The Ghost Busters: The Complete Series DVD Review: Laughs over Logic

Filmation’s The Ghost Busters was a live-action Saturday morning kid’s show that aired in 1975, well before Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd battled The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the silver screen. The show reunited Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch from F-Troop. They played Jake Kong and Eddie Spenser and were assisted by Tracy the Gorilla.

Fifteen shows were produced and they all had the same plot. A couple of ghosts would appear in the local graveyard and take up residence in the local castle. Tracy and Spenser would go to a store to get their assignment, which was a taped message inside some ordinary object like a cream pie, a plotted plant, or a mounted deer head. A recurring gag had the message self-destruct in Tracy’s hands a la Mission Impossible after five seconds, usually leaving him slightly charred. The ghosts’ plans usually required someone who resembled Spenser or was as dumb as he was. After some requisite running around inside the castle (i.e. two sets), the plans were always foiled, usually by something Tracy had in his bag. Kong would then return them to wherever they came from with The Dematerializer.

Some of the ghosts were generic bad guys, pirates and Vikings, while others were specific, The Canterville Ghost and The Red Baron. Most of the big movie monsters made an appearance: Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and both Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For some reason, they were identified as ghosts rather than monsters, but I doubt the kids the show is aimed at would realize that. Besides, when one of the heroes is a gorilla who drives a car and carries around a seltzer bottle, laughs are a higher priority than logic.

The show got a lot of well-known actors as guest stars: Billy Barty, Jim Backus, Ted Knight, Joe E. Ross, and Howard Morris, the latter creating a Groovie Goolies reunion with Storch. In two different episodes, Huntz Hall appeared as Gronk. He was an assistant to a witch and to Merlin but no acknowledgement of this.

The Ghost Busters will be good for young children and nostalgic Gen-Xers. It might be too silly for everyone else as the comedy is gags, puns, and slapstick. Even though there are monsters, nothing scary happens. The video quality is adequate. Nothing was done to improve it, and one episode had some digital artifacts.

Special Features include interviews with producer Lou Scheimer and Bob Burns, the “trainer” for Tracy the Gorilla; photo galleries; and an episode of the animated version of Ghost Busters, which came out after the success of the movie. With a DVD-ROM, the scripts for all 15 shows are available.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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