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Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series DVD Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Mar. 28, 2024 at 7:50 PM , Categories: Extreme Ghostbusters, Home Video

On March 19, 2024, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment finally decided to release all 40 episodes of Extreme Ghostbusters on physical media in the Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series DVD set. Was it worth the wait? Let's find out...

Before I get into this, I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the Spook Central VIPs for providing the funds that allowed me to buy this item and review it for all of you. This item was NOT provided by the manufacturer.

To properly understand what we have here, we need to go back over 25 years to see how we got here. Right from the start, Extreme Ghostbusters was treated with very little respect from those in charge at Sony. In the Fall of 1997, while Men in Black got a cushy Kids WB timeslot, the Busters of Extreme got dumped into the shitty Bohbot Kids Network (BKN) syndication package, where it was barely advertised outside of the two-hour BKN block, which was usually shown in the mornings while kids were attending school and parents were at work. In other words, you had to do your own legwork (scour through TV Guide or go online) to know what local station it was airing on, when it was airing, and you had to program your VCR to record it because no one would be home to watch it when it aired live.

A year later, in 1998, the series received its only home video release in the United States: three VHS tapes, each containing two episodes, retailing at $9.99 each (if I remember correctly). Unlike Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, there were no DVD counterparts to these tapes. Adding insult to injury, Sony saw fit to duplicate these tapes in the poor-quality SLP/EP speed, which was typical of a public domain/budget company, instead of the high-quality SP speed that was the norm for major studio releases. If that wasn't disrespectful enough, the tapes were meant to be packaged together in a literal box set (as seen in my photo below), but were, instead, released on store shelves shrink-wrapped together. In order to get the actual box for the box set, you not only had to know about it, but you had to know who to contact at Sony to get them to send it to you. (Eternal thanks to the late, great Doreen Mulman for hooking a brother up.)

(Photo by Paul Rudoff from his collection)

In 2009, the series was released on DVD internationally, and even then, Sony still didn't care enough to get it right. Instead of all 40 episodes, the two-disc set only contained the first 13 episodes, but you wouldn't necessarily know that from the cover. Depending on which country you lived it, you would have found the set labeled as either "The Complete First Season", "Season 1, Volume 1", or just plain "Volume 1". If that wasn't enough to show the carelessness that went into this, the synopsis on the back cover referred to Achira as "Zool".

(United Kingdom release, click to enlarge)

Fast forward to March 19, 2024, and Sony has finally deemed Extreme Ghostbusters important enough to release in its entirety on DVD here in the United States - but not important enough to garner new case artwork. Sony took the artwork that was done 15 years ago for those foreign DVDs and repurposed it for this Complete Series set. That is going to make things really confusing when buying this set online, as the thumbnails for the new set will look nearly identical to that of the old set. Also, look at all of that empty space at the top on the back. I can't help but think that "ALL 40 EPISODES OF THE SPOOK-TACULAR SERIES!" would fit nicely in there.

(click for full 300dpi case liner, scanned in by me - you're welcome)

At least Sony didn't re-use that back cover synopsis, with its doubly-incorrect reference to "Zool". The new, short and simple synopsis (which seems to be based on what appeared on the Monsterland Media bootleg - more on that later) reads:
Years after the events of The Real Ghostbusters, the original Ghostbusters crew have all moved on to different careers -- except for Egon Spengler. After a prolonged quiet period, Egon is now a college professor on the paranormal and the sole caretaker of the firehouse -- and Slimer. When supernatural activity suddenly resurges across New York and once again threatens the city, he recruits the help of four college students to form an all-new Ghostbusters team.
The Complete Series set (Sony Catalog Number: 63644, UPC: 043396636446) comes in a clear plastic case, approx 5.25" wide and 7.25" high (standard DVD case size), but with a thickness of 1"...

(click to enlarge)

...so it can hold 9 discs inside, each on its own page (no overlap). The discs are plain black text on a plain white background, giving the title, disc number, and the list of episodes contained on that disc. Nothing fancy, nor was I expecting for it to be, as the studios have abandoned using artwork on discs a long time ago. It makes me chuckle to think back on Disney's first wave of DVDs in 1999, which would list "Full-Color Character Artwork On Disc" as a special feature on the back cover. Looking back on it now, I guess it really was a special feature!

(click to enlarge)

Pop a disc into your player and after a short Sony Picture Home Entertainment logo, you'll be treated to a static menu containing "Play All Episodes", "Episode Selections", and "Subtitles" options. The menu design uses the current studio fad of putting sub-menu options alongside the right side of the screen, hence all of that empty green space on the main menu.


That area would be filled with subtitle options (only "English SDH" and "Off") or the list of episodes on the disc.


