The Real Ghostbusters Episode 12: ‘Janine’s Genie’ (1986)

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Along with ‘Look Homeward Ray’, this twelfth episode represents the first season at its most comic and least apocalyptic. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It can’t be the end of the world every week. And best of all, the lovely Janine gets to take centre-stage. Not for the first time, she’s annoyed with the limitations of her job. Remember that bit in the film, when she complains that she’s ‘quit better jobs than this’? Well, she’s still not happy, though this time it’s got nothing to do with being overworked. In fact, it’s more to do with being underworked, as she’s clearly bored and wants to go along with the guys on their busting duties. So in an instant she’s suited up her in own uniform, which does seems a little convenient. Was it just waiting there for her? True, we’ve already seen Janine in her own uniform, but that was all in a dream, so that doesn’t count. It’s a pity that her swish dream-version uniform doesn’t make a re-appearance, as that white and pink get-up was nicely individual, whereas all she has now is a female replica of Peter’s brown suit, though her collars and cuffs are turquoise instead of navy blue. Oh yeah, before they go out on the job, Peter warns Slimer not to touch his prized watermelon. Not a euphemism.

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Anyway, Janine’s enthusiasm turns out to be short-lived, as she barely enters the nearby haunting spot before chickening out, but Peter cruelly/justifiably drags her into the action, which leads to her almost obliterating him with her proton pack, but since she’s working an unlicensed nuclear accelerator for the first time, I think she does pretty well when all’s said and done. The ghost is trapped, and Janine is super-chuffed, but the guys send her crashing back to earth with talk of all the necessary practice and hard work necessary to be a fully-fledged buster, which puts her right off.

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There’s a funny bit when Peter writes up the bill  and the elderly owner of the building harmlessly appears out of nowhere, making him react with (rather insensitive) horror. Peter always seems to be the one writing the bill, and given the glee he always takes in providing invoices, you’d think he was only in this job for the sweet money. Problem is, the old bloke has no cash to give to the guys, so Janine gladly accepts the offering of a hideous looking lamp, an eyesore so sore on the eyes it sends the team into fits of hysterics. Peter even gets in a bullseye by warning Janine not to rub the lamp in case a genie comes out! Ha-ha, perish the thought. Oh wait, the episode’s called ‘Janine’s Genie’, so I guess we the viewers all know something nobody in the show does.

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Janine clearly rates her artistic eye over everybody else’s, going so far as to call the team lowbrows back at HQ, though she shoots herself in the foot by asking for critical analysis back-up from Slimer of all people/entities, and the little green spud offers his own valid opinion by cracking up with laughter at the sight of the lamp, spitting out watermelon seeds in the process. Whoops, Slimer’s rumbled! Peter attempts to kill him and the others leave Janine to rub the lamp whilst cleaning it, wishing aloud that she was in charge of everything whilst doing so. Cue the genie, a seemingly affable, if slightly jaded sounding apparition who instantly grants Janine her wish. For some reason, Janine has difficulty believing that this isn’t a practical joke, so she heads off to give the others a piece of her mind. Obviously, there was always going to be the possibility that this genie wasn’t going to be all he claimed to be, or that the wishes would have some sort of drawback, but blimey this episode wastes absolutely no time in letting us know that he is EVIL the genie by having him transmogrify into a big, ugly behemoth (whose loud, nasty laugh doesn’t seem to be heard by anyone else in HQ) who promises his ‘brothers and sisters’ that the ‘gateway’ has opened and ‘vacation begins’. Vacation? Oh, not the apocalypse or anything like that. Just vacation. Maybe they won’t be so bad? Wrong.

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Meanwhile, the guys are blissfully unaware of all of this impending chaos, focusing entirely on Slimer’s imminent punishment for swiping Peter’s watermelon. Peter calls him a ‘melon-muncher’ (!) and is about to give him a proper spanking with a baseball glove, but Slimer’s saved by the bell as Janine calls them to bust some ghosts at the airport. It’s not made obvious, but these are the same initial run of ghosts who have just escaped from the lamp. I think. When the guys rush to reception to be told where to go, they behave alarmingly obedient, standing to attention and calling Janine ‘boss’. Looks like Janine’s wish has worked and she’s already lined up her second wish, and yes, it’s the one we were all expecting – she wants Egon to fall head over heels in love with her.

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Egon turns into a complete sap almost instantly, his pupils transforming into love hearts and Janine so buzzed about her love finally being requited that she almost crashes Ecto-1 and nearly kills everyone as a result. Everybody else is utterly (and justly) repulsed by Egon’s outrageous public displays of affection. Even Slimer, who has tagged along for no other reason than to play driver with the cute little toy wheel the team have kindly set up for him for this one episode only. Oh wait, Slimer does prove to be quite useful at the airport, revealing the location of the ghosts who are hiding in the rows of security lockers. Peter tries to coerce them to give up with a howlingly awful knock-knock joke:

Peter: ‘Knock-knock…’

Ghost: ‘Who’s there?’

