Forget, for a minute, that the complete run of The Real Ghostbusters comes in a box that is the team’s fire station headquarters –with lenticular “no ghosts” symbol on one side and a lenticular Slimer on another. Ignore, also, that the five volumes that encompass the series are packaged in five steelbook cases and a 52-page booklet gives you the complete episode guide – listing all 134 syndicated episodes and the 13 one-hour episodes created for ABC-TV. Forget the extra bonus disc that gives you two hours of material that comes in addition to the 20 visual commentaries; introductions for the majority of the episodes [by various members of their creative teams]; 22 isolated music and effects tracks, and trivia from the vast majority of the eps.
The Real Ghostbusters is unique in the history of animation for a number of reasons: it was commissioned for both a network market [ABC] and the syndicated market; each series had its own writers, directors, designers and story editors, and it was one of the smartest, funniest and, yes, scariest animated series ever to be commissioned. The ABC eps tend to be funnier, while the syndicated eps tend to be scarier [no network Standards & Practices people looking over their shoulders]. The syndicated eps are also – surprisingly, given their turnaround time per ep – slightly better animated than the ABC eps.
Whether they were trying to find a way to get an angry ghost some nap time [while visiting the set of the movie of their careers – a juicy bit of meta filmmaking], or explaining how a throwaway character from the movie became the team’s mascot, The Real Ghostbusters did something that not many movie spin-offs do: capture the feel, tone and quality of the original movie. Every episode was fast paced and the jokes ranged from the slapstick [getting slimed, for example] to the satirical [the aforementioned quiet-seeking ghost couldn’t possibly be echoing a director’s insistent calls for quiet on the set, hmmm…?].
As I screened this prodigious set, I was pleased to note that J. Michael Straczynski [Babylon 5, Changeling] was the story editor on the syndicated eps and wrote a goodly number of them [including the aforementioned Hollywood satire and explanation for Slimer’s presence]. Under his guidance, the syndicated eps were so well researched [many of the show’s menaces were based on actual mythologies, folklores and urban legends] that they had genuine heft to them. While I’ve only mentioned a couple of episodes [the Hollywood spoof is entitled Take Two, while the story of how Slimer became the team’s mascot is called Citizen Ghost], the rest of series is also as much fun now as when it originally aired.
Features [beside those mentioned above]:
Volume One: Featurette: I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost; Image Gallery: Promotional and Development Art; Design Gallery: Night Game, and Episodic Scripts and Storyboards in PDF Format [DVD-ROM].
Volume Two: Animating The Real Ghostbusters Featurette; Image Gallery: Background Art; Design Gallery: The Man Who Never Reached Home, and Episodic Scripts and Storyboards in PDF Format [DVD-ROM].
Volume Three: Who You Gonna Call? The Heroes of The Real Ghostbusters Featurette; Image Gallery: Character designs of the Heroes; Image Gallery: Equipment, and Episodic Scripts and Storyboards in PDF Format [DVD-ROM].
Volume Four: Something Strange in Your Neighborhood: The Creatures of The Real Ghostbusters Featurette; Image Gallery: The Creature Designs of Everett Peck, and Episodic Scripts and Storyboards in PDF Format [DVD-ROM].
Volume Five: He Slimed Me! The Green World of Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters Featurette; Image Gallery: Slimer! Character Designs, and Episodic Scripts and Storyboards in PDF Format [DVD-ROM].
Bonus Disc: Promo Pilot – the unaired four-minute original pilot; Promo Pilot Visual Commentary; Extended Interviews [Executive Producers Joe Medjuck & Michael C. Gross; Writer & Story Editor J. Michael Straczynski; Director & Storyboard Supervisor Kevin Altieri; Maurice LaMarche, Voce of Egon Spengler; Laura Summer, Voice of Janine Melnitz One, and Kath Soucie, Voice of Janine Melnitz Two]; DVD Promo Trailer [created for Comic Con 2008]; Alternate Opening and Closing Credits; Title Card Slideshow, and the Series Bible and Promo Pilot Storyboards for The Real Ghostbusters in PDF format [DVD-ROM].
Grade: The Real Ghostbusters: The Complete Series – A
Grade: Features – A+
Final Grade: A