Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Ghost Busters: "Jekyll and Hyde: Together for the First Time!" (November 15, 1975)

In "Jekyll and Hyde: Together for the First Time,” the ghosts of Dr. Jekyll (Severn Darden) and Mr. Hyde (Joe E. Ross) materialize in the local cemetery and begin their search for someone without a real personality.

That person, they have learned, can be attached to “Hyde,” freeing Jekyll from his alter ego permanently. 

The person they choose for this honor: Spenser (Larry Storch).

The Ghost Busters retrieve their newest assignment from Zero (Lou Scheimer), and learn they must stop the villainous duo. 

But Jekyll and Hyde require just one personal item from Spenser before they can make their supernatural transfer...

The characters of Jekyll and Hyde -- straight from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novel -- get a strange update indeed in this episode of Filmation’s wonky live-action series The Ghost Busters (1975). 

Dr. Jekyll is portrayed as the real villain of the duo, rather than as a proper gentleman whose dark side is manifested. And Hyde is quite oddly portrayed as a bumbling cave-man rather than as a legitimate figure of evil, a repository for all human vices and dark impulses

Severn Darden plays Jekyll. Of course, he is a familiar presence to fans of Conquest of Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, wherein he played the villain, Kolp. 

Joe. E. Ross may not be as well known to today’s audiences, but he (infamously) portrayed a cave-man named Gronk in the sitcom It’s About Time (1966-1967) from Gilligan’s Island creator Sherwood Schwartz. Ross resurrects his cave-man act for The Ghost Busters, and is similarly garbed as well.

I suppose the creators of the program decided that Hyde could not be too menacing, and so made him a primitive counterpart for Jekyll, rather than an evil one.

One big question about this episode involves the writer’s description of Spenser as lacking a personality. This is a guy who always wears a zoot suit, essentially, works hand-in-hand with a gorilla, and demonstrates outright terror at the drop of a hat.  

I wouldn’t exactly describe him as lacking a personality. Love him or hate him, I’d say that Spenser is pretty unforgettable.

Next week: “Only Ghosts Have Wings.”

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