The Real Ghostbusters Episode 30: Boo-Dunit

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Boo-Dunit. The nicest thing I can say about that title is that it’s not even the worst pun of this episode. That credit must surely go ‘Agatha Grisley’, which you imagine would have been dismissed out of the Carry On staff writers meeting. Oh well, it’s a kids show, what am I doing complaining about this. Actually, they could have put a question mark at the end of the episode title, that’s something I won’t let go. Punctuation, people!

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This episode begins, as all great murder mysteries should begin, with a thunderstorm on a scary, atmospheric night. We’re at a house, one as opulent as Ray’s Aunt Lois’s ages back, but we’ve never been here before. A gruff, very English man named Mr. Kingsworth knocks on the door of what we soon discover is the house of the now deceased crime author Agatha Grisley (groan) – her butler opens the door, takes Kingsworth’s coat and quite directly asks if any money was left for him in her will. Not a cent, apparently. Wow, she obviously didn’t like him then. The thing is, we never do find out who she gave her money too. Forgive me for stereotyping, but when you do see her at the end, I can’t help but thinking she’s left everything to a cats charity. Nothing wrong with that, I love cats. The butler, clearly furious but not stiff-upper-lip enough not to let it show on his face, simply opens the front door again and chucks Kingsworth’s coat back outside.

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It turns out that a fair few people have turned up for the reading of Grisley (groan)’s will, but things are clearly suspect the moment said document is produced from Kingsworth’s briefcase and a sword flies in from out of nowhere and pins the document to the table! Oddly enough, even though everyone is obviously shocked by this, Kingsworth nevertheless seems to view this is a mere, reasonable obstacle. Simply removing the sword should set things back on track., right?

Nope. Another sword.

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Back at HQ, by an extraordinary coincidence, the guys are watching a murder mystery on the TV! And it turns out that Winston is a total genius at working out who the killer is every time! This ties things up nicely for what could be a similar storyline soon, eh? Actually, the TV mystery that Winston spoils the answer to at the last minute sounds pretty awful. The killer – Larry the Plumber – seems to be only ever referred to by that full descriptive name. You can just imagine characters earlier on in the mystery saying things like – ‘darn it, the plumbing needs sorting, where’s Larry the Plumber?’ Everyone’s fed up with Winston spoiling their fun, all except Slimer, who thinks it’s a right chuckle to immerse himself in a slice of pizza that they’ve had delivered. Ray even starts to eat a bit of the pizza, which we find out later he thinks tastes awful, so what was Slimer intending to do here? Allow himself to get eaten? Would he have been boiled alive in Ray’s stomach acid or would he have escaped via his throat? Either way, it’s a most unpleasant scenario and Slimer has rarely been so stupid. By the way, the Ghostbusters audio-visual set-up is pretty substantial.

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The alarm bell rings, the guys slide down the pole, take their assignment worksheet and leave in Ecto-1. It’s a ruthlessly efficient procedure, but one without heart. As Janine laments after they’ve driven off, ‘not even a goodbye’. It’s true, they completely ignored her! In the car, further inspection of the worksheet reveals their new case is based at the Agatha Grisley (groan) house. It turns out that she was the best in her field because her mysteries were the hardest to figure out. Peter also suggests that the cause of her death was in her frenzied attempts to stop Winston figuring out the ending to her novels before she even got them down on paper. The plot that follows proves very similar…

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When the guys arrive at the house, they almost trip over the old man’s discarded coat, which Peter picks up. The door bell is rung and all of a sudden a dagger flies past them and into the door. In a nicely human touch, Winston can’t resist pushing the dagger to the side until he lets go and it wobbles back and forth impressively. Egon PKE’s the dagger. It’s hot stuff. Winston flips the dagger again. An impatient Egon holds it still. Must he do that, Egon asks? Yes, Peter says. The door opens and grumpy butler welcomes them, calling them ‘gentlemen’. They all look deeply confused until they realise it’s they who are being spoken to and we realise it must have been a long time since anyone regarded the ghostbusters as gentlemen. They enter the house, inspect the surroundings, and the butler asks Peter if he can take his coat. ‘Weeeelllll, I don’t know…’ Peter says, before throwing the thing over the butler’s head, which was a bit out of order, I thought. The butler does the only reasonable thing after that, which is to chuck the coat back outside.

