Mrs. Roger's Neighborhood
Production Number: 75004 [1986 - ABC Season One]

It's night in the suburbs on New York City, when suddenly, on a vacant lot, a house that looks remarkably like something out of Mickey's Toontown appears out of completely nowhere.

The lion statues guarding the front door come to life and scare the shit out of a bluebird. Then they laugh about it and become statues again. Yeah, even for New York, this isn't normal.


Meanwhile, at Ghostbusters HQ, everyone is bored because they haven't had a ghostbusting call all week.

Egon, especially, seems to have too much time on his hands.


A call finally comes in, but it turns out to be Janine's sister giving her a dinner recipe. After groans of disappointment, the phone rings again, and this time it's really a ghostbusting job... and everyone gets as excited about it as these people are for their Yahoo mail.

While on the way there, Peter is disappointed to hear that it's "another haunted house" mission, because the last five were all false alarms. Winston, however, thinks this one might be for real because the address is "1313 13th Street". "Give me a break," is Peter's response.

1313 13th Street does turn out to be that same strange cartoonish house from before... and someone is watching them arrive from the inside...


Something sabotages the PKE Meter on the way in, and the Ghostbusters prepare their proton guns as the door begins to open...


...but it's just a little old lady with horn-rimmed glasses and a beehive hairdo - Mrs. Rogers, the resident of the house. Mrs. Rogers explains that strange things have been going on in her house lately - weird lights, funny voices, etc. Even her pet canary, Precious, seems upset by all of it.


Mrs. Rogers complains that she is too scared to stay in the house any longer, so Peter tells Ray to take her back to Ghostbusters HQ while they deal with the problem. Ray complies, and Peter (who doesn't actually believe the house is haunted) goes about writing up the bill.


Meawhile, Winston and Egon investigate the house. Strange things start happening - paintings come to life, dishes dance around in the cabinets on their own - but it only happens when they aren't looking so they don't notice any of it. Egon goes to the kitchen table to work on repairing the PKE Meter.


A chest near the front of the house opens up and ghosts start leaking out of it. One of them flies into a closet behind Peter. Moments later, the closet door opens up, a bright light shines out of it, and a voice can be heard saying, "What". Peter believes either Egon or Winston said it and this leads to the first great moment of comedy in this series.


Peter: Who said what?
Egon: What?
Peter: Did you say what?
Egon: Peter, I'm trying to work.
Winston: Say what?
Egon: I didn't say what.
Peter: Who did?
Winston: Did what?
Peter: Say what.
Winston: Man, I didn't say a word.
Peter: Yeah, right! Then who did?


The closet and cabinet doors open again, yelling "What!" over and over. Peter gets lifted out of his chair and sucked into the closet. He's okay, but quips, "This is gonna cost extra." Egon looks up "What" in Tobin's Spirit Guide and learns that it's a powerful spirit from the underworld, and leader of a legion of evil demons.


Meanwhile, at Ghostbusters HQ, Mrs. Rogers has asked Janine for a tour of the firehouse. Slimer is left to babysit Precious, but he's not too happy about it because the bird keeps laughing at him. But once Janine and Mrs. Rogers are out of sight...


...Precious turns into a monstrous pink ghoulish bird and shoots flames out of its beak at Slimer. It barely misses and Slimer is completely freaked out by it. The bird returns to its canary form and laughs hysterically.


In the basement, Janine shows the containment unit to Mrs. Rogers and explains how all the ghosts that the ghostbusters have caught are trapped inside. Mrs. Rogers worries that if someone turned it off, the ghosts could escape, but Janine assures her that a lock on the unit that only responds to the voice and handprints of the immediate staff will prevent that.


Upon hearing that news, Mrs. Rogers starts to transform... into something very big and ugly... "Immediate staff?", she asks, "You mean, like you?"


"Oh no. Only the four ghostbusters," replies Janine, not noticing what is going on behind her back. When she turns around, Mrs. Rogers has returned to normal.


Right before the commercial break, that chest in Mrs. Rogers' house bursts completely open, but I'm not 100% sure I understand why a big deal is made out of this. It seems the implication is that the house itself is not supernatural, but the ghosts coming out of this chest and seeping into the walls are what's making it haunted. Weird, since it seems like the house itself should be a supernatural creation of What. Anyway, Ray finally returns after having dropped Mrs. Rogers off at the firehouse.


He sees the ghosts coming out of the chest and shoots into the wall where they're going... only to find Peter and Winston on the other side.


Then there's some hilarious hijinks where they all get knocked onto their asses by the ghosts moving the floors and rugs around. Ray asks to be filled in on what's been going on. Egon walks in, having finally fixed the PKE meter, and his response to Ray's request starts up the second wordplay sequence:

Egon: The prime motivator is a demon named What.
Ray: Named what?
Egon: What.
Ray: I asked you first.
Peter: No, What is it's name.
Ray: Don't ask me, ask Egon.
Egon (pointing to PKE Meter): This'll show you What.
Ray: Huh?
Egon: Nevermind. Let's just track it down.


Egon uses the PKE Meter to find What and it leads him right to a bedroom closet. Peter, Winston, and Ray go at it with all guns blazing.


But Peter tells them to cease fire because there's nothing inside the closet but Mrs. Rogers' dress. The dress drives the PKE Meter's needle right off the scale. "Mrs. Rogers' dress is What?" asks Ray. "No, Ray," responds Egon, "Mrs. Rogers is What."


Remembering that they left Mrs. Rogers at the firehouse with Janine, they realize they have to escape this house and return. But the path to the front door is blocked by a gauntlet of possessed objects, including flying books, a sofa throwing cushions at Egon's face, and desks that turn into long-legged guard dogs.


