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Have At It Eduardo, Extreme Ghostbusters Is Legal

PermalinkBy Paul Rudoff on Sep. 2, 2017 at 11:30 PM , Categories: Extreme Ghostbusters
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Long before there was Erin, Abby, Jillian, and Patty; there was Eduardo, Kylie, Garrett, and Roland - the Extreme Ghostbusters! It was 20 years ago today, on September 2, 1997, that I first saw this next-generation, mentored by original ghostbuster Egon Spengler (voiced by a returning Maurice LaMarche). (While the show premiered on September 1st in most parts of the U.S., here in New York it was pre-empted by the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. So, I saw Darkness At Noon, Part 2 first, and had to wait almost a week for the re-airing of Part 1.) Ten years ago, I did a little write-up for the 10th anniversary, so I'll try to do something a bit different for this article.

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Originally intended to be titled Super Ghostbusters, the title was finalized as Extreme Ghostbusters due to the "Extreme" craze that was popular at the time (thanks to the eXtreme Games sport). While "Extreme Ghostbusters" may sound like a stupid title (not as stupid as "Super"), it's actually quite fitting for the show. The writers were allowed to get away with much darker and mature themes than The Real Ghostbusters crew could do on ABC. In part 2 of the first episode, we witnessed a possessed Kylie (voiced by Tara Charendoff/Strong) seducing her teammate Eduardo (voiced by Rino Romano), with him remarking that "she's legal" (a phrase that indicates that she is over the legal Age of Consent for sexual relations).
Kylie: Are you happy to see me, Eduardo?
Eduardo: Ahh, sure.
Kylie: Because I'm really happy to see you. From the first time I saw you in the lecture hall, I felt an attraction. Did you feel it too?
Eduardo: Well, I don't know, sort of. I mean, you could stand to put on a couple of pounds.
Kylie: A good looking guy like you who's really hard to resist. Kiss me Eduardo. I want you to.
Roland: Back off Eduardo.
Eduardo: Why? She's legal.
Roland: She's a ghost!
Kylie would later go on to seduce a client in an effort to draw out a jealous ghost in "Till Death Do Us Start". Gruesome Cenobite-like creatures featured in the episode "Deadliners" (read the script), which was a tribute to the extreme style of Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Even The Grundel from The Real Ghostbusters returned, only this time he was far more sinister. All of this was a far cry from the watered-down kiddie "Slimer!" aspects of The Real Ghostbusters. Even further from the kiddie "Slimer!" stuff would be the unofficial extremely twisted Hentai fan-creations involving Kylie. Do yourself a favor and DON'T search for this stuff. You will feel dirty watching what that poor girl is put through, and she's not even a real person!

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Before she was being abused by the perverts, Kylie was just one of three random female characters sketched out by artist Fil Barlow. Here's Fil to tell you more: "Here is the first sketch I ever did of Kylie, before she had a name. This was done very early in development long before the show was pitched to a network. Executive Producer Richard Raynis was still in the process of figuring out who he wanted in the team. I intended to throw as many female characters in the mix as early as possible. The first design, in the lineup evolved into Lucy, who became Garrett. The third one Richard rejected outright because it looked to close to a family member of his, which creeped him out. The middle character, the Goth, he liked and wanted to develop some more. It was his decision to make her diminutive, we struggled for a bit over that. Anyway this is how Kylie began, as a part of a character smorgasbord."

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Paul Feig is far from the first guy to want an all-female Ghostbusters team. Fil was pushing for more female characters on the show, which becomes evident when you realize that two of the male characters originally started off as females. Here we see the nerdy-looking Julia, who would later morph into Roland (the black male voiced by Alfonso Ribeiro). Here's Fil to tell you more: "This is how Roland began in the early development phase of Extreme Ghostbusters. Executive Producer Richard Raynis wanted to see this character as a male. So for a while Roland had long dreads, which were too hip for the bookish character that Richard had in mind. So the dreads became cornrows, then ended up with Roland's final, more conservative, haircut. I kept pitching different ideas for devices, Julia had a chest piece, this is by no means a well crafted drawing, but a rough that was one of many used to triangulate the characters into what they became. As you can see, this was page 14 of 17 conceptual designs faxed that day to LA from my Australian studio."

