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The Real Ghostbusters: "Look Homeward, Ray"

Season 1 Episodes 9
Airdate: November 8, 1986

The Real Ghostbusters was the Saturday morning cartoon adaption of the Ghostbusters movies and ran from 1986 to 1991. This was my favorite show as a wee tot; before I got into Ninja Turtles, before my family had cable, this was my first pop culture obsession. I collected the toys and drank Ecto-Cooler like an addict. Real Ghostbusters toys were awesome. I had the firehouse playset which, in addition to being cooler than any dollhouse, was used as a night stand while I was high school and college.

I didn't even know about the movies at this point in my life. The first time I learned that there was a Ghostbusters movie was from an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks where the chipmunks thought there was a ghost in their house. I think when I got a little older and I finally saw the movie, I was kind of confused by how little it matched up to the cartoon. Slimer wasn't their friend and the characters all looked different. The real life Egon didn't have his hair in a yellow swirl. Ridiculous.

The reason I wanted to review this episode is because I found it on one of the free on-demand cable channels a year ago. I watched it on a HDTV which stretched the episode out into widescreen even though the cartoon was, of course, not made to be seen in widescreen. It made Ray look really fat.

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Ray (Dan Aykroyd's character) is boarding a train. Before he goes, the other Ghostbusters give him a stack of books and a film reel highlighting his ghostbusting career along with his official Ghostbusters branded briefcase. Ray is going to be the Grand Marshall in his hometown's parade. Slimer flies by. Slimer is their ghost pet. He was a minor character in the movies but cartoons always need a wacky non-human mascot who eats a lot of food. Slimer gives Ray a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man toy, and the Ghostbusters logo has suddenly disappeared from Ray's briefcase. It must be a ghost!

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A fair is held the day before the parade. Ray is up on stage, receiving honors from the Jewish mayor. A woman named Eileen jumps on stage. She was Ray's high school crush and Ray is smitten to see her again. Nowadays, he would have creeped her on Facebook to see if she was still single and then send her awkward, sexually suggestive private messages.

A tall red-haired man greets Ray next. He went to school with Ray too and describes himself as a loser who writes for Saturday Night Live. Hey, it's Conan O'Brien!

People need to stop jumping on the stage to talk to Ray. It's rude, it interrupts the ceremony, and there will be plenty of time to speak to him during the hillbilly corn roast.

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Eileen tells them that she has inherited a mansion that is haunted. In rea life when someone thinks a house is haunted, they are just being a superstitious ninny, but in the Ghostbusters world, you have to take that seriously because there are ghosts everywhere. Ray rips open his trench coat and we see his Ghostbusters uniform is underneath. He wears his dumb jump suit everywhere. That had to make him hot. God bless him though, he's the first person to ever rip open a trench coat and not be naked underneath. Ray says he will rid the house of ghosts.

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The house is inhabited by two small, frail ghosts who wear glasses. Eye problems effect ghosts too, it seems. They are worried that Ray will kick them out of their crappy, run down home.

You know, it's weird, but when I watched this show as a little kid, I used to tell myself that the ghosts were just monsters. At the time, I understood (or at least was beginning to understand) that ghosts were the spirits of dead people. However, I had a problem with thinking that the Ghostbusters, the good guys, were fighting people who used to be alive.

It was easy to think that with most ghosts on this show. But these ghosts clearly appear to be an middle-aged to elderly couple from some time between 1945 to 1980. They must be like the deceased couple in Beetlejuice who didn't want living people to move into their home either, but were too confused to be scary. They look so helpless. It's sad to think that they are going to spend eternity trapped in that dimension contained in the Ghostbusters' ghost storage unit.

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Ray leads the townsfolk to the house. He is going to impress them with his ghostbusting skills. But then Conan O'Brien reads some Pig Latin from a book. He casts a spell that turns the small ghosts into giants. They scare everyone and trash the fair. That's rude. You know how some people can become really cranky in their old age? I suppose being a ghost would make a person a hundred times more ornery.

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Ray tries to stop them, but his ghostbusting weapon, his proton pack, has no effect on them. One of the ghost stuffs Ray into a trash can before they both return to the house and their normal size.

The townsfolk blame Ray for messing up their fair. The town spent all its money on the parade. Conan O'Brien steps in and offers to pay for the damage and is made the new Grand Marshall. That's just like Conan O'Brien, he has to pay people to like him.

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Ray returns to the Ghostbusters' firehouse headquarters in disgrace. "Ray's got problems," says Winston (the black guy). "We knew that back in college," quips Peter (Bill Murray's character). Peter delivers 99% of jokes in this show. Which makes it just like the movie.

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Ray needs to restore his honor, so returns to the hanuted house in the middle of the night. The other Ghostbusters notice he is gone because all four of them share one bedroom. Come on, they are grown men. What do they do if one of them has a woman? Is there a special room set aside for that? Or do the other three Ghostbusters wait around in the lobby downstairs like in college?

The other Ghostbusters drive after Ray. They left the lights on in their firehouse. How high are their electric bills already when you include that ghost containment unit that can never be turned off? You'd never see a cartoon today where the characters are so forgetful about saving energy. In fact, you'd have a scene where one character smugly reminds another to turn off the lights and we see a close up of his hand flip the light switch off.

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Ray makes his way to the house. Eileen spots him with a flashlight. She is also out there. What's really weird is that Conan O'Brien is hiding in the brush with his spell book. How did he know Ray would be here? What is everyone doing in the woods at night? Conan O'Brien is sick.

Ray goes back into the house to confront the ghosts. Conan's spell makes them big again and they kick Ray's ass.

