14 October 2006 | Neuropsygnosis
Good but best approached with an open mind (No spoilers)
Despite its troubled development history, this show does have a lot of redeeming features. Lower your expectations and this series is good. Living up to the impression created by the Ghostbuster movie may have been a tall order for a cartoon and could not really be plausible on technical grounds even if some would like to entertain a flawed perspective that this series was better than the movie simply due to quantity of content thrown at you. The series was however, explicitly treated as a continuation of the movie rather than a spin-off. The second movie however, pretty much ignored every single event or progression that happened in this series.
But you cannot help but compare this series to the movie which started it all. RGB almost completely lacks the primary strengths of the movie ie Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson. Admittedly, trying to make animated equivalents of the mentioned would have been an impossible task. What you get are a downgraded and very different bunch of characters for the show, more tuned towards catering to younger audiences instead of adult audiences that the movie was intended for. Their personalities considerably changed towards the more negative towards the end of the show.
Somehow or the other, they've managed to close most of the gaps between the animated Egon and Harold Ramis as well as the animated Janine and Annie Potts, and they are one of the primary reasons to watch this show. However, the other three characters are nothing like what you saw in the movies and have been severely dumbed down for the kiddies. Sadly, the character of Stantz suffers most from this change. Winston is no longer God fearing and curious, Stantz is one dimensional, performing the occasional technical tasks and Venkman is a wise crack spewing flirt with not a fraction of Bill Murray's charm or lechery. Getting to the positive, they have included Slimer in the mainstream, who is a great addition as a character. The annoying Lois Tully is gone for the most part.
Even so, these are a fairly good bunch of characters when you compare them with characters from other cartoons of the time. Heck, this animated series was actually better than most shows of the 80s, including the ones which were and are far more popular than it, including Thundercats, Transformers, TMNT, GI Joe, MASK and a bunch of others. Who can complain when you get to see your favourite team, or something resembling your favourite team, go up against all sorts of generic ghosts and Lovecraftian creatures from a vast beastiary? Don't expect scares though as the ghosts are really on the wackier side, which is actually a plus.
The story lines of each episode are fairly simple and straightforward and the most interesting ones were the ones which had hilarious circumstances rather than those that tried to squeeze in a serious plot. They are imaginative enough but not really gripping. J Michael Stracenzki of Babylon 5 fame has even written 21 episodes for this series, but his episodes are by far the worst and most boring episodes in the series, even though those particular episodes would be the most well known, for reasons both good and bad. It is very sad that after the first two seasons, this show became further dumbed down and both writing and production values plummeted. This resulted in two questionable spinoffs, namely the "Junior Ghostbusters" and a show focused on Slimer, neither of which were well received leading to the ultimate flop of this show. Even so, this series had some great and memorable episodes and out of 140 episodes, 20 to 30 were really good.
The animation is passable, ranging from decent to mediocre to sometimes poor, depending on the setting, scenes and complexity of character and object motion. As the seasons progressed, its Japanese flavour began to intensify and it ultimately yielded a anime look. Overall, by 80s standards, it was good and perhaps barely passable by today's animation standards. Dialog was however, always well written, even though the voice acting and syncing was not so good.
Sound and Music was very well done. The Music is also one of this show's strengths, it even included some cheesy but charming battle sequences set to pop music tracks by a dedicated music group called Tahiti. Not many of their tracks had a paranormal flavour though, and some of them were completely unrelated to what was actually going on during screenplay.
Overall, the RGB series is an extremely entertaining one, despite many flaws and shortcomings. While the Real Ghostbusters series may be the weakest albeit longest running part of the franchise which includes two Live Action movies and another brilliant cartoon called Extreme Ghostbusters, approaching the RGB series with a open mind should give it the credit it deserves. It may not be on par with the movies and as a cartoon, it is far inferior and not even comparable to the Extreme Ghostbusters (XGB, which incidentally had a lot of the original RGB team working on it as well) series but its still very good, all things considered. If you've seen XGB and not RGB, please lower your expectations even further and keep a really open mind before viewing RGB for the first time.