Film Podcast: ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ debuts in a made-for-TV sequel

A new life in the afterlife for the hero team of “Ghostbusters” has been introduced in a revamped sequel to the 1984 film.

The first official teaser trailer arrived on the last day of the old year, marking the fourth installment in the prolific franchise created by Ivan Reitman. The studio released a live-action short, titled “Ghostbusters: The Animated Series,” in April 2014 as an immediate follow-up to the unveiling of the property on the internet two months earlier. The animated series features original series characters such as Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore and Janine Melnitz, making the most of a new generation’s interest in Ghostbusters.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” follows much in the spirit of that earlier short. The new television series opens with a new generation, only this group is college-aged and headed up by our young leading lady, Jillian Holtzmann (Erin Gilbert).

An opening scene of Holtzmann at a Thanksgiving dinner features a mom cutting her daughter’s turkey with a knife. Thankfully, Holtzmann and co-star Patty Tolan (Melanie Kohler) are able to lend a helping hand with a cast member from the original series. Moments later, Holtzmann is explaining to Egon Spengler (Leslie Uggams) how she studied anatomy to understand paranormal phenomena. Spengler is shown regenerating some of his scientific knowledge by successfully understanding the process of evolution.

Patty, Holtzmann and Egon also spend time learning about what they’re fighting. Holtzmann is shown witnessing a transparent creepy doll with a semi-druggy face come to life, while Pez dispenser-turned-mask-wearer Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) attempts to take photos of their infant daughter.

In classic, tongue-in-cheek fashion, just as they depart the house, the walkers in the basement tell the Ghostbusters the action has been moved to the cemetery, and the good professor Gary Oldman calls to the ghost anointing, “Take a deep breath and open your eyes.” It’s to them that the line goes when Holtzmann says “I’m just like you,” prompting Venkman to reference the beloved saying.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife debuts Thursday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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