Oh, the episodes... There is a lot to talk about here. The episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in 4:3 fullscreen format, so that they use up the full DVD resolution of 720x480. Each episode contains six chapters.

There are 40 episodes spread across 9 discs, which is an unnecessarily large amount of discs. This set should have contained 5 dual-layer discs with 8 episodes per disc, in a plastic case of standard DVD case thickness. Instead, we have the sloppiest and most wasteful DVD authoring job I have ever seen in my 25+ years of DVD collecting.

The first four discs (each dual-layer) contain five episodes each, while the remaining five discs (each single-layer) contain four episodes each. A dual-layer disc has a maximum capacity of 8.5GB (Gigabytes), as opposed to 4.7GB for a single-layer disc. Sony compressed each of the episodes in this set to be about 1GB each. Eight episodes, not a mere five, could have easily fit onto the first four discs without the episodes needing to be compressed more than they already are. Sony knows this because, ever since the studios first started releasing complete season DVD sets in the early/mid 2000s, the norm has been 8 30-minute or 4 60-minute episodes per dual-layer disc.

What's more insulting here is that half of this set was done one way, and the other half another way. There is no consistency. Why didn't Sony continue with the "five episodes per dual-layer disc" plan they started with and make this an 8-disc set? If the plan was to make this a Manufacture on Demand set (more on that later), why not go with the "four episodes per single-layer disc" plan and make this a 10-disc set? That's what I did for the 10-disc bootleg set I made back in 2019 using the Hulu rips that were floating around. (More on that later, too.)

So, due to Sony's wastefulness, we have an odd nine discs that break down as such:

DISC 1 (5.41 GB)
Darkness at Noon, Part 1 (21:51)
Darkness at Noon, Part 2 (21:18)
Fear Itself (21:51)
Deadliners (21:50)
Casting the Runes (21:49)

DISC 2 (5.46 GB)
The Infernal Machine (21:38)
The True Face of a Monster (22:20)
Home is Where the Horror Is (21:52)
The Crawler (22:10)
The Ghostpiper of Manhattan (aka The Pied Piper of Manhattan) (21:39)

DISC 3 (5.46 GB)
The Ghostmakers (21:51)
Be Careful What You Wish For (21:50)
Killjoys (21:50)
Luck of the Irish (21:57)
Greased (aka Grease) (22:07)

DISC 4 (5.47 GB)
Dry Spell (21:58)
Sonic Youth (22:00)
The Unseen (21:50)
Ghost Apocalyptic Future (22:00)
Bird of Prey (22:00)

DISC 5 (4.37 GB)
Slimer's Sacrifice (21:56)
Grundelesque (21:57)
Seeds of Destruction (21:59)
Moby Ghost (21:54)

DISC 6 (4.32 GB)
In Your Dreams (21:57)
Rage (21:59)
Ghost in the Machine (21:57)
The Jersey Devil Made Me Do It (21:59)

DISC 7 (4.37 GB)
Fallout (21:55)
Witchy Women (aka Witchy Woman) (21:59)
Heart of Darkness (21:56)
Dog Days (21:55)

DISC 8 (4.37 GB)
The Mole People (21:57)
Eyes of a Dragon (21:56)
Temporary Insanity (aka A Temporary Insanity) (21:56)
Till Death Do Us Start (21:57)

DISC 9 (4.37 GB)
Glutton for Punishment (21:57)
The Sphinx (21:50)
Back in the Saddle, Part 1 (21:59)
Back in the Saddle, Part 2 (21:56)

The episode titles I have been using on Spook Central since 1997 came from Bohbot, if I remember correctly. As you can see, a few episodes are titled slightly differently here. I really don't know which is correct. Darn you show producers for not including episode titles in the episodes themselves!

Sony rearranged the episodes based on the episode production numbers (with a few changes), which is far different than airdate order. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the airdate order goes out of continuity in a few spots. My episode guide lists the episodes in "Ideal Continuity Order", and while Sony's order fixes things at the end (putting "The Sphinx" and both "Back in the Saddle" parts where they should be), it still puts "Moby Ghost" after "Slimer's Sacrifice". Thankfully, both episodes are on the same disc (Disc 5), so you can choose to watch "Moby Ghost" first, and then watch "Slimer's Sacrifice", and then the other two episodes on the disc.

The first 13 episodes, plus "The Unseen" (Disc 4) and "The Sphinx" (Disc 9), have a new Sony Pictures Television logo in place of the original Columbia Tristar Television & BKN logos at the end. The other 25 episodes retain the original logos. Since the foreign DVDs had the same 13 episodes, I wonder if the masters used here were the same ones used in that set; before the conversion to PAL, of course.

