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The Witch of Salem

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Witch Of Salem

"Look, I respect Witchiepoo's body of work. But I want to carve out my own niche. I think there's room for both of us."

The Witch of Salem was an antagonist on the Saturday Morning Live Action Filmation kids show, The Ghost Busters. In life, she was a witch in Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th Century, till she ran afoul of a 'Spell-Dissolver' named Spencer. Returned as a ghost to seek revenge, she was featured in the show's eighth episode, 'Which Witch Is Which?'.

Returning to the show's cemetery, the Witch (no name given) and her assistant Gronk plotted to take out Eddie Spencer, a member of the show's protagonists, The Ghost Busters, who was the direct descendant of the spell-dissolver who broke her power. When Eddie and Tracy The Gorilla once again test the patience of their partner and leader Jake Kong, they are sent to learn of their next assignment from unseen employer Zero. After a drive that leaves their wreck of a jalopy in further shambles, the pair listen to their assignment (from a tape recorder secreted into a bathroom sink fixture), which gives them less direction than they might need (Zero only indirectly indicates that Spencer is in danger) but gives them the names of their enemies—before the tape self-destructs and leaves poor Tracy a wreck. Unknown to them, the witch and Gronk have been scrying them in order to work out Eddie's location. Unfortunately for the witch, her efforts to do this are frustrated by the incompetent Gronk using her cauldron as a laundry pot. Back at the office, Jake Kong is oddly dismissive of the witch having the ability to cast spells, but sets the group to go to the cemetery to find and banish her.

Needing to spray Spencer with a magic dust that will enslave him, the Witch undertakes a transformation, going from a hag to the appearance of a lovely young woman, calling herself Salem, and heads to the Ghost Busters office. The idiotic Gronk doesn't recognize her in this form, but when she tries to dust Eddie Spencer, Tracy The Gorilla does, since the glamour she uses only works on Human senses. Unable to communicate, the clever Tracy quietly thwarts the witch's every effort to spray the hapless, smitten Eddie. Once the trio reach the cemetery, the witch's efforts once again go awry when Gronk's effort to spray Eddie with the control dust hits Tracy instead, forcing the Witch to return to the local castle used by every villain in the series to make more powder. However, she also decides to go with what she has, and seizes control of Tracy, something the other Ghost Busters are typically slow to catch on to, till he enters the castle. Even there, Jake foolishly entrusts their 'Ghost Kit' to the Gorilla, who tosses it out the window at the witch's command. As Jake runs to retrieve, the hapless Eddie tries to hide from the witch as she searches for him (badly, in both cases). Again using her guise as Salem, the Witch draws Eddie out, and tries to use her potions in the cauldron to finally control Eddie. To her shock, while Eddie does fall under her control, it turns out to be because her efforts made Tracy and Eddie switch bodies. When Jake Kong returns, her efforts to control him switch his body with Gronk—who, it turned out, was once again using her cauldron for his laundry. Thinking fast, Jake taunts Gronk, who is now holding the Ghost De-Materializer, into using it on the witch. Once she is banished, the body swaps are undone, and Gronk is also quickly banished.

Back at their office, the victory celebration is muddled by what appear to be lingering effects of the body swaps, something our clueless heroes barely notice.

Trivia

  • It seems that in the Ghost Busters world, Salem had real witches, and not merely the hysteria that occurred in real life.
  • This episode establishes a lineage of abjuring for at least one of the Ghost Busters; this would be followed up on in the 1980's sequel animated series by Filmation.
  • Jake Kong's dismissal of spells is very odd indeed, given that he hunts and banishes evil ghosts for a living, and has seen firsthand the powers some of them wield.
  • In real-life magical lore and especially in fiction, animals like Tracy are often immune to glamours, deceptions and illusions.
  • The witch was played by Ann Morgan Guilbert, best known as next door neighbor Millie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show, as well as Fran's Grandmother on The Nanny. In neither case were these characters ever villains, but very often they could be placed into the character category best described as "You're Not Helping!". A separate actress, Leigh Christian, a staple of many 70's and 80's TV shows, played her as Salem. (Sources : Wikipedia and IMDB).
  • Gronk was played by Huntz Hall, who knew earlier fame as one of the 'Dead End Kids' and later, 'The Bowery Boys', a series of films in which he invariably played someone much like Gronk, a well-meaning goofball who couldn't take directions to save his afterlife.

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