The Real Ghostbusters Episode 20 – ‘Adventures in Slime and Space’ (1986)

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Now, anyone who’s been following this slowly gestating Ghostbusters blog will know I have an issue with Slimer, the ugly little spud who is essentially the most annoying pet ever. He eats your food, he gurgles inanities, he brings about near apocalyptic disaster and did I say he eats your food? All of it. Any of it. He is a remorseless eating machine. Luckily, we’re avoided any kind of outright Scrappy Doo unbearableness because the show remembers to include a character who really, really hates him. Gawd bless Peter Venkman, who has tried to incinerate Slimer at least four hundred and sixteen times in the series so far. What’s odd is that episodes that go out of their way to concentrate on Slimer actually end up being pretty good and not the most annoying things ever. We’ve already had the excellent ‘Slimer, Come Home’ and now we get ‘Adventures in Slime and Space’, which gives us more Slimer than we ever thought possible, in volume and size. There must be at least a million Slimers present in these here twenty minutes, as well as the biggest and bluest Slimer ever. Don’t worry, Slimer-haters will not want to avoid this episode, for it’s a peach. A big, slimy peach.

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The episode opens with some scary sounding experiments taking place upstairs in HQ, scary enough that the locals are pining for the days when the dynamite factory was still around, when it was a lot quieter. All this noise has proven worth it though, as Egon has stabilised a ecto-electro-molecular-destablising-field and now all he has to do is refocus the cross-phased calamitors to produce a triple-didactic parallel overload and then….!!!?? Peter, like us, is absolutely baffled as to what any of this means. Ray understands, and is so impressed that he hasn’t properly reacted to the fact that he literally has an electric current surrounding him throughout this whole scene. In a very nicely underplayed bit, Peter touches Ray out of sheer curiosity and gets a little shock, but this moment occurs almost unnoticed in the middle of dialogue. Someone else might have felt the need to really make a big show of this, but here it just happens, just like that. I love it. Anyway, this scientific breakthrough means that the guys can disintegrate ghosts on sight instead of having to incarcerate them in the Containment Unit. Now here’s where we get into the whole debate of prison versus capital punishment, with the Ghostbusters potentially becoming a quartet of Judge Dredds – you know, shooting on sight, instant execution, that sort of thing. Tricky stuff, and a darker route the series doesn’t take as this episode swiftly makes this new invention a thing of horror, as we will soon see.

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Slimer shows up on the scene, slimes Peter’s finger (not as filthy as that sounds) and Ray brings up his own pet project, one which involves Slimer being able to communicate with…and it’s at this point that Peter stands back, horrified at the prospect of wanting to communicate with Slimer. I know, right? It’s the worst idea ever, but by hotwiring a photo-doobrey-whatever speech library to the thingmiwotsit, Slimer can have his deep, dark and disturbing thoughts transferred into English. Slimer does this by typing his thoughts into the computer and then a vocal translation is relayed to the guys. The thing is, how does Slimer know what to punch into the computer and how does the computer know how to translate such random typing? Never mind, we get an amusing 2001 reference as Slimer’s words are translated into HAL 9000 quotes, right down to Slimer pleading with Ray to ‘stop…I can feel it’, which sounds really weird and slightly dodgy for those not down with Kubrick parlance. Peter’s not at all impressed, so he takes this opportunity to destroy Slimer – ‘aye, aye Captain, setting the phasers to stun!’ he goes, though it’s clear Peter wants to do more than stun the spud. Slimer frenziedly flies everywhere and directly into Egon’s destabilising field, which instead of disintegrating him, splits him up into a hundred or so little Slimers! The little nightmares fly everywhere and Ray tries to trap them with an ‘Ecto-Slimer Net’ which is basically a normal net, but all this does is split the little Slimers into more little Slimers upon impact. They still use the nets even though it’s obvious they’re doing more harm than good but any attempts to trap them are null and void as they flee HQ, sliming everything in sight!

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Slimer has become molecularly discordinated, losing his cohesion, and this means potentially millions of Slimers. In one shot worthy of a horror film, Winston grabs a little Slimer, squeezes it, and four more Slimers emerge from his clenched fist. Of course, you all say, Slimer can only split up so many times, and Ray calculates that it’ll take 412 years before he can no longer get any smaller. Oh wait, he meant 4120 years. Peter’s choked reaction is priceless. In the meantime, the world will become utterly slimed. That’s going to mean a lot of slipping. Imagine the world’s surface covered in banana peel – cue lots of slapstick pratfalls across the city. Curse those little buggers. Yeah, little buggers – that’s what Janine unexpectedly and hilariously calls them. I didn’t think Slimer was, ahem, equipped for anything like that. Still, it’s the finest infilatration of naughty language in a cartoon since Wilma Flintstone said ‘bollocks’ a few decades earlier. Peter tries to flee the city by calling up the airport and asking when the next flight to ‘anywhere’ is. Upon realising that France is the next available getaway, he puts the phone down in disgust. Peter’s hostility towards the French is highlighted again in a later episode when the guys go to Paris. Damn xenophobe.

