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« Ghostbusters Fan Fest 2019Revenge of Shot on Site Summer - Ghostbusters II Locations, Part 6 »

Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series Unofficial/Bootleg Blu-ray Set Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Aug. 26, 2019 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Extreme Ghostbusters, Home Video
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I don't normally support bootlegs or counterfeits, but in this case, Sony's given me no choice because they obviously have no interest in putting Extreme Ghostbusters out officially on disc here in the U.S., even though they know that the fans want it.  Since Sony doesn't want to make money off this series, someone had to come forth to fill the hole that Sony is leaving open. Read on to find out more...

Say what you will of Sony's treatment of The Real Ghostbusters of home video - it took an outside company to get the entire series released on DVD - but they've shown that series more appreciation than they did its follow-up, Extreme Ghostbusters. As noted on Spook Central's Extreme Ghostbusters on Home Video page, the only home video release of the series in the U.S. were three VHS tapes released in 1998.

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(Photo by Paul Rudoff from his collection)

To add insult to injury, these three tapes, containing a mere two episodes each, were duplicated in the piss-poor SLP/EP speed, instead of the high-quality (and industry standard) SP speed. (SLP/EP speed tapes were usually the domain of bargain bin budget companies, such as Goodtimes Home Video and Kid Klassics.) This meant that not only was the video quality greatly reduced, but customers had to deal with adjusting the tracking on their VCRs. If that wasn't enough to show how little Sony thought of the series, these tapes were supposed to come packaged in a caution-striped "gift box/3-pack" slipcase (on left in photo above). Since Sony never released them in that box to stores, fans such as myself and the late, great Doreen Mulman (who informed me of it) had to call Sony to get this box as some/most/all tapes were just taped/shrinkwrapped together.

Things were a little better overseas where the series finally got a DVD release in 2009 in the United Kingdom, France, Australia (and possibly other countries in that area of the world). It should come as no surprise that even this release -- labelled "The Complete First Season" in Region 2 and "Season One, Volume One" in Region 4 - was bungled, as no matter the name, it was only the first 13 episodes on two discs, and not the entire series of 40 episodes. So, even if a U.S. customer imported the set, removed the region-coding (they were coded for regions 2 and 4, while the U.S. is region 1), and had a way to play the PAL-formated video (the U.S. uses the NTSC format), they would still be missing the remaining 27 episodes.

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Suffice it to say, fans who wanted to own a copy of the ENTIRE series were slime out of luck.

On March 1, 2016, Sony would finally release the entire series... on the Hulu streaming service, that is. Fans could pay a monthly fee to Hulu to "rent" all 40 episodes for as long Hulu's agreement with Sony allows them to retain the series. While that's nice, it's NOT what the fans had been wanting for the past nearly 20 years.

It also means that Sony has had the entire series digitized for over three YEARS now, which makes it extremely easy (pun intended) to author them onto some DVDs, and yet Sony has purposely chose not to do a DVD release. Instead, we got 10 volumes of assorted The Real Ghostbusters episodes in 2016 and 2017. Granted, some of those DVDs fix errors from the TimeLife set, but all Ghostheads would have preferred to get something that was still unreleased on physical media, instead of something we already got on DVD back in 2008.

That's where the bootleggers come in. They help to fill the hole that the copyright owners leave open, by giving the fans (paying customers) the product that the copyright owners fail to provide. Extreme Ghostbusters has had a few unofficial/bootleg DVD releases, all based off of some crappy recordings from the Toon Disney channel in the 2000s. I avoided these because I don't like a large Toon Disney logo over the video, when I have my own original VHS TV recordings from 1997 that are logo-free.

I also held off on going the bootleg route these past two decades because I was giving Sony the benefit of the doubt that they would finally see the error of their ways and give the fans the complete series physical media release that they have been begging for. Earlier this year, when I consulted with Sony on what to release in the two-movie 4K/Blu set, I made sure to mention Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series. They could easily have produced a DVD release for this Summer, in honor of the franchise's 35th anniversary. As noted with Hulu, they already have the episodes digitized, so it's just a matter of authoring them onto some DVDs. I'm thinking 5 discs, with 8 episodes (the industry standard for 30 minute episodes) per disc. While bonus features would have been nice, they're not needed. So the material was "ready to go", and some basic discs could be made with very little effort and money. Unfortunately, my source at Sony told me that it was not going to happen. Honestly, at this point, I don't hold out hope that it'll happen for Summer 2020 (to tie in with the new film), either.

