As the upcoming so-called “all-female” Ghostbusters movie attracts new attention to the franchise, I thought this might be a good moment to take a look at an earlier group of guys who spent their time busting not just ghosts, but all kinds of creatures of the night.
The Ghost Busters was a Saturday Morning Live-action comedy show that featured former F-Troopers Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker alongside Tracy the Gorilla who was “trained” by Bob Burns.
(Just as an aside: If you see a movie or TV show from that time period that featured a particularly good “guy in a gorilla suit”, the chances are most likely that that “guy” was Bob Burns. Burns is one of the original “Monster Kids”, and is renowned as an archivist and historian, but he also made many appearances as a gorilla, most often named either Tracy or Kogar.)
Each episode of The Ghost Busters actually followed a fairly set pattern. Before the opening credits, we would be introduced to that week’s adversaries (which could be as varied as actual ghosts, mummies, werewolves, or, as in the episode featured below Count and Countess Dracula). Then would come the opening, then a short bit in the Busters; office, then the receiving of that week’s assignment from the mysterious “Zero”. In a tribute to the TV show Mission:Impossible, the message would self-destruct five seconds after being played, usually by blowing up in Tracy’s face.
The trio would then proceed to the monster’s hideout (always the same place, a mysterious castle set on the outskirts of town), and general chaos, including usually a number of chase scenes would occur, until finally that week’s adversary would be “Zapped!” into oblivion by Kong’s “Ghost De-Materializer”.
Oh, I don’t think I’ve noted it yet, but since the resident Gorilla’s name was Tracy (and Larry Storch’s character was named Spencer, thus giving us Spencer and Tracy) it only made sense (?) that Tucker’s character would be named “Kong”.
Just a couple of other notes: Once it became clear that the 1984 Ghostbusters movie was a huge hit, the series was revived as an animated series in 1986. And, since this show actually had a prior claim to the name (Columbia did pay Filmation, the company behind this series a licensing fee to use the name for their film), when it came time for an animated series based on the movie to be made, that series billed itself as The Real Ghostbusters.
I’ll leave it to you to argue amongst yourselves as to which title is actually more appropriate to which series.
Anyway, here, for your enjoyment, is episode 10, “The Vampire’s Apprentice”:
Oh, and just for the record, none of these should be confused with this much earlier film: