"He makes Gozer look like little Mary Sunshine."
June 25, 2008 3:29 AM   Subscribe

Back in the 80s DiC produced a cartoon, aired in syndication and on ABC Saturday Mornings, called "The Real Ghostbusters." Based on the popular action-comedy movie, it more-or-less continued the adventures of Ray, Egon, Winston and Garfield Peter through seven seasons of supernatural shenanigans. It could have been a mere cash-in, but there was something more to it. It aspired to realism, at least as much as possible. It was story-edited by J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5. (He also worked on He-Man and Murder She Wrote!)
This may explain the second season episode, written by Michael Reaves and rife with Lovecraft references, in which the Ghostbusters face down the Cthulhu cult. Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
posted by JHarris (64 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
It looks like we're finally going to get a DVD boxed set this fall, thank Zuul.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:41 AM on June 25, 2008

This was aired in the UK too, I loved it as a kid. I had no real knowledge of the films, but the cartoon inspired me to start a Ghostbusters club.

I'd love to see it again, I especially liked the closing credits where they danced down the street.
posted by hnnrs at 4:00 AM on June 25, 2008

Is there a particular reason English writers look to Welsh for macabre sounding words?
posted by three blind mice at 4:02 AM on June 25, 2008

It's just because Welsh is utterly unpronounceable by human tongues.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:15 AM on June 25, 2008 [5 favorites]

The reason it was called the Real Ghostbusters, is because of the other Ghostbusters cartoon, which was based on the live action show from the 70's.
posted by brevator at 4:16 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hm, maybe I played up the Ghostbusters description a bit too much. The point, oh great and terrible Dagon, is that this is Lovecraft pastiche, right there on Saturday Morning!
posted by JHarris at 4:19 AM on June 25, 2008

Oh my god did I love that cartoon...and for its realism no less. I was devastated when it was revamped for a younger audience. All of a sudden it was full of softer lines, inane plots, more goofiness, and an idiotic ghost. What a tragedy.
posted by mrmojoflying at 4:35 AM on June 25, 2008

I used to get up every Saturday, put on my plastic proton pack and get in front of the TV for some ghost catching adventures. Best cartoon ever.
posted by boubelium at 4:46 AM on June 25, 2008

Is there a particular reason English writers look to Welsh for macabre sounding words?

Because if there's a language that could be described as "heavy" or "earthy" to native English-speaking ears, it's Welsh. It sounds like it could be used for heavy duty linguistic tasks like arcane stuff.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:52 AM on June 25, 2008

When I first read H.P. Lovecraft, the thing that captivated me the most was the sense of everything seeming strangely familiar, way back in the dim cellar of the mind. For me, paging through his stories always evoked a sense that the archetypes of doom and inevitability were buried deep within, reemerging as an impossible sense of familiarity with the Nameless Horrors described.

Turns out it was a damn cartoon.
posted by maus at 4:58 AM on June 25, 2008 [6 favorites]

My favorite episode began with an underground door saying, "Do not open until doomsday." Of course the door is opened, but before complete hilarity could ensue, the GB close it back up. I was so upset. My 8 year old eyes wanted to see what happened.

That's also the day I realized I was fucked up in the head. What 8 year old wants to see the end of world?
posted by MrMulan at 5:39 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Garfield Peter

I loved the "Garfield" Peter's voice and lost interest in the cartoon when they replaced the guy who had done it.
posted by orange swan at 5:40 AM on June 25, 2008

Always loved that cartoon, and this episode in particular always stood out to me. Still not bad, even after all this time.
posted by inthe80s at 5:41 AM on June 25, 2008

One of my favorites growing up was the one where they fought the Jabberwock, whose depiction was pretty much straight out of the the classic Tenniel illustration. My sister was terrified by the Jabberwock and would run screaming and crying if I started to recite the poem. She figured that if I recited the whole thing, the Jabberwock would come burbling through the nearest tulgey trashcan and snatch her away.

