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Old Ghostbusters Cartoon Too Violent?

Friday, March 21st, 2008

I recently watched the DVD versions of Ghostbusters I and II as part of a box set. Wide screen, baby! To my surprise, the disc featuring Ghostbuster II also had 2 episodes of the animated series. I think the first one might have been the pilot to "The Real Ghostbusters" cartoon because it explained what happened after the end of the 1st film, and the reason the cartoon's title has the word "real" in it. Before I go into detail about the plot of that episode, let me just clarify a bit on the violence issue.

I had read somewhere at some point that the cartoon was eventually canceled because some people found the series too violent. I thought, "How could the lovable Ghostbusters be considered violent?" But when you watch the cartoon, I guess it becomes apparent.

The episode I saw on the DVD depicted how Peter Venkman left the old marshmallow man-covered uniforms in a box next to the recently repaired ghost containment unit. Psychokinetic energy leftover from the confrontation with Gozer plus more energy from a leak in the containment unit accrued over time and eventually "got up and walked away." Basically, the psychic imprints of each of the Ghostbusters became self-aware and powerful enough to inhabit the old uniforms. Thus, a "ghost version" of the Ghostbusters team was created.

That ghost team quickly decided there was only room in New York for one set of Ghostbusters, and began to wage war on "the real Ghostbusters." A confrontation ensued, ending with the ghost guys being trapped and stored, just like any ordinary group of ghosts.

What struck me was how easily the real Ghostbusters found it (logically) to fight their own psychic imprints. I imagined an alternate scenario where some sort of agreement is reached, and both groups of Ghostbusters team up and work together from that point forward. Instead, one team decided to capture and eliminate the other team.

What I found horrific were the screams of the ghost-versions as they were caught. The ghost guys sounded just like the regular guys. I tried to imagine how it must have felt for them. They save the city from Gozer, come back, change their uniforms, and the next thing they know, they're ghosts! And then they get captured!! I mean, they must have felt how a clone feels in the movies like "Multiplicity" or "The Sixth Day" where they clone your mind, too. You don't know you're the double — you think you're the real deal. So at the end of the episode, it was almost like the Ghostbusters were killing… themselves.

That quickness, that "shoot first ask questions later" mentality was so overtly built into that episode that it made me question whether there really was something to the whole violence thing. But still, it was fun seeing the Ghostbusters back in action.

I heard there was a CGI movie in the works, with a plot that might merit a title like, "Ghostbusters Go To Hell." Cool!!