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Political Correctness started to rear its usually misguided head in the 1990s, and Extreme Ghostbusters could not escape its grasp. It was decided that there would be a handicapped member on the team, regardless of whether that person's physical condition would, realistically, make it impossible for them to perform the duties of the job. So, we got the wheelchair-bound character Garrett (voiced by Jason Marsden). Garrett has always been the sore thumb of the show me for. I mean no disrespect to people in wheelchairs, but unless I can see a firefighter in a wheelchair going in and out of burning buildings with all of the heavy equipment and rescuing people, I'm not going to believe that Garrett is capable of being a Ghostbuster (which has a lot of the same physical requirements). Anyway, Garrett also checked off the "transgender" box on the Politically Correct form as "he" was originally born a "she" named Lucy! Here's Fil Barlow to tell you more: "Back in 1996 while I was setting up my studio in Australia, Executive Producer Richard Raynis from Columbia Tristar (Sony) worked from LA with me visualizing the characters for what was to be Extreme Ghostbusters. It was so early in development that the characters I designed had no names so I would randomly assign them ones. Richard wanted a male character in a wheelchair, I was pushing for more female characters in the line-up and I could only foresee problems with the wheels in animation (that's a lot of ellipses and perspective to get right), so I sent him this design of "Lucy" and put her in leg braces (or calipers). I tried to show that the crutches could be used for sucking up ghosts, also that her head would be at the correct eye-line for the other characters to play off, making it easier for the Directors who would have to cut down to someone sitting all the time. Needless to say the calipers were rejected, Richard really wanted a wheelchair so I went back to the drawing board. [On the right] is the second attempt at Lucy. My boss Richard Raynis wanted the character in the wheelchair to be fearless and gung ho! I did my best to sell the fact that a female character could easily accomplish the same role. Richard wasn't convinced, what I was offering didn't fit the character he was forming in his mind. Resigned I simply changed the Lucy design into a male and Garrett was born."

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Even Egon was not beyond undergoing a little change. His ponytail (seen in the final image on the right) is a holdover from the original concept Fil drew of him as "an ambassador to the ghost realm trying to stop an impending war on the other side. (I originally suggested between demons and ghosts, but when hell was nixed as a bad idea for a kids show I changed it to a war between ghosts and ghouls.) I always liked the idea of the new team entering an abandoned Firehouse and Egon appearing out of thin air in his ambassador garb murmuring in an ancient ghost language. He had spent so long on the other side he was barely able to speak English."

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In the United States, Extreme Ghostbusters was saddled with the piss-poor Bohbot Kids Network as a syndicator, who chose to air it at early morning times when kids would be in school, and would only air advertisements for it during the two-hour Bohbot Kids Network block in which it aired with three other shows. In other words, the only way you'd know about the show was if you actually stumbled across it while flipping channels - and that's IF you happened to be home during those two hours (when most people would be at work or school). Remember, this was before DVRs and On Demand Streaming Video services. Assuming you knew in advance when it would air, the best you could do was program your VCR to record it, making sure not to forget to have a tape with enough time left on it in your VCR. In 1998, the Sci-Fi Channel [now SyFy] re-aired the 40 episodes at various times, but I remember very little about it. I had no reason to seek it out since I had already taped the entire series when it first aired in 1997. I don't think the show has ever been seen again on standard television in the U.S. since. It currently streams on demand via the paid Hulu service.

In spite of all that, Extreme Ghostbusters (which most fans abbreviate as the grammatically-correct "EGB", but which is officially abbreviated as "XGB") did get a little bit of a push here in the United States. Production Supervisor Shannon Muir was always willing to share information with the fans via the Ghostbusters HQ website. At a fund-raiser gala on October 20, 1998, the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, a non-profit organization that provides legal assistance to people with disabilities, presented Extreme Ghostbusters with its Disability Rights in Entertainment, Arts and Media (DREAM) award. The show was selected for its "positive and exciting" portrayal of a wheelchair-using character named Garrett. (source: Animation World Magazine, Issue 3.5, August 1998) Winning this award led to the show getting featured coverage in the Fall 1998 issue of Ability magazine.

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There was the obligatory official website, located at ExtremeGhostbusters.com at the time (advertised at the end of each episode).

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Of course, there was a toyline. Everything has a toyline. Even Rocky had a toyline! The Extreme Ghostbusters toyline was handled by Trendmasters, a company I never heard of until they got the EGB license.


Here's the rarely-seen commercial for the Proton Pack and Ghost Trap accessories.



As you can see, Trendmasters didn't skimp on the product line. There were standard and Deluxe figures for Eduardo, Kylie, Roland, and Egon. The Deluxe figures came with larger weapons with light-up and sound features. The ghosts were represented with Slimer, House Ghost, Mouth Critter, and Samhain - the latter of which only appeared in the show opening. In terms of vehicles, there was an Ecto-1, and if you lived in Europe or Venezuela, you also got Eduardo and Roland with special ride-on vehicles (a motorcycle for Eduardo and a gyrocopter for Roland). Kids could "play Ghostbusters" with a Plasma Blaster, Backpack, and Ghost Trap, all with lights and sounds. There were no figures made of Janine and Garrett, in spite of the latter being one of the titular "Extreme Ghostbusters". However, a Garrett figure was planned, but it never got past the prototype stage, as seen in this image provided by collector Jonathan Shyman.

