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Ghostwriter. What a trip.
October 21, 2008 4:49 PM   Subscribe

He's a ghost, and he writes to us: GhostWriter. In 1992, PBS launched a new TV show designed to teach 7-to-10 year-olds to love reading and writing. The show initially featured a team of 5 characters (Rob joined the team a few episodes later, and by the end there were a few additional characters) in Brooklyn, NY solving mysteries. It had cameos by Julia Stiles, Spike Lee, and Samuel L. Jackson and one of the characters even had her own music video. So what happened to it? Well, it's available on VHS, but has not been released on DVD. Don't worry! There's an online petition!
posted by lunit (41 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Say yes, do no. Choose to confuse. Lie to get by. (6:20)
posted by lunit at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2008


"Do you know anything about hackers? Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:08 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I loved that show. Does that make me a dork? (Probably.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:09 PM on October 21, 2008


Oh yes. I was obsessed with Ghostwriter. I got a notebook just like theirs. I met Sheldon Turnipseed. He was on the roof of TV Ontario right next to the worlds largest peanut butter sandwich.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:12 PM on October 21, 2008


Remember the time they found toxic waste in the community garden? And then they still couldn't figure out why Gaby was sick for like another 45 minutes? Was that the one with Daisy Fuentes?
posted by yellowbinder at 5:16 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those kids had freakishly neat handwriting. But not that freakish, because it took them forever to jot down a few words. I don't know if the show taught kids to love reading and writing, but it sure made wearing a pen necklace seem pretty cool.
posted by tushfestival at 5:22 PM on October 21, 2008


Ghostwriter gave my life purpose at a tender age; in those good times I'd live Sunday to Sunday when my local PBS station would air it at 7pm. I had a giant crush on music-video-filming Lenni. The Max Mouse episode is amazing (and has Julia Stiles, so doubleplusgood) but I always loved the 1920s time-travel cross-dimensional-"stolen-silver"-mystery-solving arc. So, thanks for this post.
posted by reese at 5:30 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ghostwriter, motorcycle hero
bebebebebebebe he's lookin' so cute
sneakin' round round round in a blue jumpsuit

Ghostwriter, motorcycle hero
bebebebebebebe he's a-blazin' away
Like stars stars stars in the universe

Ghostwriter, motorcycle hero

bebebebebebebe he's a-screamin' the truth
America America is killin' its youth

Oh. Wait. That's not it at all. My mistake.
posted by dersins at 5:31 PM on October 21, 2008


Rally G!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:04 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This, Math Net and Commander Mark's Draw Squad were my childhood one summer.

Also, GI Joes.
posted by drezdn at 6:08 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember two things and two things only about that show: It featured a minimart and they had an NEC multisync monitor that I wanted bad to relieve the hell of using an Amiga with a portable color TV that could only display green. It was Amiga Format's pick, and I wanted it.

Continue dorking, dorks. I've set the safety bar high enough now.
posted by bonaldi at 6:09 PM on October 21, 2008


Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I was always conflicted about this show. On the one hand, the Ghost helps them solve mysteries. On the other hand, he's a foul demonic monstrosity from the pits of hell. I remember liking the show but wondering when GW was going to possess one of the kids and have them turn on their parents Pet Sematary-style.

tl;dr: growing up fundy will fuck with your mind.
posted by Avenger at 6:29 PM on October 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


This show was awesome. Dork ON.
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:31 PM on October 21, 2008


it wasn't a mini-mart. it was a bodega, dammit!
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:55 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also loved Square One (MathNet was a part of it). My husband's too old to remember watching these shows as a kid, and I am left to dork alone at home...
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:56 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


God daaaaaamn, Ghostwriter. Wow. Ghostwriter.

True story, there exists somewhere in my cousins' house a cassette tape of all of us recording a Ghostwriter radio-play that we'd written. I played Jamal, because I am awesome.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:03 PM on October 21, 2008


Wow, thanks for the memories! I loved that show. That and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego game show.

I am seriously thankful for how much public television has steered me in the right direction.
posted by phyrewerx at 7:18 PM on October 21, 2008


I was never clear as a child on what writer use his afterlife to willingly humiliate himself by leaving such obscure clues. In the end I decided it would have to be the tormented soul of James Joyce.
posted by shii at 7:19 PM on October 21, 2008 [7 favorites]


I loved Ghostwriter! I was most obsessed with that binder that the kids used to store all their clues. I think that somehow sparked my obsession with office supplies.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:46 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ghostwriter!
posted by Tehanu at 7:51 PM on October 21, 2008


I loved the scene when Rob is stuck in that underground tunnel and realizes he lost his pen necklace and has to write to ghostwriter by spelling out words with rocks. So epic.

