The Retro Bin: Filmation’s Ghost Busters (1975, 1986)

There’s something strange in your neighborhood. Who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters-2016

This squad?

GhostBustersCar

Or this squad?

Ghostbusters

Or how about this squad??

With the 2016 reboot of Columbia Pictures’ Ghostbusters looming on the horizon, today’s Retro Bin will be spotlighting the other team of spook catchers, the team that started it all. A team of paranormal hunters consisting of 2 comedians and…a gorilla? Before the Ghostbusters, there was Filmation’s The Ghost Busters.

To chronicle the Ghost Busters, we first have to go back in time to 1975.

Rewind Button

Filmation’s The Ghost Busters was was a live-action children’s situation comedy that ran on Saturday mornings on CBS in 1975, about a team of bumbling detectives who would investigate ghostly occurrences. Fifteen episodes were produced. The show reunited Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch in roles similar to their characters in F Troop.

Dot

“Old sitcom. Talk to your parents or watch RTV.”

Spencer Tracy & Kong

The Ghost Busters were a trio of bumbling, slapstick and shtick-prone paranormal investigators/ghost catchers named Spencer, Tracy and Kong. The first 2 characters’ names were a play on actor Spencer Tracy, while the latter was an obvious reference to King Kong, but spoilers! The one named Kong wasn’t the ape!

mortimer-snerd

“You done blown my mind!”

Ghost_bustersFilmation02

Kong (Forrest Tucker), clad in a numbered jersey, vest and pork pie hat, was the canny, dour-faced leader of the group. Zoot-suited Eddie Spencer (Larry Storch) was a fast talking wiseguy who was quick with the quips. The final member of the trio was Tracy, a gorilla who acted as the team’s Man Friday, lugging around the team’s ghost busting gear and props for any occasion. Tracy usually wore a yellow beanie cap with a red propeller, but would always be seen wearing a different hat when the gang went on missions (where he kept all these hats is anyone’s guess), which would always be to the same haunted mansion. Though Tracy was clearly an actor, Bob Burns, in an ape suit, Burns was always credited on the show as Tracy’s “trainer”, leading some naive kids to believe that Tracy was an actual intelligent gorilla, only to have their bubbles burst by the onset of adolescence.

Plucky_Duck

“Another Hollywood illusion shattered!”

Each week Spencer, Tracy and Kong would receive orders from some unseen commissioner, then Spencer and Tracy would head to the same antique shop and receive their walking orders from some random prop a la Mission Impossible; said object would then announce “This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds”, Tracy would shrug and start counting down from 5 on his fingers and the object would blow up in his face. Comedy! Then the Ghost Busters would head on down to the same haunted castle, have a slapstick-filled confrontation with the Ghost of the Week and then send him/her to the nether-realm with their Ghost De-Materializer. Wash, rinse, repeat for 15 episodes. Here’s the opening:

 

Then in 1984, the other Ghostbusters came along. Columbia Pictures did pay Filmation a license to use the name, but they did not want to license Filmation the rights to the movie Ghostbusters when they were looking to produce an animated series. Filmation had even gone as far as to attempt to work with Columbia Pictures and had completed initial design work for a cartoon to be based on the movie. Columbia changed its mind, deciding not to work with Filmation, and the proposed deal fell through (Columbia worked with DiC instead). Undaunted, Filmation realized that they already had their own Ghost Busters show, and decided to make an animated series out of that. A bigger, (somehwat) more kick-ass cartoon, which was in no way an attempt to cash in on the Ghostbusters phenomenon at all. This cartoon debuted in 1986 and was simply titled Ghostbusters. Filmation dropped the word “the” from their series original title and shortened “Ghost Busters” to just one word.

Filmations_Ghostbusters_Logo

Ah, I see what you did there, Filmation.

As if someone was begging Columbia and DiC to twist the knife even further, they called their cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters, which must’ve really put a burn in the ol’ britches, since technically Filmation’s show came first.

Just to kick things up a notch (BAM!), Filmation’s animated Ghostbusters was a next gen series, starring the young (teen? twenty-something?) sons of the original Spencer and Kong (when those guys managed to find mates and get busy has yet to be revealed), operating from a small haunted house sandwiched between 2 tall skyscrapers, armed to the teeth with high-tech spook-themed gizmos, some weird connection to the future for some reason and assistance from some other allies while in combat with a band of wicked specters who were sort of a cross between the Groovie Ghoulies and the Legion of Doom. They also employed a different opening theme, which upon revisiting it, actually isn’t that bad. It’s lacking in Ray Parker, Jr., but there are worse songs you can get stuck in your head. It fits the quasi-epic, spooky tone and it’s actually quite catchy.

