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IN DEFENSE OF FILMATION’S GHOSTBUSTERS…

by Kent Brindley 8 months ago in vintage
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The "other" (ORIGINAL) Ghostbusters have a fan...

“Who are YOU going to call when there’s something strange in YOUR neighborhood?”

…We’re thinking of two separate organizations.

I’m not talking about the “Real” Ghostbusters (the Columbia Pictures/Sony film franchise and Columbia/Dic Television series; the ones with Slimer). I’m DEFINITELY not talking about the all-female reboot.

I want to talk about the oft-maligned OTHER Ghostbusters; the ones with the genius level gorilla for a sidekick…

Right; I am here to defend FILMATION’S Ghostbusters, Jake Kong Jr. Eddie Spenser Jr., and Tracy, the genius gorilla; the banes of Prime Evil, his wicked cohorts, and all of his devious plans…

In the 1970s, Filmation produced a pretty bad live-action comedy series about a trio of paranormal investigators. You guessed it; those investigators WERE “The Ghost Busters,” consisting of Spencer, Kong, and Tracy. The series aired on CBS and starred Larry Storch, Forrest Tucker, and Bob Burns in a gorilla suit. The Ghost Busters (always two distinct words in the original) contended with a guest spook/specter of the week.

Along came the 1980s and the popular “Ghostbusters” (clearly ONE word) FILM franchise about four paranormal investigators with absolutely no relation to Filmation’s live-action series…

I believe that Filmation was ready to work on a “Ghostbusters” cartoon after the films; if Columbia Pictures/Dic hadn’t pulled the rug out from under them on the idea. Anyway, Filmation had to go in another direction and work a cartoon based on the SONS of THEIR “Ghost Busters” (thereby making a true spinoff. Tracy, the Gorilla, now worked with Kong and Spencer Jr.; and the animated forms of the OG Ghost Busters would turn up on occasion to help out). Anyway, we had a war in syndicated animation on our hands and Columbia/DIC undercut Filmation AGAIN to call THEIR show “The REAL Ghostbusters” as one final thumb in Lou Scheimer’s eye.

Both aired opposite one another in some markets. Both had VHS releases. Believe it or not, both even had TOYLINES (The Real Ghostbusters were produced by Kenner with a plethora of figures over a plethora of waves, constantly reworking/reoutfitting the Ghostbusters and making new and interesting monsters; even Schaper tried to get onboard the action figure market and produced the Ghost Command Playset, 6 heroes, 6 villains, and four vehicles for the Filmation Ghostbusters line). Kenner was the bigger name in the toy game and won the battle.

Commercially on television, there is little question that facts are facts and The “Real” Ghostbusters survived for almost five or six seasons for a grand total of 147 episodes between Saturday mornings, afternoon syndication, and Saturday mornings AGAIN; “Filmation’s Ghostbusters” had to be satisfied with a sole syndicated season of the standard 65 episodes, then a couple of years worth of reruns. That is why I am here to DEFEND bits and pieces of childhood memories of preferring the often long-forgotten, or mostly maligned, version of The Ghostbusters.

IT WAS “FILMATION!”

Without question, this wasn’t exactly the same caliber as “Bravestarr” or “Fat Albert;” and it’s DEFINITELY no “He-Man” of “She-Ra.” It is STILL “Filmation” and, for the most part, that was enough to be a selling point in my youth; and enough memories were made watching this and Bravestarr on television to make it worth investing in the DVDs.

Anyway, I had to watch this (followed by Bravestarr) on television EVERY weekday afternoon! (They might have aired back-to-back on WGN out of Chicago right around the 4:00 hour). I had to rent these VHS tapes (along with the aforementioned Bravestarr) anytime I found them at the video store; (then copy them over to a blank cassette)!

There was just something that hooked me in at about 3-4 years old to Filmation’s version of the Ghostbusters (we’ll start with the fact that “Filmation Presents” alone practically taught me how to… identify rainbow-colored words against a black screen [no, I wasn’t QUITE reading yet; and not because of “Filmation”).

So, again, there was something…special…about Filmation’s Ghostbusters.

COMEDY/STORY LINES

The writing on these was just comic enough to keep me entertained as a youth; and, grown now, I can still willingly behold these episodes on DVD now and try to view them through the same eyes.

CHARACTERS

To me, THESE are the Ghostbusters.

…and Prime Evil and his evil ghosts are the villains.

