About Christmas TV History

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Christmas in July 2023: The Real Ghostbusters (1986)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #18 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies that are a creative or imaginative adaptation of Charles Dickens' tale A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition will be released soon).  

This week, let's look at especially creative examples of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" in TV episodes in which characters have read Charles Dickens' book and look to influence someone else who needs inspired with the holiday spirit! For more--see Day 15's introduction with a discussion on the TV series The Rogues, Day 16's discussion on Bewitched, and Day 17's essay on the Six Million Dollar Man episode.


Today's discussion is on the 1986 holiday episode "X-Mas Marks the Spot" from the animated series The Real Ghostbusters. Yes-this TV series is based on the characters from the 1984 live action movie originally released into theaters. 


In this holiday episode, the four Ghostbusters are lost driving on a back road on Christmas Eve when they unknowingly enter a timeslip that transports them back to Victorian England. They come across three ghosts haunting a frightened man and so the Ghostbusters capture the ghosts. After returning to their car and finding their way back home, the Ghostbusters discover that all is not right with the world--everyone around them hates Christmas! 


What happens when the Ghostbusters capture the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future?

After much speculation, the Ghostbusters discover that they had captured the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future that were in the process of haunting Ebenezer Scrooge. The Ghostbusters’ interference has changed the course of history! Now Peter, Ray, and Winston must set things right by returning to the timeslip and haunting Scrooge themselves, while Egon tries to retrieve the Christmas Ghosts from the Ecto-Containment Unit.

This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” makes some unusual changes. The Ghostbusters travel in time meeting Ebenezer Scrooge and accidentally change history by removing the three ghosts who haunt him. The Christmas spirit in our time was altered because a literary character’s “life” was changed. The story seems to creatively confuse the real-life author Charles Dickens with his fictional character Scrooge. 


This 1986 episode pre-dates VR headsets but the resourceful Ghostbusters cleverly use a 3-D Viewmaster on Scrooge to help simulate his overnight journey to the past, present and future.


The other creative aspect of this story is that Peter, Ray, and Winston attempt to right their wrong by haunting Scrooge themselves! Using their knowledge of Dickens' book, the Ghostbusters' Scrooge Treatment includes making themselves appear as the ghosts and creating visions for Scrooge.

The voice cast includes Lorenzo Music as Peter Venkman, Maurice LaMarche as Egon Spengler, Frank Welker as Ray Stantz, Arsenio Hall as Winston Zeddemore, and Peter Renaday as Ebenezer Scrooge.

I previously wrote about this episode with more detail on this website a few years ago--click HERE to see that discussion again. I'll be discussing more examples of this kind of Scrooge Treatment version of "A Christmas Carol" more this week, so keep following!


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


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