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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Monster > Horror > TV Series > The Real Ghostbusters – The Complete Collection (Animated Series; Volumes 1-5; Time Life DVD)

The Real Ghostbusters – The Complete Collection (Animated Series/1986 – 1991/Tme Life DVD)

 

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

 

Artwork: A     Set Overall: A

 

 

There is The Ghostbusters and then there are The Real Ghostbusters; each with their merits, but totally different from top to bottom.  Of course I am attempting to distinguish Filmation’s Ghostbusters (reviewed elsewhere on this site) from DiC Entertainment’s The Real Ghostbusters, which after legal disputes forced the creators to add the “Real” to Ghostbusters.  The DiC series, which ran from 1986 to 1991, has fascinated fans from its very first airing and has been one of the most requested animated series to be placed on DVD to date.  So it seems that something strange has appeared in this DVD neighborhood, as The Real Ghostbusters: The Complete Collection (Volumes 1-5) has hit the store shelves.

 

So here I am to answer you call and give you the run down on how great this ghostly set truly is….

 

 

The Content:

 

The series picks up right where the original 1984 film left off (i.e. with the defeat of Gozer); but adds a distinctive twist in the animation format as it embraces more child friendly themes, while maintaining all the elements that made the film series so great.  I can not lie and say that The Real Ghostbusters was the most epic or sensible animated series to ever exist; but it is without a doubt extremely creative.  Throughout the series the creators did their best to stay true to the original film, while giving the series a fun and quirky edge to cater to a younger audience.  The characters of Egon, Peter, Ray, and Winston for the purposes of animation were altered into caricatures of their movie-selves; letting Egon be the smart one, Ray being the comic relief, Peter spitting out one-liner after one-liner, and Winston being the stern sensible character; for the most part maintaining, but heightening their defined character traits.

 

The show developed into an amazingly inventive venture utilizing detailed backgrounds, scary storylines, and imaginative and inspiring characters to propel the series to the next level of greatness.  The show with each passing season gained an ever growing audience of both adults and children.  The stories could be truly scary and with that managed to grab a diverse audience who tuned in to see what haunted creation the creators would serve up next.

 

At the beginning of the Third Season in 1988 the creators of the series decided to take the show in a more youthful and somewhat “childish” direction by renaming the series Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters, which was altered to focus of the series by tagging on a ˝ hour “less scary” storyline that featured the team’s favorite goofy, green, gooey friend.  For the most part (and this reviewer would tend to agree) fans feel that the episodes starring Slimer were no where as good as those that aired previously without him as the focus; but nevertheless they were fun and had somewhat of the same charm as the previous Ghostbusters formula.  It is worth noting that only one half our per hour time slot was devoted to Slimer and other half continued to focus on the original Ghostbusters team with Slimer as a mascot of a sidenote.  Thankfully for purist, Slimer only managed to have 13 episodes to bother us before the series was canceled in 1991.

 

Overall, I have to say that there is not an episode that I did not enjoy.  I watched every episode, every bonus feature, and tediously analyzed each corner of the set’s artwork to find it all to be rather amazing, astonishing, and flat out jaw dropping.

 

If the full set of episodes (with the original pilot) were not enough to pull you in; the brilliant manner in which the set was all slimed together should be.

 

 

The Artwork:

 

Outside of the complete collection of Real Ghostbusters episodes that this set houses (no pun intended); it has a plethora of other features that are more than worth discussing.  One of the most striking and apparent features of this set is the box that it comes in.  The set of five “steel book” volumes is contained inside of a hard and sturdy replica of the Ghostbusters’ Firehouse.  The Firehouse is extremely reminiscent of the one featured throughout the hit animated series and both the back and right side of the box feature lenticular images of Slimer and the Ghostbusters’ symbol respectively. As previously mentioned the box itself is made of extremely sturdy cardboard that most DVD sets never are given opportunity to have.

 

If the amazingly well done box/artwork wasn’t enough; each volume of the set comes in a well constructed “steel book” that when opened contains five discs per volume (except Volume 4, which only has 4 discs) along with the inside of each of those “steel books” having original concept art to give the set just one more splash of flair.  It is simply amazing how everything, down to the finest detail on this set has been explored to give the fans the most definitive Real Ghostbusters collection they could ever hope for.  Each of the “steel books” has a different image on its cover, featuring the four Ghostbusters and Slimer; along with some Volumes 2-5 featuring other Ghostbusters’ mainstays such as Janine, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, The Ecto-1, and various other ghostly creatures.  Once again to solidify the fact that the creators of this set poured their heart and soul into every last detail; each “steel book” also features a different Ghostbuster on its spine (Peter, Egon, Ray, Winston, and Slimer; respectively Volumes 1 to 5) and starting at Volume 1 each back cover progressively demonstrates the Ghostbusters’ Ghost-Trap coming to a complete close.