 

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, “Let’s Go, Ghostbusters!” was supposed to be Filmation’s answer to “I Ain’t ‘Fraid of no Ghosts!”. Here’s a list of who was who in the animated Ghostbusters universe.

THE GOOD GUYS

FGB Theteam

“We are not afraid of any ghosts!”

  • Jake Kong, Jr. – the son of the original Kong from the 1975 series. (So Kong’s first name was Jake all this time. Who knew?) Handsome, blond, straight-ahead, the usual leader attributes. Though Jake was apparently drying out from some undisclosed addiction to snorting ectoplasm, since his nose would twitch whenever ghosts were nearby. (Just one more, man, just one more….)
  • Eddie Spencer, Jr. – the son of the original Spencer. Generally klutzy and cowardly, though he would on occasion bust out the jams and prove his worth from time to time.
  • Tracy (not Junior) – in-universe Tracy was the same gorilla from the original series, only now colored brown and clad in a fedora, khaki cargo shorts and a backpack. He was incredibly well-preserved considering this was 20 years later. (With plastic surgery and liposuction, anything’s possible.) Also, Tracy must’ve been been doing some serious reading and studying during his decades long absence, since here Tracy is extremely smart and is credited with inventing all of the Ghostbusting gadgets and would often construct one to help a bad situation, in addition to being super-strong and powerful, using his strength to get out of tight spots. If Tracy could audibly order pizza over the phone, he wouldn’t need Jake and Eddie at all.
  • Jessica Wray – an intrepid reporter (for which publication I have no idea) who would occasionally aid the Ghost Busters. She also seemed to be hot for Jake.
  • Futura – purple skinned lady Ghostbuster from the future. (Why was she purple? Was she an alien? Is gene-splicing a thing in her time? Was she part eggplant? We never found out.) Futura would also frequently team up with the guys and also seemed to like Jake (so Eddie gets no love? That hardly seems fair.) Trivia Time: Futura was originally going to be African-American, but was changed to lavender at the last minute. White-washing, perhaps? Or is it purple-washing?
  • Madam Why -a strangely Caucasian looking gypsy who would sometimes aid the guys or give them mystical advice.
  • Belfry – a pink kid bat in a red onesie who kind of resembled Winnie the Pooh’s pal Piglet. He fell firmly in the “annoyingly cute tag-a-long kid” archetype.
  • Corky – Jessica’s young nephew. Another Aesop-prone kid character. He wore a T-shirt with the Ghostbusters’ logo on it.
  • Skell-o-Vision – a skull-shaped TV monitor with a face and feet who could talk. He would usually deliver the little PSAs that were tacked on at the end of the episode.
  • Ansabone – another skull-themed prop, this one a talking phone who would crack wise whenever anyone tried to answer him. (“You’ve reached the Ghostbusters at a bad time: they’re here!” or “The Ghostbusters are out –out of their minds, that is!”) hey, you’d be snarky too if you had a constant ringing in your head.
  • The Ghost Buggy – no prizes for guessing, this was the Ghost Busters’ car. It spoke with a Southern accent and the Ghostbusters logo at the front of its’ grill doubled as its’ face. He often complained about being weighed down by his passengers (“You guys should call yourselves the Car Busters!”)
  • Time Hopper – Futura’s talking transport. Not surprisingly, it could travel through time. Time Hopper had a female voice and personality. Ghost Buggy was hot for her, though the feeling wasn’t mutual.

