Saturday, April 25, 2009
The Real Ghostbusters - Volume 1 (Time Life, $39.98) brings us the first 13 ABC episodes and the first 17 first-run syndication episodes! Plus in addition to the episodes, we get many special features!
The series continues the adventures of paranormal investigators Dr. Peter Venkman (voiced by Lorenzo Music), Dr. Egon Spengler (Maurice La Marche), Winston Zeddemore (Arsenio Hall), Dr. Ray Stantz (Frank Welker), their secretary Janine Melnitz (Laura Summer) and their mascot ghost Slimer (Frank Welker). The series aired from 1986-1991. The series aired on ABC Saturday mornings. We also had 65 first-run syndicated episodes in 1987. In total, the series had 134 episodes plus 13 Slimer episodes in 1988. Here on this first volume we get the first season from ABC (13 episodes) and the first 17 (of 65) from first-run syndication...so this is the first 30 episodes.
Let's now move on to the packaging. Now Time Life has already released the complete series, but that was never sent to us for review (and not many people have it). This first volume was just released individually. Time Life has plans to release the remaining for volumes individually as well. Anyway, if you have the complete series set, the packaging for this first volume one is the same as that. In case you don't have it, this first volume is a steelbook case. It is heavier than most cases and hard. The cover art has the gang walking the streets with their uniforms and proton packs with Slimer above them. The sky is purple it seems. The show logo is on top, with the mention of Volume 1 on the bottom. The back of the case has that ghost catcher thing from the proton pack, with the "no ghost" symbol about to be put in there. There is no info on the set here because remember this was part of the complete series set and this volume is being released separately. We do have an episode booklet. The front of that has the same artwork as the cover art, but no city background. This booklet is very detailed and handy. The front and back are in black, but the inside pages are all in green-slime color. The first page has a very nice series history from the DVD producer, Andy Mangels. He produced great special features, which we will detail later. Then we have episode details, all broken down disc-by-disc, with the episode number, title, production number, whether it was on ABC or syndication, synopsis, trivia, extras for the episode, and even a screenshot from the episode. Wow! Great job here on this. The last page inside has a full page of credits for this DVD. And the back page has what would normally be on the back of the case, info on the set and series, and a list of bonus features. As far as the discs itself go, the first four overlap with each other. This is the only negative here. Discs one and two are on the left panel. Discs three and four are in the middle on its own little holder. When we turn the page like you would in a book, you get to the right panel that holds disc five. The disc art is the same as the cover art, but has one face on each disc. Disc one has Peter and episodes 1-6. Disc two has Egon and episodes 7-13, which concludes the first ABC season. Disc three has Ray and episodes 14-20, which starts the syndication season. Disc four has Winston and episodes 21-27. And disc five has Slimer and episodes 28-30 along with the special features.
The menu screen is very cool. We start off with the ghost catcher (the thing you pull out of the proton pack when you catch a ghost) and out of that, the menu screen comes out! Cool! We have green slime on top with the show logo and disc number, video clips are playing in the middle with no sound, the main cast is surrounding the video, and the instrumental theme song is playing in the background! Who you gonna call? We have options for Play, Episodes, and Special Features. Play of course plays them all at once for that disc. When we select Episodes, Slimer pops up, then he slimes us and we are taken to the episode list where the episodes are listed. When we select an episode, we are taken to an episodes option screen, where we can view various items related to the episode such as an introduction from someone behind the scenes, visual commentary for the episode, musical track for effects, or of course play the episode. Only four episodes out of these 30 do not have any of this, so those four go right to the episode rather than this screen. Special Features menu lists all the extras on that disc, minus the intros and musical effects, which can only be viewed on an episode screen.
The video is decent, but nothing that great. In fact some episodes look terrible, such as "Slimer, Come Home." There are some that look very good, though. I guess Sony didn't remaster these for Time Life. They are watchable though. The audio is very good though. It was nice and loud and not low at all. The ABC episodes all ran about 23:40-23:55-ish. They were unedited and all. The syndication episodes of course run shorter, but nothing is edited here either. They run about 22:20-22:30. All of these episodes have those cool bumpers with the "no ghost logo," saying we'll be back in a moment or now back to the show. Each episode has 4 chapter stops.
As for special features, we have a WHOLE lot here. Disc five has the main extras, but each disc has something. We have 31 special on-camera episode introductions! Some even have two for an episode. Giving us these video intros we have Len Janson, Marsha Goodman, Everett Peck, Brad Rader, J. Michael Straczynski, Kevin Altieri, Michael C. Gross, Maurice LaMarche, Marc Scott Zicree, Laura Summer, Richard Mueller, David Gerrold, Kathryn Drennan, Dan Riba, Dennys McCoy and Pamela Hickey. We have 5 on-camera Visual Commentary tracks featuring producers, writers, etc., hosted by the DVD producer Andy Mangels. The episodes for these are "Ghosts R Us," "Slimer, Come Home," "Take Two," "Adventures in Slime & Space," and "Venkman's Ghost Repellers." Five episodes have also isolated Music & Effects tracks. We have no character audio, just the sound effects. It is interesting that there is music throughout the episode! We get these tracks for the episodes "Mrs. Roger's Neighborhood," "Janine's Genie," "Knock, Knock," "Venkman's Ghost Repellers," and "Boo-Dunit." The rest of the special features are on disc five. We have a very nice featurette called "Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts: Creating...The Real Ghostbusters" that runs 25:05. This is a historical look at the origins of this show and how it was made. Everything is talked about here on how it started and everything. Interviewed are Joe Medjuck (executive producer), Michael C. Gross (executive producer), Len Jansen (writer), James Eatock (Cereal: Geek Magazine), Kevin Altieri (director/storyboard supervisor), Dan Riba (storyboard artist), J. Michael Straczynski (writer), Marsha Goodman (voice director/casting), Maurice LaMarche (Egon), Laura Summer (Janine #1), and Kath Soucie (Janine #2). Then we have an Image Gallery with lots of promotional artwork and we also have a Design Gallery for the episode "Night Game," giving us the blueprints of the episode. Then if you have a DVR-ROM on your computer you can look at scripts and storyboards in PDF format
I highly do recommend this set for any Ghostbuster franchise fan and classic animation fans in general. This is really a good show. I remember liking this a lot in the 80s and early 90s. The show is in the same style as Dennis the Menace and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Maybe because there were also by Japanese animators? But I loved all three shows! The video is not great, but everything else here is superb and deserves high praise. So get ready to call the Ghostbusters by buying this set. Get your proton packs (I actually had one growing up!) out and catch this DVD into that so you can watch the first 30 episodes! Hurry before the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stops you! I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!
-- Reviewed by Pavan
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