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The Real Ghostbusters Volumes 1 to 5 Sony 2016 DVD Review

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Aug. 30, 2016 at 10:32 PM , Categories: Real Ghostbusters, Home Video
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You may recall that TimeLife released The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection DVD box set back in 2008. This is NOT a review of that set. The set that I am reviewing today does NOT contain the complete series, nor is it being advertised as such. In fact, this set is just a collection of the individual volumes that are also sold separately.



PACKAGING

We have four standard-size DVD cases, each containing one disc, slipped inside an outer paperboard box. The outer box is a mix and match of elements from the individual volume artwork. The text on the back is the same generic description, though I am thrilled that all of the main voice cast is noted. This was something that was not done when Sony released three individual DVDs back in 2006 (though the press release for those DVDs mistakenly promoted Dave Coulier, who didn't appear in any episodes).
The Ghostbusters are back on the streets of New York City, fighting ghouls, goblins and ghosts of all shapes and sizes! Alongside friendly spectral accomplice Slimer, join your favorite team in their classic animated adventures, battling the supernatural and forces of evil!

Includes episodes featuring the voices of Arsenio Hall, Maurice LaMarche, Lorenzo Music, Laura Summer and Frank Welker.
On the front of both the outer box, and the individual volumes, it says "The Real Ghostbusters: The Animated Series". As opposed to the live-action Real Ghostbusters series?!? This ain't Filmation, where one needs to differentiate between live and animated, and I think the drawings on the box (instead of photographs) will indicate that it's an animated series.

Speaking of the drawings... The artwork used on each cover was originally created for the TimeLife DVDs by Emiliano Santalucia & Nathan Baertsch of MVCreations, both of whom go uncredited here (and presumably for the rest of time when Sony reuses this artwork ad infinitum), but placed against different backgrounds. As the design consultant on the TimeLife set, I had creative input on the design of that artwork, and it gives me mixed emotions to see it used here - especially because Sony's haphazard use of the artwork created an interesting anomaly. The artwork on Volume 5 depicts the latter-season Janine with the Bob hairdo, as it was originally created for a volume that contain the latter-season episodes, but here it's used on a volume that contains all season 1 syndicated episodes - which that Janine does not appear in. Looks like Sony wasn't paying attention when they aped that artwork.

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(Sony DVD on the left, TimeLife DVD on the right)

The back of each volume contains the clip art of Slimer or one of the guys from one of the covers, with the firehouse background (from TimeLife's volume 1), the generic description of the series noted above, a little episode-specific description, a list of episodes contained therein, and a few screenshots from the episodes on that volume. Astute fans will notice a shot of Blue Slimer from "Adventures in Slime and Space" on the back of Volume 2, even though that episode is missing.

Disc artwork is non-existent. If you didn't already know that this was a budget-release intended for the casual fans, the "Plain Jane" discs would have clued you in real quick.

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Floating around loose in the box set box is a dual-sided ad for Activision's new video games: console on one side, and Slime City mobile on the other. Aside from the GameStop display (which has since been taken down) and in-store video, this has been the only non-internet promotion I have seen for either game. So sad.

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DISC CONTENT

Now let's put the discs in and check out what's on them...

The first thing you'll see is the still image main menu. To be fair, Sony had some generic still menus in their 2006 DVDs, so I wasn't expecting much here. I knew they wouldn't have put forth the same effort as TimeLife, by creating some awesome motion menus, and that's okay. The menu gets the job done, with options for Play All Episodes, Episode Selections, and Subtitles.

While Sony's 2006 DVDs used no audio at all in the menus, these DVDs use a small piece of music...but it's not the one you're expecting. Instead of Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters", or the show's rendition of it, we're treated to some generic non-Ghostbusters-sounding piece of music that was pulled from some stock music library. I was going to include a video, but I realized that an MP3 and still image would have the same effect.


Maybe it's just me, but this sounds like some generic WCW wrestler theme music from the 1990s. For whatever reason, the long-forgotten Road Block, and the tag team Public Enemy, came instantly to mind. Just to see if it would work, I paired the music with each of their entrances.


