Space Ghost Coast to Coast
October 2, 2002
Attention earthlings: Space Ghost is now transmitting his intergalactic talk show on the Digital Video Disc medium. Freed from being trapped in the dimension known as the 1960s, our hero has brought along his compatriots, Zorak and Moltar as his band leader and the show’s director, respectively. Now Space Ghost interrogates a colourful assortment of terrestrials from all walks of popular culture. His friends at Cartoon Network have downloaded a collection of his most memorable transmissions and archived them on DVD for all to enjoy.
Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is the heart of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming—their idea of appealing to an older demographic, most notably Generation X’ers. The concept of the show is quite clever in it simplicity. Taking a ‘60s cartoon super hero and giving him his own talk show. Instead of modernizing him, Space Ghost still speaks in the stilted, cliché-ridden herospeak of his time, which is the source of most of the show’s humour. Guests are interviewed and then there comments are edited in a way so that it seems like they are actually interacting with Space Ghost. This allows the guests to either act goofy because they are already aware of the show’s premise or act confused because they don’t understand what the hell is going on.
One only has to look at the Space Ghost’s eclectic mix of guests to figure out the intended target audience. From Adam West to punk rockers The Ramones to Bob Denver, the show appeals to Gen X’ers who grew up watching the kitschy TV shows like Batman and who still listen to alternative rock bands like R.E.M.
However, the novelty of the show wears off after watching a handful of episodes. The banter between Space Ghost and his cronies is funny, at first, but then becomes tiresome and repetitive. Fortunately, with DVD you can fast forward quickly and easily through the slow bits and get to the good stuff: the guests. Most episodes offer a random line-up that is as diverse as comedian Judy Tenuta, ‘60s counterculture guru Timothy Leary and Ashley Judd. However, the best guests are ones like, Bobcat Goldthwait, who accept the premise and go with it or ones like Slash, who have no idea what they are doing there and are easy pickings for Space Ghost’s barbs.
There are five audio commentaries spread out over the two DVDs and feature the show’s producers, Keith Crofford, Khaki Jones, Michael Lazzo and Andy Merrill. Their audio tracks mirror the tone of the show—irreverent and chaotic. They talk about how the program is put together and touch briefly on the growing pains of early episodes. They originally programmed the schedule for Cartoon Network during the day and wrote the show at night. Most of the time the commentaries feature endless banter and relentless needling of each other, which often feels like one big in-joke that only they are in on, but I’m sure hardcore fans of the show will love them.
There is also a sample of original artwork and storyboards for the show and a funky bit where Zorak sings Jingle Bells in his own unique way. A few featurettes examining how the show is really put together would have been a nice touch or perhaps a vintage episode of Space Ghost from the ‘60s to put him and his buddies in the proper context for those not familiar with him.
Space Ghost: Coast to Coast is a fast and loose collection of episodes that provides a decent introduction to the show but the slim amount of extras and the lack of staying power is what makes it something that just doesn’t hold up to repeated viewings. For devoted fans only.