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Battle of the GHOSTBUSTERS!

May 1, 2012

The Real Ghostbusters meet the [Original] Ghostbusters

Cartoon fans from two decades ago may remember a pair of competing shows bearing the same name: Ghostbusters. One based on the popular movie, and another (with a gorilla as the pet mascot sidekick instead of Slimer the tamed ghost) that appeared to be “fake”, and trying to draw upon the popularity of the movie. Making it worse, this version was by Filmation, which as we see in Filmation, the much maligned staple of Saturday Morning TV, would be widely disdained as a “hack” studio. But actually, theirs with the gorilla, was the original; based on a live action show the studio had done 11 years earlier, featuring the same gorilla character and the cartoon version human characters’ fathers. I had remembered sometime in the late 70’s, still having a 1975 New York Times TV listings (when it was still a folding broadsheet pullout, instead of the modern “booklet” TV magazines the newspapers all use now), and seeing a show called “Ghost Busters” on Channel 2 (CBS). I wondered what that show was like, as I did not remember it, being that I was into animated stuff like Scooby (the original and best “ghost-busting” series), and did not pay attention to live action shows, beyond Krofft back then. (I can remember my mother asking me that same year, “Why don’t you watch Shazam-Isis?”, instead of whatever animated junk I was watching at the time. This was another Filmation live action show. What she saw in that one particularly, I do not know, though it was more popular, and I think won awards, so maybe that was it).

In the 80’s, during the uproar against so many cartoons by then being based on toys, Lou Scheimer was on Nightline being grilled by Peggy Charren (The ACT lady who always complained about anything and everything regarding cartoons), about his hit toy-based show He-Man. (Which I found ironic, as that was Filmation’s only toy based concept, while other upstart studios such as DiC, Marvel Productions and even Ruby-Spears were the ones thriving almost entirely off of toy and game franchises!) So on the defensive, he listed his studio’s accomplishments, including the live action shows among which was Ghost Busters. “So that was by them too!”, I thought.
This was still before the movie came out, which was the following year. When it did; I was surprised, at how much a blatant copy of Scheimer’s concept it was. Not just the name, but the logo had a ghost in a circle, like the original (only now the circle was made into a red “No Smoking” style ‘slash through’ symbol). I had heard about the legal action, following. Also, I right away noticed that the ghost looked like one of the evil ghosts from the old Casper cartoons, with the head coming to a crimped point (like the “corner” of a typical linen item). I think I remember hearing that Harvey Comics was in on the legal action as well. So it seemed Columbia Pictures was “biting” (to borrow from hip hop) left and right, here.
Yet, still, they seemed to “win” this, having to change only the name of the DiC produced cartoon series based on the movie that would debut at the same time as as the Filmation version; the former enjoying much popularity on Network TV, and the latter in syndication; Filmation seemingly banished from Network TV by then, and basically on its way out.

I would never have settled on “the Real Ghostbusters”. That was misleading, as that was the copy! And people did and do continue to think that was the “real” one, and the other, the “fake”. And instead of producing a new cartoon based on the original; I would have just repackaged the original series, to show once and for all who copied who!

Anyway, after Filmation fizzles out, and the remaining studios put together a collaborative special entitled “Cartoon AllStars To the Rescue” (in which Slimer made an appearance!) I had thought wouldn’t it have been nice if Filmation had, or if its successors (ParaFrance, who released and rereleased Filmation’s “Happily Ever After” years after the studio closed) would have made a deal with Columbia and DiC and do a “Battle of the Ghostbusters”, basically paralleling the real life battle in animation, with both Ghostbusters teams realizing that they must work together instead of fighting against each other over who are the real Ghostbusters. Sort of a “burying of the hatchet”, like the modern teamup of rapper KRS One with DJ Marley Marl, whom KRS started and built his whole career up dissing.

Enter the internet age, and sure enough; I find that a fanfic has done just that! (I tried to add the link to it, on the big fansite, to the Wikipedia article on “Filmation’s Ghostbusters”, but it was eventually removed). It is a very good, and relatively short story actually pairing both teams, and fictionally resolving the whole issue!

The way the story goes; Prime Evil, the boss ghost of the OGB series (a rehash of Skeletor from He-Man, basically), having found out about the RGB’s containment unit, travels to New York City with his band of ghosts to set the trapped ghosts free, and recruit them in taking over the world. The OGB’s are informed of his trip (but the reason for it is not known to them) by Futura, their sorceress from the future, and together, they all head there after him (The OGB’s are based on the West Coast, but their Ghost Buggy flies them across quickly). Meanwhile, the RGB’s get the call for the ghosts, who are now grouping in a nearby alley. Soon, both GB gangs bump into and clash with each other trying to fight the ghosts with their different ghost zappers (shooting each other, basically), and eventually introduce themselves, and naturally begin arguing over the name, of course.

[Partial SPOILERS on origin of conflict, and plot development!]:

They then learn of their common origin! The group leaders come to remember each other from grade school where they were friends, doing paranormal research together, and their fathers had started the “Ghost Buster” business together, (and neither of them copyrighted the name, so they were all truly “Ghostbusters”!) Then both gangs finally stop chatting and team up against the real enemies— the ghosts! Prime Evil is even given an RGB style ectoplasmic energy “class” measurement: class 8! (this from the RGB’s Tobin’s Spirit book which lists every ghost in existence). Members of the two different groups pair up with each other when they split up, each guarding a successive level of the RGB firehouse, leading to the basement where the containment unit is located. The plot thickens as Prime Evil eventually captures Slimer and attempts to make him his slave!

It was very good, and the characters blended together really well, even down to the flirtatious bantering of one of the RGB’s with Futura —(one of those typical attractive Filmation vixens). This guy really understood the characters of both series, resulting in a very natural feeling teamup. Here is a sample of the dialogue between both teams:

“If Prime Evil has been your nemesis for years, why would he come to New York and bother us?” asked Ray.
“Ray, what do we have in our basement?” Egon replied.
Ray answered, “the containment unit.”
“What do we store in the containment unit?”
“And what does Prime Evil control, Ray?”
Winston interrupted, “now put two and two together.”
“Oh my, you don’t mean!” Ray said in a worried manner.
“Exactly,” said Egon.
“What are you talking about?” asked Eddie. “You store ghosts? All we do is zap them to another dimension.”
“When we catch ghosts, we encase them in Ghost Traps and then load them into our storage unit,” said Ray.
“Well, if it’s ghosts you have caught, Prime Evil wants, we’d better get there before he strikes.” [said Jake]

They should really make this into a movie or special! The owners of Filmation properties should get together with Columbia, and do it. It seems there are still [Real] Ghostbusters based new cartoon series coming out every few seasons,* so it is still popular enough that this would sell! Perhaps a new series with both would come of it and be good as well!

Edit: this is long gone from online, not even remembered in current day fansite discussions, and even the author is “no longer around”, apparently, according to one old discussion. Luckily, I kept the story, and so I might as well put it up here:

Two other crossover fanfics are here:
but these are obviously by RGB fans, who make the OGB’s look bad and give them bad endings.

The best part of the first one was when the NYC mayor calls for the RGB’s, but the OGB’s show up instead (having gotten a “ceist and decist[sic] order” on the RGB’s by an antagonist named Peck) and are seen being defeated on the news, and shouts “I TOLD YOU TO CALL THE GHOSTBUSTERS! WHO IN THE HELL WERE THEY!?”

*Not just new cartoon series anymore, but the big news for 2016 is the new movie reboot!

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