October 24th, 2012
|10:13 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: The Real Ghostbusters: The Halloween Door|
Like a lot of kids who were born in the '80s, I used to race home from to catch The Real Ghostbusters. Well, actually, I'm talking mostly about kids born during the first half of the '80s, really. And for that matter, it wasn't a race -- school got out at 3:00, it was a 15-minute walk home at a leisurely pace, and Ghostbusters wasn't on until 3:30. And now that I think about it, I watched Ghostbusters so religiously that it wasn't long before all the episodes were reruns. And I don't know if you remember watching after-school cartoons as a kid, but it didn't take much more than a month to blow through an entire season at the rate of an episode a day. Ghostbusters was my favorite cartoon for a little while, but it didn't take long to get repetitive, at which point my favorite cartoon became something else. Maybe Tale Spin...
Let me start again.
Like a lot of kids who were born during the first half of the '80s, I used to come home from school. Sometimes Ghostbusters was on.
No, I did like The Real Ghostbusters, though like most of the shows I enjoyed as a second grader, it hasn't particularly held up. It's definitely a show for the ten-and-under set. The '80s were a different time, all right -- this was before the creators of Spongebob Squarepants discovered the significant overlap between four-year-olds and stoners. Well, other than living with their parents, I mean.
Today The Retroist -- which you should be reading -- posted a write-up of The Real Ghostbusters' Halloween special, "The Halloween Door". It didn't ring a bell, so I thought it would make a good viewing experience for tonight, when I'd be pressed for time anyway.
I'm not absolutely positive, but I'm pretty sure I haven't seen this episode before. The Internet says it aired during primetime in 1989, by which time I wasn't watching the show. My recollection is that I stopped for awhile -- found something else on Nickelodeon that I liked better than the reruns (don't remember what) -- and at some point I noticed that they were showing new episodes of The Real Ghostbusters. The new episodes had some different voice actors and had brought in Louis Tully (the character played by Rick Moranis in the movies) and changed Janine's hairstyle to match Annie Potts' portrayal in Ghostbusters 2, and I decided that the show had jumped the shark. I was an unreasonably picky kid when they changed my cartoons. I don't know how I missed the Halloween special, though; I usually kept up on that kind of stuff.
So, what did tRGB see fit to run during primetime on ABC? The episode begins on Halloween, as the Boys in Beige are preparing for their evening. Peter has a big date, but Slimer, in costume as Peter, intercepts her at the door. He plants a big kiss on her, and she runs off, appalled by his disregard for her personal space. "Wait!" shouts the real Peter, "I've always loved you!" "But we haven't even met yet," says Crowley (no relation), as he pushes into the office.
Crowley is a creep with an enormous forehead who has come to beg the Ghostbusters to abolish Halloween. "It's fantasy!" he says. "Fantasy is a waste of time that serves no purpose!" The Ghostbusters ridicule his idea and kick him out, but not before his assistant Fairweather steals a PKE meter to "help focus the machine."
The Ghostbusters visit a local elementary school to give an incredibly elaborate presentation on Halloween, complete with realistic Stonehenge model, fog machine, laser show, and musical number. While the Ghostbusters are busy singing about "touchin' on magic," Crowley is busy finishing his aforementioned Electronic, Positronic, Anti-Halloween Machine -- a device which can eliminate all traces of Halloween from pop culture.
When night falls, Crowley activates the machine, eradicating Halloween, and inadvertently opening a portal to the Netherworld, where demons have been biding their time, waiting for a chance to re-enter our world. New York City is overrun by demons who blow the Ghostbusters' containment unit. A colossal, red beast stomps around singing a second musical number, and the Ghostbusters have to clean up the mess.
In other words, the Halloween special plays out like any other episode of The Real Ghostbusters (stranger comes to town, accidentally unleashes Hell on Earth, colossus rampages through the streets). There are no real surprises here, other than the musical numbers (the first mediocre, and the second almost catchy (but only almost)). The scene where Halloween is vaporized by Crowley's machine is probably an homage to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and the ending might be an homage to Something Wicked This Way Comes, but more likely is not. Though Bradbury does get a name-check earlier in the story...
Anyway, it's nothing special, but it stands up well against other episodes of tRGB, and if nothing else it's ten times better than Garfield's Halloween Adventure (it's true -- I did the math). If ABC is willing to give your crappy children's show a primetime slot, you take it, I guess.
You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, but you might be rather watch the show's surprisingly literate (but unsurprisingly silly) H.P. Lovecraft revue, "The Collect Call of Cathulhu".