began, many of the voice talents were replaced, and the whole tone of the show changed — and not for the better. This began the decline of the series, which should’ve been cancelled by a merciful deity but was forced to degrade itself worse than early 20th century sideshow freaks. From 1987 to 1991 the show slowly ground to a rusty halt, adding another 62 lackluster episodes. Reportedly, the show’s decline in quality and parental complaints about the violence in The Real Ghostbusters ended the series just two years after Ghostbusters II.