Monday, January 21, 2013

Venkman’s Ghost Repellers

Episode 22
A visual commentary is provided with this episode that let’s Richard Mueller share his thoughts on it along with the series in general.  It’s not to be missed by fans of this show and it comes on the DVD set released by Timelife.  It’s very interesting to learn that Mueller wrote about these characters before this series even came to be by means of a novel based on the movie Ghostbusters.  He is the one who fleshes out characters like Aunt Lois and introduced in this episode Peter Venkman’s conniving father.  He began belief in the supernatural in college when his dormitory was believed to be haunted so a basis for writing material on such events is genuine.  He worked in the coast guard and incorporated that into this particular episode seamlessly as well.  All in all I’m impressed thus far with Mueller’s writing in this series and his confession that The Real Ghostbusters was his favorite job he had.  If you’re further interested in the behind the scenes material I’d highly recommend watching the visual commentary for this episode.

A ship is alone in the Atlantic Ocean when suddenly the New Jersey Parallelogram appears in front of them.  Unable to alter course, the ship collides with it and vanishes.  The idea of this Parallelogram is amazing and fits right into the world of the Real Ghostbusters.  Who else could battle against something so supernatural?

Proton pack? Try a ghost-repeller!
At the firehouse Egon and Ray are listening in on recent phenomena of disappearing ships on the radio.  Ray as usual is very excited to go there and investigate but Peter puts that notion to rest, “Ray who lives there?”  “No one, it’s in the ocean.” Ray exclaims.  “Then who’s going to pay us?” Peter ends it.  Classic Peter behavior but it makes sense, why do it for free?  Janine waltzes in with a red poncho on and informs the guys who she got it from, Peter’s father.  His father even went to the trouble of labeling Peter as the chief Ghostbuster on the tag.  Peter is not happy about this turn of events.  Egon points out that it’s not legal to suggest a poncho can repel ghosts, especially with Peter’s name on it.  Peter adds that his father is a notorious con man.  He puts the theory to the test as Slimer bull rushes the poncho while Peter stands to the side like a matador.  “Useless it won’t even stop Slimer!”  Peter says as he slams the poncho to the ground.  I’m surprised Slimer didn’t slime Peter in the process, it seemed like an obvious thing to do considering the shows history of overplaying that gag, I’m glad they didn’t.

Why does this seem to explain a lot?
Enter Peter’s father, an excellent looking character indeed.  The two get into it right away with his father calmly blowing off the poncho talk with smooth lines.  Peter talking about the ponchos, “They don’t repel ghosts!”  His father’s sly response, “And they don’t attract them either, what’s the big deal?”  After some brief chatter of what’s legal and what’s not his father claims there aren’t any laws about ghosts.  He offers to cut them in on the ponchos but of course Peter shoots it down.  He tries to get him to stop selling them but its left unclear if that will happen.  As he leaves Peter feels some sorrow for his old man, “He’s a not a bad guy.  He just can’t make an honest buck.”  The character development for Peter in particular shines through in this episode.  Let’s not leave out his physique body as well, where did that come from?

Incredible technique and animation to boot!
It’s unclear how much time passes but the Ghostbusters are at the docks busting some well drawn and animated ghosts.  A dash of theme music is put in for good measure and it makes for a magnificent 30 seconds of ghostbusting.  As they head out they meet a trucker looking for a ship headed toward the, gulp, Parallelogram.  As he drives off, after the guys point to the ship just across the port, Egon wonders who would want to go there.  Ray says, “I would.”  Winston adds, “Yeah I figured you would.”  Ray gives a big smile.  Meanwhile Peter’s father is selling the expedition his latest hot commodity, ghost repelling ponchos of course.  Incredible odds the Ghostbusters having a call at the next dock wouldn’t you say?  It would be certain they need those ponchos now!  I ain’t afraid of no ghost with my poncho.  It figures there are people out there who buy those and that part of the story I believe with no doubt.  Needless to say the expedition gets caught in the Parallelogram, right who would’ve guessed.  They should have known that two for the price of one was too good a bargain!

"Ah nuts." -Egon
Back at the firehouse sometime in the near future a member of the coast guard asks the Ghostbusters to help locate a ship.  He goes on to state he’ll pay any reasonable fee, Ray is so excited he’s clapping his hands.  He’s probably thinking the perfect situation has presented itself to go investigate the Parallelogram; we’ll get paid so Peter has to say yes!  Peter still refuses nonetheless until the coast guard man says, “Ghost repellers.”  Peter decides to check it out thinking his father is going to get him into trouble yet.  Peter’s father hears of the news on TV and feels guilty so he heads out to the ocean in a very small boat.  Admirable but foolish I’d say.  The Ghostbusters as well are headed out on a bigger ship in command of the coast guard.  They stumble upon the Parallelogram and vanish as well, thus setting up the rescue mission of the expedition.