(View on Critical Commons)
(click Fullscreen button in lower right corner, to left of "CC", to view better)

Yeah, it kinda works, just as I suspected. Anyway... let's a take a look at the episodes in each volume:

EPISODES

VOLUME 1
01. Ghosts 'R Us (23:29) (orig voices)
02. Killerwatt (23:40)
03. Mrs. Roger's Neighborhood (23:41) (orig voices)
04. Troll Bridge (23:41) (orig voices)
05. The Boogieman Cometh (23:41) (orig voices)
06. Mr. Sandman, Dream Me A Dream (23:40) (orig voices)
07. When Halloween Was Forever (23:41)
08. Look Homeward, Ray (23:41)
09. Take Two (23:40)
10. Citizen Ghost (23:41)
11. Janine's Genie (23:41)
12. X-Mas Marks the Spot (23:41)

VOLUME 2
01. Knock, Knock (21:53) (series music)
02. Station Identification (21:52)
03. Play Them Ragtime Boos (21:52)
04. Sea Fright (21:52)
05. The Spirit of Aunt Lois (21:52)
06. Cry Uncle (21:51)
07. Night Game (21:51)
08. Venkman's Ghost Repellers (21:53) (series music)
09. The Old College Spirit (21:50)
10. Ain't NASA-Sarily So (21:52)
11. Who're You Calling Two-Dimensional? (21:50)
12. A Fright at the Opera (21:51) (series music) (NOT IN TIMELIFE SET)

VOLUME 3
01. Doctor Doctor (21:50)
02. Ghost Busted (21:51)
03. Beneath These Streets (21:53)
04. Boo-Dunit (21:51)
05. Chicken, He Clucked (21:52)
06. Ragnarok and Roll (21:51)
07. Don't Forget the Motor City (21:52)
08. Banshee Bake a Cherry Pie? (21:51)
09. Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Ghost? (21:53)
10. Hanging By A Thread (21:51)
11. You Can't Take It With You (21:52)

VOLUME 4
01. No One Comes To Lupusville (21:52)
02. Drool, the Dog Faced Goblin (21:53)
03. The Man Who Never Reached Home (21:53)
04. The Collect Call of Cathulhu (21:53)
05. Bustman's Holiday (21:52)
06. The Headless Motorcyclist (21:52)
07. The Thing in Mrs. Faversham's Attic (21:53)
08. Egon on the Rampage (21:53)
09. Lights! Camera! Haunting! (21:52)
10. The Bird of Kildarby (21:53) (tahiti music)
11. Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster (21:53)

VOLUME 5
01. Apocalypse -- What, NOW? (21:52)
02. Lost and Foundry (21:53)
03. Hard Knight's Day (21:53)
04. Cold Cash and Hot Water (21:53)
05. The Scaring of the Green (21:53)
06. They Call Me MISTER Slimer (21:53)
07. Last Train to Oblivion (21:53)
08. Masquerade (21:53)
09. Janine's Day Off (21:53)
10. The Ghostbusters in Paris (21:53)
11. The Devil in the Deep (21:53)
12. Ghostfight at the O.K. Corral (21:53)

COMPRESSION

As you can see, each volume contains 11 or 12 episodes crammed onto a single disc. This goes against the unwritten major studio "norm" of 8 half-hour episodes (or 4 hour-long episodes) per dual-layer disc. Usually a budget company like Mill Creek or Echo Bridge would cram so much into so little space, not a major studio like Sony. Heck, Mill Creek's "norm" is usually 10 episodes. (Fun Fact: Mill Creek has a distribution deal with Sony, so I'm kinda surprised they were not given this set since it's done in a budget manner. For years, I've been pushing for Mill Creek to release Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series, but Sony doesn't seem to want to give it to them.)

As expected from putting 3 to 4 more episodes in the same amount of space, each episode is compressed a little more than on the TimeLife discs. I did a direct MPEG2 rip/extraction of the first episode, and the file sizes prove that more compression was used:

GHOSTS R US (MPEG2 RIP)
TimeLife - 893 Mb
Sony - 635 Mb

Both have the same video and audio contents (aside from the missing title card and bumpers in the Sony file), so they are otherwise nearly the same length, and yet the Sony file is compressed to be 260 Mb smaller. All episodes have, roughly, these same file sizes.

MISSING TITLE CARDS

Yes, ALL episodes are missing their title cards/screens. The episode title and writer credits are now superimposed over the end of the show opening using subtitles that can't be turned off. Not only is this sacrilege to us purists, but it means that the writers are getting screwed out of their proper credit duration, as the original title cards were of a slightly longer length than the credits being shown here. This also means that "Killerwatt" is still without its title card. (It was accidentally edited out of the TimeLife set, though it was present in the master used and even included in the Title Card Gallery on the bonus disc.)