The other Ghostbusters arrive just as the ghosts shrink. They blast the ghosts and put them into the traps.

Wow, what a fate for this poor couple. Ghostbusters presents such a classical Greek view of the afterlife: there is no reward at the end, it's just bleak. You have to feel sorry for these ghosts. I imagine as living humans, they probably lived a good life, did everything right like they were told to. The husband probably went into the Service after high school, then worked a job at a factory for the next thirty years. He'd come home from a long day of that, watch Johnny Carson, go to bed and do it all over again the next morning. The wife was probably a housewife, spent every day taking care of the home. They never caused any trouble, they always obeyed the law and paid their taxes. May have raised a couple of kids who grew up and moved away. Then they retired to this house. And they attended a small town church every Sunday where they were told that their hard work and good deeds would be rewarded with in paradise in heavan.

Then they die. There's no paradise. No heaven. Their ghosts, stuck in their old house and because they can't maintain it, it slowly decays. The living fear them so they suffer from loneliness. They're reduces to being thought of as pests and one day some men come into their home, zap them with lasers and trap them in a metal box. They spend the rest of their existence inside that containment chamber in the firehouse.

There was an episode of this show where Slimmer traveled inside the containment chamber. We saw that led to this other dimension where all the ghosts that had been captured just floated around in a void of nothingness as shadows of who they once were. The Ghostbusters' containment chamber is the gateway to Hades.

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Ray doesn't understand how he wasn't able to stop the ghosts, so he quits the Ghostbusters and takes a job at Conan O'Brien's shoe store. Conan makes Ray wear a pink bunny suit to humiliate him. Also, Conan loves pink bunnies. Conan O'Brien wants to dress in a teddy bear costume and play the tickle game.

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The other Ghostbusters want to restore Ray's confidence and bring him back to the team. Their plan is to have Slimer dress as a different ghost and let Ray zap him. The plan looks like it will work until Slimer busts out of his costume to devour the treats in an Ize Cleem truck. Yes, "ize cleem". They can't legally call it ice cream. You don't want to know what it's made out of.

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Ray is not having success at a shoe bunny. A woman complains that the high-heels he brings her are too high. Ray breaks the stiletto off and says she can now use them as flats. Actually, he just made the shoes unwalkable. Ray is such a man.

Eileen stops by to see him and Ray goes to the backroom to get more shoes. There, he finds a strange book. Oh no, Conan O'Brien is one of those Mormons. Actually, it's the spellbook Conan used to make the ghosts grow. He also uses it on himself. You see, Conan O'Brien is really one foot tall, but uses magic to appear as the gawky seven foot tall talk show host America has become familiar with. He also has the mentality of a toddler and wears diapers.

You'll probably be confused by this review if you are not familiar with the mythology regarding Conan O'Brien I have created on this website. Consider it a reward for our long time readers.

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The parade is underway. I think this episode takes place in a 24 hour period, even though Ray would have traveled to his hometown, returned to New York City, and then went back to his hometown in a day. A Ray balloon makes its way to much boos. Man, tough town.

Because Conan O'Brien can't handle magic, the energy from his spells causes a giant, fire-breathing, winged puma to appear and wreak havoc on the town. Conan tries to cast a spell to ward it off, but that doesn't work and Conan poops himself in fright. That isn't unusual, Conan O'Brien poops himself everyday. That's why he wears a diaper!

The Ghostbusters proton packs don't effect this monster. Ray realizes it is because the magic creates negative energy and the proton packs only work against positive energy. Oh...Ray adjusts his proton pack but the monster flees into the sky.

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The Ghostbusters need to take to the air to pursue the monster. They take a giant shoe model and hook it up to the Ray balloon to create a blimp. That's not the crazy part. The crazy part is that while Egon and Ray are safely tucked in the insole, Winston sits on the laces and Peter stands on the rim. How Winston and Peter don't fall to their death, I don't know.

It would be a great irony if one of the Ghostbusters died while trying to apprehend a ghost, then came back as a ghost himself and had to be trapped by the Ghostbusters, sharing the same fate for all eternity as the ghosts he captured as a living being. But the Ghostbusters are able to capture the puma monster and safely land in a tree.

You know, one of the Ghostbusters toys I had was a little helicopter one of the action figure could fit in. I think it was called the Ecto-II. I don't know if the helicopter ever made an appearance on the show. I would have been happier owning a blimp shoe.

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Ray is hailed as a "hometown hero" once again and Conan O'Brien runs away to Los Angelas in disgrace and starts writing for The Simpsons. After the way he was treated, if I were Ray, I'd be like 'Fuck this hick town. Fuck you all. Go fuck your sisters you inbred rednecks. I'm going back to New York City!' But Ray seems like a lonely person. He'll probably never meet a woman. He needs the attention. Ghostbusting is really all he's got.

In honor of Ray, the town has made a paper mache model of the puma monster. Ray freaks out and blasts it with his proton pack.

Oh, that's our Ray!

How soon after trapping the monster was that float unveiled? Paper mache has to be left alone overnight to dry, correct? Were the Ghostbusters sleeping over in Eileen's formerly haunted house? That place is really run down and I imagine the utilities are turned off. Maybe Eileen offered to let them stay in her primary home. She was like 'Why don't you boys stay at my place. Two of you can share my guest room and my couch folds out.' Then she suggestively looked at Ray and told him, 'And you can share my room.' wink. But Ray was all, 'No way, man. No way! My bros and I sleep in the same room or no deal. That's how we roll!'

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The ending credits are a hoot. The four Ghostbusters are given a parade through the city. But they aren't driven in a car or on top of a float. They have to walk through the street on foot. That's more like a punishment. Cheap bastards at city hall.