Friday, December 17, 2010

The Real Ghostbusters - Xmas Marks the Spot

I’m not telling you the story behind Ghostbusters. If you really don’t know, rent the movie and watch it three times before you read this review. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. And if you don’t know anything about A Christmas Carol, watch the version with George C. Scott, David Warner and the Sheriff from Men in Tights. It’s the best one, really.

Yes, that J. Michael Straczynski.

The boys are cruising back to the Big Apple on Christmas Eve after a job in upstate New York that had something to do with scorching the hair off a cat. For once Peter has nothing sarcastic to say, either about the job or working on Christmas Eve.

They take the wrong turn in the snow and Ecto-1 conks out in the middle of nowhere. Peter’s even grouchier now, and once he’s out of earshot Ray explains his father was always away at Christmastime. “That affects you after a while.” On the other hand, we found out where Peter got his smartass huckster traits in “Venkman’s Ghost Repellers,” so you sort of wonder if Christmas was really worse without dad there.

“It’s easier to shrug that off if you pretend you don’t care about Christmas,” Egon opines. “And you pretend it long enough, pretty soon you believe it,” Winston adds ominously.

As they hike through the snow in search for a phone the Ghostbusters suddenly find themselves on a hill overlooking a village right out of Victorian England. Which they point out. Undaunted, Peter heads down because somebody down there has to have a phone.

Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim buy a pathetically small bird for Christmas dinner in a touching scene that ruins all surprise that might still remain as to what’s going on. Was this added at the last minute because the final episode was a minute too short or something?

The busters hear a ghostly wail in their search for a phone booth and follow it just in time to see Jacob Marley’s ghost flying out a second-story window. Instinct takes over and the guys run upstairs and unleash their proton packs on three ghosts accosting an old man. One of them warns that if the Ghostbusters interfere, all Christmases to come will suffer.

 We recognize them as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and the Ghostbusters probably should too, but they also probably hear portents of doom from the ghosts they’re after all the time. Peter even confirms it.

The old man, who of course is Ebenezer Scrooge, thanks these daring young men but of course balks when Peter starts talking fees (Scrooge is so into money he even knows what   “big bucks” means despite living in Victorian England). He even tries to disbelieve those really were ghosts and trots out the “more of gravy than of grave” line. When they threaten to turn the ghosts loose again Scrooge coughs up a coin that’s pocket change to him but worth three ghosts in 1986.

Their duty done, the busters leave. But with the ghosts vanquished, Scrooge declares war on Christmas. Because they woke him up in the middle of the night.

Having failed to find a phone, the busters end up back at Ecto-1 and the old girl decides to turn over this time. As they drive away Egon has a sense of déjà vu about what just happened to them, but brushes it off and they drive away.

Egon goes to drop off the ghosts and the others go to buy a tree (on Christmas Eve?), but Janine and Slimer both “bah humbug” the very mention of Christmas. This throws Egon for a loop, seeing as they used to love Christmas. In Slimer’s case, the Christmas cookies. Outside the guys find people arguing with each other, yelling “bah humbug” and banners with Scrooge’s face all over the place instead of Christmas decorations.

They even find a book he wrote, A Christmas Humbug, which somehow shaped all of Western civilization’s perception of Christmas to match his own, and realize they went back in time and changed the course of history. Don’t you hate that? The guys run back to stop Egon before he puts the Christmas ghosts in the containment system and it’ll be too late to inflict them on Scrooge after all. They’re too late, of course.

The guys agree they need to go back and undo what they did, but they have to act fast because time’s passing on both sides of the time warp they went through. Egon thinks he can go in and find the three ghosts they need without letting all the dangerous ones out too, but that’s Plan B. In case he fails, he has the others go back to where they went back in time to find Scrooge again and impersonate the ghosts themselves. Peter’s dubious of their chances, which I thought led to a nice exchange, even if it was kind of predictable.

Ray: “Come on, Peter! Have a little faith, a little…Christmas spirit!”
Peter: “Are you kidding?! Christmas spirits are what got me into this in the first place!”

Scrooge is just sitting down to write his book as the busters spy on him from the adjacent rooftop. Peter puts on a dress and gets lowered down to start their little charade, which is helped by Scrooge losing his glasses when Peter lands on him. With the aid of a wheel chair and a View-Master, Peter runs around the room making Scrooge think they’re flying and seeing images from his past.

Hearing Scrooge’s recounting of his childhood neglect makes Peter realize he could be learning from this too. Scrooge didn’t even know he was supposed to be learning anything, so Peter has to spell it out for him.

“You were supposed to learn that just because you had a rotten past, that’s no reason to blame Christmas. Lots of us had Christmases that weren’t the best, but if you give up, you just end up denying yourself what you’re so mad about never having had before. I think maybe that’s a lesson we could all stand to learn.”

I'm sorry, I'M SORRY!!

Meanwhile Egon puts on a space suit and goes into the containment system to find the Christmas ghosts. He finds them and, barely, makes it out of the containment system ahead of a posse of evil ghosts. He then apparently sets off for upstate New York on foot to drop off the Christmas ghosts. In a spacesuit.

Winston impersonates the Ghost of Christmas Present in a patchy old bathrobe, holding Scrooge as they swing dangerously above the town from a rope. Ray does his able best as the Ghost of Christmas Future, but seeing as he has the hood closed real tight so Scrooge won’t notice he has flesh on his face, he’s reduced to playing charades to communicate at all.

Just in time, Egon shows up, releases the ghosts and they get to work on Scrooge. The busters get home to find out Christmas is back, because they're hit by an 11 AS attack.

From Silent but Deadly Night. Check it out, even if you don't usually like silly card games.

Settling in with the bluest eggnog I've ever seen, the guys hear what sounds sort of like a right jolly old elf and eight tiny reindeer on the roof. Hey, if ghosts are real, who’s to say Kris Kringle isn’t?

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable review, I always love to know how others interpret this show.