In 1997, Sony decided it was time to resurrect one of their most marketable franchises of the past, the Ghostbusters.Â The previous animated series, the Real Ghostbusters, lasted from 1986 to 1992, clocking in at 140 episodes, a prime time television special and a spin-off series called â€œSlimer & the Real Ghostbustersâ€ (which lasted for 33 episodes).Â So, did Sony manage to recapture the magic of the Ghostbusters in their prime with the youth of the mid 90â€™s?Â
Unfortunately, no.Â The Extreme Ghostbusters are recalled by most with disgust, the entire experience having left a bad taste in their mouths.Â The title-itself causes many to chuckle just by hearing it; with it shamelessly pandering to the 90â€™s â€œExtremeâ€ fad, with that oh-so-marketable letter â€œXâ€.Â Who could forget classic cartoons like Extreme Dinosaurs or G.I. Joe Extreme?Â Well, the Extreme Ghostbusters both lived up to the adjective crammed into its title, while at the very same time, the show couldnâ€™t have been any less â€œextremeâ€ if it tried.
As the plot of the series went, the Ghostbusters have been out of business for five years (sound familiar); all the ghosts in New York City having simply â€œdisappearedâ€.Â Most of the original Ghostbusters moved on to greener pastures, leaving behind Egon Spengler to live in the Firehouse and watch the Containment Unit all on his lonesome.Â To pass the time, Egon teaches a paranormal studies class at the local college; a class whose only students are former Ghostbusters secretary, Janine Melnitz, and 4 misfit youngsters with attitudes.Â Then, one day, some subway tunnel workers accidentally break-open a gateway to the Nether World (a plot device paying homage to the pilot episode of the Real Ghostbusters, â€œKnock Knockâ€) and unleash a plague of ghosts back onto New York.Â Egon, far too old to bust ghosts all by himself, hires on his four students; Eduardo, Kylie, Roland and Garrett as the new Ghostbusters.
The plot was decent-enough, I suppose.Â But what was destined to make or break a show featuring a new cast of Ghostbusters wasâ€¦the new cast of Ghostbusters.Â The original team of Egon, Peter, Ray and Winston had a magnificent dynamic accompanied by individual character quirks which made watching them half the fun.Â The â€œExtreme Teamâ€, however, were made up of either completely unlikable jerk-wads, two-dimensional character templates, or politically correct public service announcements.
Roland was one of the better members of the cast, the straight-as-an-arrow no-nonsense student who was the only one to really take Ghostbusting seriously.Â He was voiced by Alfonso Ribierno, better known as â€œCarltonâ€ from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.Â So right then and there you know the voice-casting fit like a glove.Â He also had an obsession with the Ecto-1 (why does the black guy always have to drive the car?Â Iâ€™m looking at you, Panthro and Winston).Â Roland was probably the least irritating character of the bunch, but at the same time, his milquetoast personality made him seep into the background more often than not, leaving the audience to forget he was there half the time.
Probably the second best member of the Extreme Team would be Kylie, the Goth kid.Â As much as I dislike Goths, I will admit that in a way it does make sense for one to be a Ghostbuster.Â While Roland was more interested in the science of Ghostbusting, Kylie had a greater interest in the occult aspect of the job, often acting as a source on mythology and folk lore.Â She and fellow Ghostbuster, Eduardo, had a kind of pseudo-romance going on, though they fought a lot.Â Kylie was voiced by Tara Strong, one of the best female voice over artists in the business, so she had a lot of personality in her voice.Â What annoyed me most about Kylie, though, was her Ghostbusting uniform.Â She was decked-out in neon orange â€œarmorâ€ with a small â€œhandgunâ€ proton blaster and she carried the disk-shaped ghost traps on her back like a turtle shell.Â It looked royally stupid and was pretty inefficient, as the Ghostbusters could only have one trap on hand at a time, and then, only when Kylie was around.Â Her proton â€œhandgunâ€ also appeared to be just as powerful as the proton packs all the guys lugged around, making one wonder why they all werenâ€™t given the handgun model.
Now we delve into the â€œcrapâ€ characters who were totally unlikable.Â Eduardo springs to mind as being the blatant ethnic stereotype.Â Iâ€™m not trying to offensive, but the writers were most obviously going for an in-your-face â€œfilthy Mexicanâ€ character, and every time he appeared on screen the audience just got pissed off.Â He was the laziest Ghostbuster, the stupidest Ghostbuster, the perverted Ghostbuster, the Ghostbuster with the least manners, the Ghostbuster with the worst hygieneâ€¦just an all-around TERRIBLE character.Â For Heavenâ€™s sake, his catchphrase was â€œEy!Â Weâ€™re scienteests, mang!â€Â He was voiced by Rino Ramano, better known as the voice of Spider-Man in the Playstation video games.Â I donâ€™t blame the voice actor for how bad a character Eduardo was, but I do wag my finger at the writers.Â What were they thinking?
