Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Xmas Marks the Spot

Episode 13 – Season 1

Isn’t it such a joy that we get so many J. Michael Straczynski episodes early on in this series?  The combination of Charles Dickens ‘The Christmas Carol’ and the Ghostbusters is fantastic!  I have always loved that story and now come to know that Straczynski also did.  He gives a brief introduction to the episode on the DVD collection, which you MUST own if you’re a fan.  I certainly liked this one and hope you will too as I go over it.

The past can haunt, even on Xmas.
The Ghostbusters are returning from an upstate call on Xmas eve through a terrible snowstorm in the middle of nowhere.  Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holiday doesn’t it?  Egon showed a bit of displeasure about something Ray did on that call.  Ray goes on to mention, “I told her to keep the cat out of my way.”  Poor Ray, at least it’s not dead based on what he says.  Winston is bummed out about working on Xmas eve but Peter claims otherwise, “It doesn’t bother me, Christmas is just another day.”  It would seem Peter has some underlying issue about this holiday let’s be aware.  They come up to a fork in the road that none of them remembers so they pick the left route.  It turns out that they are in for a longer night than they might have expected.  Ecto-1 dies so they have to go out on foot.  In this weather that’s the last thing they wanted to do.  Peter gets sour over the holiday talk and walks ahead.  It’s now learned that his father wasn’t around for this holiday much and it hurt him more than he’d like to show.  Don’t you love character development?  I do, particularly of Peter and these early episodes.

Busting the 3 ghosts of Xmas!
As they push on they get caught in a wild whirlwind of snow that sends them sprawling everywhere.  When they emerge from the snow they see an old town in the distance.  Questions abound as to why it’s here but Peter just races down the hillside assuming they have a phone.  Remember the late 1980’s when a cell phone sounded so alien?  They walk into the town and see a ghost in chains darting away into the sky from a home.  Egon pulls out the PKE meter and gets strong readings as three more ghosts speed into the upper floor of the building.  Are you noticing anything at all about this yet?  The theme music kicks in and they race upstairs to face the ghosts!  An old man is frightened on the bed and screams for help.  They immediately fire upon the three ghosts capturing them quite easily and without a fight.  The old man becomes extremely happy and then puts up a fight about paying for the ghost capture.  He sounds a bit greedy wouldn’t you say?  Ray threatens to release the ghosts without payment but the old man finally gives in and tosses a single coin from 1837 to them!

The old man heads to the window with high confidence upon the ghosts being taken away.  He reveals himself to be Scrooge!  He vows then to fight Christmas with all he has.  The guys decide to leave town since no phone could be found I assume.  That crazy whirlwind of snow befalls them again and they find ecto-1.  Ray tries to start it and it works this time so they head home.  Egon has a moment of thought that he gets throughout the series where you know he’s onto something but he shrugs it off for the time being.

If you can't make bail...
Back at the old firehouse Egon heads to put the ghosts into the containment unit as the others go to pick up a Christmas tree.  You guys don’t have one yet?  Why did you wait until now to get one?  I thought they loved Christmas so much!  They were posing!  Janine and Slimer show no interest at all in Christmas which makes Egon wonder.  I tell you he’s onto something!  Meanwhile Ray, Winston and Peter put together the pieces of why Christmas is suddenly non-existent.  I love how Scrooge has become so popular and even has a bestselling book on the streets.  It’s apparent he took all the credit for defeating the three Christmas ghosts and has invoked his hatred for the holiday into the lives of all mankind.  That’s quite a feat to accomplish; he’s even more dreadful than I’d ever imagined him before.  Since Egon is about to put the three ghosts away they rush back to stop him.  Peter wonders what the big deal is though.  He hasn’t come around yet.

Sandman and 'negative energy' form ghost
Egon has already cleaned the trap when the others meet back with him.  They go upstairs to view the containment unit through a scope as Egon questions what is going on.  Peter asks if there is a way to release just those three ghosts but that’s not possible.  It is possible to travel back in time and capture them though!  I’m not bashing its just funny but that’s what makes it great!  The sorrow sets in that Christmas is forever gone.  The scene cuts and when we return they are in their jumpsuits.  This isn’t the time to be changing we must save Christmas!  They develop a plan to get the ghosts back where they belong which includes Egon going inside the containment unit!  How cool is that?  Well Peter checks Egon’s wrist when he suggests it and says, “Pulse seems normal.  Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?”  He thinks Egon has lost his mind, great stuff.

Samhain lurking
Ray, Peter and Winston head back to the time warp area while Egon heads inside the containment unit.  Egon asks for Janine’s help which she is always willing to do but not for Christmas.  Whenever Egon says Christmas she blurts out ‘Bah Humbug’ which he finds ‘fascinating.’  So Peter dresses in drag to try and convince Scrooge that Christmas isn’t all that bad.  It’s a bit funny but it’s not quite my taste as far as how the episode has come along to this point.  I do like the part in which Scrooge explained that in his childhood all he needed were his books.  Peter doesn’t agree claiming he needed more than just books.  He’s most likely referring to his father’s presence.  I really enjoyed Egon searching for the ghosts in the containment unit though.  He rigs up a device that opens a hairline incision that he can pass through.  He changes his molecular density so as to fit inside as well.  It’s explained in a way that makes it sound believable enough.

Egon finds the three ghosts and makes it out just as his rigged up device explodes.  Everything seems to be getting cut close as he makes his way back to the other Ghostbusters.  Eventually the original spirits get things set right and Peter learns to appreciate Christmas for more than just some bad memories in his past.  If it wasn’t for his character development in this one I’m not sure I would have liked it so much.  It has a feel good aura to it that I just enjoy we’ll say.  In the end you can hear Santa’s voice and wouldn’t it be awesome if they busted him too?  Here’s to Christmas in July!

Rating: 9 of 10

I loved to see all those ghosts from the previous 12 episodes that I'd like to share them here before I wrap up this review.  The containment unit always interests me to no end due to it's environment and appearance.  How did it get to look like it does?  It's creepy because the space seems infinite.  They really captured how dreary it would be with all these evil spirits wandering around.  I was surprised to see so many familiar ghosts from the series so far so without further delay here they are.
This bottom image is spectacular as it has the winged puma, Killerwatt, Samhain, What, Sandman, the sleepy ghost from 'Take Two' and so many more!  I was excited to see Sandman and Samhain again as I really enjoyed their featured episodes so far.  It's too bad we don't see anymore of most of these guys.


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