So of course I memorized the poem. Hell, I think it was the presence of Jabberwocky that made me buy the first book of poetry I ever bought, which lead to doing a puppet performance of Jabberwocky in elementary school, which lead to desperately needed extra credit, which lead to more presentations, including me explaining Hamlet to my fellow sixth graders, which eventually lead to me going to school for English lit, becoming a librarian, and meeting my wife.

So, uh, thanks for the solid, Real Ghostbusters. You to, JMS, and I guess you're the guy that wrote that episode.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:45 AM on June 25, 2008 [15 favorites]

I loved the "Garfield" Peter's voice and lost interest in the cartoon when they replaced the guy who had done it.

And in the spirit of the Great Circle of Metafilter, it turns out that the original Peter voice was replaced by Dave Couiler of Out of Control fame.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:46 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Argh, you too even.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:46 AM on June 25, 2008

My sibs and I loved this show and had all the toys! We also drank ecto cooler flavored Hi-C which featured the Ghostbusters' ghost/pet Slimer. Ah, merchandising.
posted by leesh at 5:51 AM on June 25, 2008

That show completely failed to capture the essence of Janine Melnitz.
posted by ND¢ at 5:53 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

MrMulan, I wanted the same thing. What the hell?

The best part of this for me is the music, which I haven't heard in years but is insanely familiar. My favorite bit is the spooky descending tri-tones they play as they walk the down the stares in part 2.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

*stairs, even
posted by es_de_bah at 5:58 AM on June 25, 2008

Lovecraft popped up in at least one other cartoon in that era. In an episode of the Justice League cartoon the villain was one of the Great Race. Which I recognized because I'd just bought a copy of "Deities & Demigods".

As far as Ghostbusters goes, I was an addict when I was a kid. Never did like Slimer, but I never much cared for the comic relief critters of any of the other cartoons either. Guess even as a kid I was a curmudgeon...
posted by sotonohito at 6:02 AM on June 25, 2008

Ah, my childhood Saturday afternoon guilty pleasure!

Egon: I have a plan.
Peter: No electric shocks, Egon.
Egeon: OK, I have another plan.
posted by LN at 6:02 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

FYI, only the first two episodes are really good, the third has some Cthulhu references but is from a later season and definitely isn't as good as the first two (a two parter). As the show progressed the tight writing and creative plots gave way to more predictability and saturday-morning-ness.
posted by jeffkramer at 6:06 AM on June 25, 2008

I'd forgotten how much this show wasn't like a Saturday-morning cartoon. This is great! Also, I love Maurice LaMarche; recognized his voice straight off.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:09 AM on June 25, 2008

So Lorenzo Music was the voice of Peter Venkman in the cartoon, the part in the movie played by Bill Murray, who voiced the Garfield character in the movies, which was voiced in the cartoon by... Lorenzo Music.
posted by grubi at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2008 [15 favorites]

Uncleozzy, almost all the original voice actors were superb in this. My favourite was Frank Welker, formerly of Scooby-doo fame, the voice of about 14 Decepticons as well as Ray Stantz, Slimer and assorted monsters on RGB, and subsequently the voice of every animal known in animation creation, including Santa's Little Helper, Abu the Monkey, Curious George, Dexter's lab monkey, etc., etc., etc.
posted by LN at 6:14 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

That show completely failed to capture the essence of Janine Melnitz.

Actually, the writers acknowledged this in "Janine, You've Changed".
posted by skryche at 6:35 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

All this talk of Ghostbusters has reminded me of how much I need the upcoming Ghostbusters video game to be good. Honestly, I need a solid Ghostbusters game to wash away the bad taste left by Ghostbusters 2 for the NES. Man, that game was a disaster. The basic structure of the film was retained, but the soul was missing. The game was a side-scrolling platformer that lacked platforms. Ghostbusters moved from right to left across levels based on locations from the film, such as Van Horne station under the subway and the courtroom of Judge Wexler. Ghosts flew overhead at times, and shooting them with slime from the slime blower could slow them down. Dropping a ghost trap with the Start button sucked in any ghost that happened to fly overhead down into defeat. The main issue, however, were the many random objects that bounded and flipped across the level. For some reason things such as errant cowbells and flying irons dive-bombed our heroes, and neither slime blower nor ghost trap could slow them down. Essentially, the characters spend the game being pummeled by unavoidable junk. A single hit costs one life, meaning that the game was unbelievably unbalanced.