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Cut to what looks like nearly a hundred swords on the floor of the room where the perforated will currently resides, and this is where I wish we’d had a deleted scene where each sword was pulled out of the will only for another one to appear. Over and over again. I mean, come on, I’d have given up after four or five tries, but they must have just kept on going. Idiots. Kingsworth explains that since the will was taken out of the briefcase, lots of weird things have been happening, like objects levitating, ghostly apparitions appearing and disappearing, and even old-school revolvers ghosting their way into the hand of unsuspecting humans.

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Here, it happens to Ray, and even though his petrified reaction suggests he’s a wuss, I’d have probably been the same. The weird thing is that Winston, in full Ray mode, practically screams out ‘it’s just like something out of an Agatha Grisley [groan] book!’ Eh, what? There’s been no evidence so far that her books dealt with the supernatural, they were just murder mysteries. Maybe Winston’s just overexcited – Peter says as much, but any reassurances he has to say to the old man are interrupted when the floor beneath him gives away and he falls down – onto a stone floor, ouch – in what looks like a dungeon, or the torture room in the Vincent Price version of The Pit and the Pendulum. That fall would have probably killed him, or at least broken some bones, but never mind, let’s move on.

vlcsnap-2015-09-28-20h38m55s651vlcsnap-2015-09-28-20h39m06s942The other three take the safe way downstairs, and this, we find out, is the place where our sadly departed author wrote her mysteries. Looks more like the setting for writing horror novels – seriously, this room is spooky! The guys look around, but then all of a sudden Ray is being hung up from the ceiling like a lightbulb, and Winston has been instantly trapped one of those torture racks that’s used to stretch people. How did they get there? More outrageously, how do Winston and Ray switch places in the next shot? Look, now it’s Winston swinging upside down and Ray on the rack! I can’t even call this a continuity error, because we’re not talking about a cup of tea disappearing and reappearing in a series of shots. This is an insane, mental mistake, one of the worst in the series’ history, but I love this show, so who cares. Actually, the fact that a couple of shots later both Ray and Winston are no longer trapped and are back to investigating as normal is so collosally weird that I wonder if there were some helpful shots that were haphazardly cut out of this sequence. It’s mad.

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Anyway, the guys continue their search, and Peter opens a drawer which secretly releases a switch (note how when we see the switch depress, there are some cartoon effect lines that emanate from it – nice) that sets in motion the wobbling of a life-size suit of armour behind him, a suit of armour that is holding a precariously balanced axe… in fact, if it wasn’t for the others, a distracted Peter would have been killed. And his last words would have been some piffle about orange peel. So I suppose this was a booby-trap set up by Grisley (groan) to kill anyone who tried to nose around her drawers and find out the endings of her novels. I guess that’s one way to deal with those people who post spoilers online. As the axe doesn’t kill Peter, it instead lands on the writing bureau, cutting it in half and releasing a mystery draft of an unpublished novel, which appears to be unfinished. Also, there are multiple copies of the last page, with each one announcing a different character as the killer. Egon works out that the apparitions and mysteries in the house are clues to the mystery, and that the ghostbusters have to work out who the killer is from all this spectral evidence. Even though there appears to be no overt time limit to this mystery, the fact that Peter has almost been killed twice in the space of a minute suggests that they’d better get cracking. Peter himself appreciates the urgency, and he violently kicks the suit of armour into a pile of metal in an act of defiance against all this atmosphere of death.