There are no special features, but I was never expecting for there to be any. Maybe Shout Factory can re-do this set properly and give us some special features (at least the vintage commercials and Fil Barlow's artwork; though I'm sure the voice cast would be willing to do interviews) and less wasteful discs.

As far as glitches are concerned, I have not watched all 40 episodes, but I did quickly scan through them. There is an audio glitch during the end credits (at 21:31) in "Heart of Darkness" on Disc 7. It should have been caught and fixed, but it's minor because the song with vocals is used on other episodes. If you spot any other glitches or defects, post a comment below. I can tell you that all of the glitches in the Monsterland Media bootleg set are not present here.

Since I've now mentioned it several times, I should take a minute to explain what the Monsterland Media bootleg set is. As Sony dragged its feet in releasing this series to DVD, the fans had to step in and fill that void over the past two decades. The original bootleg DVD sets, which I thankfully avoided, were sourced from Toon Disney TV recordings. Then, in 2016, Sony licensed the show to Hulu - but still didn't see fit to put it out on physical media - and that opened up a new source for the bootleggers. Since the Hulu masters came from Sony, they were high-quality, unedited, and logo-free. The bootleggers were quick to use "Hulu Rips" as the source for their wares.

TJ of Monsterland Media has a whole store full of bootleg (let's lovingly call them "home-made") Blu-ray and DVD sets of movies and shows that the official copyright owners have not officially released on physical media, for whatever reason. In 2019, I purchased his Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series SD on Blu-ray set, which I have already reviewed and detailed. It contains all 40 episodes, in the DVD resolution of 720x480, on two Blu-ray discs. The episodes were sourced from the "Hulu Rips", and aside from three episodes with minor glitches, were perfect quality.

Runtimes are about the same in both sets. Monsterland is a few seconds longer, but I really don't think anything was edited or sped-up. Just like this new Sony set, the Monsterland episodes were compressed to around 1GB each, so that makes them fairly even in that regard. The Sony set has English SDH subtitles, while Monsterland has none. The Sony set has chapter marks in proper places (where the commercial breaks were), while Monsterland has them every five minutes.

Finally, let's look at the image quality. To make things fair, all images below have been left at the original 1.5:1 DVD resolution (I did not shape them back out to 640x480) and can be clicked on for the original 720x480 resolution DVD framegrab.

Right from the start, things do not look good for Sony. I checked the very first episode, "Darkness at Noon" (Part 1), and Sony has a bit of blurriness going on.

(click to enlarge)

Monsterland is quite sharp. It's possible that TJ applied a sharpen filter to the Hulu Rips when he was using them to author his discs. Of course, Sony could have done the same, if they wanted to.

(click to enlarge)

Also interesting to note that Sony's image shows blackness on the sides...

(click to enlarge)

...while the Monsterland image goes right to the edges. Again, it's possible that TJ cropped out the blackness and expanded the image to the edges. It's what I would have done if I were making the set.

(click to enlarge)

Just when I thought that Sony's image quality was a lost cause, I happened to notice that things improved later on. A random check of the episode "Greased" shows a nice sharp picture (at the 3:59 mark).

(click to enlarge)

While the Monsterland image is softer.

(click to enlarge)

I don't have the time or desire to go through every scene in every episode to see which set has better image quality overall. If someone else does, feel free to post a comment with the appropriate link. I wonder if the episodes looked this bad when Sony was uploading them to Youtube. Sadly, they have since deleted them all, so I can't check.

When the Sony set was first announced a few months ago, I couldn't help but notice that the stock image used in some listings carried the "DVD Video Disc" logo (below, left) on the spine commonly used for Manufacture on Demand (MOD) DVD-R products, and not the standard "DVD Video" logo (below, right) used for factory-pressed discs.


Seeing that logo, and reading that the set was to contain nine discs (more than necessary, if the set were done right), I was quite worried that this set would be on recorded DVD-R discs (purple bottoms) and not factory-pressed discs (silver bottoms). Aside from the DVDs Warner Brothers manufactured in the late 2000s, discs that were manufactured in a factory are said to last longer than those burned in a computer. They also look more professional and look less like "bootlegs", which makes them more desirable to collectors. Also, the studios tend to drop prices on the mass-produced pressed discs (so as to get rid of inventory), while MOD product prices tend to stay at or near the original MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price).

Seeing the set listed as "Manufactured on Demand" on Deep Discount's site didn't help to quell my fears.

(click to enlarge)

That had me quite worried that, after waiting so long for this set to exist, Sony would have bungled it even more. Then I found a thread on Blu-ray.com, in which forum member "MD Geist" stated that he e-mailed Movie Zyng, and was told that "The discs will be pressed... initially at least. The rep indicated that it might change after the first print run. The rep stated that MovieZyng will carry the pressed discs but gave no indication as to whether or not they'll be anywhere else."

