July 19, 2014


(CBS, September 6-December 13, 1975)

Filmation Associates

Larry Storch – Eddie Spenser
Forrest Tucker – Jake Kong
Bob Burns – Tracy

Lou Scheimer - Zero

            Who ya gonna call? Sorry, that’s the OTHER guys.

The Ghost Busters and their dematerializer.

The Ghost Busters was a live-action series created by Marc Richards for Filmation Associates about a troupe of bumbling paranormal investigators. The show reunited F Troop co-stars Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker as Eddie Spenser and Jake Kong (whose first name was revealed outside of the series). Their primary weapon was a dematerializer, which would send any supernatural entity they encountered back to the afterlife. 

Yes, the gorilla drives the car.

They were also teamed up with Bob Burns as Tracy the gorilla. Since Filmation didn’t have the budget for an actor and a suit, they needed an actor with a suit. The Tracy suit was Burns’ own, as he always had the ambition to be a gorilla man like the kind seen in jungle movies. The original suit, dubbed Korgar, was made in 1963 by his wife, Kathy, with help from Don Post, Sr. A young Rick Baker, who would go on to become a world-famous make-up artist, made a friendlier head for the suit when Burns began doing commercials. Tracy was also the primary driver for their car, a 1929 Whippet. Originally a taxi in Argentina, it was kept running by employees of Filmation who happened to like working on cars.

This place just begs to be haunted.

Each show would feature the Ghost Busters stopping at a convenience store to pick up a tape recording hidden within an ordinary object by their unseen boss, Zero (executive producer Lou Scheimer), outlining their next job. Borrowing a gag from the original Mission: Impossible TV series, the tape would self-destruct after the instructions were given. However, they would never get rid of it in time and it would always explode in Tracy’s face. 13 of those sequences were filmed all at once to make full use of the location, Lechler’s Grocery and Hardware Store formerly located at 3956 Center Street in Piru, California, and save on the budget. 

Frankenstein and his monster.

They would then head to the location to engage the offending spirits after a series of chases and pratfalls. Further saving on the budget, the show utilized many of the same sets: a cemetery, a castle interior, and a painting of a creepy mansion on a hill, not to mention the Ghost Busters’ office. Many of the spooks were figures from popular culture or famous literature, such as Dr. Frankenstein (Bernie Kopell) and his monster (Bill Engesser); the Canterville ghost (Ted Knight); the Wolf-Man (Lennie Weinrib); Merlin (Carl Ballantine) and Morgan Le Fay (Ina Balin); and Dr. Jekyll (Severn Darden) and Mr. Hyde (Joe E. Ross), amongst others. A lot of well-known comedians were cast in the roles of the ghosts; many of whom had never done Saturday morning before. 

CBS Saturday morning line-up ad for the 1975-76 season.

The Ghost Busters debuted on CBS on September 6, 1975, entirely written by Richards and shot over the course of 11 weeks. The music was composed by Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael). Despite it being a hit—particularly with older audiences—Filmation decided to end it after its single season of 15 episodes. They chose to put the money for a second season into the higher-rated Shazam/Isis Hour. Regardless, it managed to secure a loyal legion of fans that call themselves “Go-ers” after the catchphrase “Let’s go, Ghost Busters!” CBS also loved the show and continued to air it in reruns for an additional year. Episodes were released to VHS and the entire series to DVD in 2006 by BCI Home Entertainment.

The second, and better-known, Ghostbusters.

In 1983, Columbia Pictures was making a movie called Ghostbusters, conceived and co-written by Dan Aykroyd. Upon discovering the existence of the Filmation show in the middle of production, Columbia rushed to secure the rights to the name for their movie. When the movie proved successful enough for Columbia to consider an animated spin-off, Filmation attempted to take on the job; going as far as to produce initial design work for it. Columbia passed, and Scheimer took his concepts and developed an animated sequel to The Ghost Busters.


GhostBusters debuted in 1986 the same week as Columbia’s DiC Entertainment-produced series The Real Ghostbusters, featuring Eddie Jr. (Peter Cullen) and Jake Jr. (Pat Fraley), the sons of the originals, working with Tracy (Scheimer) and other friends against the sinister Prime Evil (Alan Oppenheimer) and his horde of ghosts. The cartoon ran for a single syndicated season of 65 episodes, spawning a toy line and a four-issue comic series by First Comics.

“The Maltese Monkey” (9/6/75) – The Ghost Busters have to stop the Fat Man and Rabbit from summoning the ghost of gangster Big Al Caesar before they steal the stuff dreams are made of.

“Dr. Whatshisname” (9/13/75) – Dr. Frankenstein is back and wants Eddie’s brain to transplant into his monster.

“The Canterville Ghost” (9/20/75) – The Ghost Busters have to remove the cowardly ghost of Sir Simon de Canterville while the master criminal Mr. C seeks the priceless diamond he wears.

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” (9/27/75) – Seeking to remove the werewolf’s curse from Harry Albert, fortuneteller Sophia looks to steal the amulet Eddie recently found.

“The Flying Dutchman” (10/4/75) – The captain of the Flying Dutchman is looking for a new crew, and one of the Ghost Busters is perfect for the job.

“The Dummy’s Revenge” (10/11/75) – The Ghost Busters are targeted by the Phantom of Vaudeville and his dummy after they’re mistaken for three vaudevillians who wronged them.

“A Worthless Gauze” (10/18/75) – Looking for the secret of immortality pits the Ghost Busters against Egyptian Queen Forah and her mummy.

“Which Witch is Which?” (10/25/75) – A witch comes after Eddie for revenge against his ancestor, a spell-dissolver who brought ruin to witches in Salem.

“They Went Thataway” (11/1/75) – The Ghost Busters disguise themselves as cowboys in order to infiltrate the new gang Billy the Kid and Belle Star are rounding up.

“The Vampire’s Apprentice” (11/8/75) – The Ghost Busters take on Count and Countess Dracula.

“Jekyll & Hyde: Together, for the First Time!” (11/15/75) – Dr. Jekyll’s ghost seeks to use Eddie in order to rid himself of Mr. Hyde.

“Only Ghosts Have Wings” (11/22/75) – The Red Baron and Sparky return to engage their enemies, whom the Ghost Busters happen to resemble.

“The Vikings Have Landed” (11/29/75) – Erik the Red and Brunhilda challenge Lothar the Hun for the claim of their discovery of America.

“Merlin the Magician” (12/6/75) – The Ghost Busters must defend Merlin from his nemesis Morgan le Fey.

“The Abominable Snowman” (12/13/75) – Dr. Centigrade wants to put a warm-blooded heart into the Abominable Snowman and chooses Eddie’s.

Originally posted in 2014. Updated in 2020.

1 comment:

Spurwing Plover said...

The Ghist Buster 1975 they always had that Mission Impossible with that This Message will Self Destruct in five seconds and it always blew up in tracy's face as he counted down the seconds and Boom