THE BAD GUYS

FGB Bad Guys

  • Prime Evil – the resident Big Bad of the show. He was a dark and powerful ghost/wizard (think bad Beetlejuice) with a strangely robotic looking head. He basically held a huge simmering grudge against the Ghostbusters since the original Busters trapped him in a safe for 100 years (why he couldn’t just phase through it is unknown) and so now he turns up week after week to do bad guy stuff aided by his monstrous minions. The Ghostbusters infuriate this guy so much that he can’t even bring himself to say their group name, he usually substitutes it with something like “Ghost Bunglers”, “Ghost Blisters” or “Ghost Bozos”, and whenever he would try to speak their name, he sounded like he was soiling his robe.
  • Brat-a-Rat – a mangy looking, legless rat-like creature who was Prime Evil’s Number One suckup and resident snitch. He usually clung to Prime’s shoulders like a pirate’s parrot.
  • Scared Stiff – a robot ghost (don’t ask me how such a thing could come into existence –maybe he was the Ghost in the Machine that I’m always hearing about). Usually in a state of quivering cowardice and with the habit of falling to pieces, literally, whenever he was scared.
  • Fangster – not just a werewolf, but a werewolf in sneakers! Technically, werewolves aren’t ghosts, but just go with it.
  • Misteria – the pale skinned self-proclaimed Mistress of Mists. Extremely vain, she spent as much time primping as conjuring mists. She also had the habit of calling everyone “darling”; perhaps she was the missing Gabor sister.
  • The Haunter – a British safari hunter ghost (sure, why not). He could make his pith helmet large and fly around in it. His voice and mannerisms were based on actor Terry Thomas, substituting his ‘r’s for ‘w’ a la another famous hunter, Elmer Fudd. he also had the habit of calling Prime Evil “Old bean” or “Old sport” or “Old boy”, which ticked him off to the point where Prime Evil would usually zap him with lightning or in one episode, shove him inside a jar.
  • Airhead – a mummy whose chief trait was that he was very, very, very stupid. He usually referred to himself in the 3rd person and would make “jokes” that only he found funny (“Airhead make joke!”). Mummies aren’t ghosts either, but Team Prime already had a werewolf in their ranks, so why not a mummy?
  • Apparitia -a green skinned vampish sorceress capable of conjuring up monstrous apparitions, hence her name. You knew she was a vamp because she talked like Mae West.
  • Sir Trance-a-Lot – a skeletal knight whose lance could mesmerize. “A Bad Knight to All”. You knew somebody was gonna say it!
  • Long John Scarechrome – a pirate ghost (or ghost pirate, whichever you prefer).
  • Flozart – a ghostly musician who not surprisingly unleashed musical based spells. Despite his name, he more closely resembled Ludwig Von Beethoven.

Not only did these new Ghostbusters have to contend with all of that, but they went through this same sequence in every show just to put on their uniforms.

-They had to go through that every day? Hopefully neither Jake or Eddie ever showed up for work after a bender, ’cause that would be one heck of a thing to endure with a hangover.

Of course, this being Filmation, a lot of the same stock animations and sequences were re-used, and there were little Aesops tacked on to the ends of each episode, though Jake never told the kids at home the dangers of snorting ectoplasm.

And I’m just gonna say this: I don’t care if it was random and silly and made no sense….

TracyTheGorilla

A super-smart, super-strong gorilla who can invent high-tech gear to fight the paranormal is freakin’ hardcore!

Unlike their “real” rivals, Filmation’s Ghostbusters only ran for a single season, for 65 episodes. However in this era of reboots, remakes and revamps, I’ve gotta ask:

Filmation Ghostbusters

Where’s the gender-swapped reboot of this show??

TV Special Tonight!: NBC’s Laugh Busters

On this TV Special Tonight, we’ll be looking back at a product of a bygone era. Saturday morning cartoons on the broadcast networks are rare enough these days, but today, we’ll be revisiting something even harder to find these days: the Saturday morning preview special.

Today we'll be tracking down the elusive Saturday morning network preview special. A creature which, due to corporate network greed and an ever expanding cable TV juggernaut, has been hunted to near extinction.

Today we’ll be tracking down the elusive Saturday morning network preview special. A creature which, due to corporate network greed and an ever expanding cable TV juggernaut, has been hunted to near extinction.

This will (hopefully) be the first of several SatAM preview specials that we’ll be covering here. It’s Friday night. You’re all hopped upon Pop Rocks and you’re both bummed that school has started up again but at the same time, you’re stoked because the usual broadcast network prime time drivel is being preempted so that the network can give you a small taste of the animated kid-vid brain rot that you’ll be indulging in the following morning. Then one night, specifically on September 8, 1984 at 8:30 PM, you discover this:

Laugh-Busters

Before we dig in, I feel a little background information is needed in order for all the Millenial types who weren’t alive during this period to understand what the Idiot Box was like during this time. You see, back then, there were only 3 networks (this was B.C., Before Cable, and even before FOX), and each of them had their own unique approach to the Saturday Morning Preview Special:

ABC typically put the most into their specials, usually framing them as a glitzy variety show with tons of musical numbers and special guest stars (“Wow. Kristy and Jimmy MacNichol again!!“) or setting them at Kings Dominion.