I’m a realist and I know that THESE Ghostbusters not only prominently contended with Prime Evil and his ghosts, they also always busted the same two or three ghosts. There was nothing wrong to me with this kind of repetition; it added enough time to write actual characters over time.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the “Real” Ghostbusters dealing with a different ghost every single day; SOME of their ghastly villains were nothing short of ICONIC over close to six seasons (The Sandman and Sam Hain, anyone? My personal favorite from my favorite episode, The Copycat?) It was just that I PREFERRED the consistency of knowing that I would see my favorites of Prime Evil’s henchghouls again another day…

PRIME EVIL

Prime Evil was a powerful wizard and conjurer who was just as much a bane to the Ghostbusters as they were to him and his ghosts. While Prime Evil’s assorted specters and spooks were easy enough to “dematieralize” (these Ghostbusters’ way of, however temporarily, busting the ghosts), Prime Evil himself was too powerful for the Dematerializer. It was up to the Ghostbusters to use their noodles to think of other ways to defeat Prime Evil on the occasions that he would leave the haunted halls of his Hauntquarters and participate in his own evil deeds. (Normally, this involved playing off of Prime Evil’s impatience and causing him to burn off his own evil energy).

CONTROVERSY

There was a bit of controversy surrounding Filmation’s Ghostbusters that makes it somewhat memorable.

This goes slightly deeper than the war between the ORIGINAL (Filmation’s version of…) Ghostbusters and The “Real” Ghostbusters based on the movies; a war of ratings that, between television success and toy sales, the “Real” (cinematic-based) Ghostbusters always won.

There was a question of utilizing Tracy, the super-intelligent gorilla who not only worked alongside Jake and Eddie Jr., just like their fathers, but had also invented their Ghostbusting gadgets. You see, anyone who didn’t know any better and would have only recognized Columbia’s cinematic “Ghostbusters” could have leapt to the conclusion that they had taken Winston Zedmore’s character and changed him into a gorilla.

This was 1986 and NO animator would have still been THAT tone deaf about culture (especially not the very Filmation studios who had helped make “Fat Albert” a household name). It bears repeating; Filmation’s ANIMATED Ghostbusters was a spin-off of the LIVE ACTION Ghost Busters.

Besides, if any comparisons could be made here, Tracy, the Gorilla, was closer to Egon with a genius level intellect and penchant for inventions. Similarly, Jake Kong Jr., the established leader of the Ghostbusters, had a lot of aspects of Peter Venkman’s snide personality and lovably buffoonish and bumbling Eddie Spencer Jr. closest matched Ray Stantz in mannerisms and personality.

SLIMER VS. BELFRY AND THOSE GHOST COMMAND GIMMICS

Slimer of the Real Ghostbusters fame may have been annoying.

He was outnumbered in his obnoxiousness by Belfry, Ghost Command’s live-in Pig/Bat hybrid (who closest resembled Disney’s Piglet; with wings) and the office furniture that surrounded Ghost Command.

I have to give the “Real Ghostbusters” their due credit, not only for the toyline and in the ratings war and nostalgic impact, but for having far fewer annoying characters.

THE ROUND UP

I’ll be honest; if not for childhood memories of preferring the Filmation version of Ghostbusters, I would NEVER have enjoyed these today. Most days, Prime Evil could be incredibly powerful and evil (see “The Statue of Liberty” episode when he hijacks the Statue of Liberty and replaces it with a statue of himself and his prized pet/stooge, Brat-a-rat).

Nevertheless, his inability to pronounce “Ghostbusters” got rather old rather quickly.

Also, one of my favorites of his ghouls was Scared Stiff, a “futuristic robot ghost.” You read that EXACTLY as Filmation had scripted him. A ROBOT GHOST. He couldn’t even call it a day and just be a skeleton or mechanical monster (ie: Frankenstein’s Monster).

The Ghost Command Gizmos also got pretty old pretty quickly.

However, I approved of the animation and character writing and, honestly, I guess Filmation’s Ghostbusters was better suited for a child of roughly 3-4 years old first watching these and renting the tapes.

Let’s hear it for childhood nostalgia! Let’s hear it for re-enjoying childhood memories on DVD in honor of Halloween. Most important of all, “LET’S GOHHHH, GHOHHHHSTBUSTERRRS!”

The author thanks you, as always, for the read. If you enjoyed THIS read check out my profile.

Also, feel free to leave a little "love."

vintage

About the author

Kent Brindley

Smalltown guy from Southwest Michigan

Lifelong aspiring author here; complete with a few self-published works always looking for more.

https://www.instagram.com/kmoney_gv08/

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