Not wanting to take that person's word for it, I sent my own e-mail to Movie Zyng. I received this reply from Blair Zykan, Managing Director at Movie Zyng: "I can say that the version we're shipping are pressed discs. I can't speak for other sellers." So, I ordered my set from Movie Zyng, and sure enough, it's nine factory-pressed discs. The case even has the proper "DVD Video" logo on the spine, and not the MOD DVD logo seen on the stock image.

(click to enlarge)

If/when this becomes a MOD DVD-R product everywhere, but still remains at $39.99, I would highly recommend buying Monsterland Media's $28.99 SD on Blu-ray set. If you're gonna buy recorded discs, you might as well get the series on only two of them, and pay less money for it. (Monsterland also has an Extreme Ghostbusters Upscaled HD 4-Disc Blu-ray set for $39.99, but I do not know anything about it. I think the Hulu Rips may have originated in 720, so maybe they look good upscaled to 1080.)

Sony's Extreme Ghostbusters: The Complete Series DVD set carries as MSRP of $39.99 and, to my knowledge, is not sold in physical stores. (To be fair, most physical retailers have nearly-abandoned physical media.) Whether you get the "Factory-Pressed Discs" version or the "Manufacture On Demand DVD-R" version will depend on which online retailer you order from, and how long after the March 19, 2024 release date you order it.

Spook Central earns a commission from sales at Amazon, so I would push for you to buy it from Amazon. If you have purchased your set from Amazon, please post a comment below to let us know which version they sell. Blu-ray.com forum member "GuruAskew" and Reddit user "Tanuki-Go" both confirmed that Amazon is selling pressed discs. That may change later on.

I can personally confirm that Movie Zyng sells the "Factory-Pressed Discs" version; at least for the first print run. They don't even charge New York State sales tax, and Media Mail shipping is a mere $2.99. So, my total for the set was $42.98.

It is not known which version Walmart is selling. If you have purchased your set from Walmart, please post a comment below to let us know. Deep Discount is clearly selling the "Manufacture On Demand DVD-R" version.

[UPDATE - 5/1/2024]
Since it took DECADES for Sony to finally release an official Extreme Ghostbusters DVD set, fans had to step in in the intervening years to fill that hole. During those years, Monsterland Media released unofficial/bootleg SD-on-Blu-ray and HD-on-Blu-ray sets. I reviewed the SD set back in 2019, and I just reviewed the HD set today (even though it came out back in 2021). The HD review includes a chart at the bottom comparing the official Sony set to both Monsterland sets.


Comment from: Bob [Visitor]

The set was erroneously listed for sale on Amazon for around $20. They have since corrected the error but my purchase at that price was honored. On the set that I received, I can confirm the discs were pressed.

While it’s sad this set is so bare bones, I’m just happy it finally exists. It’d be nice if a boutique label were to give it a nice treatment but I’m not going to hold my breath. But perhaps there will be a renewed appreciation for the show that might make something like that happen.

Apr. 8, 2024 @ 20:53
Comment from: [Member]

Bob, happy to hear that Amazon honored the $20 price. Much better than $40. Thanks for confirming that Amazon is selling pressed discs. - Paul

Apr. 8, 2024 @ 21:51
Comment from: Steven Paul Reed [Visitor]  

I paid £49.96p for my copy of the Extreme Ghostbusters: the Complete Series on DVD from a seller called Rarewaves on Amazon.com to be shipped to the UK from the U.S. Amazon store and it arrived last month on Thursday 18th April 2024, the 9 discs don’t sit securely in the disc holders inside the main case, regarding the picture quality: it isn’t razor sharp on the buildings or other objects in the background like in U.S.broadcasts even when I’ve zoomed in on the picture on my Samsung DVD player but the sound is very clear without any glitches however the English SDH subtitles can be hit and miss when you choose have them switched on, I do wonder if Sony will reissue another Extreme Ghostbusters The Complete Series to rectify this edition because it does a bit rushed and the extras are nonexistent, because the Extreme Ghostbusters The Complete Series DVD was released three days before the worldwide theatrical release of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in cinemas, don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have all 40 episodes of Extreme Ghostbusters on DVD but I think it could’ve been produced as a little bit more of as a labour of love, in my opinion

May. 6, 2024 @ 12:11
Comment from: [Member]

Hi Steven. What are the issues with the subtitles? At some point, I was planning on using the official subtitles to fix up the Hulu rip subtitles. So, if there are errors in the official subs, please let me know. - Paul

May. 6, 2024 @ 15:07

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