Citizen Ghost
Production Number: 75012 [1986 - ABC Season One]

A taxi cab arrives at Ghostbusters Headquarters and news reporter Cynthia Crawford from UBN News steps out. She's here to interview Dr. Peter Venkman to learn the unknown history of the Ghostbusters and write a report about it.

She briefly meets with Janine, but becomes perturbed when Janine says she's not allowed to go upstairs just yet. Janine starts a countdown while Cynthia lectures her on how a reporter can go wherever she wants to.


But at the end of the countdown, there's a huge explosion upstairs, and Janine tells Cynthia that she can finally go up there. Up in the lab, the four Ghostbusters are working on a machine that presumably caused the explosion. Winston remarks that he'd like to at least know what this machine is supposed to be if he's going to get disintegrated by it (there's a slight running gag in this series about this mysterious machine in Egon's lab and the fact that no one knows exactly what it's for.)

Within a few monents, Cynthia enters the room and finds Peter Venkman. They leave to conduct the interview.


Unfortunately, the interview isn't going quite as Cynthia had planned, seeing as how Peter is just talking about his own life, like the time he got into a fight with a highschool bully. Cynthia clarifies that what she really wants to know is about the history of the Ghostbusters, not just Peter's life story, when suddenly Slimer steps in.


Cynthia comments about how strange it is that a bunch of guys who bust ghosts have a ghost living with them. Peter agrees that it's "strange, weird, eccentric, sick", but that there are some good reasons for it... and as he begins to explain what they are...

...the episode goes into a flashback. It starts right after the events of the first Ghostbusters movie. The firehouse had been almost completely destroyed by the eruption of the containment unit after it was shut down by the EPA. The Ghostbusters had just arrived home after beating Gozer to clean up the mess. (And as such, they are wearing the beige jumpsuits from the movie instead of the multi-colored uniforms we are used to seeing in the show.)


Still covered in marshmallow from the Gozer/Stay Puft Marshmallow Man battle, the four discuss what to do about the mess in their headquarters. Egon says he needs to rebuild the containment unit and will make it bigger this time. (This explains why the containment unit in the series looks far different from how it looked in the movie.) He also says that they must destroy their current uniforms because they absorbed a "frightening amount" of "psychokinetic energy" from the fight with Gozer.


Just as Egon says that, Janine is reminded that a package arrived earlier that contains their new uniforms. When the box is opened, they are most definitely the familiar colored jumpsuits. Egon says, "They'll do."


Some time passes, and the containment unit has been rebuilt. Egon and Peter are running a check on everything, but as Peter lazily answers "check" to every component part Egon rattles off a list, Egon becomes suspicious that Peter's not really paying attention. So, he mentions a "Transwarp Drive", to which Peter answers, "Check". Egon informs him that they don't have a Transwarp Drive and Peter attempts to finagle his way out of it by using the logic that if they don't have it, it can't malfunction, and if it's not malfunctioning, it should be a "check".


Egon says he won't talk to Peter for a week, but not before reminding him to burn those old uniforms if he hasn't already. Peter claims that it's been taken care of just as we see him kick the jumpsuit box into a corner. Unfortunately, there also happened to be a crack in the containment unit just above where the box comes to rest.


Peter explains that work continued on rebuilding the firehouse, although they often had the feeling like they were being watched. And then one night, after the reconstruction was finished, they have a big dinner to celebrate.


But as it turns out, Slimer had been watching them the whole time and seeing the turkey is too much for him to handle. He flies through the wall and makes off with it.


The Ghostbusters pursue him, and while they do get their meal back, they aren't able to catch him.


Egon questions why when the ghost escaped from the old containment unit's explosion he didn't run away with all the others. Free food is one suggestion. Peter thinks he just wants another shot at him (referencing the scene from the movie where Peter is slimed in the hotel). But Janine thinks the ghost might just be lonely.


Several days later, Ray and Winston are working on Ecto-1 when Slimer shows up again. Winston leaves to check on a whistling pot of tea, but Ray doesn't notice him go. So when he asks for a screwdriver, he's a little surprised to receive a crowbar instead.


When Ray realizes it was Slimer who provided the incorrect tool, he begins to think he might be able to train him to do tricks. So, he tosses a pencil and asks Slimer to "fetch" it.


The pen flies over the file cabinets into Peter's office area, and when Slimer goes to retrieve it, Peter thinks the ghost is trying to attack him again. Peter asks Ray if he saw what happened, but Ray continues to work on the car and pretends to have no idea what Peter is talking about. Ray realizes that the ghost needs a name, so he calls him "Slimer", just to annoy Peter.


Oh, hey, remember those old uniforms in the basement with the psychokinetic energy buildup and that crack in the wall above them?


Um...oh shit...


Oh, double shit...


Yes, the Ghostbusters are awoken in the middle of the night by four phantoms that looks just like them and are wearing their old uniforms - the ones Peter was supposed to have destroyed.


Everyone quickly beelines downstairs and to suit up and don their proton packs. After a short melee with the Ghostbusters downstairs shooting up at the doppelgangers through the hole where the fire pole is, they manage to drive the phantoms back.


But when they head upstairs to pursue them, the ghosts have already gone out through the window and have taken off down the street. Egon questions how it's possible that those things could have been wearing their old uniforms since Peter was supposed to have destroyed them.


