Hello everyone! As some of you know, Halloween is my favorite holiday and with October finally upon us I’ve decided to cover an episode of one of my favorite T.V. shows: Ghostwriter.
A Review by Kristen Dowd
Ghostwriter was a series that ran on PBS from 1992 to 1995, producing three seasons. It was created by Liz Nelson and produced by BBC One and Sesame Workshop (then known as the Children’s Television Workshop). Ghostwriter centers around a group of friends living in Brooklyn, NY, who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries together as a team. They get help from “Ghostwriter”, an invisible entity. Ghostwriter communicates with the kids by manipulating nearby text and letters, using them to create simple words and sentences.
The kids all have different personalities: Jamel: the intelligent leader. Lenni: the comic book loving musician. Alex: the baseball playing aspiring detective. Gaby: Alex’s wisecracking sister. Tina: the film maker. Rob: the impulsive writer. Hector: the fish out of water and Rob’s eventual replacement and Casey: Jamal’s practical joke playing little cousin. Other youngsters joined the team for cases from time to time as well. I dug all of the characters, but Tina and Rob hold a special place in my heart as I’ve wanted to be a writer and film maker as far back as I can remember. Guest stars also appeared on the show including Sam Jackson, Max Wright, Lou “Super Mario” Albino and even David Patrick Kelly, you know, fucking T-Bird from The Crow.
As Much As It’s Making My Eyes Bleed, I Still Fucking Miss 90s Fashion
This particular episode sees Lenni, Jamal and Alex getting ready for graduation/prom as well as helping Tina plan a party. Casey shows off her new toy, a slime monster in a black trench coat named “Gooey Gus”. He can talk and grape bubblegum squirts from his mouth. Not real sure how long something like that would last before a bunch of parents complained but we’ll go with it. There is a story contest Casey is taking part in involving the doll, the catch being no blood or guns allowed. Problem is the story is funny, like Casey, but not really scary. Casey’s afraid she won’t make the deadline in time so the team offers to help her out. They head to Jamal’s computer and take turns writing, picking up where the last one left off.
Meanwhile the entertainment for the prom bails and Tina and Jamal beg Lenni to perform instead. Lenni doesn’t think she can do it alone so Tina offers up the help of her stubborn older brother, Tuan. At first Lenni and Tuan fight over control but come together to make funky beats as they realize they like-like each other. Back at Jamal’s, the rest of the team continue the story. Hector is apprehensive because he doesn’t know how to express himself through typing so Jamal types for him as Hector narrators. Ghostwriter also throws in his hat and helps too.
Eating Stuff That Comes Out Of That Monstrosity? Seems Legit
Gus gets stronger whenever he gets heated up, so in the story Gabby and Casey corner him on a roof where he’s sunbathing (fucking hilarious imagery) and throw water on him to try to melt him. Unfortunately for them, the water is hot and Gus grows into a 6 Foot tall man in a shitty Spirit Halloween costume. It’s a bit corny now but this scene used to give me horrible nightmares as a child.
He chases after them and they pass the other members of the team as they flee. They all hide in the bodega owned by Alex and Gaby’s family but Gus sneaks in a backdoor. They run to the freezer and throw frozen goods at him. Gus runs away like a little bitch and gets into Lenni’s house above the store. Jamal runs home to figure out how to destroy gum, which Gus is of course made of and the rest of the team go to rescue Lenni. They are all nearly overwhelmed by Gus’–um–goo.
Ahhh, Kill It With Fucking Fire!
Jamal enters the apartment and finds Tina unslimed. He’s figured out veggie oil breaks down gum so he hands Tina a bottle to dump on Gus. Jamal acts as bait and when Gus appears Tina lets him have it. He finally fucks off and melts, clothes too for some reason. The team ends the story triumphant and Casey is relieved they finished on time. Afterward they go to Tina’s party, where Lenni gives Jamal and Alex cool pen necklaces so they’ll be able to write to each other wherever they end up. Tina goes to check on some food she’s cooking and finds Gus hiding in the grill. He then jizzes his grape goo on everyone.
What’s going on? Was Gus alive in the real world this whole time?! Nah, it was one final gotcha from the team. Which is really kinda sad considering this ended up being the final episode of the show.
Oh Cool, My Favorite ZZ Top Song: Grape Necklace
The show was engaging for me because as someone being from “the hood” it was cool to see kids my age trying to keep their neighborhood free of bullshit and deal with some hard issues together as friends. Sadly Ghostwriter met an far too early end when it couldn’t get funding after the third season. Which is a giant shame. There was a lot of good in Ghostwriter and a lot of kids (including myself) were better for it being around.
The DVD releases are a bit of a mess. Shout! Factory released the first season as a five disk set and included neat stuff like a casebook and trivia game. GPN released the entire series EXCEPT the last two story arcs. So yeah, you may have to search around a little for VHS copies or other means to see the whole thing in its glory.