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I can not think of a logical or legal reason to remove the title cards. If it was to save space, then why not remove the show opening instead? It's MUCH longer and is the same thing on every episode.

All episode close with the original DiC logo, but the original Columbia Pictures Television logo has been replaced with the new Sony Pictures Television logo, as on the TimeLife set.

PICTURE QUALITY

Although more compression was used, picture quality is nearly identical to the TimeLife set, as far as I can see from doing some quick comparisons between some shots in the opening scene of "Ghosts R Us". The Sony DVD is a tad bit darker, and a few very fine details seem to be lost (like in the pavement below the Ecto-1 seen below), but you wouldn't notice this unless you looked at frames side-by-side. Maybe it looks better or worse later on, or in other episodes. I don't have the time to go over 50+ episodes, so if you spot something, feel free to post a comment below. Otherwise, I'd say that they look nearly identical.

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(Sony on top, TimeLife on bottom) (click to enlarge for actual size)

ALTERNATE EPISODES

Longtime fans know that several episodes have alternate versions, which usually involves a different voice cast dubbed in, or different music used in some scenes. All episodes in this set use the original Lorenzo Music/Laura Summer audio tracks. The redubbed Dave Coulier/Kath Soucie tracks are not present. I really wish the redubbed tracks would have been included on the TimeLife set (or even this one) for completeness.

In regards to the alternate music:

• "Knock, Knock" and "Venkman's Ghost Repellers" are the Series Music versions, just as in the TimeLife set.

• "A Fright at the Opera" is the Series Music version, NOT like the TimeLife set, which uses the Tahiti Music version. NOTE: This is the first, and only, time the Series Music version has been released on home video!

• "The Bird of Kildarby" is the Tahiti Music version, just as in the TimeLife set.

TIMELIFE SET COMPARISON

In addition to what I mentioned above regarding missing title cards and alternate episodes...

• This set includes subtitles in English, English SDH, and French (audio is English only). The TimeLife set does not have any subtitles or closed captions at all.

• This set does NOT have any bonus features at all! While Sony may have been precluded from using the featurettes, visual commentaries, and introductions from the TimeLife set - because they're owned by TimeLife - I see no reason why they couldn't have included the Promo Pilot, scripts, artwork and other items that Sony owns. Hell, they would have increased their sales if they included the Promo Pilot alone, as that was exclusive to the TimeLife box set Bonus Disc, so not everyone owns a copy. (Some people opted to buy the individual TimeLife volumes, but they stopped releasing them after Volume 3.)

• This set is missing two episodes: "Slimer, Come Home" (would have been on Volume 1) and "Adventures in Slime and Space" (would have been on Volume 2). Otherwise, these five volumes contain almost all episodes from TimeLife's Volumes 1 & 2. "Ghostbuster of the Year" is on Sony's Volume 6, due out on September 6th,

• All of the syndicated episodes (Vol 2 and upwards) are under 22 minutes each, making them roughly 35 seconds shorter than on the TimeLife set. Even with commercial bumpers removed, this seems excessively shorter. Anyone want to compare one episode (such as "Knock Knock") to see if there's any reason for the drastic difference in runtimes?

• Sony messed up on a few of the chapter markings. Usually they are placed after the show opening, mid-episode commercial break, and before the end credits; just like in the TimeLife set. However, for two episodes, the mid-chapter mark has been incorrectly placed in the middle of a scene.
     - "Janine's Genie" (vol 1) - placed at 12:48, instead of a few seconds earlier at 12:28.
     - "Chicken, He Clucked" (vol 3) - placed at 12:36, instead of a few seconds earlier at 12:25.

FINAL THOUGHTS

At this point, you may be thinking, "These DVDs are missing episodes, have no bonus features, are missing the title cards and commercial bumpers, and are more compressed than the TimeLife set; why should I buy it?" That's a fair question. As I purist, who owns the TimeLife set (because I worked on it), I could easily crap all over these discs for that very reason. To be fair, if you have SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS to give to aftermarket sellers on Amazon or eBay, then go ahead a buy a copy of the out-of-print TimeLife Complete Collection set. I would definitely recommend that set over this set any day. You could also buy the three individual TimeLife volumes - Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3 - and you'll have everything included here, and then some.

