Thursday, May 19, 2016

Extreme Ghostbusters

Ah, the "dark age" of cartoons and animation. It's funny that that is the moniker tossed around yet, in all honesty, there were some really good things that came out during that period. And no, I'm not referring to the more appropriate actual dark age of animation that followed up the golden age, but rather that period in the late 90s that many people mock for having things like animated spin-offs of movies that people roll their eyes at. In fact, I talked about a show from that period already last year.

None of that fake Trump-style patriotism here. We only serve that real shit.

It was period that I fully intend to delve into in many future retrospectives, as I really do feel like many shows from that period get a bum wrap. As a matter of fact, I can guarantee we'll be talking one during our next theme month that is coming along. Right now though, in the aftermath of all this Ghostbusters backlash, I feel like talking about the often overlooked sequel to the classic Real Ghostbusters series, the unfortunately named Extreme Ghostbusters.

Every time someone says "extreme", Rob Liefeld devours an entire live goat. It's true. I saw it go down once in Tijuana.
This series often gets overlooked for fairly obvious reasons, first of which is the title. There is nothing about the show that fits the EXTREME name. It's simply one of the buzz words that was everywhere at the time, so it got stapled onto a Ghostbusters revival, sadly dooming it to relative obscurity and unwarranted disdain from some people bitter about them not bringing back the original characters. There were probably also so guys losing their shit over a woman being on the team too.

"A female Ghostbuster?!? What kind of PC pandering bullshit is that? Real Ghostbusters never did that!!"
Yeah, it's pretty sad when you realize just how moronic the attitude about female Ghostbusters is. As a concept, it was introduced to great effect in Real Ghostbusters when Janine suited up to save the day one time and then would occasionally join the boys from time to time. Before the new movie was ever even conceived we had already had two female Ghostbusters. Hell, three if you count the Kotobukiya statue character, Lucy. Does it still piss miserable pissbabies when it's a character who is sexualized? Hmm...well, I imagine there probably are some who got mad about it. I know they got mad about the female Jason Voorhees statue, who I nicknamed Jas. Eh, fuck it, Lucy's in. She counts.

Why not? The more the merrier.
Outside of the obvious hate tinged with sexism, let's get back to talking about the show. The basics of the actual show itself are fairly straight forward. It's been many years since the conclusion of the original Real Ghostbusters. Since then the ghost sightings have stopped and the group disbanded to go their separate ways, with Egon being the only one remaining in the old firehouse with Slimer and the containment unit. He now teaches at a college, which is how our new cast are introduced to us. You see, they all happen to be the only people who sign up for his class on paranormal studies. We've got Garrett Miller, the brash fun-loving tough guy who while wheelchair bound still basically seems to enjoy nothing more than heading straight into danger with a massive smile. And I mean that too, as he almost never stops smiling. It's like he can see directly into my soul...leeching my will to live...

H e  k n o w s  t o o  m u c h...
Then we have Kylie Griffin, the studious and intelligent goth girl who is in the class to clearly learn. From a comparison standpoint with the original team, she's clearly the Egon of the group. She also has ties to the Ghostbusters history that play out in the series and has become fan favourite character, despite many people still hating on this show and the idea of a female Ghostbuster. It's often toyed with that she and another member of the team might have feelings for one another...but then it's also sort of implied she might have a thing for older intellectual types too, which has led to some shipping of her and Professor Spengler. And as the only female Ghostbuster (that people both to remember was a Ghostbuster), there has of course been tons of porn made with her as the subject.

No, I won't be posting any of it here. Lazy perverts.
Speaking of her possible old man crush, let's talk about Egon real quick. He's acting as the mentor and leader of the group early on here, but sadly gets relegated fairly quickly to the position of answering the phone and sending the kids on their way. It does highlight what I think was a behind the scenes issue, where the writers probably wanted to do more with him, but the executives clearly wanted to focus on the younger characters because young equals better somehow. Don't ask me, these were people who used "extreme" as a descriptor for what essentially was a less intense Ghostbusters show. Regardless, I do like the design of him here, as he clearly does seem like an older Egon, now sporting longer hair pulled back into a ponytail. He's characterized as feeling a bit like a relic, but still manages to be a very useful source of knowledge and is even in fairly good shape for a man who hasn't been ghost chasing in many years.