Peter: ‘Dishes.’

Ghost: ‘Dishes who?’

Peter: ‘Dishes the Ghostbusters, come on out!’

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The ghosts go absolutely crazy at this announcement, yet decide to stay secure in their lockers, so Janine speeds things up and tells the guys to ‘flush ‘em out’, to which Egon proclaims ‘you’re beautiful when you flush ‘em out’, which is another in a long line of bizarre lines this episode has to offer, many of which involve Egon’s ‘you’re beautiful when you’re…’ reactions to Janine. The ghosts flee and secretly stowaway in the suitcases on the conveyer belt heading towards the next flight. The guys amazingly track them down to the correct plane, which suddenly takes off (very, very lazy security and flight procedure here, it must be said), but not before Ray sends everybody into a panic with the old chestnut ‘anyone seen a ghost’? Silver-tongue strikes again, as Peter so delightfully puts it. Things get serious though – act-break serious – when it’s revealed that the ghosts have taken over the cockpit and are now flying the plane!

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This is the second episode in a row to follow a potentially lethal situation with the strains of house band Tahiti, which does dispel the tension somewhat. I think the band had started to run out of songs, as they’re playing the same song from episode #1, whereas before we’ve had a different tune for every adventure. Oh well, it was fresh while it lasted. We get some slapstick shenanigans, with the cabin crew turning out to be ugly spectres, and all the smaller ghosts starting food fights and genuinely annoying at least one of the passengers by removing his toupee and dancing on his bald head. Slimer doesn’t seem bothered by any of this carnage, preferring to lap up all the food (with the same baseball mitt that was intended for his own spanking, which he goes on to eat as well).

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After this silliness, the guys try to take control of the cockpit – Janine fires her proton accelerator inside the plane (pretty reckless) to gain access but it turns out no one’s behind the controls, so it’s up to Peter and Janine (!!!) to fly the plane before it crashes into 5th Avenue, which amazingly they manage to do (!!!!!), resulting in a surprisingly on-target descent on the airport strip, albeit severely damaging the plane in the process. Well, I say damaged – the entire body of the vehicle seems to have disintegrated, leaving just the passengers and the seats. Now, we never do find out what happened to the plane’s crew – what did the ghosts do with the pilots and the stewards? Were they even on the plane in the first place? And why do the ghosts feel the need to parachute from the out-of-control plane when they can fly? How has the local newspaper printed the news of the ghosts taking over the town a mere hour or so since their initial escape? Why am I even giving any of this serious thought? Because I care, that’s why. This episode has plot holes, I can’t ignore it.

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Anyway, this whole airport situation seems to have taken up half of the episode, so we better hurry up and get moving, but not before a quick mention of the episode’s best line, which is when Egon confesses to his love that ‘you’re beautiful when you’re sick’. Genius! Janine and the guys track the source of the chaos back to HQ and the lamp in particular, which is where Janine blurts out everything about the genie. ‘THE GENIE???!!!’ the guys splutter. Don’t worry, Janine’s going to fix everything in a jiffy. ‘A JIFFY???!!!’ the guys splutter. Of course, there’s the issue of the third wish which hasn’t been granted yet. I’d have thought that Janine would have used it earlier to gain instant flying skills in the midst of their aerial crisis, but since everybody survived the landing, I guess it wouldn’t have been necessary. Janine calls on the genie and demands that her third wish be that all the ghosts return from whence they came, but the genie reveals that everything’s been a hustle and a distraction so that the ghosts can get down and party.

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Ray works out if they connect a shed load of traps to the lamp, they can suck all of the ghosts back in to their former home, but since the HQ is currently a literal whirlwind of supernatural chaos, getting in there to connect the traps to the lamp will be a very risky move. Janine bravely steps up to the challenge, being hurled into the HQ in the process. She approaches the lamp before being stopped by the genie, who pleads with her to stop. When Janine refuses, it looks as though the genie is going to turn into his big, nasty persona, but instead he mutates into something worse, a scary hairless demon dog, all set to attack her before the guys blast him. The trap is connected, the ghosts and the genie dog are sucked back into the lamp, which disintegrates, leaving a huge burn mark on Janine’s desk. Collateral damage, I guess. She’s furious, but does Egon like her when she’s furious? Turns out he’s doesn’t. Phew! The guys have been so impressed by Janine’s bravery that they offer her a full-time job as a Ghostbuster, but she’s not interested. Ah, the status quo. Everything’s back to normal. Oh wait, the third wish….well, if Janine could still make it, she’d wish for – cue a frenzied covering of her mouth by the guys’ hands. She muffles something. Wonder what it was?

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