CBS was often the most laid back about theirs, not advertising them and keeping the production values and effects to a minimum. “Tune in and watch…you know, if you feel like it.”

NBC’s specials, more often than not, told a story. Nothing along the lines of Wuthering Heights, mind you, some thinly and clumsily put-together plot involving one of more of the “stars” that were working on the network at the time. Their guest star roster usually never went beyond whoever was on the NBC lot who they could convince to stick around for an extra day of shooting, and the specials would usually be built around a then-hot TV show or movie genre. Laugh Busters was no exception: its’ title was (no prizes for guessing) a takeoff on Ghostbusters, which was a huge hit the summer of that same year, but the that’s where the similarities between Columbia Pictures blockbuster and this special end, so if you were expecting to see Mr. T, Simon the Chipmunk and Hefty Smurf laser blasting specters with proton packs, you’re in for a disappointment. Now, on to the “story”:

Laugh Busters starts with the making of the actual special itself (whoa, meta!), featuring all of NBC new cartoon characters as well as the Smurfs, Spider-Man, Mr. T, Alvin & the Chipmunks, and the cast of Going Bananas, a Hanna-Barbera produced live-action show about an orangutan named Roxana Banana who gets superpowers after being zapped by a UFO (we are not making this up).

Director-DW-and-Assistant

Incidentally, we wanted to cover Going Bananas in the Retro Bin, but we weren’t able to find enough information on it. there are no clips or footage to be found anywhere, and the show doesn’t even have an entry on Wikipedia. Just process that for a second: Going Bananas was so bad that the internet rejected it. Anyways, the director in charge of the special, D.W. (not Arthur’s sister!) is suddenly confronted by an evil wizard played by the same actor, named Gargelmore.

Oh, that's funny. The villain's name is Gargelmore. It's like Gargamel, but not. NBC's writing staff mustve stayed up all night dreaming up that name.

Oh, that’s funny. The villain’s name is Gargelmore. It’s like Gargamel, but not. NBC’s writing staff mustve stayed up all night dreaming up that name.

“Actually we wanted Gargamel himself to be the villain of this special, but when we asked Paul Winchell if he’d mind doing an extra voice acting job for us for free, he told us to go jump in the lake. Go figure.”

Garglemore’s Evil Plan (TM) is to destroy NBC and put an end to laughter once and for all, because it seems he’s allergic to laughter (write this down, because its a plot point). And I though my allergy to dust mites was embarrassing.

  • STEP 1: Ruin an NBC SatAM preview special.
  • STEP 2: Eliminate all laughter from the world.
  • STEP 3: Profit???

If Garglemore really didn’t want to laugh, he could’ve just sat through a Small Wonder marathon.

To put his scheme into motion, Gargelmore enlists the aid of the Gritz Brothers, Hank and Hubie. Since we know none of you saw Going Bananas, the Gritz Brothers were the Bulk & Skull-esque baddies from that show. They were 2 sloppily dressed con artists sharing a single brain, and Hank had most of it.

Incidentally, Hank Gritz was played by the late James

Incidentally, Hank Gritz was played by the late James “1987 Shredder/Uncle Phil” Avery.

Idly, one wonders exactly why the Gritz Brothers agreed to assist Gargelmore. What did Hank & Hubie stand to gain from eliminating laughter from the world? Did Gargelmore promise them free hot dogs for life? A shiny new Volkswagen Beetle? Backstage passes to any Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert? The mind boggles.

To further show us all how eeeeeeeeeeeeevil he is, Gargelmore kidnaps the Smurfs, one of NBC’s biggest draws (not just on Saturday morning, but on the network as a whole; seriously it was them, Mr. T, Gary Coleman and Johnny Carson, that was it). The kidnapping happens off-screen of course. You know how much action scenes cost?

How did Garglemore do it? Magic or budget restraints, potato, po-tah-to.

How did Garglemore do it? Magic or budget restraints, potato, po-tah-to.

The Gritzes are instructed to keep the rest of NBC’s “stars” from getting to the special, which is being taped in Beautiful Downtown Burbank. Hank and Hubie spend the rest of the special devising Wile E. Coyote style traps for the other characters.