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Concurrent with the original run of the show was a kid's meal promotion at Kentucky Fried Chicken. The six toys included the Haunted Cube (optical illusion), Ghost Trap Challenge (ball in cup toy), Screamin Scrambler (rotate to mix-up pictures), Ecto-1 Haunted Hauler (roof opens to reveal a ghost), Ghostbusters Keychain Keeper (glow-in-the-dark coin purse), and Slimer Squirter (plastic water squirter).

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Columbia/TriStar Home Video released six of the forty episodes on three VHS tapes in 1998. Retailing at $9.99 each (if I remember correctly), these official videotapes were duplicated in the poor quality EP/SLP speed, which is typical of a public domain/budget company, instead of the high-quality SP speed that was the norm for a major studio release. To add insult to injury, the set of three tapes were supposed to be available in a box set, but they never were released that way to retailers. In order to get the caution-striped box you see in my photo below, I had to call up a certain person at Sony (eternal thanks to the late, great Doreen Mulman for telling me who to call) and ask them to mail one to me. Because of this, I suspect that my "complete" box set is worth a nice chunk of change :-)

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(Photo by Paul Rudoff from his collection)

Meanwhile, at the exact same time that these tapes were released, Sony's other animated series, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles (which also starred Rino Romano), was simultaneously released on both VHS and DVD. Granted, the DVDs were the same episodes as the VHS (it would be years later when Roughnecks would get a Complete Series DVD set), but at least it got a DVD release. Here we are 20 years later, and Extreme Ghostbusters has yet to get an official DVD release from Sony - even though all 40 episodes have been digitized and are available to stream on Hulu.

There may or may not have been an officially-licensed Extreme Ghostbusters coin-op kiddie ride. I found two photos of two different variants of the same ride which look both official and bootleg at the same time. I know nothing about them, so I'll just post the photos and move along...

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In 2001, four years after the series ended, publisher Light & Shadow Production (LSP) acquired the license and released a handful of video games. Being a European publisher, most of these games were not available in the United States, so I can't say that I ever played Extreme Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Invasion (PlayStation 1) or the simply titled "Extreme Ghostbusters" for Gameboy Color. The only one of their titles that was released in the U.S. was their Gameboy Advance platforming/driving game, which lost its "Code Ecto-1" subtitle when it traveled across the pond.

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In addition to console games, they also released two pieces of PC software: Creativity Centre and Zap The Ghosts!. Although these "games" also did not make it to the U.S., being that they are for the PC, and not locked to a region-specific console, meant that they could be easily imported. As such, I bought a copy of each, which you can download here.

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For a show that lasted just 40 episodes, first-run over a mere four months, Extreme Ghostbusters had a significant impact on our lives. It was thanks to the show, which premiered just a year after I opened Spook Central, that I met two of the best friends I ever had, Doreen Mulman (RIP, Kitten) and Nora Salisbury, both of whom would create the Ghostbusters Fan Forum in part due to the fan's love of Extreme Ghostbusters. I remember all of the fun and excitement in the early Ghostbusters Online Community about this new "thing" we had to play with and talk about. That excitement stayed around through 1999, thanks to the release of the original Ghostbusters movie on the shiny new Digital Video/Versatile Disc format, but then died off shortly thereafter as the franchise was back in a dead zone.

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"Dry Spell" Storyboards, courtesy of Doreen Mulman, archived on the Ghostbusters Wiki

Of course Extreme Ghostbusters aired worldwide. Thanks to Doreen, we can experience scenes dubbed in Cantonese: Clip #1, Clip #2, and Clip #3. The first clip is Eduardo and Kylie's waves -vs- particles disagreement, while the last two clips are from "Back in the Saddle, Part 1". Doreen felt that the guy voicing Slimer was "really good, he *almost* sounds exactly like Billy West!!!" Doreen received the videos back in July 2002 from a guy named Samuel Curtis, who told her that "Hong Kong Cable did a VERY bad job translating Garrett's name. But that was a matter in Chinese, not a thing that most would take interest in. (All Cantonese romanizations should sound as if normal Japanese romaji, as much as possible. Of course some Cantonese voices cannot be reproduced in Japanese system.) Garrett is called "Gin-jaei" (romanized Cantonese). Since "jaei" is a diminutive in Cantonese (somewhat like the "-chan" suffix in Japanese), the "main part" of his name was "Gin." Romanized names of other characters: Egon = Yi-gaun, Janine = Shin-laei, Edurado = Ar'i-do (Trying to simulate Ed-do), Kylie = Ga-laei, Roland = Long-larm."

