Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RR Real Ghostbusters

And here's another dose of Ghostbusters!

This time I take a look back at the old school cartoon series!

Spook-tacular related reviews at the following links:

Name: The Real Ghostbusters: Volume 1
Created by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Original run 1986-87
Genre Science-fiction animated series

Produced by DiC Enterprise for Columbia Pictures, The Real Ghostbusters is the animated that was developed around Dan Aykroyd's franchise that ran from 1986 to 1991.

It was the first real expansion of the Ghostbusters IP beyond the film, created right on the heels of the first film that was launched to a fantastic reception.

Expanding the franchise on to different mediums was a natural move, and this cartoon series went on the generate its own success. The tone might have been kid-friendlier, but the immense work and mythology they developed on this show had such an impact that the second Ghostbusters film became a lot closer to the animated series than the film. Amongst the many changes you could see Janine's appearance and personality and Slimer's friendlier nature.

The animated series came shortly after Filmation's Ghostbusters cartoon series also in 1986 (itself based on a totally unrelated live action 1975 TV series The Ghost Busters, but they brought it back in the 80s to surf on Aykroyd's success - not dissing it, merely stating the facts). Thanks to an agreement between Filmation and Sony, both could live alongside each other. Thus the "Real" on The Real Ghostbusters title.

Who 'ya gonna call?

The Real Ghostbusters, that's who!

The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series was a direct continuation of the 1984 cult classic.

The show revolved around the ongoing paranormal adventures of Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore (spelled Zeddmore in the cartoon).

They boys in grey got updated color-coded jumpsuits in the series. And didn't just confine themselves to ghosts in New York City, but also around the world on occasions.

Their secretary Janine Melnitz is back as sarcastic as ever. And their former first captured ghost Slimer is also back as their pet/experiment/mascot.

The characters' personality traits got simplified in the translation. Egon's clearly the tech guy, Ray's the geek, Winston's simply the though guy and Peter is now comedic relief. The characters were much more stereotypical... but for some reason, it just worked..

Slimer on the other end of the spectrum was now closer to Thundercats' Snarf than is former self from the film.

The cast from the film didn't reprise their roles, obviously.

Maurice LaMarche took over Egon making a great Harold Ramis impersonation. Fan favorite Frank Welker played Ray and made the character his. Bill Murray complained that Lorenzo Music sounded much more like Garfield than Venkman (which I a funny comment when you think about it nowadays - Murray having played Garfield in the CGi films..). Ernie Hudson originally auditioned for his own character but sadly lost the role to Arsenio Hall.

The Real Ghostbusters got a chance to shine in its storylines and characterization thanks a history of having several quality writers on board during its run. Most notably story editor and writer J. Michael Straczynski!

Straczynski wrote a lot of key episodes and had a chance to play with these characters. He contributed a lot to the mythology of the series.

Simply put, the writing was great. The episodes are quite fast paced.

They were able to have some truly creepy moments and slight attempts at a more mature tone on such a kid series. I'm not saying they did some award winning material here, it still was a kid's show at heart. But they were able to deviate enough from the cliché template at the time to also entertain the large part of their adult fans. Yet childish enough on the surface to entertain a broad audience.

As the show went on many of the first writers left the show.

They changed the entire voice cast except Egon and Ray's.

The series left its roots and was rebranded. With Smiler turning into a parody of his former self and taking center stage.

Some good came from it. To stay closer to the film Stay Puft/Gozer made some cameo appearances here and there.

Walter Peck would finally appear in the third season.

Janine also profited from the changes, from her maturing as a character to her ever changing hairdo (which became a plot-point much later on).

The final episodes of the last season saw a return to former glory, but it was already too late. Straczynski came back as a guest writer on some episodes and he tried to return the series to its original tone.

Real Ghostbusters had such a great soundtrack, not unlike the films. It combined the popular music at the times with more traditional cartoon score. It was so beloved they even released it, which was so unusual for a cartoon series at the time.

Overall, it's a really good cartoon series. It didn't age that much content-wise, though it does show the era from the quality of the animation and art. It's a very good cartoon from the late 80s/early 90s, good yes, but "vintage".

It's easily one of the best adaptations from that time. It has a lot more quality and production values than say any of those 80s films turned Saturday morning cartoons. (say, Rambo, Karaté Kid, etc.)

It's easily one of the most memorable phenomenons from the 1980s.

Some episodes are very campy, but at least they ran off with their ideas and tried to make it their own thing.

But when the show was good, it was really good.

The series' been released on a complete collection boxset and singular DVD sets. (depending on the release, the sets are either taken from the box or completely different sources with different bunch of episodes/quality)

The Real Ghostbusters: The Complete Collection collects the entire series including the very rare 4 minutes original promo episode (the pilot, the busters wearing their original movie suits).

The series lasted 7 Seasons, for a total of 140 episodes (!). Real Ghostbusters saw some first changes during Season 3, they changed the tone and direction, changing the entire voice cast, getting more screentime for Slimer and changing Winston's role and personality a bit. Season 4 saw the series including a Slimer! and The Real Ghostbusters segments and the overall tone kid friendlier. That segment took over more and more screentime until changing the entire name of the series for good. Season 5 saw the release of Ghostbusters II, so it was retooled a bit to make it closer to the second film. To make the series tie better with the films again, they introduced Louis Tully. Season 6 refocused on The Real Ghostbusters but kept Slimer around. It was the cheapest season losing a lot of quality. Finally Season 7 saw a return to a certain quality but it was already too late...

In 1997 a semi-sequel series titled Extreme Ghostbusters was produced. With no film to tie-in with and no strict guidelines with the franchise dormant, they could let creativity out. They changed the tone and made it more serious. And only an aged Egon remained on the team along an all-new cast of Ghostbusters. But that is for another day...

I give it:
2 / 3 Felixes!

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