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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Horror > Monsters > Vampire > Werewolf > The Ghost Busters – The Complete Series (1975/Filmation/BCI Eclipse)

The Ghost Busters – The Complete Series (1975/Filmation/BCI Eclipse)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Episodes: B+



Horror films have been around since the silent era, but they become even more popular when sound arrived.  Soon following many monster classics were spoofs of those films.  Bob Hope did The Cat & The Canary as a spoof and Ghost Breakers, while Bud Abbott & Lou Costello followed their cycle of classic comedies with a cycle of monster comedies at their studio home of Universal Pictures.  Though the classic monsters are always thought of as coming from that studio, there were many more.


Long before the 1984 hit feature film used the name, The Ghost Busters was the name of a hit TV series in 1975 (!) with lead alumni from the hit TV series F-Troop Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker reunited with a gorilla battling and investigating supernatural phenomenon.  Though the politically incorrect F-Troop has been coming out on DVD season after season, The Ghost Busters has been unavailable now.


BCI Eclipse has issued The Complete Series on DVD as part of their remarkable series of releases from the Filmation catalog that has not reverted back to original licensees.  Most of their shows were animated, though a few live action shows were produced entirely on film.  This is their only videotaped series and after over 30 years, it is amazing how well the show holds up.  Better than even F-Troop, this is the peak work of the lead actors and also ends the great tradition of great Horror Comedy began by Hope, Abbott and Costello and was even a hit just months ahead of the single season of Kolchak: The Night Stalker which had its comedy and Storch even appeared on before doing this show.  (Our review elsewhere on this site of the DVD set includes his appearance in The Vampire.)


Storch is Spenser, Bob Burns plays Tracy The Gorilla and Tucker is Kong.  With its amazing combination of non-stop absurdity, wit, puns, Vaudeville style, priceless comic timing, modern spoofs and unbelievable parade of guest actors, the show is a lost classic to a generation or two who already loves the classic monsters.  Tucker and Storch actually got better in their timing and their chemistry here proves them to be possibly the most underrated comedy team of the last 40 years.


Burns’ work here is pure genius as well.  The man in the gorilla suit is a cliché and often a sign of bad film and TV shows, but Burns was a veteran and it is fair to say the greatest of all such performers.  He has the right sounds, right pantomimes and an instinct on how to make his character as effective as and equal to his co-stars.  There is an undeniable joy in the work going on here and it is infectious to watch all in action.  The great scripts, props (including that 1925 car) and sets all make this constantly and thoroughly entertaining.


The episodes are as follows, which will give you an idea of how funny the show was.  Note the cats and roles played:


1)     The Maltese Monkey (guest stars Johnny Brown and Billy Barty)

2)     Dr. Whatshisname (guest stars Bernie Kopell as Dr. Frankenstein)

3)     The Canterville Ghost (guest stars Ted Knight, Kathy Garver and Len Lesser)

4)     Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf? (guest stars Lenny Weinrib)

5)     The Flying Dutchman (guest stars Stanley Adams and Philip Bruns)

6)     The Dummy’s Revenge (guest stars Tim Herbert)

7)     A Worthless Gauze (guest stars Barbara Rhodes and Richard Balin as The Mummy)

8)     Which Witch Is Which? (guest stars Ann Morgan Guilbert and Huntz Hall)

9)     They Went Thataway (guest stars Marty Ingles as Billy The Kid and Brooke Tucker)

10)  The Vampire’s Apprentice (guest stars Dena Dietrich)

11)  Jekyll & Hyde – Together, For The First Time (guest stars Severn Darden and Joe E. Ross)

12)  Only Ghosts Have Wings (guest stars Howard Morris as The Red Baron and Robert Easton)

13)  The Vikings Have Landed (guest stars Jim Backus and Lisa Todd)

14)  Merlin, The Magician (guest stars Huntz Hall)

15)  The Abominable Snowman (guest stars Richard Balin)



They may be playing dumb from the first scene where the antagonists of each show appear in the graveyard, but the show is far from stupid, with an attitude not to take anything seriously even when the characters come into danger.  Then there is Zero, who gives them their assignments ala the original Mission: Impossible where odd devices have tapes that self-destruct when finished.  Yes, Tim Conway and Don Knotts tried to do this kind of thing a few years later in non Horror variant The Private Eyes, but it was just not the same thing.  However, they would have fit into this show nicely.


As it stands now, I believe that this show would be a hit all over again and despite the limited number of shows made, they played for years after as they kept a steady number of fans and found new ones as the show was discovered by more and more viewers.  One of the greatest of all Saturday Morning TV series, The Ghost Busters should be rediscovered all over again and is easily one of the best TV on DVD releases of this or any other year.



The 1.33 X 1 image was taped on professional reel-to-reel NTSC analog tape and though the slight harshness here suggests digital copies of the masters, these copies still look pretty good.  Color is consistent and looks good for video of its age, with the opening credits shot in 16mm footage likely long gone.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also very good for a taped production of the time, down to the music and classic theme song that Storch and Tucker sing.  It is one of the great TV theme songs.  The technical combination is just fine and a pleasure to watch.


Extras include hidden Easter Eggs, all the scripts in DVD-ROM accessible form, a bunch of trailers for other Filmation classics, the pilot to the animated sequel series from the 1980s (reviewed elsewhere on this site), three stills sections, bumpers for commercial breaks, Spanish language tracks you may find amusing, an episode guide booklet inside the DVD case with great details and an interviews featurette giving great details about the show.  That is good, but once you start watching, you’ll find you just can’t get enough of the show.  Yes.  The Ghost Busters do it again!!!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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