I'm a huge fan of 80s cartoons, and I've been waiting a long time to see the Real Ghostbusters get some decent releases on DVD. In the past it's been available overseas and on odd single disc releases that didn't do the series any justice. I was a pretty big fan of this show when it originally aired from 1986-91, being constantly amazed by the amazing monster, ghost, and creature designs. The animation and voice talent always seemed pretty top notch as well. The complete series is finally available and I have to say that I'm thrilled, though a bit disappointed.
I've been expecting a lot from this set as it was touted as having some lavish production values what with the firehouse packaging, the five steel-book cases, and over 12 hours of bonus features. The series is spread out over 24 discs (with an included 25th disc with additional bonus features like the series pitch video.) So what's the verdict?
Well, I'll start with the packaging. I have to admit that the firehouse packaging, with a couple of Lenticular inserts, is rather fetching. It's made from sturdy cardboard and fits in pretty well with other DVD's on the shelf (not something you can usually do with this sort of box.) My one gripe with this outer packaging is that it's designed to open sort of like a stick of deodorant, cut in the middle horizontally with the top half lifting up to expose the five steel-book volumes sitting inside the bottom half. My problem with this is that because of the weight of the set and because it opens like this you have to grab the set from the bottom only. I forgot once while I was holding it and the bottom slipped out with all the cases and cashed to the floor ripping the bottom portion of the outer packaging. As for the steel-books on the individual volumes, they're pretty darn breath taking. The artwork is great and the DVDs fit nice and sturdy inside. The 25th disc unfortunately doesn't fit in any of these cases, it's instead housed in a separate cardstock sleeve.
As for the DVDs themselves it's kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it's awesome to finally have access to the entire series, and the quality of the writing and the design of the show holds up pretty darn well. The series takes a bit of a dip toward the third volume, around the time that Lorenzo Music, Laura Summer, and Arsenio Hall left the series (as well as J.M. Straczynski), but there are still series highlights throughout the run. The actual video quality leaves a bit to be desired though. Most episodes are probably about a 4 out of 5 in terms of quality but there are enough 3's that it makes me wonder if Time Life/Sony was spending more time on the flashy packaging than making the show look nice again.
As far as the special features go, this is also a mixed bag. The stuff produced by Andy Mangels is great, like the making of and interview documentaries, as is some of the archive footage (like the original pitch/pilot episode), but the episode introductions are a waste of time and space on the DVDs (containing very little trivia, mostly just a bunch of smiling faces stating the episode number or title.) Similarly useless is the ability to play about a third of the episodes without dialogue. I never understood this as being useful or entertaining.
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About the reviewer
Shawn Robare (smurfwreck)
I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, and buy a lot of useless nostalgia crap. I run Brandedinthe80s.com, am a co-organizer of the Up! Fair (upfair.org), and am one of the co-hosts … more
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Housed in a collectible Ghostbuster's firehouse keepcase (complete with lenticular holograms of Slimer and the Ghostbusters logo) are five Amaray (plastic) DVD cases. Each DVD case comprises one volume of the show, with five discs in each, except for Volume 5, which has four discs. Also encased in the firehouse keepcase is a separate disc of bonus material and a companion booklet complete with an introduction, episode descriptions, special features descriptions, and bonus trivia.