Levels that involved driving the Ecto-1A to the next destination faired no better, and the Statue of Liberty levels were a sub-par shooter trapped in a shoddy platformer game. If our heroes somehow made it to the museum level, each individual Ghostbuster must traverse the level to make it to Vigo the Carpathian's painting. Yes, that's right: in order to win the game I would have had to complete the same frustrating level four times in a row, each time with a different Ghostbuster. I never have finished the game. As a kid I grew far too frustrated to continue the madness, while now as an adult I find that I no longer care.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:54 AM on June 25, 2008

I was totally fascinated by the voice of Peter, and had to figure out who he was. I had never heard of Lorenzo Music before, but recognized the voice. No doubt, I'm remembering the voice of Carlton, the doorman, from Rhoda. Funny thing, I don't remember watching Rhoda, and have an entirely different idea of what show I'm remembering. (and no, I wasn't remembering Garfield, as I could never stand a moment of the Garfield animations)
posted by Goofyy at 7:04 AM on June 25, 2008

how apropos, we're planning on watching an episode of the real ghostbusters on my roof tonight. metafilter, you're so timely.
posted by jrb223 at 7:13 AM on June 25, 2008

Man, I LOVED this show as a kid!

It's funny, just yesterday I made a post about tRGB on the MetaFighter forums and which episodes did I pick to embed? Well, great minds think alike!

It was such a well written and well crafted and relatively mature show, especially compared to its contemporaries. I mean, until it became the Ghostbusters and Slimer Hour. Ahem.
posted by absalom at 7:17 AM on June 25, 2008

Ohwait, mai bad. This is from the 1st season episode Collect Call of Cthulhu. There was a later episode entitled 'Russian About' that also had some Cthulhu references, and was an altogether not-as-good episode. It was up on youtube, but seems to have been taken down.
posted by jeffkramer at 7:24 AM on June 25, 2008

What a great show.

I remember when the first Ghostbusters cartoon hit the airwaves. I was so excited, because I loved the movies! But then it turned out that the cartoon had nothing to do with the movies, and was this retarded stupid thing with a bunch of different guys and a stupid ape. I was so pissed off and felt betrayed.

But then The Real Ghostbusters came about, and it was everything we were hoping it would be, and more. I recall the characters actually sounded like the actors from the movies. So many good episodes! The Boogeyman, the New Jersey Paralellogram, all classics.

I remember in the last season or so they gave half of the show over to Slimer, and it seriously started to go downhill. I think they had a different (sucky) artist do the Slimer parts. I guess that was the shark jump moment. But up until that point, pure gold.

So, yeah, good post.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2008


B) The Calls
Of Cthulhu.

posted by GuyZero at 7:37 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Crap, I cannot post to save my life.

posted by GuyZero at 7:38 AM on June 25, 2008

Even as a kid, the one thing that I thought set this show apart from other cartoons was that there was a different villain in every show, rather than the same villain in every show just coming up with a new plan every time (like in the other Ghostbuster show, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Voltron, G-Force, Superfriends, etc.). With those other shows, I couldn't figure out why, if the villain got so close to success with that one plan, why not just tweak it a bit to remove the vulnerability that the heroes took advantage of and try it again? It was nice to see a villains with completely different motivations from week to week instead of that.
posted by LionIndex at 7:46 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

aspired to realism <> face down the Cthulhu cult
posted by mwhybark at 7:46 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I found a tape awhile back containing an entire morning's worth of Saturday Morning Cartoons. Giddy with excitement, I popped it in... only to discover that Saturday Morning Cartoons is pretty much another name for "Boring, unimaginative marketing shit." So a few months ago when I saw an episode of The Real Ghostbusters, I was ready for crap.