And, of course, no one can discuss the Extreme Ghostbusters without mentioning the most memorable member of the cast; Garrett.Â You probably donâ€™t recognize him by name, but you probably remember him as â€œthe Ghostbuster in the wheelchairâ€.Â Iâ€™m not anti-handicapped people or anything, but in no way did he come off believably as a Ghostbuster.Â The writers took so many leaps in BASIC logic that even the kids watching the show couldnâ€™t get past it.Â Haunted houses built in the 1800s all had wheelchair access, Garrett could keep up with all the other characters running at top speed, all terrain was smooth as silk, never bumpy or hazardousâ€¦hell, there was one episode where he was rolling around in the sewers, which Iâ€™m pretty certain isnâ€™t a wheelchair-friendly environment.Â He was voiced by Jason Marsden, a very talented voice actor better known for his work with Disney as characters like Max from a Goofy Movie.Â Marsden interjected a lot of personality into Garrett and tried his best to make the guy likable.Â Indeed, Garret was the funny joker of the group, getting many of the better lines.Â But when it came to actual Ghostbusting, the audience just couldnâ€™t get past the fact that he was in a wheelchair and everything he was doing was physically and logically impossible.
But the Extreme Ghostbusters wasnâ€™t all bad.Â While it lacked the â€œextremeâ€ element in regards to the characters, it did achieve â€œextremeâ€-ness in the story-telling.Â The plots for each episode were impressively dark and morbid, out-doing many of the scariest episodes of the Real Ghostbusters.Â In one episode, â€œEyes of the Dragonâ€, an ancient Chinese demon is set loose and steals the bones from living people.Â However, after removing their bones, the people are left alive as sacks of skin and organs.Â In another episode, â€œKilljoysâ€, the Ghostbusters hunt down demonic vampire-like clowns.Â The clowns-themselves look like they stepped out of Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
The show also had the occasional nod for fans of the Real Ghostbusters.Â In one episode, â€œGrundelesqueâ€, the Grundel, a villain from the Real Ghostbusters, escapes from the Containment Unit and screws with Kylie.Â The opening sequence also features cameos from the Poltergeist Cult Leader (from â€œSlimer, Come Homeâ€) and the most popular Real Ghostbusters villain of them all, Samhaine.Â Neither actually appeared in the show, though rumors abound that Samhaine was intended to show up in the second season, what with him getting an action figure in the toyline and all.
The Extreme Ghostbusters also managed to end on a high-note, which I greatly appreciate.Â The 2-part series finale, â€œBack in the Saddleâ€, featured the return of the original Ghostbusters.Â Peter, Ray and Winston show up for Egonâ€™s birthday and decide to stick around and help, though the Extreme Team have their doubts about the effectiveness of the original Ghostbusters, as theyâ€™ve gotten pretty old.Â Both new and old teams learn to work together, and in the last episode, they face off against a sentient Bermuda Triangle that wants to eat Manhattan!
Dave Coulier (better known as Uncle Joey from Full House) reprised the role of Peter Venkman, though he was really the second voice of the character (Lorenzo â€œGarfieldâ€ Music was the first voice actor).Â Buster Jones (Blaster on Transformers and Doc on G.I. Joe) reprised his role as Winston Zeddemore, though once again, he was actually the second voice of the character (Arsenio Hall of the Arsenio Hall Show was Winstonâ€™s first voice actor).Â The ever talented Frank Welker reprised his role as Ray Stanz, though he didnâ€™t come back as Slimer, that role having been taken by Billy West.Â And, of course, Maurice LaMarche had been voicing Egon through-out the entirety of the series.Â The cast reunion was quite a sight, and the writers made sure to give fans plenty of scenes featuring JUST the original Ghostbusters.Â At times you almost forget youâ€™re watching the Extreme Ghostbusters and think youâ€™ve just stepped back in time.
â€œBack in the Saddleâ€ also had one of my favorite lines:
Garret: â€œI canâ€™t believe it.Â Itâ€™s really them.â€
Kylie: â€œThe original Ghostbustersâ€¦â€
Roland: â€œThe REAL Ghostbusters!â€
That bit was beautiful.Â Now, the downside of the story arc was that Sony didnâ€™t own the rights to the likenesses of the Real Ghostbusters.Â DiC still owned those appearances, leaving the animators at Sony to make some last minute changes.Â All the Ghostbusters were played up as â€œoldâ€.Â I mean â€œreally oldâ€.Â They still looked similar to the Real Ghostbusters designs, but different-enough so Sony wouldnâ€™t get sued.Â It got a little irritating (Ray looked a lot like Bill from King of the Hill) but you got used to it after a while.Â The original voice actors brought the feeling of legitimacy that the character models lacked.
When the Extreme Ghostbusters was on TV, I hated it.Â Looking back, I donâ€™t â€œloveâ€ the show, but I appreciate it for the things it did right.Â Sure, the animation was flat and many of the characters were awful, but at the same time it had some serious guts to tell the kind of stories it did, and that â€œBack in the Saddleâ€ arc was just wonderful.Â Also, gotta love that cover of the original theme song they used for the opening.Â Little known fact, it was sung by Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh) doing a Trent Reznor impression.Â
Had they just switched out Garrett and Eduardo with some different, less-annoying characters, who knows.Â Maybe the show wouldnâ€™t have been cancelled after 40 episodes.