Ghostwriter vs. Power Rangers

I have only O.J. Simpson to thank for my discovery of Ghostwriter. Flashback to June 1994: If O.J. hadn’t turned rabbit and led the cops on a slow speed chase on the first day of my summer vacation, the networks would never have preempted Power Rangers and forced me to turn to PBS to satiate my need to watch a group of racially diverse youths rallying together to fight injustice.

My first introduction to Ghostwriter was an episode about a rampant computer hacker terrorizing the Ghostwriter gang’s middle school. The episode was aptly entitled “Who is Max Mouse?” It got me hooked. Mind you, the year was 1994, Windows ’95 was but a twinkle in Bill Gate’s eye, and technological innovations such as the internet and modems were too much for me to comprehend. In the show, tween detectives Lenni, Jamal, Gaby, Tina, Alex, and Rob, armed with pen-necklaces, case books, and a disembodied blob meant to represent Ghostwriter (and a visually stunning piece of work he is), met the computer hacker Max Mouse in an internet chatroom showdown for the ages.

The internet chatroom in question was called “The Fun House” (sounds pervy) and you had to log in by dialing a phone number via your external modem. And then you must create a “handle” (times have changed, nowadays we call them screen names). The Ghostwriter gang’s handle was “LJ Bad” (L for Lenni, J for Jamal, and Bad for the team). That’s pretty freakin’ cool!

After those initial 30 mins, I was blown away by the show’s content. Inter-computer communication! You can see my 9-year old neurons firing. And to think there was a point when I thought I couldn’t live without Power Rangers!

Of course, I can see the similarities between Ghostwriter and Power Rangers. For one thing, both shows were casted to represent the American melting pot and this conglomerate of cultures were united by a disembodied being (Ghostwriter and Zordon, respectively).

Power Rangers, however, harbored more obvious stereotypes: did the Black Ranger really have to be Black? Did the Yellow Ranger really have to be Asian? Think about that… Couldn’t the producers at least pretend to be color-blind? Did anyone ever notice that the writers always had Zack “The Black Ranger” bust out some weird hip-hop karate whenever he’s fighting? I’m just throwing that image out there, make do with it as you will…

It’s not that I love Power Rangers less, it’s just that I love Ghostwriter more. Sure, Ghostwriter has token characters, but at least producers tried to break some stereotypical barriers: Lenni (“the White Girl”) had aspirations of being a rapper/songwriter, Tina (“the Asian Girl”) wanted to be a director, Jamal (“the Black Guy”) applied to the high school of science, etc… See, not so token after all.

My love for Ghostwriter cannot be contained in one post. Expect more posts about this fantastic show in the not-to-distant future. I wish PBS would listen to Ghostwriter fans and release the entire series on DVD. Unfortunately, I did a little online reading and found out devastating news regarding the preservation of the Ghostwriter series: PBS lost the rights to legally market the show, so chances of Ghostwriter’s release on DVD is slim to none. The episodes are probably rotting in the basement of WGBH Boston! I can see a chunk of my childhood vanishing in a flash of celluloid!

12 thoughts on “Ghostwriter vs. Power Rangers”

  1. The story of you stumbling on Ghostwriter reminds me of the scene in Amelie when she’s watching the breaking story about Princess Di’s death and discovers the tin of childhood toys. From public controversy to personal discovery. C’est Incroyable!

  2. Wonderful as usual, and I am going to have to search YouTube and see what I can find Ghostwriter wise.

  3. The only living remnants of Ghostwriter are some YouTube videos floating around (not very good quality) and a few VHS tapes in the library. A few years ago, I discovered these VHS tapes (not the complete series) and checked them all out! If I were more of a badass, I would have just kept them and paid the fine, risk losing my card, etc…it would have been worth it!

    But oh, I have an ill-divining soul! Methinks I see the eradication of the Ghostwriter VHS tapes as the library must purge itself of storage space and make room for DVDs.

  4. I can barely remember the show. I didn’t even know they had an Asian girl. And I always thought that ghostwriter was some guy over the internet. Maybe I got him confused with Max Mouse.

  5. Wow…. I’m doing a speech on the stereotypes presented in power rangers and I just happened to come across this. Haha, glad I’m not the only one who noticed.

  6. Oh My God! I just googled “Ghostwriter” and found another fan. I loved loved loved that show when I was a kid. I don’t really remember the episode with the computer hacker, but I do remember the one when some evil corporation buried toxic waste underneath some place they hung out. Well, rock on fellow Ghostwriter fans.

  7. hell yea… i was at work and was reminscing (did i spell that right???) and remembered the show so i decided to youtube it…
    unfortunately they only had a few episodes.. bad quality or not it was a nice trip through memory lane and felt satisfied being able to watch something i did during my childhood now that im older and can understandd it better even if it is a simple kids show…
    so that sucks that they wont make the dvds but i did run into some people selling the complete season for about 50 dollars- some with free shipping- it might not be hd but i saw good reviews

  8. hey its me beasley again….
    btw i never thought about the stereotypes of power rangers….
    hillary swank and pink… imagine that
    where would green come in?? would red be all american and blue be like leonardo from tmnt since they were both the brains?/?

  9. ok ok… last time…
    unless someone responds…
    i also found it funny how as soon i read “i thought i couldnt live without power rangers”
    i saw the pose

  10. DUDEZ! GhOStWrITer wAS/is THe very definition of American GENIUS! this, my inter-web friends, was the greatest piece of American Public Television our EYEZ have ever…layed…eyes….upon. RALLY J!

  11. “you gotta believe, and reach for the sky. you gotta believe let your spirit soar hi-i-igh.” perhaps lenni’s infamous music video should inspire us not to lose hope – perhaps somehow we’ll have the privilege of owning this beloved series on dvd. someday. “you gotta believe – awh!”

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