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DVD Review: The Ghost Busters

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The Ghost Busters was a live action Saturday morning kid’s show in 1975 by Filmation, well before Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd battled The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the silver screen. The show reunited Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch from F-Troop. They played Jake Kong and Eddie Spenser and were assisted by Tracy the Gorilla.

There were 15 shows produced and they all had the same plot. A couple of ghosts would appear in the local graveyard and take up residence in the local castle. Tracy and Spenser would go to a store to get their assignment, which was a taped message inside some ordinary object like a cream pie, a plotted plant, or a mounted deer head. A recurring gag had the message self-destruct in Tracy’s hands a la Mission Impossible after five seconds, usually leaving him slightly charred.

The ghosts’ plans usually required someone who resembled Spenser or was as dumb as he was. After some requisite running around inside castle (i.e. two sets), the plans were always foiled, usually by something Tracy had in his bag. Kong would then return them to wherever they came from with The Dematerializer.

Some of the ghosts were generic bad guys, pirates and Vikings, while others were specific, The Canterville Ghost and The Red Baron. Most of the big movie monsters made an appearance: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and both Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For some reason, they were identified as ghosts rather than monsters, but I doubt the kids the show is aimed at would realize that. Besides, when one of the heroes is a gorilla who can drive a car and carries around a seltzer bottle, laughs are a higher priority than logic.

The show got a lot of well-known actors as guest stars: Billy Barty, Jim Backus, Ted Knight, Joe E. Ross, and Howard Morris, creating a Groovie Goolies reunion with Storch. In two different episodes, Huntz Hall appeared as Gronk. He was an assistant to a witch and to Merlin. There was no acknowledgment of this.

The Ghost Busters will be good for young children and nostalgic Gen-Xers. It might be too silly for everyone else as the comedy is gags, puns, and slapstick. Even though there are monsters, nothing scary happens. The video quality is adequate. Nothing was done to improve it, and one episode had some digital artifacts.

Special Features include interviews with producer Lou Scheimer and Bob Burns, the “trainer” for Tracy the Gorilla, photo galleries, and an episode of the animated version of Ghost Busters, which came out after the success of the movie. With a DVD-ROM, the scripts for all 15 shows are available.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • Ahh, and how many people remember the short-lived animated spinoff of this from 1986-87, under the title of “The Original Ghostbusters” (prompting the animated series based on the movie to title itself “The Real Ghostbusters”)?

  • I remember both, but didn’t watch either one. They started the film before they knew about the TV show. Naturally, lawsuits ensued. They were going to work together, but Columbia(?) wouldn’t so Filmation backed out and rebooted there’s with the children of the main guys.

  • Ghost Writer

    The Ghost Busters was not a great show by any means, but it holds a certain charm for those of us of a certain age (I’m 38) who fondly remember Saturday morning TV in the years before DVD, VHS and cable reruns. It is also a treat for fans of Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker from F Troop.

    For such an obscure show, this is an excellent DVD release. The video is as clean as can be expected IMHO (it was shot on 3/4-inch videotape). The sound is pretty good too.

    Ten of these episodes were released in the ’80s on VHS, and the remaining five were believed to have been erased (I think the word is degaussed) so that the tapes could be used to shoot episodes of Shazam and Isis. I guess that rumor was false after all.

    When you compare the DVD to the old VHS tapes (which I purchased off of eBay), the quality is superb.

    In addition to the five “lost” episodes, we get two interviews, photo galleries, a Ghost Busters cartoon, and DVD-Rom content (which I have yet to access). Plus, there are trailers for other Filmation shows like Isis and Ark II.

    Your reviewer is quite correct in pointing out that every show had the same plot, but then again so did Scooby-Doo. I am just happy that this show was released at all, and delighted that the studio did such a wonderful job of it.