Thankfully, actor Thom Bray (aka Murray “Boz” Bozinski from NBC’s then hit action show Riptide, aka the only actor from Riptide who was willing to show up to do this thing) and his sidekick the Roboz (as we understand it, the robot only showed up due to a clause in his contract that stated that he had to go everywhere Boz goes) arrive on the scene to set things right. They end up helping to track down the missing stars and cartoon characters starting with Spider-Man, then starring in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

Thom-Bray

Animated Spidey gushes to himself (courtesy of episode footage from Amazing Friends with new dialogue inserted over it) about how thrilled he is to be on NBC’s Saturday morning lineup as he web-slings from his home in New York City all the way to Burbank, California (no, really, that’s what he does) to the tune of Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Heart of Rock and Roll” What??

“I just swung in from New York, and boy, are my arms tired!” Seriously, I need like a gallon of water and a ton of Icy Hot, stat!”

However, the Gritz Brothers are waiting for him, and trap the Wall Crawler on a giant piece of ACME Fly Paper. (No we’re not kidding.) When Spider-Man goes splat, he magically changes from a cartoon to live-action. This is going to happen a lot in this special; apparently it takes place in the same weird toon-to-live-action space warp that was present in Hanna-Barbera’s All-Star Comedy Ice Review.

Spiderman

Boz and Roboz somehow detect this (that must have been one heck of a GPS Boz installed in him) and calls some honky-tonk bar in the middle of One Horse, USA where then Diff’rent Strokes child actor Danny Cooksey (who’d go on to be the voice of Montana Max, Milo Kamalani and Jack Spicer and play Bobby Budnick on Nickelodeon’s Salute Your Shorts) is performing “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” (we don’t know why either). Also in attendance are the cast of another NBC SatAM show, Kidd Video and Alfonso Ribero, still riding high off of the popularity of his memorable Pepsi cola commercial in which he co-starred with the too-famous-to-appear-in-this-special Michael Jackson. This was prior to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, by the way, so we won’t be making any Carlton jokes here.

Carlton Dance Gif

OK, maybe one.

Danny answers Boz’s distress call and agrees to help, though being just a kid, he needs a ride. Boz enlists KITT from Knight Rider to lend a hand. They couldn’t get the Hoff to appear in this special ’cause he’d want money, but William Daniels does voice KITT here, though he goes uncredited. Evidently Mr. Daniels is OK with voicing a talking car in an action show, but voicing a talking car in a SatAM preview special might damage his credibility as an actor. KITT and Danny rescue Spider-Man (who’s still a live-action guy in a costume, by the way) and the Gritzes turn their attention to their next targets, Kidd Video. Kidd Video was a short-lived Saturday morning live-action/animation hybrid about a faux teen rock band who get sucked into a cartoon world, that’s all you need to know about it, aside from the fact that the band’s fairy friend Glitter was voiced by a young Cathy Cavadini, who’d go on to provide the voice of Blossom on The Powerpuff Girls.

The Gritzes literally send a rolling rock (rock & roll, get it?) hurtling towards the band, knocking the Kiddmobile from Animation Land to the real world (what the heck was that rock made of, anyway?). With their van wrecked, the only logical thing for the band to do is what else? Perform a musical number! Specifically, the show’s theme, “Video to Radio”. Somehow Roxana Banana, the orangutan from Going Bananas is listening to this performance on the radio, despite there being no transmitters or microphones around where Kidd Video are stranded, and the GB gang ride to the band’s rescue in their RV. Did we mention the main characters on Going Bananas lived in an RV?

Here’s where things start to get weird. (Yeah, this is where it starts to get weird.) The Gritz Bros. board a train carrying Dave Seville and the singing chipmunks (actually a clip from one of that season’s Alvin and the Chipmunks episodes with original dialogue inserted to fit the “plot” of the story. At least NBC was able to get Ross Bagdasarian Jr. to read the lines). Hank & Hubie steal the Chipmunks’ tickets, somehow (we don’t get to see them do it) so they’ll get kicked off the train. Sure enough, when the train’s conductor (who’s played by a live actor), wants to see Alvin and company’s tickets, they can’t produce them, and so the animated Alvin, Simon and Theodore magically transform into over sized costumed mascots when they’re thrown off of the train. There’s that weird dimensional warp again! Thankfully, they aren’t marooned for very long. Boz flies over in the Riptide helicopter (named the “Sreaming Mimi”) to rescue the Chipmunks before they have to resort to eating each other.

Yeesh! What sort of vitamins has Dave been feeding those guys?!

