Previous Article - X-Entertainment - Next Article --- By Matt - 9.03/'02

The Real Ghostbusters could have been like most other movie-to-toon transitions. It could've sucked comically huge monkey nuts. Instead, it ended up becoming one of the most cherished kid shows ever, with people still becoming new fans every day even though the show went off the air years ago. It's either a tribute to our own supernatural inclinations, or to one of the only cash-in cartoons that didn't dog it.

Or maybe the world just really loved Slimer. Dude had his own brand of Hi-C juice. Had to be something special, right?

To give you an idea of how successful this show was, it lasted all the way from 1986 to 1991 - maybe with a break or two here and there, but it was a pretty consistent run. To be honest, the 'Ghostbusters' moniker played very little part in any of the popularity. Adults didn't watch this show, kids did. You could've called this one 'Grandma Mary's Spook-Getters' and we still would've watched, because it was the only program on television that employed such liberal use of slime and goblins.

On the surface, yes, it's based on the movie. The four Ghostbusters' names are the same, but here they're a little younger and less weathered. They still do their stuff in a modified firehouse, still have proton packs and the Ecto-1 - they didn't mess with the main ideas. But while in the movies, the ghosts themselves were almost secondary in a way, here they're all over the place and they won't rest till their opinions are heard by all. There's no time for Venkman to strike up a relationship with Sigourney Weaver; he's too busy zapping poorly drawn colorful ghosts every five minutes. There's no Rick Moranis, either. Try to pick up the pieces and move on.

The biggest difference is the inclusion of Slimer as an honorary Ghostbuster. After a brief-but-memorable appearance in the first movie, I guess somebody noticed that kids were really into the guy. So when it came time to create the cartoon, they didn't just include Slimer on the show, they included Slimer in every scene in every episode of the show. It's all Slimer, all the time.

The Real Ghostbusters had an impressive run, no doubt, but today I wanted to take a look at where it all started - the origins episode. It's not a sense-shattering work of art, but neither was Mad About You, and that show lasted seven years even after Paul Reiser turned into Stay Puft. Here's the recap...the first episode deals primarily with how Slimer became friendly with our heroes...


This all takes place, storyline wise, directly following the Ghostbusters' victory at the end of the first movie. They beat the crap out of Gozer, they're national heroes, and they're allowed to shoot streams of pure laser energy without getting in trouble. It's all pretty newsworthy, so some journalist chick holds a sit-down interview with Peter Venkman. She wants the scoop: what do the Ghostbusters do, how do they do it, and above all else...why are they hanging out with one of the evil ghosts all the time? Venkman happily relays the tale on how it all began, setting up the episode's extended flashback sequence.


Right after they killed Gozer, Egon noticed that their uniforms had an ungodly amount of ghastly radiation, and thus were pretty dangerous. They throw away the outfits we see them wear in the movie, opting for more personalized suits in various degrees of pastel colors. Egon, who in cartoon form somehow manages to nail an even worse haircut than Harold Ramis, tells Peter to dispose of the old uniforms before they have a chance to mutate or otherwise cause problems. Venkman confirms that he's 'on it.'

Things seem pretty calm at the firehouse headquarters, but none of them can seem to shake the feeling that they're being watched.


Indeed, looks like they missed one of the ghosts, and it's the same one who slimed Peter in the movie. He hasn't forgotten it, either. In fact, he's still pretty pissed about it. His illwill would hit home with us a lot more if the guy voicing him didn't use the exact same voice for Garfield the Cat. If you're new to the show, it'll take awhile for you to stop expecting lasagna jokes. Worse yet, whenever I watch Garfield's Christmas special, I'm gonna wait for Louis Tully to crawl out of Odie's eye sockets.

Since this particular ghost isn't doing anything evil, none of them seem all that concerned. This isn't to say they don't shoot at him a few times, it's just that they don't concentrate on their aim quite as hard.


In time, they get to know the ghost. Ray even names him 'Slimer.' They've all got their own reasons for wanting Slimer around -- Egon thinks it'll be beneficial to study a real ghost up close, Ray needs help fixing things, and Winston's sick of being the only minority party. Peter isn't sold on the idea yet; he still thinks they should kill the thing and get a dog like everyone else.

For those curious about Slimer: he could talk, but it was more along the same lines as how Scooby-Doo talked. Actually, Slimer is a lot like Scooby-Doo. They're both obsessed with food, they both mean well but cause trouble for everyone around 'em, and they both leave wet messes wherever they go. The only real difference is that Scooby does nothing to inspire hunger, while Slimer typically leaves me craving lime Jell-O.


Meanwhile, the old uniforms Peter forgot to throw away start glowing, and rapidly take on the ghoulish form of Evil Ghostbusters! Pretty mundane compared to some of the other villains seen later in the series, but I guess it's better than hole-punched sheets.


After determining that these fake Ghostbusters want their jobs, the real ones decide that it's high time to zap them with their proton packs. Problem is, the fake ones also have proton packs, only theirs shoot out some weird form of antimatter that hurts living people instead of dead ones. They're an even match - they've got the same equipment, they think the same, look the same, everything's the same. If the Egon Ghost's eyes didn't exude green smoke, you'd easily mistake him for the real deal.

Hmmm...now that I look at all of this again, this episode was kinda boring after all. Maybe I should've reviewed a different one? Oh well.


At around the 20-minute mark, the Ghostbusters wrap things up. One of the universal sad truths about cartoons in general? No matter how intense or despondent the problems may seem, they're all magically taken care of within thirty-seconds when it comes time to end the episode. In this case, they've spent the entire show pissing themselves because there's no way to stop the evil demons, and right when that 20-minute mark hits, Ray casually suggests that they'll run out of negative energy if they shoot lasers out of their proton packs long enough. Well that's convenient. I don't think Tarantino will be ripping off The Real Ghostbusters when he needs a climax scene for his next flick. I wouldn't put it past Schumacher though.

Slimer sacrifices his own safety to draw the ghosts' fire, and after they've spent up all their power, the real ones shoot at 'em and lock them in the spook traps. The battle is won, for now.


Venkman's still not thrilled with being slimed all the time, but even he has to admit that Slimer came in handy. In fact, without Slimer, the show wouldn't have had anywhere near the kind of run it did. You're not going to be all that impressed with the guy if you're over, say, ten years old - but before that, he was a true icon. When the show got a slight makeover after the sequel came out, they actually renamed the whole thing to 'Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters.' The gooey green thing got top billing, even over Winston! Stars aren't made easy, but boy, when they are...they sure shine bright.


The journalist who interviewed Peter puts a different spin on the Ghostbusters tribute: instead, it's a tribute to Slimer. Our friends take it mostly in stride, but the slight twitch in Ray's eyes told the story all too well - they were jealous. Not jealous enough to kick Slimer out on the street, but jealous enough to 'forget' to invite him to their Scrabble tournaments when there's a downtime in paranormal activity.

Another coup the show had was the voice actors. You've likely heard most of these guys before. Frank Welker handled Ray and Slimer, but you probably remember him best as a robotic conqueror named Megatron. I've already told you about Peter - voiced by Lorenzo Music, better known for his work on Garfield. The guy who did Egon was Chief Quimby from Inspector Gadget, and one of those damn stupid Popples too. Most impressive of all? At one point, Winston was voiced by none other than...Arsenio Hall. He's a lot more likable when you can't see his teeth, and when the things he says aren't followed up by a collective audience 'hoo hoo' session.

Of course, the show would never has survived without a cool theme song. Click here to hear it! And before you ghost haters out there try to dispute the show's success, let me remind you of one crucial thing:


It had a cereal. So there. Pffft.

- Matt
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