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Stupidly, the guys go out with those damn nets, which by now they must have realised don’t work, and head towards City Hall to admit to the mayor that all this is their fault. Now as we know, the Ghostbusters and the mayor have a strained relationship, the latter torn between acting in the best interests of the city, his own best interests, and coming to terms that the four men who have just helped wreck the city are the only ones who can save it. The mayor cutely references past city-wide nightmares like the terror dogs and Stay Puft from the film, but in doing so blanks out all the horrors that have occurred in the series so far – you know, like the huge Toy Ghost, the electrical/supernatural outbreak…. and they were just in the first two episodes! Anyway, he’s furious at Ray’s suggestion to wait months until the slime freezes, giving them a mere 24 hours to clean up their act. Egon’s big idea is to attract all the Slimers by reversing the doo-what so that they gather themselves into one single form once more. Brilliantly, there’s another reference to the film as Ray beckons Peter to offer Egon a chocolate bar as reward for his good thinking!

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The only catch of Egon’s plan is to capture one of the Slimers, which turns out to be a nightmare situation, as they slip and slide all over the place (Egon ends up through a door), leading to one of Peter’s finest lines – ‘This isn’t fun! I’ve had fun! This isn’t it!’ – luckily, one of them naturally flies into the de-stabilising field and comes out the other side, but get this, he’s blue. No one seems to comment on this as New Blue Slimer flies to all the other Slimers, absorbing them like some kind of absorbing absorber, getting bigger and bigger as he goes along. He only seems to be interesting in absorbing the actual Slimers and not all the slime that’s been left everywhere, so it looks as though there’s still going to be a hell of a lot of cleaning up to do afterwards. Another thing no one seems to comment on is that he’s getting way too big, far bigger than the original green Slimer. Seriously, everyone’s all shocked at the big reveal that’s just around the corner (or behind the building if you want to get all literal), but even before the music gets all threatening, the Blue Slimer is bleedin’ massive. Also, and it’s barely there, but you can tell this isn’t going to end well as his laugh is just a little bit more evil. Just a little bit. It gets more evil later on. Did I say later on? I meant now. Yep, Blue Slimer is absolutely huge, cackling like a mad man, and for the first and last time in his time on the show, pretty damned scary.

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The guys and Janine are flabbergasted, but Egon explains that the reason he’s so big is because since he’s split up all of his offspring have been consuming and consuming so that when reformed, he’s the size of a building. And according to Ray, this shock to his system has turned him ‘bad’. Oh, that explains it. What isn’t explained is why he’s blue. I guess blue is bad. Egon’s next suggestion is to use helicopters to get close to Slimer to zap him to shrinking size by reducing his ‘slimic energy’, or something. The mayor freaks out at the thought of hiring helicopters and considers moving to Pittsburgh instead. There are quite a few Pittsburgh references in this episode. It takes a sneaky reappearance of Blue Slimer (who looks particularly deranged and zombie-like in the above shot – look at those teeth!) and a swift kidnapping of Janine to convince the mayor to change his mind. Cue a great riff off of King Kong (Peter even namechecks Fay Wray at one point) as Blue Slimer ascends with Janine to the summit of the Empire State Building.

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Amazingly, all four Ghostbusters are trained helicopter pilots. Ray flew Ecto-2 in the first episode, and he wasn’t that great a pilot then. He’s a little better now, and the other three are doing a professional job also. The King Kong references continue as Janine pleads with Blue Slimer not to release her as then he’s a clear target – a little love/hate relationship between the damsel and the monster, though there will be no tears shed at the end of this conflict, as Slimer survives. Oh wait, maybe that is a cause for tears. Ray reverses the traditional emotional expression by quite honestly saying ‘this is going to hurt you a lot more than us’, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. Tell it like it is Ray, nice one! Slimer is blasted to within an inch of his size, falling to his (non) death in the process. The plan works a treat though – Slimer is back to normal, he’s green again, and the city looks as though it’s all clean again – how did that happen? Slimer conveys his gratitude through his HAL 9000 voice, but Peter still gets slimed when he admits that even just one Slimer is more than enough. It’s weird that no one mentioned Slimer was blue for so long – it’s like in the prohibition episode of the Simpsons when Marge’s hair is dyed green in the first act. Same thing, just colours reversed, that’s all.

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