 

Moving on we next take a look at the “artbook”/guide that comes with the set.  A 48 page reference guide comes with the collection that is a work of art within itself.  The guide features a black cover with the Ghostbusters’ Symbol boldly placed on the front.  Inside readers are first greeted with an introduction from Andy Mangels (Special Features Producer) who put countless hours into making this the best set for fans as possible.  His intro highlights a brief history of the hit series and the insane popularity that followed it from beginning to end.  Andy Mangels goes on to emphasize the extreme efforts by all who were involved put into this set; creating a total of 13 hours of Bonus Features and interviewing 28 creators to display the best possible featurettes, art, and even finding the “long-lost” pilot episode for the series.

 

The guide is broken down into sections that discuss each respective Volume, each page of that section of the guide giving a brief description of the episodes on that disc for that volume; along with brief trivia section, the featured extras, and a production number/date.  Mostly every episode features an introduction from different creative entities that were involved with the series; ranging from directors too animators too many others.  The trivia that each episode description has are also extremely interesting; the few that I found notable were Danny Mann making an uncredited cameo in “Adventures in Slime and Space” as the voice of Banana 9000 Computer, an obvious reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey; and the episode “Who’re you calling Two-Dimensional” that pays homage to both Walt Disney and brothers Max & David Fleischer, as the episode features a 1940’s cartoonist named Walt Fleischman who has been missing for over 30 years.

 

All in all I have to call the construction of this set purely amazing.  Not only does it look great head to toe, but it also demonstrates that there are areas of the film and television industry out there that do care and wish to cater to the fans wants and needs.

 

 

The Picture & Sound:

 

Where as the set has an amazing amount of content and features, the picture and sound do not reach the epic heights of either of those and even at times look and sound quite ghastly.  This in no way is saying that the picture is “bad;” in fact in looks much better than 99% of other 1980’s animated series that have been released on DVD to date, but issues do still remain throughout.  The episodes are presented in their original 4:3 transfer; so no cheesy and poorly fabricated Widescreen will be seen here.  The transfers still have the appearance of an analog VHS Tape with plenty of dirt and debris to give it that appearance; all in all suffering the fate of many other animated series that were poorly preserved and given little thought to, as the idea of “full series” home video release was unheard of at that time.  The colors and blacks of the image are nice as is the contrast, but they certainly do not ‘pop’ nor highlight the series as well as they should or by today’s animated standards.  The problems are consistent from beginning to end, ensuring that it is the masters that are the issue and not the fault of compression or sloppy transfer work on the part of the creators.

 

Even with the same issues arising again and again with each passing episode or season; on some level I can notice minor advancements in the level of clarity with each Volume, so that is one bright note for this ghostly series.  If you were hoping for a Pixar or Disney quality image out of this series, you were sadly mistaken; but the truth of the matter is that this is and will be the best this series will ever look on DVD.  Maybe one day technology will allow us to clean up master tapes with ease and to the quality that many Disney classics have offered us on Blu-ray, but don’t look forward to that happening any time soon.  Instead I suggest if you are a long time Real Ghostbusters fan than this is a must have, a must buy, and must cherish set.  The amount of time and effort that went into even pulling all these episodes together (with the original “lost” pilot) is almost unfathomable; so don’t let a “less than perfect” image quality sway you from purchasing a brilliant series with even more 80’s nostalgia than a bag of stale Stay Puft Marshmallows.

 

The audio there is a bit less to discuss than there was with the picture.  The sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that gets the job done, but is far from, say, a solid DTS track.  The soundtrack mostly projects from the front and is fluid as it displays just as the original creators intended.  The at times flat sound is clear and concise if nothing else; with a constantly crisp soundscape and punchy dialogue that is admirable for a series that could have been lost long ago.  You won’t be experiencing any amazing base or full speaker emersion or even slick ambient noises; but what you do get is a track that gets the job done on a series that you weren’t expecting Blu-ray quality from the beginning anyhow.

 

Collectively the picture and sound did not in any way, shape or form impress me; but what it did do was serve up a solid chunk of animated history in the best way that it could.  The creators of this set put plenty of time into ensuring fans would be pleased; and where as you won’t be impressed by the technical features, you will be far from disappointed by them.

 

 

The Extras:

 

 

As previously mentioned, mostly every episode has an introduction from a variety of creative forces that were involved with the series (all outlined by the “in box” guide book); but each episode may feature an additional “Visual Commentary Track” (each hosted by Andy Mangels) and/or an “Isolated Music & Effects Track.”  On top of the extras that each episode may or may not feature, there is a host of other supplemental materials to dive into within each Volume.

