March 11, 2007

DVD Review: Filmation's Ghostbusters - Volume One

When the first volume of Filmation's Ghostbusters series arrived on my doorstep, I had a wave of nostalgia for the cartoons that I used to watch back in the 1980's. It was a time when there was such a thing as Saturday morning cartoons, and when you got home from school there were more toons waiting for you. I know there are cartoons during those times today, but you have to hunt for them. Have you ever tried looking for a cartoon on Saturday morning these days? I remember tuning in to the likes of Ghostbusters, Dungeons and Dragons, Transformers, He-Man, Voltron, Gobots, GI Joe, Thundercats, and many others. Sure many were just long commercials, but they were my long commercials.

The first thing that will be made abundantly clear when you see this set is that it has nothing to do with the Bill Murray/Dan Akroyd starring film. When I asked my friends if they remember the Ghostbusters cartoon, they all say they do, but when I say that it isn't the one based on the movie, but the other one, the one with the gorilla and the buggy, they all looked at me as if I had two heads. Apparently, not many people remember this show.

The show was based off another Filmation property, a live action Saturday morning show from the 1970's called The Ghost Busters. It starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, who proviously starred on F-Troop. There was some sort of rights sale/dispute which led to the Ghostbusters feature that we all know and love, and then the two way split, leading to much confudsion, with the animated shows. There were two animated shows created, The Real Ghostbusters, which centered on the exploits of the film characters, and Filmation's Ghostbusters, which was based on the adventures of the offspring of the live action series characters.

Ghostbusters features the ghostbusting team of Jake Kong, Eddie Spenser, and Tracy the super intelligent gorilla fighting ghostly problems whereever, and whenever, they crop up. Along the way, they meet friends to help them along their quest, such as Futura, a ghostbuster of the future, and Jessica Ray, a local investigative reporter. Standing in their way, at every turn, is Prime Evil, a Skeletor by way of Dr. Doom villain who employs a magical pipe organ to move through time. He is joined by a rogue's gallery of ghostly villains such as robotic ghost Scared Stiff, werewolf of the future Fangster, skeletal knight Sir Trancalot, illusionist Mysteria, and the bubbleheaded mummy, Airhead. Coincidentally, there was a scene in an early episode that evoked comparison to the Ghostbusters movie, Airhead was increased to enormous size, sort of emulating Mr. Stay Puft, something that is relatively harmless, expanded to dangerous size.

This set features the first half of its run, presented in story order, which is a bit different from the order of production and airing. It starts with an epic five episode arc which introduces us to our heroic trio as they first take up the mantle of the Ghostbuster in order to find their fathers, who have been kidnapped by Prime Evil in retribution for a prior entrapment. The arc takes them from the present to the far future, to the distant past in their efforts to stop Prime Evil and rescure their fathers. The arc also introduces us to frequent guests Futura and Jessica Ray, not to mention all of the ghostly denizens of Ghost Command.

Now, the show isn't exactly high entertainment, and the stories have their share of continuity issues, but those issues are easy to set aside. The show is filled with nice character designs, bright colors, nice animation, and always offers up something for the kid in all of us.

Audio/Video. This set was released by Ink & Paint, and they must be commended. They did an incredible job getting this ready for a primetime DVD release. The colors are bright and vibrant, no evidence of fading, or age, and is just an absolute joy to watch. The episodes look and sound much better than I would have expected on a rather obscure title such as this. The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0, and sounds very good. I am very happy with the technical aspects of the show.

Extras. This 6 disk set offers up disk 6 exclusively to the extras.
  • Interviews. A series of brief interviews with producer Lou Scheimer, writer Robby London and directors Tom Tataranowicz and Tom Site. They offer up some interesting information on the show, like the confusion created by the dueling cartoon series. These were interesting, yet way, way, way too brief.
  • Storyboards. An eleven minute stretch of storyboards presented like a comic book with a loop of the theme music playing behind it. Kind of cool, but not all that interesting.
  • The Ghost Busters: "The Maltese Monkey." An episode of the live action series. This was a cool addition, even if the show was pretty goofy.
  • Promo Pilot. Interested in what Ghostbusters looked like at the very begining? This is the original 8 minutes shown when the show was being shopped.
  • Anti-Drug Spot. A thiry second spot professing the ubiquitus anti-drug message, "Just say no!"
  • Image Galleries. A pair of image sets, one featuring character designs, the other focused on promo art.
  • Ink & Paint Trailers. These include He-Man, She-Ra, The New Adventures of He-Man, Flash Gordon, Ghostbusters, Journey Back to Oz, Groovie Ghoulies, BraveStarr, Blackstar, Happily Ever After, Hero High, Space Sentinels, The Freedom Force, Mission: Magic!, A Snow White Christmas, Ark II, Space Academy, The Ghost Busters, Jason of Star Command, and Isis. I haven't heard of half of these! It was funny seeing Sid Haig in the Jason of Star Command trailer, I know him best as Captain Spaulding in The Devil's Rejects!

Bottomline. This is a fun set. It brings back memories of my youth, and remains surprisingly entertaining even today! The set was definitely put together with care, it is a high quality addition to my animation collection. The series was funny, trippy, and filled with that 80's era feel. You can't help but have fun.



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