Flashback: The Real Ghostbusters S1 E1: Ghosts-R-Us!

A figure of Slimer from "Ghostbusters" watches over customers Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, at House of Heroes, 407 N. Main St., Oshkosh.Ap House Of Heroes 4379 092220 Wag
A figure of Slimer from "Ghostbusters" watches over customers Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, at House of Heroes, 407 N. Main St., Oshkosh.Ap House Of Heroes 4379 092220 Wag /

The Real Ghostbusters will always be more gently spooky than fully scary, and the season 1 premiere makes that abundantly clear from the start.  Unless someone’s a serious fraidy-cat, they won’t find the Ghostbusters nail-bitingly brutal.  That being said, this premiere does put a twist on the idea of busting ghosts, when a family of “class 5” spirits go around busting themselves to ruin the Ghostbusters’ business.  What a smart idea!

Plus, it offers a slight nod to the series title, as Winston (Arsenio Hall), Egon (Maurice LaMarche), Peter (Lorenzo Music), and Ray (Frank Welker) can say, “Hey, we’re The Real Ghostbusters!”  That is also a smart idea.  Tons of Saturday morning cartoon shows had crazy, imaginative story elements (like TMNT’s Krang, the evil brain from Dimension X), but The Real Ghostbusters ranks high on the list of cartoons with outlandish, otherwordly potential.

The Real Ghostbusters weren’t afraid to crank it up to 11

Remember that ghost family?  Well, they have names like Snarg (Laura Summer), Zonk (Frank Welker), and Slug (Ron Masak), with Snarg being the “mama bear” character, Slug being “daddy bear,” and Zonk acting as “baby.”  After Slimer (Welker) accidentally releases them from containment, the ghost family goes around pretending to bust ghosts under the name “Ghosts ‘R Us,” they threaten to blow up the Real Ghostbusters’ spot.  However, things get more dangerous when the wacky ghosts accidentally start a revolution of one, conjuring up the mystifying and freakish “Toy Ghost” ⁠— noted to be a “class 10” apparition.

This episode also reminds us that gadgets are part of what makes the Ghostbusters cool.  Not only do they make use of the Ecto-1 vehicle, but also the Ecto-2 aerial vehicle (which presages the Ninja Turtles’ Turtle Blimp on-screen by 1 year)!  When things get worse, the Ghostbusters get better equipped. Slimer actually redeems himself by the episode’s end, sliming up the Brooklyn Bridge’s suspension system and causing the Toy Ghost to slip like a dufus.  So, yes, Slimer can be more than a slimy, crying baby-like pet ghost who eats other people’s food (though that’s primarily what he’s about).

Final thoughts on The Real Ghostbusters series premiere

Occasionally, it seems we’re trapped inside some endless 1980s retro-nostalgia homage loop, which risks getting old.  Oddly (and fortunately) enough, watching some actual 1980s material might work to aid the escape from retro-burnout! In fact, it might save the 1980s, in the end.  Frankly, nothing quite beats the real thing compared to homages, and The Real Ghostbusters was (or is it were?) the real thing.  Oddly enough, the humor and appeal might almost seem ageless (though it could seem strange to tell your grandson that, when you were a kid, you strapped on a proton pack and busted some neighborhood ghosts).

Anyway, the challenges facing the Ghostbusters in this episode are significant.  Just like Gozer proved almost more powerful than the four of them combined, the Toy Ghost threatens destruction on a mass scale. There’s another nice aspect of the animated series:  It pays a little more attention to Winston and, frankly, the Ghostbusters individually and as a whole.  Basically, this series is Ghostbusters the way it’s meant to be and, to this day, makes the small screen look like a perpetually exciting Halloween season.

What are your thoughts on The Real Ghostbusters series premiere, “Ghosts-R-Us”?  Slime us in the comments!

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