Man, it felt so good to be wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:50 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

But why was it necessary to give Egon blonde whipped-cream hair? Was it really that necessary to have different shades of hair color for each character? (Janine=red, Ray=brownish red, Peter=brown, Winston=dark brown, Egon=blonde)

I always found that perplexing as a kid.
posted by stefnet at 7:50 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ah, The Real Ghostbusters. Good times. The cartoons were so good I built a Ghostbusters HQ out of Legos and made my own two-part episodes. Sadly, the cartoon made me wonder for the first time why the world was in dire trouble EVERY EPISODE. Peter "Garfield" Venkman made me cynical.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:05 AM on June 25, 2008

I had no idea that the Filmation Ghostbusters had a live-action predecessor. That, wow. That suddenly vindicates what I have for a very long time thought was just about the most embarrassingly inept rip-off in this history of my childhood. ("Wait. You made them goofy and you added a gorilla? WTF.")

That show completely failed to capture the essence of Janine Melnitz.

Cartoon Janine Melnitz is a goddamned hero.

Also, Dave Couiler ruins everything he touches.
posted by cortex at 8:08 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know I couldn't tell cartoon characters apart who had the same hair color. I wouldn't even remember Egon without his distinctive hair. Slimer was great and I loved Slimer-related merchandising, especially the drink. Show only got better as they gave more ground to the real star, Slimer.
posted by Gnatcho at 8:11 AM on June 25, 2008

Thought I too watched it all the time as a kid, I never noticed how much the animation was influenced by Japanese animation - not in the stereotypical anime (big eyes, small mouth) sense, but more like Miyasaki's Lupin movie. It's in the face of the villain.

Which would make sense - since the original stories bore more resemblance to Japanese animated stories than anything like the American tradition of Disney or Warner Brothers.
posted by jb at 8:31 AM on June 25, 2008

As a kid (and even still), I felt a little cheated by the intros to these shows because the animation quality is so much better. Look at some of the effects in that Ghostbusters intro, man! The way the light bursts outward as the garage doors open and the car swerves out? The way that red electricity stuff crackles around their proton guns before going off? Even just the way things and people move. I always wanted to see a whole episode done that well.
posted by Monster_Zero at 8:32 AM on June 25, 2008 [4 favorites]

Monster Zero, I was typing the same thing and then saw yours on preview. Usually the opening sequence was so much better animated than the show proper. Also a lot of the commercials for Transformers, GI Joe and the like had much better animation than the TV shows. I was a huge animation buff as a kid when these shows were big, and I used to tape opening sequences and commercials and little odd bits of animation from "Pay TV" and watch them endlessly.

Examples of opening sequences looking way better than the show proper include Transformers, GI Joe, The Real Ghostbusters, Silverhawks, Thundercats, Inhumanoids, Bionic Six, Visionnaries, etc.. basically any show where the animation was farmed out to Japanese or Korean sweat shops, it seems like they used a different studio or much higher budget for the opening sequences. Most domestic productions, like the Filmation stuff, seems to have pretty consistent quality between commercials, opening sequences, and the show proper (which is to say, shitty quality).
posted by autodidact at 8:43 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

J. Michael Straczynski also produced one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors. It had its own spookiness, with those creepy writhing vines and bulging pods that grew into attack machines. Yay for dark cartoons.
posted by cereselle at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2008

"Also, Dave Couiler ruins everything he touches."