Upon discovering the leak in the basement, Egon explains that the suits, having already absorbed much ectoplasmic energy from the Gozer battle, absorbed even more from the containment unit. He also explains that reason the ghosts look just like them is because of the fingerprints they'd left on the clothes from wearing them. Peter, still narrating the story, insists to the news reporter that they all agreed it was "nobody's fault".


Peter explains that several weeks passed by and they had almost forgotten about the doppelgangers, when one day when they were on a routine call. As Peter walked down an alleyway by himself, he was suddenly shot at by his own double, who appeared on a nearby rooftop, but that's not all. The ghost was now insisting that he was "Dr. Peter Venkman", and since there can be only one Dr. Peter Venkman, one of them must go.


Meanwhile, Winston and Egon have a close encounter with their doubles while Ray gets chased down the street by his.


Luckily, Peter drives by in Ecto-1 and everyone manages to escape. But they've come to the realization that not only do these things look like them, but now they want to be them...and the only way to do that is for the ghosts to get rid of them.


Back at headquarters, the Ghostbusters discuss what to do about this situation. Seeing as how both sides are pretty evenly matched. While they eat sandwiches and try to come up with a plan, the doubles sneak into the firehouse, get inside Ecto-1, and drive it out of the building.


But stealing Ecto-1 isn't their true plan, as Winston is quick to point out that their proton packs are still in the car. Now that they can't get to their weapons, they're sitting ducks.


Ray remembers a spare proton pack sitting by the lockers. As the others run for cover when the doubles fire on them, Peter heads for the spare pack and is successful in procuring it, but Ray quickly notes that it only has half a charge.


Peter gets into a shooting contest with the doubles, and Egon notices that each time they fire, they appear to get weaker, because the ghosts are using their own ectoplasmic energy for their beams.


So, now they realize what they must do is draw enough fire from the doubles so that they'll use up all of their energy and disappear. But since their proton pack is only half-charged, it won't last long enough. Someone will have to go out and draw their fire, but that person may not survive. After Peter jokingly suggests Janine should do it, Ray volunteers. Upon hearing that, Slimer becomes upset and goes in his stead.


Despite Ray's protests, Slimer flies out and draws the doubles' fire. Try as they might, they're unable to hit him and Slimers flies, bounces, and loop-de-loops all over the place. They continue to waste more and more of their energy with every shot.


By the time Slimer is done, the ghosts are clearly losing their power as they not only start to look worse than usual, but their guns can barely produce a spark. Peter uses his own proton pack to blow them out the door.


As the fight moves to the street, the Ghostbusters are finally able to get the rest of their proton packs from Ecto-1 and quickly put an end to the doppelganger situation.


Considering that Slimer just helped save their lives, they decide that it's okay to keep him, though Peter somewhat begrudgingly. And thus ends Peter's story to Cynthia Crawford, who now says she knows exactly how she'll handle her report.


Later on, as they prepare to watch their news report, Winston wonders what kind of story she can tell since she only interviewed Peter. And, yup, you guessed it, her report is about Slimer.

Based on the story he told her, I'm not real sure what he expected, either.

Notes & Trivia

J. Michael Straczynski says he wrote this episode because people kept asking him why Slimer was living with the Ghostbusters, and he felt that writing an episode that explained it was the best way to answer to them.

This is the second episode that JMS has written that has direct tie-ins with the movie.

This episode explains that Ray was the one who gave Slimer his name. In the movie, he did not have a name, and was only mentioned as "Onionhead" in the credits.

Because I am much more of a fan of the first season and syndicated episodes of this series than I am of the second Ghostbusters movie, I personally accept this episode as the "official" continuation of the storyline, rather than the idea that the Ghostbusters had gone out of business after they beat Gozer, which is how Ghostbusters II continued it.

While this episode gives a story-based reason for the change in the uniform colors from the movie to the cartoon series, there is actually a logical reason from an animation standpoint for the change, too. Some people who worked on the show said that in longshots, it was much easier to tell the characters apart if they were wearing different-colored clothing.

Is this episode also a dig against Filmation's Ghostbusters? The writers admitted that "Ghosts R Us" was, but this episode seems like it could be, too. They're fighting against "copies" of the Ghostbusters, and then there's Ray's line, "Sorry, fellas. The REAL Ghostbusters are here to stay!"

The Tahiti song, "Charge You Up" plays when the Ghostbusters fight the doppelgangers for the first time in the firehouse at night.

Peter has a toy robot and frilled lizard on his desk near the tape recorder used to record the interview.

Continuity Error #1: After the machine causes an explosion in the beginning of the episode, and Peter jokes that it could destroy the Bronx, Ray says that he was born in the Bronx. Um, really?

Continuity Error #2: When Ecto-1 is stolen by the doubles and driven out of the firehouse, it's not sitting in the same spot where they left it when the Ghostbusters go out to get their proton packs from it.

Pop Culture Reference #1: The title of this episode is a reference to the 1941 Orson Welles movie, Citizen Kane.

Pop Culture Reference #2: When Cynthia Crawford first meets with Janine, Janine says she'd rather be actress Meryl Streep, but then again, wouldn't we all?

Pop Culture Reference #3: "Transwarp Drive" is a reference to Star Trek.



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