The proton beams make short work of all these crazy creatures, but as they approach the door, a bunch of horrible-looking hands start coming out of the walls, attempting to hold the ghostbusters back and prevent their escape. Winston grabs ahold of the doorknob and everyone else grabs ahold of Winston as the walls of the house further distort and become a long single vertical tunnel. By now they've deduced that What created this house as a trap for them.


And what should come crawling up from the basement but an angry, possessed furnace, chomping and belching flames in the Ghostbusters' direction. Winston tells Ray to drop his trap. Ray complies and it falls right into the furnace's mouth. The furnace explodes and sends them flying out the door. (Uh, yeah, I think in reality that would've killed them.)


But they're not out of the woods yet as the lion statues come to life and prepare to pounce. Once again, the proton beams get the job done, and they hurry off to HQ.


When they return home, they're surprised and relieved to find that Janine is okay, but she tells them that she doesn't know where Mrs. Rogers went. They all split up to look for her. Meanwhile, she's upstairs, hiding in the bathroom.


When Peter opens the bathroom door, a giant hand grabs him and pulls him inside. He emerges, looking very, very strange.


Janine finds him and doesn't at all notice that anything's wrong, even complimenting him on his "new do". After she leaves, Slimer becomes suspicious and start sniffing around him. Precious (in large pink goblin form) shows up again and drives Slimer off.


Peter, now possessed by What, heads down to the basement, and deactivates the containment unit's safety lock with his voice and handprint.


The others find out what's going on and demand to know what he's doing. He informs him that he is no longer Peter, he is now "the mighty What".


Peter attempts to fight the demon, but isn't very successful. Winston readies his proton gun to drive What out, but Ray and Janine stop him, informing him that Peter would never withstand the blast. (I realize this is important information for the audience, but I'm pretty sure Winston should already know that. I mean, that should be the first thing they teach you in Ghostbusters job training.)

Egon says there is one chance to separate them. If they fire one proton beam at What's exact frequency and one beam at Peter's frequency, they should be able to separate them.

Uh, yeah. I think Dr. Honen Calzoun has something to say about that:

Honen: Zis is ridiculous! PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE A FREQUENCY!!


Anywho, Peter has no luck thwarting the will of What and succumbs to her power. What shuts down the containment unit and starts barking orders to the ghosts inside. But Egon sets his plan into action as he and Winston fire their beams at Peter.


What gets pissed and orders Precious to "stop them! stop them!" Precious breathes fire at the remaining ghostbusters, but Slimer forms his entire lower body into a boot and kicks Precious right in the crotch.


Precious goes flying into a piece of machinery and gets stuck. From there, Ray and Janine easily trap him. While this is going on, Egon and Winston continue to pull What and Peter apart.


Since What is obviously distracted, Janine slips by and turns the containment unit back on. Moments later, What is finally pulled free of Peter completely and caught in a ghost trap.


With What gone for good, her haunted house starts to implode, until the entire thing, ghosts and all, is sucked into that mysterious chest... and then the chest explodes, leaving nothing but a scar on the ground.


Peter is okay, although he's upset about his hair being messed up, lamenting, "I can't go out in public like this. My life is ruined."


Slimer thinks he has a solution...but that doesn't make Peter very happy.


And it looks like everything is back to normal as Peter goes chasing Slimer down the street.

Notes & Trivia

With the exception of the "frequency" nonsense, this is actually a pretty decent episode - rather disturbing in many ways, too. With this one, we've finally seen a classic moment of RGB comedy as well as the potential for great storylines.

The deal with What's haunted chest is never really explained. It seems like the house itself is technically not haunted (even though What created it), but the ghosts coming out of the chest and seeping into the walls is what makes it become haunted... and the Ghostbusters never acknowledge that the chest is the source of the problems, even though Ray sees the ghosts coming out of it. Also, when the chest is in the house, it's standing up vertically on its side and looks to be a rectangular shape all around. But when the house implodes at the end, it's sitting upright on its bottom and has more of a classic pirate's treasure chest shape.

Yeah, yeah, "Mrs. Roger's Neighborhood" is a take on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood", the famous children's educational program starring the late Fred Rogers. I have to nitpick the punctuation of the title card, though. The apostrophe should be after the "s". Otherwise, with the way it's written, her name would be just "Mrs. Roger".

This episode has a decent amount of scenes where the background is fully-animated. Quite impressive for Season 1 animation.

It seems like many of the house haunting scenes were inspired by the movie Poltergeist. (That movie will be an influence on later episodes as well.)

The "What" wordplay routine was undoubtedly inspired by the famous Abbott & Costello "Who's on First?" routine.

The Tahiti song "Don't Play Her Game" plays from the part just after the Ghostbusters figure out Mrs. Rogers is What as they try to get out of the house.

The voice and handprint activated lock on the containment unit is never seen again after this episode. I'm on the fence as to whether it should have remained canon. On the one hand, it's really ridiculous that there's no security on the containment whatsoever and ghosts can just waltz up and shut it down whenever they want in later episodes, but on the other hand, this episode shows why having a lock of this particular sort may not be such a good idea.

Tobin's Spirit Guide was mentioned in the Ghostbusters movie. This is the first time it's used in this show.

Ray is the one who pulls out a trap and catches the lion statue ghosts, even though he threw his trap into the furnace a few moments earlier. Typically, the proton packs are drawn with only one trap attached, but this won't be the last time the Ghostbusters will mysteriously produce more traps out of thin air.



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