Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Real Ghostbusters: "Xmas Marks The Spot"

Premiered December 13, 1986

The Ghostbusters are driving around, lost in Upstate New York, when their Ecto-1 ambulance breaks down.  

Winston (), Ray () and Egon (Maurice Lemarche) wish they were home celebrating Christmas.  Peter Venkman () scoffs at this, he’s never had any use for the holiday season. Venkman’s father had a job that kept him that often kept him away during Christmas when he was a kid.

They stumble on a small town that’s not on the map.  The buildings look old and all the people are dressed in Victorian fashions. 

We see a resident of the town, Bob Cratchit (LeMarche) buying a Christmas turkey.

Bob Cratchit with Tiny Tim on his shoulders.
The Ghostbusters hear ghostly noises and track them to a nearby house.  They find three ghosts talking to an old man. The ghosts are promptly captured & trapped. 

It turns out the old man was Ebenezer Scrooge (), he’s very grateful for the Ghostbusters' intervention but gets angry when they ask for payment for their service. 

The Ghostbusters threaten to release the ghosts, but he pays them with a valuable coin over a hundred years old.  The age of the coin makes the Ghostbusters curious.  Scrooge decides to declare war on Christmas.

The Ghostbusters return to New York and are shocked to see no one celebrating Christmas. 
They wish passersby a Merry Christmas only to be greeted with “Bah Humbug”.

Scrooge's message has turned the Ghostbusters' assistant Janine (Laura Summer) against Christmas.
They learn that their upstate New York adventure somehow caused them to travel back in time to Victorian England.  They realize they've accidentally changed the future.

In the anti-Christmas spirit, New Yorkers greet each other with "Bah Hambugs."
The Ghostbusters captured the Christmas Spirits before they could teach Scrooge his lesson, and eventually Scrooge’s anti-Christmas sentiments caught on all over the world.  Scrooge authored a book called A Christmas Humbug that served as a manifesto against the holiday.  The Ghostbusters have accidentally destroyed Christmas! (Perhaps they should have remembered their Dickens.)

They hope that if they can go back in time again and release the ghosts, everything will go back to normal.  But that may not be an easy task.  Egon will have to go into the containment unit and free the ghosts, which could cost him his life.

This prompts the Ghostbusters to act as substitutes for the three Spirits Of Christmas, in case Egon's efforts are not successful. 

Peter stands in for the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Winston "understudies" for the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Ray poses as the Ghost of Christmas Future.

Can the Ghostbusters restore Christmas?  Even if they can, will Peter Venkman continue to hate Christmas?

J.A. Morris says:

The Real Ghostbusters is a show I remember but  I'd never seen an entire episode until I stumbled on this a couple years ago.  It's a fun Christmas episode, as long as you get past a few things.  For example, Scrooge is a fictional character, not a real one.   And like most time-travel stories, this one has paradoxes. 

This is not,strictly speaking an adaptation of A Christmas Carol, but it's a good homage.  In this episode we get not one,but two Scrooges, since Peter Venkman is lacking in Christmas spirit just like Dickens' old miser.  When the Ghostbusters are forced to stand-in for the Ghosts, they come up with some humorous techniques.  My favorite was using a View-Master as a "magic window" that let's Scrooge see his past!   

If I have any problem with this episode it's that the animation looks cheap and hasn't aged very well. 

Carolers sing outside the Ghostbusters' firehouse on Christmas Eve.
But the voice actors are very good.  Lorenzo Music, Frank Welker and Maurice Lemarche are big names in the voiceover world.  They're good here, even if they don't sound like very much like their movie counterparts.  And Arsenio Hall (years before he became famous as a talk show host) is also good as Winston.

The Ghostbusters and friends share a Christmas toast.
I can't discuss this series without mentioning Lorenzo Music.  He played the voice of Garfield in Garfield And Friends.  Music voices Peter Venkman here, a role played by Bill Murray in the Ghostbusters movies.  In 2004 the motion picture Garfield, the cat was voiced by...Bill Murray.  Life is funny sometimes!  
Marley's Ghost flees Scrooge's as the Ghostbusters arrive.
"X-mas Marks The Spot" is no classic, but it was fun and exceeded my expectations.  While it wasn't an adaptation, it still contained Dickens' message about treating your fellow humans with kindness at Christmas and year-round.  And it was a nice introduction to the series.  If nothing else, it makes me want to check out the Halloween and Thanksgiving episodes of The Real Ghostbusters.

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 candy canes.

RigbyMel says: 

I know I watched The Real Ghostbusters when it was first on  (my younger brother ADORED it), but I don't remember watching this particular episode until recent years.  

As J.A. Morris says, there are some clever touches to this episode, but there is also a LOT going on in it. The stumbling into an alternate time/dimension reminds me a lot of Brigadoon.  The Christmas-less world that the Ghostbusters inadvertently create has a bit of an It's A Wonderful Life flavor.   And, of course, there are the obvious references to A Christmas Carol throughout.  The sub-plot where Egon actually goes into the ghost containment unit in search of the captured A Christmas Carol ghosts that leans heavily on the sci-fi aspects of the series.   In point of fact,  there seems to be a bit too much going on in this little, cheaply animated half hour episode for it to have much cohesion.   

Also, when the Ghostbusters meet Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim, it bothers the heck out of me that Tiny Tim resembles a frog more than a human child.  

This is an amusing episode, but the lack of cohesiveness keeps it from being great.

RigbyMel's rating:

2 1/2 candy canes

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