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Back upstairs, the guys explain to Kingsworth and the butler what it is they have to do, and Ray for some reason has presented everyone with some chocolate doughnuts. Why? True, Ray’s a careful shopper, but this doughnut business has seriously come out of nowhere. It could be that these sugared treats have only been introduced so that we get a very cool act break shock as everyone raises their doughnuts, shout ‘to the hunt!’ and a metal spear flies into the room, hooks all the doughnuts and slams itself into the wall, right next to Peter, who has nearly died three times before the first half is even over. Now for some reason I used to find this act break scary. Okay, let me explain. The music that accompanies the shock is one that always used to unnerve me as a child – the theme is the one that usually ends one of the show’s spookier pieces. We get the same bit of music earlier on when Peter falls into the dungeon, and the preceeding main theme plays out as that sequence goes on. There were some eerie themes in this show, and this was the eeriest of the lot. Just before the doughnuts are speared, there’s a creepy shot of a picture portrait’s eyes moving side to side – clearly the ghosts are listening in on this conversation. And the final shot of this half has a close-up of an almost perversely gleeful Peter, wobbling spear waving up and down in front of him, stating that is ‘going to be lots of fun’. Fun? I think that the fact that I was scared and Peter wasn’t made me feel like more of a wimp. Plus there’s that fade-to-black thing that I get freaked out about and that I’ve mentioned in previous reviews. I used to watch this episode late at night with the lights out along with the other episode on The Real Ghostbusters Vol. 5 on videotape, which was ‘Ragnarok and Roll’. So this tape’s contents used to give me the right chills – more on Ragnarok in a couple of reviews time, though.

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Act 2 begins with ‘the hunt’ underway – Egon, Peter, Ray and Kingsworth decide to split up to search for clues more efficiently, and as we all know, splitting up always works in situations like this. Ray and Kingsworth are the first to find some ghosts, in the form of a beautiful, ‘wealthy jezebel’ and a quite notably ugly ‘French cad’, the latter hoping to win the former’s heart. Doesn’t sounds like she’s very interested though, with her heart still set on someone else, a decent man, a man with a really great car. Forget decency, forget motor vehicles, the cad insists.

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By the way, just to add to the tawdriness, we get a totally gratuitous shot of the jezebel’s cleavage, but it’s all appropriate given the trashiness of the mystery, which according to Ray also has ‘awful dialogue’, which is a bit rich coming from the same writers who came up with Agatha Grisley (groan). Although I do love the fact that Ray has suddenly produced a bag of popcorn for the night’s entertainment.

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All of a sudden, the jezebel’s true love appears, and he’s almost as ugly as the cad, a huge beefcake with a huger MACE! And he’s furious, presuming that he’s being cheated on, which really stings since he just made the last payment on their ferrari, not to mention installing a tape deck inside too. Ah, the eighties. The beefcake swings the mace like an absolute psycho (his growl during this bit is most amusing) and the nasty end snaps and flies off, causing it to create a big hole in the floor which Ray and the old man fall into, almost dying. The jezebel comments on the rudeness of the humans, who left without saying goodbye. This the second instance of impolite departures in this episode. Ray and the old man land painfully next to Winston, who needs to read faster.

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It’s Egon’s turn to witness some clues now, and the jezebel has been murdered. She lies dead in her bed, having been poisoned by some cyanide in her glass of milk. The cad sits at her side, bawling hysterically (you can tell it’s Maurice LaMarche doing the voice here, as his cries sound a lot like Egon whenever he’s in anguish) and her doctor tries to comfort him, ensuring that the poison worked fast and that her death was swift. The cad thinks the beefcake committed the horrible deed, plus he’s got terrible indigestion from all this grief. Egon offers him the nearby glass of milk, which the doctor rapidly smacks out of his hand, yelling that it’s poisoned! The poisoned milk spills all over the wooden floor, causing it to burn and leave a hole – I wasn’t sure cyanide could do that, but what do I know? The cad turns to Egon, accusing him of attempted murder. Egon just forgot, that’s all.

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Try to forget this, the cad threatens, producing an absolutely enormous revolver that is so big that he can’t even fire the thing without standing on the butt to try and get the balance right and aim it at Egon’s face. This is absolutely bonkers imagery, quite brilliant, I must say. Egon backtracks right into the hole the poison caused, which saves him from a gunshot to the head but almost kills him when he lands painfully next to Winston. Do all rooms lead to Winston? By the way, the preceding scene featured an organ soundtrack that even the characters could hear, such is the meta-textuality of this episode. Smart.

