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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Primer on Extreme Ghostbusters

Over on the official Ghostbusters YouTube channel, they've begun doing something wonderful.  Every Saturday, they post an old episode of the classic 1980s cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters.  But that's not all!  They also announced that, every Wednesday, they're going to start posting an episode of the 1990s cartoon, Extreme Ghostbusters.  I see lots of people nerding out about this.  One of my best friends, a huge Ghostbusters fan, even expressed his excitement because he had barely heard of it, let alone watched it.

So that encouraged me to copy this over to my blog.  Back when this pandemic began, one of the projects I began doing with all my extra free time was a series of blog entries called "My Best Remembered History of the Ghostbusters in Animation."  Loving cartoons and loving Ghostbusters, I've googled a lot about the various animated series over the years, and I was going to compile them all into a kinda complete history of Ghostbusters cartoons.  I eventually lost interest and moved on to other things.  But, if you're like my friend, curious about this Extreme Ghostbusters, I figured I'd post what little I wrote on the Extreme Ghostbusters as a primer for you, before you dive in.  

Extreme Ghostbusters Logo

A popular fan theory for a reboot is to have one of the original Ghostbusters mentoring a new team, and that's exactly the direction this 1990s reboot went.  

Another downtick in paranormal activity has caused the Ghostbusters to go their separate ways.  Egon is keeping the dream alive by living in the firehouse, monitoring the Ecto containment unity, and teaching courses on the paranormal over at the local community college.  About the only friends he still has from the old days are Slimer, who still haunts the firehouse, and Janine, who still carries a torch for him and comes by to check on him once in a while.  But when a new spike in ghost activity comes along, Egon recruits a new team from his top students!  Well, his only students, and given the time this was made, they're as 90s as you can get:

Roland - Our level-headed nerd.

Eduardo - Our sarcastic Gen X slacker

Kylie - Our goth GF

Garrett - Our TOTALLY EXTREME! sports dude.  

To give voice to these new Ghostbusters, Sony gathered a phenomenal roster of talent.  Roland was voiced by Alfonso Ribero Jr, fresh from playing Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Eduardo was voiced by Rino Romano, who I believe still holds the distinction of being the only person who's ever voiced both Spider-Man and Batman.  Kylie was Tara Strong, in one of her first big Hollywood roles.  And Garrett was Jason Marsden, currently Disney's official voice of Max Goof, a.k.a Goofy's son.  

The whole show was designed to take place in-continuity with The Real Ghostbusters (indeed, producer Richard Raynis worked on The Real Ghostbusters back in the day), so it just made sense to invite the original cast back to reprise their roles.  The only one who answered the called was Maurice LaMarche, the original voice of Egon.  Of course, LaMarche's most famous role is the Brain on Pinky and the Brain.  In an interview I read with LaMarche years ago, he said that voice acting legend Frank Welker was offered the chance to reprise his role of Slimer, but Welker turned it down, saying the recording sessions interfered with his regular tee time.  So, taking over for Slimer, we had the voice of Ren and Stimpy and Fry from Futurama, Billy West.  Welker, however, did reprise the role of Ray Stanz for their epic 2-part final episode, which also brought back Dave Coulier as Venkman and Buster Jones as Winston for the Real Ghostbusters and the Extreme Ghostbusters to team up.  It was the biggest of many callbacks to The Real Ghostbusters.  

The show didn't last long, but it did have its lasting impact on the greater Ghostbusters universe.  Fans really took a liking to Kylie.  She had, perhaps, the most fleshed-out backstory.  We learn that she was once every stereotype the blonde and bubbly cheerleader, but she went goth following the death of her grandmother.  That led to her fascination with the paranormal, and she just wants to know that her grandma is OK on "the other side."  In the premiere episode, she's the only one of the new team who's in awe of Egon, as, needless to say, the Ghostbusters became legends in the paranormal community.  She's been worked into some of the newer Ghostbusters comics.  For comics continuity, she starts as a regular at Ray's Occult Books before the Ghostbusters hire her on as an intern.  

The show also managed to pick up several awards for representation.  Garrett was in a wheelchair, and many disabled advocates at the time called Garrett one of the most positive representations on television.  The chair didn't dominate his character, and they never did any "very special episodes" detailing how he overcame his disability.  He was just always accepted as one of the crew.  That's not to say it was outright ignored.  The show was on Amazon Prime a couple of years back, and I revisited a few episodes.  In one, Garrett is getting ready to charge into a haunted house, proton packs blazing.  Kylie stops him, urging caution.  Garrett dryly, sarcastically responds, "Yes.  I might hurt myself and never walk again."  

Extreme Ghostbusters premiered in the fall of 1997 and ran for just one season of 40 episodes.  While it wasn't around long, it did make its mark on the Ghostbusters fandom.  

Now head over to the Ghostbusters YouTube channel and start watching!