That said, there is merit to owning this set, and to easily point that out...

WHO IS SET THIS FOR:
• Anyone who does NOT own the TimeLife set, wants a bunch of episodes for a fairly cheap price, and who doesn't mind missing title cards/unnecessary title screen alterations and a little extra image compression.
• Parents who own the TimeLife set and want discs their children can watch without fear of them destroying the precious discs from the TimeLife set.
• The deaf and hard-of-hearing, French speakers, or anyone interested in the English subtitles.
• Anyone who MUST own the Series Music version of "A Fright at the Opera".

WHO IS THIS SET NOT FOR:
• Anyone who owns the TimeLife Complete Collection DVD box set (aside from the aforementioned parents).
• Purists.

Finally, it should be noted that Sony will be releasing Volumes 6 through 10 this Tuesday, September 6th. These volumes, which only seem to be available individually, and not collected in another box set, will provide most (but not all) of the remaining episodes of the series. Should Sony not release anymore, there will still be 29 stories missing (plus the Slimer! stories, if those are being considered). Mid-way through Volume 7 is where the episodes change to the "new" cast, and the dumbed-down writing. So, if you're just interested in the "quality" episodes, you'll want to stop after Vol. 7.

So, if you're interested in buying any of these DVDs, or pre-ordering the new ones, here are the links: Volume 1-10 Box Set, Volume 1-5 Box Set, Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, Volume 7, Volume 8, Volume 9, and Volume 10.

[UPDATE - 1/30/2017]
My review of Volumes 6 through 10 has just been posted.
4 comments »

4 comments

Comment from: Patrick Benoit [Visitor] Email
Thank you for this comparison! I was looking into buying the Sony version (thinking it was like the Time Life version) but thankfully was spared. I appreciate you taking the time to write this piece!

I'm a huge fan of the cartoony Slimer sub-series (please don't throw tomatoes). It's so disappointing that these Slimer episodes aren't being released on their own disc (at least not that I'm aware of). Do you know of anywhere I can find the Slimer episodes (besides forking out hundreds for used Time Life discs)? It seems they get left out everywhere. I've searched high and holy for Volume 5 from the boxed set but it seems it just isn't available anywhere.

Thanks for any help you can provide! It's appreciated!
Feb. 6, 2017 @ 04:07
Comment from: Paul Rudoff [Member] Email
All of the Slimer episodes are available on the TimeLife Volume 5, Discs 3 and 4. People sell loose discs all the time on eBay. Search for "Real Ghostbusters Volume 5 Disc 3 Replacement Disc" and if any are available at the time, you'll find them.
Feb. 6, 2017 @ 15:00
Comment from: Jonathan Cardwell [Visitor] Email
The goofs you refer to notwithstanding, are these episodes in order? And does Vol. 5 end with the finale of Season 2?

(btw, "Who are you going to call?" is not answered incorrectly by capitalizing all the other letters in addition to the G)
Aug. 22, 2017 @ 20:52
Comment from: Apple IIGS [Visitor]
I took the plunge on bought the Sony produced "Volumes 1 to 5" boxset, after seeing at Walmart for only $20 CDN (knock off about ~25% to convert to US dollars).

I'm a purist, but I'm not likely to come across the TimeLife edition any time soon (and certainly not at such an affordable price!). I prefer physical media over digital, and so I figure this disc collection, while flawed, still makes a nice place holder if/when I ever come across the TimeLife edition. Sure it's available on Netflix right now, but who know when they may take it down or region block it. Any TV show or movie I'm particularly fond of I want sitting on my shelf. :)

It's unfortunate for the missing episodes, but most of season 1 and 2 are there. Real Ghostbusters was one of my all time favorite animated shows, but after Lorenzo Music and Laura Summer left the show I started losing interest (and gave up altogether once Arsenio Hall left, and it was retooled as the Slimer show). So most of my favorites, or at least what I watched in the 80's, is in this collection.

I'll give it a watch shortly and see how it looks and sounds (I keep an old CRT TV handy to watch DVD's on).
Oct. 15, 2017 @ 01:11

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In Loving Memory of Joel Richard Rudoff (July 28, 1944 - January 20, 2014)

In Loving Memory of Linda Joyce Rudoff (July 12, 1948 - November 29, 2015)

Doreen Mulman (May 22, 1961 - March 14, 2014)

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