My patience has finally worn thin, so I turned to the bootleg scene. Thankfully, because people have ways to rip video off of Hulu, there are now bootlegs that use that as the source material instead of the Toon Disney broadcasts. That means the episodes have no logos on them, are 100% complete, high quality, and everything you would expect from an official release. The bootleg I chose to buy is being sold by TJ of Monsterland Media as Extreme Ghostbusters Complete Series 2 disc Blu-ray set with all 40 episodes for $28.99 with free U.S. First Class shipping (or optionally pay for Priority Mail shipping). There is no sales tax, and payment is by credit/debit card only. While you can't pay directly with PayPal, you could always use your PayPal debit card to indirectly take the funds from your PayPal balance. (Please note that when I purchased the set on July 10, 2019, back when it was still being sold on Etsy, I paid $24.99 + $3.75 shipping + $2.47 New York sales tax, coming to a total of $31.21.) TJ ships his products from New Jersey, so if you live on the East coast of the U.S., you'll get it pretty quickly.

Now, with all of that history out of the way, let's start by looking at the packaging of this two-disc Blu-ray set.

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(click to enlarge)

The set comes in a 14mm thick blue "Blu-ray Disc" case with decent-looking high-quality printed artwork. As you can see in the photo above, the front cover apes the artwork from the foreign DVD releases. The back cover has some screenshots from the episodes, along with some text describing the series. At the bottom are some logos:

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Any Ghosthead worth their salt - or anyone who has read this entire review so far and has been paying attention - will know that the Walt Disney logo does not belong there. Disney has nothing to do with the series, or the Ghostbusters franchise. I can only assume that TJ incorrectly associated Disney with the series because of the Toon Disney rips. To the right is the icon for Nero, a company that makes disc burning/authoring software; and that's next to the logo of VSO Software, who makes video software. These companies, likely, make the software that TJ uses to make his products. Finally, on the far right is the Blu-ray Disc logo.

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(click to enlarge)

Open that case up and you'll see that it's actually a THREE disc case! So, not only is this case unnecessarily thick (14mm is the thickness used for PS3 games and Criterion Blu-rays), but there's an empty spot in there. These are two things I absolutely hate.

UPDATE 9/28/2019 - I ordered a second copy of the Extreme Ghostbusters set to send to a friend in Belgium. TJ put this set in a thick 2-disc case, as seen in the photo below. This is better than my set, as it doesn't have an empty space, but I still wouldn't like the unnecessarily thickness of the case.

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(click to enlarge)

I chose put my set in a new 12mm thick two-disc Blu-ray case, which is the same kind the major studios use for their releases. Since TJ's artwork is too big for a 12mm case, I asked him if he'd be willing to give me a copy of his artwork file so I could make a new, slimmer version. Since he refused to give it, I scanned in the printed artwork and used that, even though it meant a small quality loss. I now present to you a few versions for you to print out, should you chose to buy this set and repackage it, as I did.

Images: Original, No Back Logos, No Logos At All.
Printable PDF: No Back Logos (may also fit in a 9mm slim case)

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(click to enlarge)

As for the discs themselves, they feature a concept art drawing of the firehouse basement with the containment unit. This may or may not have been artwork from The Real Ghostbusters. Either way, it's nice artwork.

Put the disc into your Blu-ray player and you'll see this:

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Each disc features the same menu with Fil Barlow promo art of the team. On the first disc, you can't make out the text "Extreme Ghostbusters" at the top because it's white on white. The menu text has a few spelling errors, but you can tell what's what, and next to each episode title is a small animated thumbnail. The Play arrow button at the bottom of each menu page is Play All, which has all episodes on one title back to back. While watching an episode, if you press the Disc Menu button on your remote, you'll go to a hidden episode menu where you can see chapter thumbnails. Each episode has five chapters, placed every five minutes.