But I still miss his classic curled pompadour. No matter how many times he stares down a horrible Egyptian monster, that hairstyle will never be topped.
Back to the young guns, we've got Roland Jackson, who may sadly be the most boring Ghostbuster ever. He's characterized as being more level-headed and being good a building and fixing things, which often results in him being forced into the role Winston got shoved into towards the latter half of Real Ghostbusters...he drives the car. Yeah, let's make the black guy the driver, that's not going to feel iffy at all. He did have some really good moments though, including one story that involved some clear racial issues. Sadly, he always tended to get outshined by the other stronger personalities and was often incidental to the plotlines. He even got repeatedly mind-controlled, almost as if to hammer home that he's the easiest to do that too as he almost doesn't have a personality to begin with. Ugh. It's pretty vexing, when his clear classic comparison is to Ray, who really did have a defined personality and an upbeat attitude. But hey, at least he doesn't speak in ebonics or spout dated "urban" lingo.

He did have a sweet fade though.
Finally, we get the schlub of the group, Eduardo Rivero. He's supposed to fill the smart-ass guy who thinks he's gorgeous role (i.e. Peter Venkman) but it only works sometimes. Why? Probably because, despite the fact that Peter did have that going, he also was a scientist and a capable guy who got shit done. Eduardo is the guy who signed up for the paranormal studies class because he figured it was an "easy A". It makes his catchphrase rather annoying too ("We're scientists!") since he's kind of a lazy asshole. He has a clear thing for Kylie, but it never really goes anywhere throughout the series, which is a bit of a sad reminder of the fact that this series felt like it suffered quite a bit from executive meddling. Even though Slimer is still present, most of the time Eduardo serves the purpose of being the comic relief more-so than our favourite neon green spud. Not my favourite of the group, but at least they did give him a personality.

It's just a fairly shitty one.
Slimer and Janine are mainstays still too, with Janine still pursuing an oblivious Egon...which is really confusing, because they actually were clearly dating on Real Ghostbusters. Slimer, as I said, does feel outshined a bit in the comic relief department, but that's fine. Less is more and his lack of presence really makes me appreciate when we do see him and he's much irritating than he was in the later Real Ghostbusters episodes where they shoved him so far up everyone's ass that we were crapping ectoplasm. Janine is sadly still suffering her bland overhaul from the latter half of Real Ghostbusters too, which is such a shame. Janine was the shit before they stripped her personality from her and it's a tragedy they didn't take this chance to return that to her. Granted, that could once more be executive mandates, I simply don't know enough to say for sure.

"Janine, I'm sorry, but you're just not punk enough for me. Now please, I'm trying to mix a potion to bring back my pompadour."
The show had some pretty nice design work, with disturbing creatures and some very dark stories that I'm a bit bit shocked made it into a kid show. But then, that's kind of a Ghostbusters staple at this point, as the original series also had that same thing going for it. The main disappointment here though is the clear fact they weren't allowed to do more. This show had major potential and it never really got to reach it, with clear meddlers and a classic fanbase that mostly ignored it as trash due to the use of 'extreme' in the title. I'd almost have to call this series a bit of failed experiment, but it didn't fail completely because it did have some staying power. It lasted for 40 episodes, which was fairly impressive at that point in time. And it was allowed a decent enough finish, with the original team coming back to back them up against a threat. Meaning that we actually did get that whole "old team passing the mantle down to new guys" story that everyone has said they wanted.

It just happened in a cartoon that most of the whiny asshats ignored.
Was it really a truly shining example of animation goodness? Nah. Godzilla: The Series had much stronger animation overall, which is a bit jarring since they were made by the same people. But it definitely wasn't a bad series and it did its job fairly well, introducing a new group of Ghostbusters to carry on the legacy and bring in a new generation of young fans. I've had people tell me that this show was what got them to watch the movies in the first place, which is generally how these things work. No matter where you first become acquainted with something, it doesn't mean that you can't branch out to look at what came before it, what inspired it. It's something that some amusing idiots on Twitter seem to not get. But hey, one of them kept hashtagging Ghostbusters related posts with GamerGate, a movement involving issues of sexism in video games. Yeah, I can totally see how a movie that is not in any way related to a video game is a GamerGate issue. It's funny too, because I've never even been involved one way or the other with that whole argument. GamerGate was something I heard of once and never again, as I'm not that deep into gaming. But hey, now that I've had interactions with a GamerGater I can honestly say that I will move forward assuming that they're all a gaggle of twats.

All complaints can be sent to directly deep inside your ass, because I don't care.
Twitter stupidity parades aside, I don't regret watching this series and would encourage others to give it a viewing. It does have plenty of redeeming qualities that outshine the issues it has and it'd be great to see it get a proper DVD release of the entire series. In the meantime, I hear it's available on Hulu for people who don't have grainy old VHS quality video of it. Now I'm off to go eat whatever goats Rob Liefeld didn't eat while contemplating what might happen if Egon and Janine's hairstyles from Real Ghostbusters had children. Later days, bleeders.

Dem bedroom eyes, yo.



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