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Real Ghostbusters: Spooky Spirits, The

Sony Pictures // Unrated // February 28, 2006
List Price: $9.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Mike Long | posted March 15, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Shows

Imagine, if you will, that you've written the best song in the history of the world. But, unfortunately, the only instrument that you have on which to perform it is a ukulele. The song would probably sound OK, but it's true beauty wouldn't come forth. This may sound like an odd comparison, but The Real Ghostbusters television reminds me of this idea. The show did a fine job of adapting the feel of the feature film, and there were some episodes which contained some great storylines, but the archaic animation took the quality of the show down a notch.

The newly released DVD compilation The Real Ghostbusters: Spooky Spirits contains four episodes of the show, three of which are fine examples of how the writers on the show used the original ideas from the movie as a springboard to create adventures which could (most likely) only be done through animation. The four episodes on the DVD are as follows:

"Ghostbuster of the Year" (Original airdate 10/1/87) -- The Ghostbusters are pitted against one another in a competition to be "Ghost Hunter of the Year" and get their photo on a magazine cover. In order to win the title, the quartet must spend the night in the castle belonging to the late publisher Charles Foster Hearst and capture his ghost. Things get weird when the ghost insists on roaming the castle calling out "rosebud" over and over.

"The Revenge of Murry the Mantis" (Original airdate 11/2/87) -- It's time for New York's Thanksgiving parade and the Ghostbusters are delighted to be part of the festivities. Ecto-1 (the Ghostbusters' car) will be riding in front of the Murray the Mantis balloon. Murray is a character from a popular children's show. Unbeknownst to our heroes, Murray was inflated in a an old morgue and has absorbed an unhealthy amount of ghost energy. During the parade, the friendly balloon suddenly transforms into a mantis monster. The Ghostbusters are unable to stop the giant beast, so they call upon the only other gargantuan ghost that they know; The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!

"Drool, The Dogfaced (sic) Goblin" (Original airdate 10/29/87) -- The Ghostbusters travel to the county to investigate an unusual side-show. They learn that the show has a goblin (and according to the sign, a "unicon". ????) The owner of the carnival insists that the goblin is friendly and won't let the boys "bust" it. On the way back to New York City, Ecto-1 breaks down and The Ghostbusters are forced to spend the night in a small town. The quiet is soon disturbed by a series of odd occurrences. Is the goblin tormenting the guys?

"Mr. Sandman, Dream me a Dream" (Original airdate 10/25/86) -- A ghost named The Sandman has the power to make people sleep. While they sleep, their dreams come to life, interacting with those in the vicinity of the sleeper. The Ghostbusters are called the scene to investigate bizarre activity and soon find themselves picked off one-by-one by The Sandman. How can you fight a ghost when you are asleep?

When was the last time that you saw a kids show which referenced Citizen Kane? This is a nice illustration of the care that went into the writing of this show. Granted, the episode was simply an homage to Welles' classic film and it gives away the ending of that movie, but that doesn't detract from the guts which it took to make this story part of a mainstream cartoon. I also really liked the used of The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in "The Revenge of Murray the Mantis". The show is obviously based on the movie and includes the same main characters as the film, but this call-back to the original movie adds a new depth to the show and will make fans of the movie smile with approval. The Sandman is an interesting character and the premise of that episode reminded me a great deal of something which would have been seen on the original Star Trek. (Although, I must admit that I wasn't crazy about the design of The Sandman himself.) The only dog here (pun intended) is "Drool, The Dogfaced Goblin". This episode has a good idea, but it then becomes a series of random haunting scenes which have little to no connection. Other than this misstep, the episodes included in The Real Ghostbusters: Spooky Spirits prove that cartoons aren't always brainless.

However, the great ideas are nearly ruined by the jerky animation. Now I know that there are many out there who are fans of this sort of Japanese animation, but I find it to be jerky and cheap-looking. For an example of how questionable the animation is in The Real Ghostbusters, let me say that I noticed many shots which looked as if they were taken directly from Speed Racer, which was made 20 years earlier. In fact, if it weren't for the modern lighting effects, The Real Ghostbusters would look like something from the 60s, as the animation is plagued by a distinct lack of detail and is plagued by repetitious action.


The Real Ghostbusters: Spooky Spirits haunts DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The four episodes included on this are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio. The episodes certainly show their age, as the image is littered with black & white specs, as well as what appear to be small scratches on the source material. Also, the colors are washed out in some scenes. Video noise is noticeable and jagged lines abound in the animation.


The DVD carries a Dolby Digital stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track is well-balanced in the sense that the music is never louder than the dialogue. However, the music sounds very flat, as do most of the sound effects. The audio is adequate, but certainly not outstanding.


There are no special features whatsoever on this DVD.

I had remembered The Real Ghostbusters as being a clever show, but the first few episodes which I watched on DVD didn't confirm these memories. Fortunately, The Real Ghostbusters: Spooky Spirits reminded me that the show did contain some very creative episodes, most notably those which referenced the movie.
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