Yeesh! What sort of vitamins has Dave been feeding those guys?!

Next up, the animated Mr. T and his band of gymnasts from their cartoon series arrive a meet only to discover

Yes, a trap by the Gritz Brothers, who are attempting to steal their van. Curiously, Mr T. only appears in animated form in this special. Why couldn’t NBC get the real Mr. T to show up here? Mr. T was on everything on NBC at that time! Did he have something better to do? Was somebody making a sequel to D.C. Cab?

Of course, you don’t dare cross Mr. T, and naturally once he catches on to what they’re trying to do he gives chase. Though, again since Mr. T is only in cartoon form here and the producers couldn’t afford rotoscope, we’re treated to an amazing scene featuring the animated T chasing down the live-action Gritz Brothers, relying on Mr. T’s incredible jump-cutting powers.

When Mr. T finally corners the Gritzes and forces them to hand over the keys, we see somebody's arm come into shot. I can imagine how that went down: some NBC exec went over to the Gold's Gym across the street, found some buff dude lifting weights and said to him

When Mr. T finally corners the Gritzes and forces them to hand over the keys, we see somebody’s arm come into shot. I can imagine how that went down: some NBC exec went over to the Gold’s Gym across the street, found some buff dude lifting weights and said to him “We’d like to borrow your arm for this TV special we’re shooting.”

Next up is Pink Panther and Sons.

Hey! Do you remember the wild and wacky misadventures of the Pink Panther's 2 young sons and their friends? Neither do we.

Hey! Do you remember the wild and wacky misadventures of the Pink Panther’s 2 young sons and their friends? Neither do we.

To stop them, the Gritz Brothers paint a tunnel onto a huge boulder as Pinky and Panky’s cartoon selves ride towards them on a bicycle. Anyone who’s ever seen a Road Runner cartoon in their lives knows what happens next: The weird space dimension thing kicks in again, changing Pinky to a live-action guy in a costume, Panky mysteriously disappears and Pinky rides harmlessly through the fake tunnel as if it were real. When the Gritzes try to give chase, they smack headlong into the boulder. Cue the Waw-waws.

If Chuck Jones didn't get a royalty check for this gag, he should have.

If Chuck Jones didn’t get a royalty check for this gag, he should have.

The next to last show to be targeted is Snorks. This time Hank and Hubie learn that the Snorks entire undersea civilization runs on steam (don’t ask how they found this out; Wikipedia wouldn’t come into existence for another couple of decades), so they take control of one of NASA’s inter-continental ballistic missiles (sure, why not?) with a remote control and crash it into the sea sealing off an underwater volcano. We then switch to animation, where the Snorks remove the missle from the volcano, foiling yet another Gritz plan.

“I’m only going to say this once: stop dumping crap into my oceans, or you’ll be sorry! This ain’t ‘Robot Chicken’. I’m the flippin’ King of the Sea! I’ll kick your ass!”

Finally, the special saves the network’s biggest hit, Smurfs, for last. Papa Smurf, the only Smurf who wasn’t captured by Gargelmore, arrives on the scene, as Generic Smurf assures his fellows, “Papa Smurf is gonna save us!” Papa confronts Gargelmore in his lair and notices the guy’s trying hard not to laugh. (He’s allergic to laughter, remember?) Papa Smurf tosses a magic formula he’s concocted at Gargelmore, causing him to evaporate into thin air. So that’s how this conflict is finally resolved: in the bluntest terms, Papa Smurf kills Gargelmore. Yes, this is something that happened.

“Hey, that’s how I roll. You mess with my boys and you face the wrath of Big Papa! That’s how we do things in the Smurf Village! Represent!”


With the “threat” gone, the entire cast, save for Thom Bray and the guy in the Pinky costume (they must’ve just figured enough was enough) get together on a stage and boogie down to a sound-alike of Ray Parker Jr,’s Top 20 hit “Ghostbusters”.

“Who am I gonna call? My attorney! Hello, lawsuit!”

OK, Laugh Busters was a little bit hokey (OK, a LOT hokey) and the budget for this special could be used to fill a thimble, but still there’s a certain campy charm to it, like most Saturday morning preview specials. If nothing else, it’s a fun romp to riff on, MST3K style. If you can manage to find it on VHS somewhere (sadly, little to none of these specials exist on DVD), give it a watch. One thing’s for sure, in the fall of 1984, NBC’s pride (not to mention their age) was showing.