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TV Series > The Real Ghostbusters
The Real Ghostbusters
THE ORIGINAL PILOT

The text description on the Video tab and some of the history text was written up by James Eatock. A more complete history of the pilot, along with a different description of it, can be found in this Cereal:Geek article that he wrote. The ABC promo was given to me by Lanny White, and the Blockbuster Video promo was given to me by Doreen Mulman. All files have been digitalized by me, Paul Rudoff, except for the Syndication promo which was uploaded by an unknown YouTube user. One airing of the ABC promo occurred on August 17, 1986 - as seen in this commercial compilation video; jump to the 2 minute mark ("80's Commercials Vol. 145" by 80sCommercialVault). Finally, the music used in the pilot can be found on the Real Ghostbusters Multimedia page (bottom of the Images & Music tab).

The pilot made its home video debut in the 25-disc The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection DVD set from TimeLife, released in 2008. The pilot, along with storyboards of it and a visual commentary track with director Kevin Altieri and artist Dan Riba, can be found on the bonus disc that's only included in the series box set. This copy of the pilot was sourced from a VHS tape provided by Kevin Altieri. See the Images section for photos of that tape.

In 2017, Robert Barbieri found a 16mm film reel of the pilot, which he painstakingly restored. It first appeared in June 2018 on the official Ghostbusters website (also here), where it was pillarboxed at 864x486 (106MB). The restored version made its home video debut the following year on the 4K/Blu-ray 5-Disc Set pillarboxed in full 1920x1080 HD. Robert has uploaded a comparison video showing what it looked like before the restoration; and there's also a 6-minute featurette on the restoration (by David Mattox). For more on the history of the Restored version, I encourage you to check out Robert's Real Ghostbusters Pilot Restoration Project Facebook group.

Click here for an image comparison between the VHS and Restored versions.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Real Ghostbusters has always been the three-minute and forty-nine seconds pilot used to sell the series to ABC. Back in late 1985 Richard Raynis informed Kevin Altieri that DiC were going to pitch a show based on the movie Ghostbusters to the ABC network. Being a fan of the movie Kevin leapt at the chance to work on it. Due to the incredibly quick turnaround there was no planned structure to the pilot; Kevin and Eddie Fitzgerald literally drew scene after scene as the ideas came to them. The pair had no models to work with and based all of their designs on the movie, which is why in the storyboards the characters look like their movie counterparts, with Winston even sporting a mustache!

Besides storyboarding the pilot with Eddie Fitzgerald, Kevin Altieri also directed it. It was completed on December 16, 1985, and not only did DiC manage to successfully sell the show to ABC, but it also became one of the longest running eighties cartoons with a staggering six years of production, including sixty-five syndicated episodes.

The reason the full pilot even exists on The Real Ghostbusters: Complete Collection DVD box set is because, after all these years, Kevin still had it in pristine condition on the very video tape he had originally transferred it to. James Eatock, who worked on the DVD set, took photos of the videocassette itself, along with the video tag that preceeded the pilot on the tape, which was left off of the DVD.

Footage from the pilot was used in: an ABC promo to announce the premiere of the series in the Fall of 1986 (amonst the many times it aired was on August 17, 1986 during the The Disney Sunday Movie), a Blockbuster Video promo to announce the original Magic Window home video VHS release of the series in 1987, a Syndication promo to announce the premiere of the series in syndication in the Fall of 1987, and in the opening credits of "The Halloween Door" primetime special in 1989. The first 54 seconds of the pilot was used in its entirety in the Syndication promo and in the Blockbuster Video promo, but with different narration. Once the Ghostbusters start sliding down the firepole in silhouette, that's when the Blockbuster Video promo cuts to other footage, while the Syndication promo continues the shot up to the point where the Ecto-1 comes racing out of the firehouse, at which point it stills on the logo on the side of the car.

Here's a brief history of the Restored Version: The 16mm film reel was purchased by Robert Barbieri sight unseen from a lot of stuff found by another collector. It said "Ghostbusters" on the can, but he had no idea what exactly would be on the reel. He took it to be digitized and, lo and behold, it was the silent Master film copy that was shipped to DiC from the Japan animation studio that was contracted to do the animation for the pilot. Robert spent four months using Photoshop to clean up over 5,500 frames, and one month was spent color correcting each scene individually. The next step was to get sound for it. Luckily, the original director, Kevin Altieri, snuck a copy onto a personal VHS back in the day as a memento of his work. When he was interviewed for the TimeLife DVD set in 2008, he dug it up for the bonus features. When that VHS tape was digitized for inclusion in the set, James Eatock kept a copy of the raw digital transfer. He took the audio from that raw transfer, sent it to his friend and collaborator Dusan Mitrovic for remastering to get the best possible sound quality out of it, then sent it to Robert to sync with the restored film transfer. Granted, Robert could have simply ripped the pilot from the Time Life bonus disc to get the audio track, but he wanted to get the best quality possible - which meant going back to the original source. (sources: Facebook post #1, Facebook post #2, and Facebook post #3)

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The Pilot (VHS Version)
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The Pilot (Restored Version)
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ABC Promo
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Blockbuster Video Promo
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Syndication Promo
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Video Commentary
A woman drops her groceries, a painter nearly falls off a scoffold, and people run and scream in fright. Dissolve to the No Ghost ghost walking down the street ala John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. He turns and gets trapped in the red circle.

The alarm goes off at the firehouse and the Ghostbusters get out of bed to answer the call. They don their equipment, slide down the pole, and zoom off in Ecto-1.

Ecto-1 races down the streets with Winston driving, Egon looking at his PKE meter, Peter reading a magazine and Ray on top. The camera swoops under Ecto-1 and into the van driven by no one with Slimer eating marshmallows in the back. Ray fires his gun (falling off Ecto-1 with Peter grabbing him) and his blast destroys the van. The explosion of marshmallow covers the windshield. When Winston and Egon wipe the windshield Slimer is driving Ecto-1!

Slimer drives them up the wires of a bridge and they soar into the air, crashing into a woman's apartment surrounded by ghosts. The car skids throwing Egon and Winston clear, but into the path of Slimer and his ghost buddies...

Meanwhile Peter and Ray chase a small ghost bothering a guy in a phone booth. As they give chase a monster pops out of the sewer, then an even bigger monster lands behind that one cracking the floor and sending the pair into the subway. They are about to be a hit by a train when the Marshmallow Man "saves" them. Just as he holds them up a skeleton in a plane takes them and they swoop through the air. They are left hanging on a drainpipe...

Meanwhile Egon and Winston are running through the corridors of the hotel chased by the ghosts. They manage to run out through the front door and crash into Peter and Ray who've fallen off the drainpipe onto the street below. They all get up and see Stay Puft and the others looming over them. Egon tosses out a trap and then they draw their weapons and fire (like in the intro). Slimer zooms past Stay Puft, but they catch him and all the ghosts are captured. but not before Slimer reaches his hand out of the trap to grab his fallen hot dog. Victory pose!

Storyboard PDFs

These storyboard PDFs came from the TimeLife Complete Series DVD set and are presented exactly as they were in the set. They have not been cleaned or fixed up, nor have they been optimized for the web.

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Pilot
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Alternate Ending


James Eatock - Behind The Scenes (VHS Version)

Be sure to check out the entire collection of DVD Behind The Scenes photos.


Robert Barbieri - Behind The Scenes (Restored Version)

Images come from the 6-minute restoration featurette by David Mattox.


The Pilot (Restored Version)