As you can see in the episode list below, there are 20 episodes per disc. Each menu screen lists three episodes, which means that there are a total of seven menu screens (the last screen lists two episodes). If that wasn't enough to make navigation a chore, the fact that TJ added a slow seven-second fading transition between screens will do it. If you want to get to the last two episodes, you'll have to go through six screens and wait a total of 42 seconds in transition time. If you're adept at using your player, you could always advance to the disc title for that episode. The first episode is on Title 1, the second is on Title 2, and so on, up to Title 20.

DISC 1
01. Darkness At Noon (Part 1) (21:57)
02. Darkness At Noon (Part 2) (21:25)
03. The True Face of a Monster (22:28)
04. Fear Itself (21:56)
05. Deadliners (21:55)
06. Casting The Runes (21:54)
07. The Infernal Machine (21:43)
08. Home Is Where The Horror Is (22:00)
09. Killjoys (21:57)
10. The Unseen (21:56)
11. The Crawler (22:18)
12. The Pied Piper of Manhattan (21:48)
13. Be Careful What You Wish For (21:57)
14. Grease (22:10)
15. The Jersey Devil (22:03)
16. Dry Spell (21:59)
17. Sonic Youth (22:00)
18. Ghost Apocalyptic Future (22:01)
19. Bird of Prey (22:00)
20. Seeds of Destruction (21:59)
00. Play All (7:19:36)

DISC 2
21. The Luck of The Irish (22:01)
22. The Ghostmakers (21:58)
23. Slimer's Sacrifice (21:59)
24. Grundelesque (21:59)
25. In Your Dreams (22:02)
26. Moby Ghost (21:59)
27. Fallout (22:03)
28. Eyes of a Dragon (21:58)
29. Till Death Do Us Start (21:59)
30. Glutton For Punishment (21:59)
31. Ghost In The Machine (22:02)
32. Dog Days (21:59)
33. Mole People (22:00)
34. A Temporary Insanity (22:00)
35. Rage (22:02)
36. Heart of Darkness (22:02)
37. The Sphinx (21:57)
38. Witchy Woman (22:02)
39. Back In The Saddle (Part 1) (21:58)
40. Back In The Saddle (Part 2) (21:59)
00. Play All (7:20:08)

(You might want to copy and paste the list above into a text document and print it out to keep in the case, so you can quickly see what disc an episode is on. I would have preferred if TJ included a small episode list on the back of the case art. It would have made more sense than those unnecessary logos.)

As you can see, the last four episodes are not in the original airdate order. They've been put into the show creator's intended order. "Back in the Saddle" was always meant to be the two-part season finale, but it aired a little earlier. (I would have changed the order a little more by putting "Moby Ghost" before "Slimer's Sacrifice", since the whale ghost from the former is already in the containment unit in the latter. I also would have swapped the order of "The Sphinx" and "Witchy Woman", since "The Sphinx" works better as the lead-in to "Back In The Saddle".) The set I purchased is actually an updated version of the set TJ was selling in 2018, which had those episodes in airdate order and had "Extreme Ghostbuster" on the spine. A review of that is on Ghostbusters Fans.

I believe that the Hulu rips are encoded at 960x720, so they can be shown at 720p or 720i on Hulu. The Blu-ray set downsamples a bit to 720x480 in order to conform to the Standard Definition disc standard, presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratio. You may be wondering why TJ put them on Blu-ray if it's standard definition/DVD resolution. Well, look at the number of episodes. If TJ put them onto DVDs, he'd have to use about 10 discs, depending on how many episodes he wanted to cram onto a single-layer DVD-R. By using BD-Rs (recordable Blu-ray discs), all he needs is two discs. Obviously, if you don't have a Blu-ray player, then you're not going to like that. Thankfully, Blu-ray players are pretty damn cheap these days.

For all of you completists out there (like me), be aware that the new Sony Pictures Television logo appears at the end these 15 episodes: the first 13 episodes, "Ghostmakers", and "The Sphinx". The remaining 25 episodes all have the original BKN and Columbia TriStar Television logos. I think this means that Sony sourced the first 13 from the same masters they used for those foreign DVDs. Also, those of you who watched the series first-hand will remember that the end credits song changed about midway through the run. For the record, the new song, "Call The XGB", was used from "Moby Ghost" to the end of the series.

