SATURDAY MORNING SHOCKERS: The Ghost Busters!

Growing up, like every other kid, the weekends were times to look forward to and cherish. There were Saturday morning cartoons, pro-wrestling and weekend monster movie shows to look forward to. Before cable and stations like the Cartoon Network, there were only certain times we could enjoy cartoons and shows geared towards us kids. Sure we could watch UHF stations during the afternoon after school but it was Saturday mornings, on the three major networks, that we looked forward to the most. In addition to the latest offerings of animated bliss, we were also treated to some live action fare, usually thanks to Sid & Marty Krofft. Shows like LAND OF THE LOST, DR. SHRINKER and SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS stand out to many of today’s monster kids. On occasion though, there were some live action offerings outside of the Sid & Marty Krofft shows, that also stand out as fun and memorable. 1975 was one year that had one of these shows, called THE GHOST BUSTERS.

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This show follows the exploits of bumbling ghost detectives Spenser (Larry Storch and spelled Spencer in the opening credits and yet Spenser on the door of their office), Kong (Forrest Tucker) and Tracy the Gorilla (Bob Burns) as they try to rid the world of the supernatural entities that they encounter. This show is typical 70’s fare and though still fun to watch, is very dated. The comedy shtick would just not be considered funny by today’s audience and a show like this today just would not do that well (but at the same time, this show only ran for 15 episodes when it was originally on). The show features familiar sight gags of the time and has one of those nagging laugh tracks to tell you when something funny is supposed to be happening (I can’t imagine having the job of fake laughing for these laugh tracks). The show also featured a pretty catching theme song, as was the norm for many live action shows of the time.

Each show starts with the team getting their weekly assignment at a local convenience store from an unseen Mr. Zero. Each recorded message is hidden in an item from the store and it always self-destructs in 5 seconds. The highlight of this show is definitely Tracy the Gorilla, played by the loveable Bob Burns. He has more character than Spenser and Kong combined and is the real saving grace of this show. The weekly villains usually featured great cameos such as Bernie Kopell, Billy Barty and Ted Knight.

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The sets and lighting on this show are actually really good and very imaginative at times. It is nice to see that a show with an obvious limited budget, make the most of it with their sets. Popular monster characters also appear in this show regularly like the Mummy, Count Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and others. The complete series was released on DVD in 2007 but has since been discontinued and is only available on the collectors’ market. Despite its shortcomings, it is still worth checking out, especially if you grew up during the 70’s.

~David Albaugh

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