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Michael Reaves, writer on RGB
July 20, 1999, 06:26 PM PDT

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Michael Reaves' resume reads like a Saturday morning TV guide. He's worked on such shows as Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Invasion America, Spider-Man Unlimited, and Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm. And we haven't even gotten into his live-action credits yet (shows like The Twilight Zone) or his publishing credits.
But what makes Michael doubly interesting to a Ghostbusters fan is that he wrote dozens of episodes for The Real Ghostbusters. The list is

I was fairly certain he'd also written Deja Boo, but, well more on that later. For now, let's get to the questions, which Reaves was kind enough to take some time out for.

PC: How did you get the gig writing for The Real Ghostbusters cartoon?

MR: Joe Straczynski was the story editor; he asked me. That simple.

PC: Were you a fan of the movie heading in?

MR: Oh, sure. Still am. I thought it was one of the very few movies of that sort to get the blend of comedy and horror/suspense right.

PC: What did you like most about writing for RGB?

MR: What I liked most about RGB was that we didn't have to "write down". Joe was pretty much in charge of the writing, and he was adamant that each episode be like a mini-movie. We weren't doing these for kids; we were writing to amuse and thrill ourselves.

PC: In your episodes, especially ones like "Collect Call of Cthulhu", the ghosts/monsters are seriously dangerous. They're not very cartoony. Do you have a leaning to serious horror?

MR: I've published a dozen or so short stories and two novels that are pretty firmly in the horror genre, and also having written for shows like Monsters and Twilight Zone...

PC: You have a leaning to serious horror?

MR: I think you could say that.

PC: Which RGB episode was your favorite?

MR: My favorite is probably "Collect Call", just because it came out looking so good and because I enjoyed doing the Lovecraft pastiche. Second favorite is probably "Captain Steel Saves the Day" (the writing credit is split between myself and Steve Perry, but that was a mistake on DiC's part -- I wrote the whole episode). Just because I had a great time sending up the whole superhero genre. The acting was very nice in that one as well. Another contender for second place is "The Boogeyman Cometh", which I thought worked very well. I confess I haven't seen many of the others; I wasn't particularly interested in the ones I didn't write.

PC: J. Michael Straczynski has said many a time that the "suits" liked to stick their fingers in the show, try and water it down. Did you have any trouble getting your stories to the screen?

MR: A few times -- in "Egon's Ghost", for example, I wanted Egon to be really dead and the Ghostbusters have to figure out a way to bring him back. Columbia wouldn't go for that, so he had to be in limbo. But for the most part I was quite happy with what I got to write -- in the syndicated version, which Joe was editing. The ABC version, which I also wrote episodes for, was another story.

PC: Who's your favorite RGB character and why?

MR: Probably Winston; I always have a fondness for the character who is the audience's surrogate, like Harrison Ford in Star Wars. The one who can step back and voice our disbelief and incredulity. They provide the link that lets us into strange universes like the one in Ghostbusters. Probably my favorite line in the GB movie is Winston's: "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes!"

PC: How do you think RGB has held up over the years?

MR: Pretty well, judging by the number of websites and the amount of mail I get on it.

PC: If they started production again tomorrow, would you consider writing for the show again?

MR: Never can tell. But probably not. I doubt that lightning can strike twice, and unless there's a real interest on my part, I don't do much animation these days.

PC: Here's a pointed question. Why did it take 5 writers to write a short Slimer episode like "Deja Boo"?

MR: Y'know, you have that listed as one of my credits, but I have no recollection of writing it. Are you sure my name's on it?

PC: *Ahem* Which just goes to show you can't trust everything you read online.
OK, stickler alert! People are supposed to go insane when they get a look at Cthulhu. So why didn't the Ghostbusters freak out in "The Collect Call of Cthulhu?"

MR: Because they're professionals. They deal with this kind of stuff all the time.
I actually considered having Peter make some remark to the effect of "I lost a few sanity points on that one," but we decided it was too esoteric.

PC: What do you consider your biggest and bestest idea while working on RGB?

MR: I gotta keep coming back to "Collect Call". Even the title was inspired. Following that, probably the first Boogeyman script.

PC: OK, so what do you consider the not-so-biggest and bestest idea on RGB? Yours or someone else's, you don't have to name names.

MR: I can only speak for myself, not out of any sense of decorum, but because I didn't pay a lot of attention to the other episodes. Probably my weakest scripts were the ones for ABC's second season: "Camping It Up", "Loathe Thy Neighbor", etc. Those were pretty hamstrung by diverse hands. I much preferred writing for the syndicated version; the money wasn't as good, but the stories were better. I really wasn't happy about having to use the Junior Ghostbusters.

PC: Was there any story you never got to write for RGB, even something only partially fleshed out you thought would be neat to see on the show, but never got to use?

MR: I had wanted to write a sequel to "Collect Call", which was going to be called "A Fun Guy From Yuggoth", but I moved on before that happened.

PC: Was there a bible for the show? I'm sure there are a number of fan fic writers who'd love to hear about it if there was one.

MR: I don't recall there being a bible. Doesn't mean there wasn't one -- remember all this happened a long time ago, and I've written a lot of stuff since then. Memory does tend to blur...

PC: Any advice to fans who are looking to get into writing for TV or film?

MR: Move to LA, write spec scripts, get an agent, network like crazy. Believe it or not, there's no secret handshake or Masonic password. All it takes is talent and persistence. Of the two, persistence is the more important, sad to say.

PC: What is it about the idea of four guys running around busting ghosts that's such a hit with people? Some people think it's because people like to be scared. I always thought it was because it was something completely different, never imitated of duplicated since.

MR: I think there's a lot of truth to both those theories. The movie worked so well, and the series had such potential -- it was hard not to screw it up. Although God knows it could have happened very easily.

PC: You've worked on a lot of cartoons. Set them end to end and where does RGB rank?

MR: Probably in the top ten. It was an experience I remember fondly, over all.

PC: Where can fans look for your work next? What does the future hold?

MR: Lots of interesting things. I'm writing a dark fantasy series for Del Rey books, the first of which will be out in 2000; I'm developing two live-action TV series for syndication with various people, and I'm co-producing a feature horror film that's now in pre-production. So I'm keeping busy.

[NOTE] Tidbit Master Paul Rudoff wrote after I'd first posted this interview and solved the mystery of the "Deja Boo" credit Michael Reaves has.

"The episode is what is known as a flashback show (aka "a clip show"). It consists of clips from about five different episodes strung together with new scenes in which Professor Dweeb tries to probe Slimer's memory. The reason five writers got credit for it is because they wrote the episodes from which the clips are used. In Michael's case, he wrote "The Copycat."

Thanks Paul!

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