They were really bad-ass for middle-schoolers, come to think of it.
posted by lunit at 7:58 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's a negative, Ghostwriter.
posted by clearly at 8:15 PM on October 21, 2008


My favorite episode (well, series of episodes) was the one where Ghostwriter found out he could travel through time! In a book!

I was digging around in my childhood bedroom recently and I found my Ghostwriter pen (some Lisa Frank pen-necklace I appropriated for the purpose). It was my most cherished accessory of fifth grade.

I have a lot of good memories of watching this show. The only thing I liked better was Square One TV--nothing beats Mathnet.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:29 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ok, also, the one with the toxic waste in the community garden was not the one with Daisy Fuentes, she was in the superhero contest one, where Gaby steals money from the cash register at the bodega to buy a costume.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:31 PM on October 21, 2008


Ghostwriter was one of my absolute favorite shows when I was young. Plus, the comments in this thread have caused me to look up and re-live the Rockapella theme song to "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
Thank you, Metafilter.
posted by Nedroid at 8:38 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


How did I never know Samuel L. Jackson was Jamal's dad? This explains Jamal's intrinsic cool.
posted by Tehanu at 8:44 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


On creepy, autonomous writing devices for children: Mortimer Ichabod Marker, possessed by the synthed-up ghost of Chopin and wielded by Bill Cosby. You asked for this.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:43 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I really loved this show and still think about it from time to time. Thanks for the post!
posted by LiliaNic at 9:44 PM on October 21, 2008


Yeah, this and "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" were great shows.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:47 PM on October 21, 2008


On creepy, autonomous writing devices for children: Mortimer Ichabod Marker, possessed by the synthed-up ghost of Chopin and wielded by Bill Cosby. You asked for this.

Picture Page > Ghostwriter
posted by Tehanu at 9:53 PM on October 21, 2008


No mention of THABTO yet? For shame.

Did they ever go anywhere with that weird plot about missing kids? When Ghostwriter arrived in Jamals basement he was rambling something about 'where are the children, are they ok?'. Was that just about the later time traveling story about those kids who lived in the same house?

ps. The Case of the Missing Float
posted by holloway at 1:32 AM on October 22, 2008


Are awesome shows like this, and the others mentioned here, made anymore? Will kids growing up now come to Metafilter in ten years to post about their awesome geekcore shows? In other words, is it just nostalgia talking here, or was there something particularly unique about those shows? (I'm leaning towards the unique explanation, 'cause I can't think of anything awesome and smart currently on the air for the pre-teen set.)
posted by JHarris at 3:37 AM on October 22, 2008


My mom's sister's two kids were obsessed with this during its time on the air. Mom's sister's boyfriend somehow scored them a copy of the shooting script. I haven't spoken with them in years, but in light of this thread I wonder if they still have it...
posted by pxe2000 at 5:39 AM on October 22, 2008


As the mother of someone currently in the PBS Kids demographic, I predict that in 10-12 years, new MeFites will be posting nostalgic FPPs about Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman and Design Squad.
posted by Daily Alice at 5:45 AM on October 22, 2008


holloway: THABTO, yes! I loved GW, but there's only a few scenes that really stuck in my mind other than that. One involved somebody OD'ing, and somebody else (a Ghostwriter? Or a Responsible Adult?) calling 911 and maintaining their airway until help arrived. The other had something to do with a principal assuming that the blinking 12:00 on a VCR meant it was a bomb, and being a dick about it. I think an actual bomb may have gone off at the end of that argument, unrelated to the VCR.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 5:48 AM on October 22, 2008


Interestingly, the actor who played Hector (Willie Hernandez) later went on to be one of the cast of the Real World: Philadelphia.
posted by chos at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2008


I got grounded once when I tried to shovel food in my mouth at the dinner table so I could get back to watching Ghostwriter.

Still angry.
posted by spamguy at 7:19 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I went to grade school with David Lopez. *waves hi to Dave next time he googles himself*
posted by Eideteker at 7:46 AM on October 22, 2008


Ghostwriter!!! I had completely forgotten about that show. I was a little too old for it by the time it aired, but it was a total guilty pleasure of mine. I knew it was too young for me, but I still loved it.

The Max Mouse episode is amazing

WHY DO I REMEMBER THIS?
posted by threeturtles at 1:41 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only episode I remember of Ghostwriter is the one with the slime monster. I also remember writing to Ghostwriter and I got a postcard with the cast on it and on the back was a message thanking me for letter and it was signed by Ghostwriter himself.

The only other thing I can remember about Ghostwriter is how I was disappointed when they replaced it with "Wishbone."
posted by champthom at 1:58 AM on October 23, 2008


I worked with a woman who used to direct some of the episodes. She gave me a baseball cap! She was also going to give me a crew jacket but her son wanted it. *SHAKES FIST*
posted by spec80 at 10:15 AM on October 23, 2008


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