While Extreme Ghostbusters was never given much of a chance here in the States, it has apparently gained a cult following overseas. From what I can tell, the vast majority of fans who cosplay as the EGB characters (especially Kylie) reside outside of the United States.

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German Ghostbusters as Kylie, Eduardo, Garrett (Germany)

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Mia Kirin and Slade as Kylie and Eduardo (Russian)

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Amanda Knox as Kylie (United Kingdom)

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Anya Panda as Kylie (Canada)

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Fans as Roland, Kylie, Eduardo, Garrett in a stage show, August 2012 (Russian)

Here's the Russian Extreme Ghostbusters fan stage show seen in the image above. It was performed in August 2012 as part of the Anime con "Akiban" in Izhevsk. Sadly, there are no English subtitles, but you can still *kinda* follow along and enjoy it. Thanks to Lanny White for the find.


Because Extreme Ghostbusters seems to be more beloved outside of the U.S., it's no surprise that some of those regions got EGB merch that all of us Americans never got. While we got Kentucky Fried Chicken kids meal toys, Burger King handled those duties in the United Kingdom. Released in 1999, the set of five toys includes: Eduardo with twin ghosts, a Firehouse with a bug that leaps out through the roof, a ghost going into a ghost trap, a Slimer, and Slimer driving the Ecto-1.

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I'm not the only one who's been DYING for Sony to finally released the complete 40-episode series on DVD. I'll even take a cramped 4-disc (10 episodes per disc) release from budget company Mill Creek Entertainment (who has a deal with Sony for select titles, including fellow 1990s animated series Godzilla and Jumanji). Hell, even a few random episodes are better than nothing. At this point, would you be surprised to learn that over in Europe, they have some episodes on DVD? Season 1, Volume 1 is a 2-disc set containing the first 13 episodes (a little more than one-fourth of the series). There is also a listing for The Spook-tacular First Season, but all indications are that that is incorrect box art and does not truly exist (if it does, it's the same 13 episodes, not all 40).

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Although it did not last long, Extreme Ghostbusters left quite a legacy to those who experienced it. No, I'm not talking about the horrible Extreme Ghostbusters: The Great Fright Way street show at Universal Studios Florida, which has nothing to do with the show. The folks who worked on Ghostbusters: The Video Game were obviously EGB fans, as they put some of the ghost traps on a maintenance table down in the basement of the firehouse.

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(image courtesy of Ghostbusters Wiki)

The IDW crew have been some of the biggest EGB fans you will find, as they have included Kylie as a regular character for quite some time now. Eduardo pops up from time to time, and in Ghostbusters Get Real #2 (July 2015), we even got the whole Extreme gang back together again.

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The Extreme team are even a part of Cryptozoic's Ghostbusters: The Board Game in some capacity. (I don't follow the game - can't afford it - so I know nothing about how they play into it.)

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(click to enlarge)

Finally - yes, there's an end to this post that I spent the whole damn day writing, completely unplanned and totally at-the-last-minute - that's the general history of Extreme Ghostbusters from a fan who lived through it. Despite it's problems (like the piss-poor animation, the lackluster U.S. syndication, and the small amount of episodes), I loved the show just as much as The Real Ghostbusters. Back in 1998 I even created my own music video for the show, done entirely in analog with VCRs (no computers used). Click on either of my vintage animated gifs below (taken out of retirement for this post) to view my music video now, or just click on the previous link to view it on its proper page here. Now please let me never write about this show again...unless it's to announce it coming out on DVD. YOU HEAR THAT SONY!!!

3 comments »

3 comments

Comment from: Michael [Visitor]
Excellent write-up, Paul. I still recall randomly flipping channels that day and watching Darkness at Noon. I wasn't really watching much television in '97 but I tried to keep up with EGB. It's a pity Sony haven't released a full series DVD set. This past or coming Tuesday would have been a good time... fingers crossed. Just about every other series from the time MiB, Godzilla, Jumanji, etc. have had releases.
Sep. 3, 2017 @ 22:21
Comment from: Daniel [Visitor]
About the toys: Eduardo and Roland "Extreme Ecto Editions" also were found in Ecuador (I have them!), Peru and Chile. In Ecuador, they were pretty common and get discount prices in the year 2002.
Sep. 5, 2017 @ 13:44
Comment from: rogerafrance [Visitor]
Thank you so much for sharing this.
Sep. 27, 2017 @ 03:10

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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)

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