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Column: The Private Sector – A Knock-About Punch of Pure Joy

Okay, let’s have a real quick show of hands… how many of you out there in Ghostheadland were first exposed to the original Ghostbusters film not in the theaters, not on home video, but on the original ABC “Sunday Night at the Movies” airing of the film?

The event atmosphere surrounding the national broadcast television premieres of films has all but dissipated in this on-demand, streaming, DVD/Blu-raying, bit-torrenting, digital cableing world that we live in, so even the thought of being excited for a movie to air on ABC might be lost on some of the younger ‘heads out there. But let me tell you, when a new release film was going to air on TV back in the “good-old days”, you were sitting in your family room with the VCR cued up and the remote in-hand to record it. Video rentals, especially in the small remote town in Colorado that I’m from, were a special occasion reserved for weekends or birthday parties. And forget owning VHS tapes. They certainly weren’t as cheap as the home video items that currently populate the five dollar bin at your local Wal-Mart. Waiting for the movie to air on broadcast TV (unless you had a friend or relative cool enough to tape the movie off HBO for you) was the ONLY way that to feasibly own a copy of the original Ghostbusters film.

So, my strong love affair with Ghostbusters insisted upon one Sunday evening (best I can recall circa-1987), where I monopolized the two TVs in the Benjamin household. One to record the movie, and the other for me to watch as I very slowly and deliberately took at least an hour to get ready for bed, much to my parents chagrin. What can I say, Sunday Night at the Movies interfered with bedtime for this then six-year old.

Ghostbusters airing on ABC’s Sunday Night at the Movies certainly was an event that was not to be missed and for me, it was recorded from start to finish on a Memorex tape that has survived nearing a thousand views. That tape and I stood through thick and thin, through attention moving from Ghostbusters to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and then moving to the ladies, the Sunday Night at the Movies version of the film followed no matter where I went. And when Ghostbusters II aired on HBO, and my grandfather was kind enough to tape it for me, the stalwart Memorex tape was joined by its companion. And they endured for years to come…

It’s for this reason that I’m going to come clean and make a true confession that no true Ghosthead should ever have to admit:

I hadn’t seen the true theatrical version of Ghostbusters until my early teenage years.

Yes, yes, I know – that’s about as shocking of a revelation as telling Star Wars geeks that you never saw the first two films but loved Return of the Jedi — but until I got older and wiser, I never knew of difference between the Sunday Night at the Movies version that I had watched over and over and held near and dear to my heart… and the store-bought VHS version that fate would put into my hands somewhere around 1992/1993.

Getting home from the store that night and popping in the true version of Ghostbusters was like seeing it for the first time. Pete Venkman was a bad-ass bursting out of the ballroom doors at the Sedgewick and not exclaiming a sentiment about joy that I couldn’t make sense of, but informing the world they had kicked some ass. Walter Peck apparently lacked necessary genitalia instead of being “a rodent of some sort.” And my God, there was a whole missing scene where Ray got a happy ending.

It was that moment, seeing the first film for the “first time”, that really got be back into the franchise that I loved as a kid but had waned away from as I hit junior and senior high school. Combined with a visit to Universal Studios in Florida shortly after, the purchase of the first Ghostbusters movie and my rekindled interest was the main reason that fate steered me to Alta Vista the moment that I ventured onto “the internet” and discovered the Ghostbusters Homepage.

And here I am, another Private Sector column waxing nostalgic again. It’s hard not to venture into the past during the holiday season, and especially as I’m sitting in my old bedroom, visiting my folks for Christmas… and the old die-hard Memorex tape of the Ghostbusters Sunday Night at the Movies showing sits directly in front of me on the shelf…

Happy Holidays from myself and from the fantastic proprietors of the websites in which you’re reading The Private Sector. The column will be on hiatus next week as I take a much needed vacation (and finally get to researching and interviewing folks for a long-planned column) but we’ll be back in 2010 with all-new ways for you to kill time at your favorite Ghostbusters websites. As always, if you have questions, comments, or need a sponsor as you venture into a fierce hot dog eating competition, I’m always here for you by emailing netsolo@aol.com.

[The Private Sector is a weekly syndicated column written by Troy Benjamin presented every Wednesday on Proton Charging, Ghostbusters.net and GB Fans as an op-ed look at the goings on in the world of the Ghostbusters franchise. Learn more about Troy at www.troybenjamin.com]

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