The Real Ghostbusters episode 3 review

The Real Ghostbusters

Episode 003

Production number 75004 – 1986 ABC Season 1

“Mrs. Roger’s Neighborhood”

Written by Len Janson and Chuck Menville

Plot Synopsis:

The Ghostbusters investigate a haunted house for a sweet old woman while she waits with Janine at the fire hall. The boys soon discover that the house is an elaborate trap set for them by the demon Wat and that sweet Mrs. Rogers is considerably more than she appears to be. The Ghostbusters race back to headquarters for a showdown with Wat who has designs on releasing all the ghosts from the containment unit… and on Peter’s soul.

The Review:

What could be a more classic or fitting archetype for a Ghostbusters story than a haunted house? It was bound to happen, and this third episode of the series pulls off the Ghostbusters first Haunted House story in mostly fine style. The opening shot establishes the haunted house in question wich has 2 shrubbery sculpture lions out front, almost certainly an homage to the opening of the first film with the lion statues out front of the New York public library. Not every design can be a winner of course and this episode unfortunately has a few missed opportunities. The design of the house leaves something to be desired. The rest of the buildings in the episode and indeed the series tend to feel very grounded in the real world. Mrs. Rogers’ house looks like something from a children’s storybook,  all soft edges and cartoonish flourish. It looks like how I would expect the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel to look. I think the menace of the place would have been infinitely more intense if it had looked like an ordinary little cottage home.

The most significant misjudgment to me is the uninspired design of Mrs. Rogers herself. The twist of the episode is that she turns out to be the demon Wat in disguies. The character designers could have done a more effective job of not only hiding this fact from the audience, but also lulling them into a false sense of security if they had just pushed her design a little further. Mrs. Rogers should have been sweeter and more lovable to make her transformation into Wat more startling and affective.

In contrast to some of the lesser design choices of this episode is the containment unit. I can not express how much I love this design. The containment unit of the animated series is just really cool. In the film there’s not a whole lot to the containment unit and as such it’s a little underwhelming. The designers on the Real Ghostbusters have really gone all out for this design and this episode in particular really showcases the amazing look and detail of the new containment unit.

This episode really starts to showcase the humour of the series. Of particular note is the well executed take on the classic Abbot and Costello routine “Who’s on first?”  In fact, they managed to do the gag twice without it feeling repetitive which is really saying something. Venkman’s sarcasm and cynicism get more screen time this episode with a number of very amusing one liners, my personal favourite being his sarcastic quip about “unspeakable horrors” upon first entering the supposedly haunted house. Winston gets some moments to shine as well, which is great because Arsenio Hall is a very funny guy. An interesting side note, did you know that Arsenio Hall beat out Ernie Hudson to play the voice of Winston?  True story.

This episode contains the first suggestion that the ghost busting business sees ups and downs and that the boys may be too good at what they do. It’s a feature of the animated series that I quite like, the grounding of the stories in reality. Fantastic things happen, but the writers never let that cary them away. It would be easy to just let the audience take things for granted, like the abundance of ghosts, but the series cleverly avoids that trap.

The voice work in this episode is starting to get really strong. Slimer’s voice is more gravelly, guttural and gaspy, which I really like and feel suits the character more than the toony high pitch voice that will become the standard down the road. There’s some very energetic acting from Laura Summer as Janine during the final confrontation. I’d go so far as to say that of all the voice work on the series, Laura Summer as Janine comes in a very very close second to Lorenzo Music as Peter Venkman. That Brooklyn accent is just perfect and her delivery and comedic timing are top notch.

A few final thoughts on the episode: The writing gets a little sloppy in the middle when the Ghostbusters are trying to escape from Mrs. Rogers house. The Ghostbusters find themselves dangling over a hellish maw as a possessed boiler climbs upwards to devour them. Their escape from this situation comes via a little dues ex machina from Winston who tells Ray to “drop your trap…”. Ray does so, and after swallowing the trap it explodes inside the Boiler monster, the blast throws the Ghostbusters out the door to freedom. There’s no explanation as to why the trap exploded, nor how Winston knew that would happen. It felt like it needed some techno babble from Winston, Ray or Egon to sell the moment. The demise of Mrs. Rogers’ house is very clearly an homage to the end of Poltergeist when the house implodes on itself, interesting nod to an actual horror movie, way to go Real Ghostbusters. Also, the title of the episode is grammatically incorrect, the apostrophe should follow Rogers, otherwise the old woman’s name would be Mrs. Roger.

Rating: 4 out of 5 on the PKE meter

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~ by Pagz on November 10, 2010.

One Response to “The Real Ghostbusters episode 3 review”

  1. Great thoughts and crits Geoff. I agree with you on Mrs.Rogers design. Making her the complete opposite of Wat would have made that character even more chilling. I’m diggin your reviews. Look forward to the next one 🙂 Cheers!

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