That so explains John Stamos AND the Olsen twins!
posted by stenseng at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2008

Ah, Janine. I nearly killed Louis Tully in a dark alley one night, but then I've always been the jealous type.
posted by aramaic at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2008

The animation quality in tRGB varied from episode to episode. Some of the best-animated episodes were the aforementioend Call of Cthulhu, the episodes involving Peter Venkman's father ("Hob Anagarik", the demon imprisoned in black ice), and one called Night Game, where ancient spirits of good and evil fight over a mortal's soul via a baseball game!
posted by growli at 9:13 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Worst animation, best story:
Chicken He Clucked
posted by growli at 9:21 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks for this - it was definitely the best Saturday morning cartoon of its time. I remember trying to explain to my friends how big a deal it was that I had just seen a Cthulhu Mythos reference in a cartoon, and being greeted by blank stares. I only saw that episode once, and eventually began to suspect that I had imagined it. Good to know I hadn't.

Also yeah, we need to find and maim the studio exec who "rescues" failing cartoons by moving the focus onto the goofy toddler-centric character (Slimer, Scrappy-Doo, that weird alien from the Flintstones, Poochie, etc.)
posted by arcanecrowbar at 10:23 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

He slimed me drove me to madness and flayed my soul.

I feel like the floor of a taxicab the eternal suffering of having looked upon the Old Ones and lived.
posted by quin at 10:53 AM on June 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

'Alice Dereleth', tee-hee. I wonder if August knew about that.

And what's with the elevator music sax solo coming out of the boom box of 'threatening subway boom-box guy'? Plus he stole Elton John's glasses. Could there be a less threatening spectacle?
posted by lumpenprole at 11:00 AM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I finally know how to pronounce cthulu.

Also I loved this as a kid. Thanks!
posted by Big_B at 3:03 PM on June 25, 2008

IIRC, there was an in-universe explanation for the "Real" of the title; there was an episode where some sleazy hollywood types made a movie about the Ghostbusters. That movie, of course, being Ghostbusters. So the movie is meant to be a fictionalized version of the animated heroes, who are the *real* Ghostbusters.

They had about a half-second clip from the movie, and had Venkman comment that "that guy looks nothing like me!"
posted by mgrichmond at 5:24 PM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite episodes (which was possible several episodes) was the one featuring Samhaim, the pumpkin headed master of Halloween who took over the Ghostbuster's base of operations and turned it into a giant cathedral of evil. A lot of the details escape me, but I remember that they had to smash the cornerstone or something like that to suck all the evil back into another dimension/the containment unit.

Seriously, a lot of the details escape me, but I loved that episode so much I went as Samhaim for Halloween one year.

Another year I went as Shredder from Ninja Turtles. I sort of had this thing for the bad guys, I guess.
posted by Caduceus at 5:33 PM on June 25, 2008

*which was possibly several episodes

posted by Caduceus at 5:42 PM on June 25, 2008

Caduceus, I think the Samhain episode was one of my favorites. I always enjoyed watching the Real Ghostbusters when I was younger, especially for the dialogue. Now that I've watched (re-watched?) the Cthulu episode, I think it held up pretty well. As a kid, though, I know I didn't get any of the NYC references, like the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island.
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:20 PM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

RFY* : Vampires vs Werewolves episode

*request for youtube link
posted by scope the lobe at 6:33 PM on June 25, 2008

stefnet: But why was it necessary to give Egon blonde whipped-cream hair?

When we were kids we used to say it looked like they stuck Egon under a soft-serve machine. Also dairy!

I think it was just that the animation studio didn't opt to pay the film actors for their likenesses.
posted by britain at 8:48 PM on June 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I loved the "Garfield" Peter's voice and lost interest in the cartoon when they replaced the guy who had done it.

Yeah, me too.
posted by Artw at 8:55 PM on June 25, 2008

Ghostbusters Cereal is one of my favorite cereals of all time.

That is all.
posted by cinemafiend at 9:54 PM on June 25, 2008

Caduceus, A dead Quaker, Samhain was one of my favourites as well. Here he is in Italian.

Italian Peter Venkman is hot.

posted by tiny crocodile at 3:21 AM on June 26, 2008

1) So that's how you pronounce ftagn.
2) What is it with Old Ones and amusement parks?
posted by Skorgu at 9:57 AM on June 26, 2008

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