 

 

Volume 1:

 

Featurette – “Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts: Creating The Real Ghostbusters”

This featurette takes a look behind the scenes of the animated series using interviews with producers, animators, writers, directors, voice over actors, and designers who all worked on making The Real Ghostbusters into the breakout hit that it became.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Promotional and Development Art

Delivering just what it says, this Image Gallery is the first of many in this Complete Series set that offers fans the chance to look at the different artistic aspects that made The Real Ghostbusters the proton powerhouse that it became.  This particular Image Gallery showcases advertising, development art and other promotional art that helped to create and get the word out about this incredible series.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Design Gallery: Night Game

This Design Gallery takes a deep look into one particular episode (Night Game); using the “spooky designs” to highlight the creativity behind early episodes.

 

DVD-ROM Material

The DVD-ROM features allow the fans to look at original scripts from the episodes as well as the Storyboards that were the glue to making each ghostly tale come together. All subsequent Volumes also offer this feature and house the scripts and storyboards for each respective volume.  [All are in PDF format on the DVD-ROM; Mc/PC Compatible]

 

 

 

Volume 2

 

Featurette – “Animating the Real Ghostbusters”

This featurette is pretty awesome as it takes the viewer from the original script to the final product; chronicling each production detail along the way.  The intricate process that is creating an episode lets the fan experience script writing, voice-over work, character and monster design, animation art and backgrounds, and from cel ink & paint to final product.  Pretty neat.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Background Art

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Headquarters Art

 

The Real Ghostbusters Design Gallery: The Man Who Never Reached Home

 

DVD-ROM Material

 

 

Volume 3

 

Featurette – “Who you Gonna Call?: The Heroes of The Real Ghostbusters”

The original creators, artists and voice actors describe the process of taking classic characters from the big screen to the hearts of millions of children and adults all over the world.  The transition is not described as an easy one, but it is one that worked out in the end to outlive and outthink many animated competitors.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Character Designs of the Heroes

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Equipment

 

DVD-ROM Material

 

 

Volume 4

 

Featurette – “Something Strange in Your Neighborhood: The Creatures of The Real Ghostbusters”

Once again the creators, voice actors, and artists of The Real Ghostbusters animated series join forces to describe how the creative, creepy, crawlers and ghastly ghosts came to fruition.  The crew details in depth the creative process along with pointing out some of the most fearsome foes the Ghostbusters ever faced.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: The Creature Designs of Everett Peck

 

DVD-ROM Material

 

 

Volume 5 (found on Disc 2 of this Volume)

 

Featurette – “He Slimed Me! The Green World of Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters”

          One of the more interesting bonus features describes how Slimer went from a minor character in the live-action films to a star (eventually with his own series) on the small screen.  The creators, producers, writers, artists, and voice actors once again take over the chance to chronicle this “green slime ball’s” life…and death.

 

The Real Ghostbusters Image Gallery: Slimer! The Character Designs

 

DVD-ROM Material

 

 

Bonus Disc

 

Promo Pilot

Never before seen, this pilot episode is sure to have fans on the edge of their seats they spot the many differences between this episode and the final product that we all know and love.

Promo Pilot Visual Commentary

This commentary track is unlike others heard on the DVD set as Director Kevin Altieri and artist Dan Riba quickly run through the creative process and trivial facts about the never-aired pilot episode.

 

Extended Interviews

This is a very, very extended interview process with Producers, Writers, and Voice Actors of the series.  Much of it is repeated as they were cut down for the individual volumes, but here it is given to the fans in one massive commentary/interview track.

 

          Joe Medjuck, Executive Producer

          Michael C. Gross, Executive Producer

          J. Michael Straczynski, Writer & Storyboard Editor

          Kevin Altieri, Director and Storyboard Supervisor

          Maurice LaMarche, Voice of “Egon Spengler”

          Laura Summer, Voice of first “Janine Melnitz”

          Kath Soucie, Voice of second “Janine Melnitz”

 

DVD Promo Trailer

          As was presented at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con International

 

Alternate Series Credits

 

Title Card Slide Show

 

DVD-ROM Material

          Series Bibles and Promo Pilot Storyboards for The Real Ghostbusters

 

** It should be noted that this Bonus Disc is ONLY AVAILBLE with the Complete Series set; so if you are as big of a fan as I am and you are a completist; the Complete Series set is the only way to go.

 

 

 

In the End…

 

This is one of the best DVD box sets this reviewer has ever had the pleasure of viewing; animated or otherwise.  It is undeniable that a ton of effort (very much due to Andy Mangels in part) was placed into creating the ultimate Real Ghostbusters experience for fans to enjoy.  To date I have not found a animated series where the creators and artists were so in touch with what the fans wanted to see.  This is a must have for all animated fans, through in through.  The episodes are still relevant and children of all ages will enjoy this; never did I once feel the episodes were dated and even with the picture/sound inconsistencies they were never so distracting that they diminished the amazingly creative experience.  I ain’t afraid of no ghost and I ain’t afraid to say this set is amazing.

 

You can order this box set directly from Time Life at this Link:

 

http://www.timelife.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=1001&catalogId=10001

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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