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Now it’s Peter’s turn to go sleuthing, and he arrives in the kitchen. After a cute reference to demons in the refridgerator that harks back to the first film, as well as evidence that Peter eats oranges without removing the peel, a scary and huge chef materialises and insists that Peter help peel and dice vegetables in preparation for the night’s entree, which is stew. The chef is one ugly, pig-faced beast. Still, he can pound a slab of meat like no one else, and he pounds a lot, making Peter freak out a little.

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Still, that’s nothing compared to the reappearance of the jezebel, who turns up, still dead on one of the kitchen tables. Peter rushes to her, warning her that nearby inanimate flesh is not safe from the fists of the chef, but when he touches her arm, her skin melts on contact. Not in a romantic, sensual way. In a weird way. The cad also reappears, still in floods of tears. Egon rushes into the room and squashes Peter’s ‘vegetable’, which is really a fruit, as it’s a tomato. We can forgive Egon for being in a rush though, as he was being chased by the beefcake, who has just turned up with a ROCKET LAUNCHER. Fair enough.

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The beefcake has the launcher aimed at Egon and Peter, but soon turns his attention to the screaming cad, who he thinks is the jezebel’s murderer. Hilariously, the cad is still crying his eyes out, seemingly oblivious to the launcher that’s practically in his face. However, his incoherent mumblings turn out to be the quite reasonable ‘please take this gun off my head!’, which Peter insists is terrible dialogue, and how did Grisley (groan) get paid for writing this stuff? No one said life was fair, Egon says. Ray and Kingsworth show up and we have quite a busy kitchen at this stage. Anything could happen. The cad takes this opportunity to kick the beefcake hard in the shin, causing him to hurl the rocket launcher in agony, which blows a hole in the wall when it lands, a hole that lets us peek into Winston’s room. All roads lead here, remember. We take a little time out from all this madness so that Peter can garnish Winston with refreshments to help fuel his progress through the mystery. However, he’d better speed up quick as the pig-chef has started exclaiming loudly about how the jezebel used to love his food more than anything. She ate like a horse, apparently. He’s just made a new cake here in the kitchen, but if she can’t eat any more food, no one can! This is where he produces a classic pudding bomb and adds it as the final ingredient in the cake.

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Kingsworth hides in one of the utensil cabinets, the coward. The guys try to defuse the bomb, but as it’s a spectral bomb, there’s a chance that it might not blow up. But there’s a chance that it might. But there’s a chance that it might not. But there’s a chance that– ENOUGH! Peter insists on interrupting this banter between Egon and Ray isn’t going anywhere. Peter takes a finger of cake and doesn’t like the taste. In fact, food gets a bad deal in this episode – slimy pizza, poisoned milk, underwhelming cake and apparently the cad’s goose liver cracker spread is ‘depressing’ according to the beefcake. Depressing, the cad says? ‘Then weep, you fool!’ he offers, starting a food fight, which seems utterly inappropriate at this stage. As Peter says, an explosion would probably go unnoticed. Never mind, Winston’s solved the mystery.

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It was the doctor. The jezebel refused to pay his bills, which stocked up after her constant disagreements with all the gourmet food. Plus she made fun of his car. I can see why the doctor would be wound up at that. It’s the right answer too, as the ghosts express satisfaction at the result and are happy that they can rest, which they do, disappearing. This is when we see Agatha Grisley (groan) for the first time, floating above them, wearing the old man’s coat and expressing happiness that Winston has solved the case. She and the bomb (which she does admit was a melodramatic touch) disappears, but the final page turns up, complete with a dedication to our guys.

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Nothing’s changed though – Peter, Egon and Ray are still rubbish at solving TV mysteries back at HQ, but at least they’ve given themselves more of a chance having bound and gagged Winston so that he can’t spoil anything for them. Winston looks genuinely upset and frustrated. He deserves it, frankly.

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