Patreon-Exclusive Bonus Feature - Watch the Real meet the Extreme in the two-part episode "Back in the Saddle".

Since Hulu got their episodes directly from Sony, the picture and audio quality on this set is really good. That's not to say that it's perfect, due to some defects that were introduced somewhere in the line between Hulu and these discs.

• Ep 21 - "Luck of the Irish" - Lots of minor split-second audio hiccups here and there, three frames of digital artifacts at 14:50 and 16:28, and crackles in the end credits music.

• Ep 31 - "Ghost in the Machine" - Five frames of digital artifacts at 10:57, VERY bad artifacts and audio glitch at 19:05 for one second, and more digital artifacts at 21:45 (on Columbia logo at end).

• Ep 38 - "Witchy Woman" - Lots of digital artifacts at 6:21 (lasts for two seconds), 6:33, and 18:50. At 21:56, during the BKN logo at the very end, are slight digital breakup around the edges of the letters.

There are also two animation errors that are now visible, especially if you have overscan turned off on your TV, like I do.

• Ep 04 - "Fear Itself" - There are boxes from other frames in the lower left corner at 3:50 and in the lower right corner at 11:40.

• Ep 14 - "Grease" - The reporter's microphone has not been completely drawn in the lower left corner at 3:56.

Aside from those defects, this is close to what you could expect if Sony actually released a DVD set themselves, as they would use the same masters. To give you an idea as to the quality of the episodes on this Blu-ray set, below are some random framegrabs ripped directly from the discs. Click to view the original 720x480 resolution images.

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(Ep 17 "Sonic Youth")

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(Ep 32 - "Dog Days")

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(Ep 34 - "A Temporary Insanity")

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In conclusion, if you've been wanting to own the complete series, the Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series Bootleg 2-Disc Blu-ray Set from TJ of Monsterland Media is your only viable option. Thankfully, it's one of the best bootlegs I've ever seen because it comes from official source material. Go buy a copy today!

While you're on the Monsterland Media site, go pick up TJ's Cartoon All-Stars To The Rescue DVD for $17.99 (likely sourced from the official VHS; hopefully I'll review that soon) and his 3-disc Filmation's Ghostbusters: The Complete Animated Series Blu-ray set for $33.99. That's a much cheaper price than the long out-of-print official BCI Eclipse Volume 1 and Volume 2 DVD releases.

5 comments

Comment from: Gianni Belotti [Visitor]

I was amazed to see this item pop up on Etsy back in November last year, so I HAD to buy it. The first time I saw it had the crappy Toon Disney footage, but JT did change it to Hulu rips later on (like the copies you and I got). The casing is inconsistent, cause mine was one you'd see on a 4-disc case, with the discs on the flap. Removing the flap and putting the discs in the slots fixed the problem. I also replaced the artwork with a design I edited a while back. (Link: https://imgur.com/XqqKjfG) I was very satisfied although I do want Sony to finally give an official release.

Aug. 26, 2019 @ 21:21
Comment from: Guy [Visitor]

As he doesn't deliver to the UK, any idea where I can get hold of good quality versions of these eps so I can knock a collection together for myself?

Sep. 8, 2019 @ 16:06
Comment from: [Member]

You could always ask a friend who lives in the U.S. to order it for you, then have that person mail it to you in the U.K. - Paul

Sep. 9, 2019 @ 01:32
Comment from: Gianni Belotti [Visitor]

It’s nice that TJ is planning a new site for his custom media to come back. Also, the 1 GB size for each episode (approximately, I guess) is odd, cuz my episode package has an episode size approximate of 100 MB for each one. Fixing the frame rate makes each ep less than a gigabyte, also in estimation. This’ll be good for making DVD’s of my own. (Insert winky face)

I had something long in development for VG, which I dubbed the “GB3 Project”. The concept itself is somethin’ you can guess from a mile away. Its VHS is complete yet I’m almost done on the DVD (subtitles are a pain to make). Maybe I’ll mail ya (Paul of course) a VHS & DVD copy if interest is strong.

Oct. 15, 2019 @ 10:20
Comment from: [Member]

Hi Gianni

Yeah, I'd love to get a copy of the "GB3 Project" VHS & DVD. It sounds interesting.

-- Paul

Oct. 16, 2019 @ 13:51

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