Welcome to Super Saturday, a new ongoing weekly column that will pay tribute to the animated classics of yesterday, and will be offered on Saturday mornings, a period that many of us remember being the only time animated kids’ programming was offered. Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave any feedback or personal remembrances in the comments!
The name ‘The Ghost Busters’ had previously been used by Filmation, for a live-action Saturday morning series in 1975, so Columbia had to pay Filmation to use the name ‘Ghostbusters’, even though the movie had nothing to do with the previous series. As part of the agreement, Filmation created animation samples for a potential cartoon based on the movie, but Columbia passed and instead licensed its version to DIC.
Unable to make a cartoon based on the movie ‘Ghostbusters’, Filmation crafted a new animated series, also called ‘Ghostbusters’, based on its previous live-action show. This new cartoon aired in syndication on weekdays. DIC named its show ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ and it aired on Saturday mornings on ABC starting in 1986. (Unlike the norm now, the cartoon wasn’t released to coincide with the film, but after it proved popular enough to endure.) Filmation’s ‘Ghostbusters’ ended after only one season, but ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ was so popular, that two new seasons were created at the same time.
In 1987, a new season of ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ arrived on ABC Saturday mornings, but another new season arrived in syndication, airing on local channels on weekday afternoons.
Ernie Hudson wanted to provide the voice for his character, Winston Zeddemore, but DIC instead selected comedian/talk show host Arsenio Hall. The voice of ‘Garfield’, Lorenzo Music voiced Murray’s character, Peter Venkman, and voice acting legend Frank Welker voiced Aykroyd’s character, Ray Stanz, as well as ghost sidekick, Slimer. The only Ghostbuster whose voice was consistent through the entire run of the cartoon was Egon Spengler, whose voice was provided by Maurice LaMarche. Laura Summer provided the voice of receptionist Janine Melnitz.
‘Full House’ star Dave Coulier replaced Music as the voice of Venkman and Kath Soucie replaced Summer as Janine starting with Season 3. Reportedly, Coulier and Soucie re-recorded the dialogue for Seasons 1 and 2 to make them more consistent when they re-aired. Buster Jones replaced Hall as Winston, starting with Season 4.
According to LeMarche, Bill Murray had complained that Lorenzo Music’s impression of him sounded like Garfield. Ironically, in 2004, Murray supplied the voice for Garfield in ‘Garfield: The Movie’, a live-action/animation hybrid.
‘The Real Ghostbusters’ was so popular, that ABC expanded it to an hour-long on Saturdays.
One big change from the movie to the show was the fact that the Ghostbusters were given different colored jumpsuits and Egon was given his famous “swirly” blond hairstyle.
But the biggest changes dealt the character Slimer, who had originally appeared in the movie and been licensed as “The Green Ghost” for toys and other merchandise. He was such a huge part of the cartoon that in 1988, the show was rebranded as ‘Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters’, with additional shorts featuring Slimer created by Wang Film Productions, thus the art style is not consistent with the regular episodes. The ‘Slimer’ half of the show consisted of either two or three shorts, which also introduced new human (and one canine) supporting characters.
In 1989, the art was changed after the release of ‘Ghostbusters II’. Janine had been drawn with spiky hair and green-framed “cat glasses.” Her hair was changed to a smooth bob and round glasses, to emulate Annie Potts’ look in the sequel. The cartoon Janine would later be redesigned again, with long smooth hair. Rick Moranis’ character, Louis Tully was also added, to reflect the character’s expanded role in ‘Ghostbusters II’. Among other changes, Ray appears to have gone on a diet, as he was now drawn slimmer than he had in the earlier seasons.
Kenner produced a popular toy line based on ‘The Real Ghostbusters’. Kenner had explored giving action figures gimmicky action features with the ‘Super Powers Collection’, and they fully embraced this practice with the ‘Real Ghostbusters’, which had a plethora of action features and transforming capabilities. While these toys were popular with kids, they aren’t highly sought by adult collectors today simply because they are based on the cartoons and not the movies.
Perhaps the element most people remember about the ‘Ghostbusters’ toys was the introduction of slime. Along with ‘Masters of the Universe’ by Mattel, these were among the first toys to sell kids gooey slime which, unfortunately for parents, got into everything– carpets, hair, pets, electronics. The slime fad didn’t last long initially, but it never went away completely, and it’s super popular again.
Besides the toys, the most famous bit of licensing that ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ spawned was Hi-C’s “Ecto Cooler” punch, which was so popular that Coca Cola (who owns the Hi-C brand) re-released it to coincide with the 2016 ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot.
‘The Real Ghostbusters’ lasted for a whopping seven years and 140 episodes. The show was later syndicated as part of USA’s ‘Cartoon Express’ and on FOX Family, among other outlets.
LeMarche returned to voice Egon in the sequel series, ‘Extreme Ghostbusters’ which aired in syndication in 1997, and teamed Egon, Janine, and Slimer with four college students who became the new Ghostbusters. That series only lasted for one season in syndication and consisted of 40 episodes.
The original ‘Ghostbusters’ movie remains a popular favorite to this day, the theme song by Ray Parker Jr. goes back into heavy rotation every October, and ‘The Real Ghostbusters’ remains the ONLY ‘Ghostbusters’ cartoon that most people still remember.
A new ‘Ghostbusters’ movie is set for release in 2020. It remains to be seen if a new cartoon will be released based on that.
Are you a fan of ‘The Real Ghostbusters’? Feel free to leave a comment below!