By now, we all know the Ghostbusters, the charismatic team in charge of returning ghosts and evil entities back to their dimension. Although, there is a version of the Ghostbusters that would leave many scratching their head.
Back in the 80s, there was an animated series by Filmation called Ghostbusters based on the 1975 live-action show, Ghost Busters. For a time the cartoon coexisted with the more popular franchise produced by Columbia Pictures. As the latter was the most popular at the time, the Filmation series was lost in the annals of history.
Though the show was very very short-lived, its story deserves to be told.
The Ghost Busters Live-Action TV Series
In 1975 a live-action TV series was launched. It has the honor of being the first to use the famous “Ghostbusters” name.
Produced by Filmation and distributed by NBC, this slapstick children’s show introduced audiences to Jake Kong and Eddie Spencer, a pair of paranormal investigators, accompanied by the friendly gorilla Tracy. Together, they face various famous monsters and historical characters, such as Count Dracula and Billy The Kid.
It clearly took inspiration from Abbott and Costello and was made to grab the attention of the millions of Scooby-Doo fans around the world with too many similarities to name. Just watch a few of these episodes and you will see what I mean.
Although it was well-rated, the series was not greenlit for a second season, but it laid the groundwork for a sequel 10 years later.
The Origin of Filmation Ghostbusters Cartoon
An animated series spun off from the original Ghost Busters in 1986 (DVD from Amazon), introducing the sons of the previous show’s protagonists, Jake Kong Jr. and Eddie Spencer Jr. (clearly, they weren’t very creative).
Tracy would again make an appearance as the companion of the investigators, helping them in their adventures. However, this time, Tracy the gorilla is not the most peculiar partner, as the Ghost Buggy takes this prize, as the talking car.
In each chapter, the team confronts the strangest bad guys, with Prime Evil being the main villain. Throughout the series, more characters help the little heroes, such as the time-traveling ghostbuster Futura, the cuddly bat Belfry, the reporter Jessica Wray, the magician Madam Why and many more.
Despite the charisma of their characters and stories, the tactic of launching the series a few years after the release of Columbia’s famous 1984 film ended up playing against them.
Conflict with Columbia’s Ghostbusters
During the production of the Ghostbusters movie in 1984, they were unaware of the existence of the 1975 series of the same name. Eventually, Columbia managed to license the name by paying Filmation $600,000.
It seemed that this closed the problem, but after the massive success of the film, Filmation offered to produce an animated series based on the film. But as their previous negotiation did not include any rights to make a cartoon, Columbia gave this work to the animation studio DiC.
As a response to this “betrayal”, Filmation launched its own animated series at the same time as Columbia’s, although it all turned out to be a crass mistake, confusing the audience by the existence of two shows with the same name. There would be one clear winner as audiences stayed with the cast they knew and loved based on the popular blockbuster film, and so “The Real Ghostbusters” was created.
This ended up burying Filmation’s series, which was canceled before after one season, only 4 months of broadcasting and 65 episodes deep, contrasting with the enormous success of Columbia’s series, which lasted 5 years on the air and ended with 140 episodes.
- Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Filmation Ghostbusters Toys
The failure extended to the line of toys that Filmation launched to support their show, which was run by the company Schaper.
Despite being a franchise that didn’t last long on the market, it featured well-crafted toys of the show’s characters, and more cutting-edge figures, such as the transformable Ghost Buggy and the Ghost Command set.
Today, because of their rarity, these toys are found on places like eBay at high prices, especially the sets and the main characters, which some collectors proudly display on their shelves.
And so ends the story of Filmation Ghostbusters, a fairly short one and one that is not well known, but for those who grew up with the live-action television series and the animated show, they remember with special fondness the adventures of the paranormal investigators with the charismatic Tracy.
Now that you know these characters when you see something strange in your neighborhood, which ones will you call?