After going through a nifty dimensional portal they arrive in place comprised solely of ectoplasm.  Egon sets the PKE meter to hone in on reality instead of ghost frequency.  It’s a neat concept and should aid well in finding the lost expedition.  I love it when the captain says the boat is running fine considering there isn’t any water underneath them.  The helmsman is steering with all his might in the meantime, is it necessary if you can’t steer anyway?  Aren’t they aimlessly floating along?  Perhaps they can steer but it’s still pretty funny to watch.  Ray picks up a signal but Egon claims it’s too small to be the liner and it must be something else.  They ignore that reading and continue.  What if someone else is trapped in this place though?  Sorry the Ghostbusters only rescue or investigate what they get paid for, true heroes.  It’s not like Peter’s father was nearby.  The ghosts chasing his father sound like the subway ghost trains from the episode Knock, Knock.  His father goes right by the expedition ship and says, “Hey how do you steer in this stuff.”  I’d say that cements my point of the helmsman going steer happy at the wheel.  He drifts away into the unknown, “I don’t think I’ll be able to con my way out of this.”  First you have to admit you have a problem before you can take the next step to correct it.

Quit giving us the 'bug eyes' Winston
The cement theory of steering takes another ‘turn’.  A torpedo is set directly at the Ghostbusters ship and they maneuver enough to avoid it thus proving you can steer.  Perhaps there are steering patches in this dimension like we have signal patches for our cell phones here on earth?  OK, I’ll stop on my steering theory, I’ve gone too far!  I just wanted to make you think; hope you didn’t get a headache.  Egon actually explains it to us as nothing can collide with each other thus getting the name Parallelogram in essence.  It’s something I never picked up on as a kid and the only cool part I liked about this episode was the effects of the Parallelogram gate in the ocean.  However it’s a crumbled up Parallelogram so the lines aren’t necessarily straight.  You with me?

I guess this is how you con your way out?
They find the expedition ship and tow it behind them.  The captain asks, “How much longer?”  I love that question, it reminds me of the kid in the backseat asking if we are there yet.  Dude, I mean captain, we are in an unknown dimension for the most part and are lucky to even be alive, we’ll get there when we get there.  Egon leads them out and the coast guard is thanked for their service, nice.  They also discover “Dr. Venkman’s” small boat alongside them, referring to Peter’s father of course.  Peter thinks a moment before they decide to go back in after him.  It’s subtle but it’s great to see him struggle with the mere idea of saving his father from the Parallelogram.  Winston offers his help, “Peter we’ll find him.”  Peter responds with, “I ought to leave him here it’s the perfect place for him nothing here is what it seems either.”  What a burn, his father will need a bandage after that one.  They eventually go into a swirling portal that will lead them to Peter’s father as Ray shouts, “We’re all going to die!”  He really wanted to be here though, lighten up Ray and enjoy what’s left of your life.

Part of him wants to blast his father no doubt.
The rescue scene is amazing as Peter’s father is desperately trying to bat away ghosts with an oar.  The theme music starts up that takes the moment to another level as Peter’s father says, “Boys.”  He is extremely relieved to see the guys blasting the ghosts away from him.  It’s merely one word but it represents the character very well.  Peter and Ray have on the rubber insulating gloves that makes any Ghostbuster fan instantly drool upon seeing.  No ghosts get trapped but why should they?  Leave them in this forsaken dimension!  As they head to the boat Peter asks his dad, “What do you have to say for yourself?”  “Thanks for saving the boat; I had to put a deposit on it.”  Can it end any better than that?  Possibly as Ray states, “We’re the only guys to destroy a wonder of the unnatural world.”  Referring of course to the chaos brought down upon the dome when they blasted everywhere in saving Peter’s father.

The ending has a postcard sent to the firehouse as Peter’s learns his father is selling ice boxes to Eskimos.  It ends with Peter causing Ray to laugh wildly as the camera zooms away from the firehouse.  What occurred during that moment is beyond me.

The animation in the episode was amazing and was done by a Japanese company at least for this particular one.  You could tell as it had unique animation throughout that isn’t often seen in the series.  It goes down as one of the best I’ve seen yet but not quite the top.
Rating: 10 of 10

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