The Real Ghostbusters episode 4 review
The Real Ghostbusters
Production number 75006 – 1986 ABC Season 1
“Slimer, Come Home”
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
There’s a group of pretty pesky poltergeists on the streets of New York and the Ghostbusters have spent the past 3 nights trying to track them down. That’s okay though because it’s Winston’s Birthday and Janine has been preparing the firehouse for his surprise party. Winston is deeply moved by the guys’ gesture but before the gang can dig in to the birthday cake Slimer swoops in and eats the whole thing in one gulp. This is the last straw for Peter who gives Slimer a pretty hefty piece of his mind. Slimer, feeling bad about ruining the party runs away from home, only to fall in with that troublesome gang of ghosts the busters have been tracking. There’s a problem though: The lead Poltergeist is drawing his strength from the smaller entities he attracts. Soon he’ll have enough spectral energy to become a dangerous threat to New York. The Ghostbusters have to find Slimer before he is absorbed by the creature and lost forever.
This is J. Michael Straczynski first episode of The Real Ghostbusters. It’s not a bad first effort but it isn’t the strongest example of his work on the series by a long shot. This might be because this is one of the ABC episodes which imposed a lot of restrictions on Straczynski and what he could write. Also, this is a very heavy Slimer episode. J. Michael Straczynski said it best I think: “A little Slimer goes a looong way.” Truer words may never have been spoken. Oh except all those times women have called me sexy, those were possibly the truest words ever spoken.
This is your basic run away story., it’s very by-the-numbers. Peter gets very mad, Slimer runs away, Peter feels remorse and goes out looking for the spud, saves him and asks him to come home. I honestly expect more from J. Michael Straczynski, but I’ll let it slide because I know he only did any ABC episodes at all as a favour to the production, as he was the head writer for the syndicated episodes.
The big bad of this episode is never named, but we’re to understand he’s some manner of poltergeist. His design is pretty pedestrian. I think they were going for a kind of clown/Maître d’ hybrid. It doesn;t really work. He’s not very menacing. There was some real potential here, at one point he has a giant mouth in his torso, but then it disappears and the ghosts are just absorbed through his skin. I think it would have been much more frightening and visually interesting if he had been devouring ghosts through that mouth in the torso. That may be exactly why it didn’t happen though, ABC’s standards and practices may have tied the creative team’s hands on this one.
It’s a shame ABC felt the need to dumb the series down for children. When I was a kid it was always the syndicated episodes that truly captured my imagination. Horror and Comedy have a very symbiotic relationship and the writers of this series came to understand that very well. It’s like a roller coaster, the horror provides the tension and it’s the laugh that provides the release.
I don’t mean to suggest that there’s nothing worthwhile in the ABC episodes, there is. One of my all time favourite Real Ghostbusters villains, The Boogieman, originated on the ABC run. But truly the most satisfying and interesting episodes were the ones made for syndication that didn’t have all of the restrictions placed on them. We’ll be diving in to those episodes the week after next.
All in all I consider this episode to be slightly weaker than the first episode of the series not for any issues with dialogue or characterization, but purely because the story is just so bland and uninteresting. Perhaps if you’re a big Slimer fan this episode will hold some appeal, but if Slimer doesn’t do it for you than this episode is a bit of a miss.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 on the PKE meter