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Case Number 10911: Small Claims Court

Buy Filmation's Ghostbusters, Volume 1 at Amazon

Filmation's Ghostbusters, Volume 1

BCI Eclipse // 1986 // 688 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 27th, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson thinks PETA needs to take a long, hard look at The Ghostbusters and their gorilla-employment policy.

The Charge

Let's go Ghostbusters!

The Case

In the mid-'80s, a war raged over the Saturday morning airwaves for the rights to a legitimate claim on the "Ghostbusters" moniker. On one side, you had The Real Ghostbusters, a show based on the blockbuster 1984 Bill Murray vehicle, staring Egon, Ray, Pete, Winston and Slimer. And on the other was this show, an animated sequel to a crazy live-action kids how of the same name. Filmation producer Lou Scheimer had sold the rights for the making of the feature film, but hadn't maintained exclusive animation rights, leading to the confusing on-air rivalry. Filmation's Ghostbusters told the story of Jake Kong, Jr., Eddie Spenser, Jr. and Tracy the genius gorilla and their unending battle with Prime Evil and his ghoulish forces.

Headquartered at Ghost Command, a ramshackle house nestled between what appears to be the World Trade Center, the Ghostbusters spring into action whenever evil is about. Led by Jake's ghost-sensing nose and the occasional hot tip from lovable psychic Madam Why, the Ghostbusters bring their impressive arsenal of gorilla-produced, ghost-smashing weapons against Prime Evil's cronies, including the dematerializer, which digitizes ghosts and sends them back to Hauntquarters (Prime Evil's bitching evil mansion), another gun that shoots a rope at ghosts a la Boba Fett (the physics of that one were never fully explained) and some kind of chewing-gum shooter. The Ghostbusters travel from job to job in the Ghost Buggy, a tricked-out jalopy that can travel through time and fly and pretty much do anything.

Each episode boasts the Filmation trademarks: voluminous plot devices, new characters at every turn and attractive artwork. This volume sports the first 32 episodes of the 65-show run:

Disc One
• "I'll Be a Son of a Ghostbuster (Part 1)"
• "Frights of the Roundtable (Part 2)"
• "No Pharoah At All (Part 3)"
• "The Secret of Mastadon Valley (Part 4)"
• "The Ones Who Saved the Future (Part 5)"
• "Witch's Stew"
• "Mummy Dearest"

Disc Two
• "Wacky Wax Museum"
• "Statue of Liberty"
• "The Ransom of Eddie Spenser"
• "Eddie Takes Charge"
• "The Great Ghost Gorilla"
• "A Friend in need"
• "No Mo Snow"

Disc Three
• "Prime Evil's Good Deed"
• "Cyman's Revenge"
• "The Headless Horseman Caper"
• "Banish the Banshee"
• "Rollerghoster"
• "He Went Brataway"

Disc Four
• "The Looking-Glass Warrior"
• "Laser and Future Rock:
• "Runaway Choo Choo"
• "Dynamite Dinosaurs"
• "Ghostbunglers"
• "My Present to the Future"

Disc Five
• "The Beastly Buggy"
• "Belfry Leads the Way"
• "The Battle for Ghost Command"
• "Going Ape"
• "The Haunting of Gizmo"
• "Ghostnappers"

You know, despite the extreme weirdness of this show and my preference for Ecto 1 and the boys, Ghostbusters is a pretty cool cartoon. It's got its fair share of cornball moments (really…a gorilla?!?) and incoherent plotlines, but I dig enough about it to issue a recommendation to lovers of '80s animation. The artwork is very good, probably the best I've seen yet in a Filmation series, the music is infectious and storylines are all kinds of no-holds-barred insanity. (When you have a car that can travel back and forth through time, there aren't many plots that are off limits; the Ghostbusters participate in a chariot race in ancient Rome for crying out loud!) A glance at the characters reveals this:

• Jake Kong, Jr.
The leader of the Ghostbusters, Jake is smart, courageous and organized. And he's a dork. Seriously, everything from the guy's affinity for tight pants to his dainty pirouettes during the Ghostbuster transformation sequence points toward a myriad of schoolyard beatings back in the day.

• Eddie Spenser
As far as portly comic relief goes, Eddie's not too bad. In his heart he's probably a coward, but peer pressure combined with a lifelong failure to please his father lead him to slapping on the uniform and busting ghosts like no one's business.

• Tracy
He's a gorilla that's smarter than any human on the show and wears cargo shorts. Bizarre, sure, but Tracy is the shiznit.

• Jessica
Jessica's a hot redhead reporter that probably has a thing for Jake. She accompanies the Ghostbusters on a bunch of adventures and fulfills the "strong female character" requisite quite nicely. She also has a bad-ass uncle named John Guardian, who we see in "The Looking-Glass Warrior" just emasculating everyone around him.

• Futura
This sultry Ghostbuster teams up with Jake and his crew whenever trouble beckons in her home world—the future! (That happens like every other episode by the way.)

• Belfry
A flying bat-pig monstrosity hangs out in Ghost Command and bitches about not going on adventures.

• Prime Evil
The big bad, Prime Evil concocts his sinister schemes at Hauntquarters while pounding away on his organ.

Ghostbusters is primarily a comedy, and a different beast than what Filmation has pumped out prior to it, i.e. He-Man and She-Ra. There's still plenty happening on screen, but the comedy factor is heightened and there's a distinct lack of loincloths. Prime Evil talks a good game and has a killer name, but he's not nearly the prick Skeletor or Hordac was. In one episode he's laughing in the background as one of his henchmen makes a crank call!

What struck me most about Ghostbusters was its overall polished look. Whereas He-Man heavily relied on recycled elements, episodes of Ghostbuster feel fresh and unique, save for that quasi-nightmarish extended transformation sequence, which shows up in each show, but, honestly, is strangely transfixing. The character design is varied and attractive and the effects work—of which there is plenty—is executed with flair. It is the music, however, that leaps out at me. The Filmation composers hit pay-dirt with their score, headlines by a nifty theme that mixes in organ music to the upbeat synth-rock.

The content verdict: weird, but fun, Ghostbusters shows it deserved to be aired alongside that other show. There is indeed a place on television for an ape that fights Hellspawn and eats bananas.

Ink and Paint has been releasing these Filmation shows and have done admirable jobs, even with the more obscure series. This show is no exception, packaged attractively in three slim-cases and including a full-color episode guide. Shows look good, transferred with clarity and vibrant color work.

Disc Six hold the following extras: brief interviews with producer Lou Scheimer, writer Robby London and directors Tom Tataranowicz and Tom Site; the 10-minute promo pilot; an awesome anti-drug spot; storyboards; image galleries; "The Maltese Monkey" bonus episode from the original 1975 live-action series "The Ghost Busters:" and DVD-ROM content.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: BCI Eclipse
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
• None
Running Time: 688 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• All Ages
• Animation
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Creator Interviews
• Promo Pilot
• Anti-Drug Spot
• Storyboards
• Image Galleries
• Bonus Episode from "The Ghost Busters" Live-Action Series
• DVD-ROM Content

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