Ghostwriter (TV series)

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Ghostwriter
Ghostwriter(TV).png
Genre Children's
Mystery
Created by Liz Nealon
Starring
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 74 (18 story arcs, with four or five episodes to each arc) (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Sesame Workshop
BBC One Original Productions
Broadcast
Original channel Fox Kids (first episode only)1
PBS2
BBC 1
Original run October 3, 1992 (1992-10-03)1 – February 13, 1995 (1995-02-13)
Chronology
Followed by The New Ghostwriter Mysteries

Ghostwriter is an American children's television series created by Liz Nealon and produced by the Children's Television Workshop (now known as Sesame Workshop) and BBC One. It began airing on PBS on October 4, 1992, and the final episode aired on February 13, 1995. The series revolves around a close-knit circle of friends from Brooklyn who solve neighborhood crimes and mysteries as a team of young detectives with the help of an invisible ghost named Ghostwriter. Ghostwriter can communicate with the kids only by manipulating whatever text and letters he can find and using them to form words and sentences.1 The series was filmed on location in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Overview

The series was designed to teach reading and writing skills to elementary and middle school children. Each mystery was presented as a case, covering four or five thirty-minute episodes; children were encouraged to follow each mystery, and use the reading and writing clues given to attempt to solve them just as the Ghostwriter team does in the show.3

Ghostwriter was critically acclaimed and honored for presenting a realistic, racially diverse world in its two-hour mystery stories.4 By the end of its third season, Ghostwriter ranked in the top five of all children's shows on American television. The program was cancelled after the third season due to a lack of funding. Ghostwriter has been broadcast in 24 countries worldwide, and generated a number of foreign-language adaptations, including a dubbed-over version on Discovery Kids Latin America marketed as Fantasma Escritor.

Cast

Merchandising

Created as an integrated, branded, multi-media project, the Ghostwriter brand included magazines and teacher's guides, software (Microsoft), home video, games/licensed product, and other outreach materials that reached over a million children each month. There were many Ghostwriter books released, both novelizations of the TV episodes and new stories. They were released by Bantam Books.

Video releases

During the mid-1990s Ghostwriter was released on VHS by two different companies, GPN and Republic Pictures. GPN is the company authorized by PBS to release all its shows on video. They have the entire series except for the last two cases. These videos are in the original format with each case divided into four or five episodes. Republic Pictures released only three cases (all from the first season) : "Ghost Story", "Who Burned Mr. Brinker's Store?" and "Into the Comics." In Republic Pictures' version, the four or five episodes for each case were edited together into a feature length movie. The Republic Pictures version is currently out of print, but can still be found in some libraries (US and Canada only). The GPN version was available to the general public for purchase through their website until 2007. Starting mid-2007, GPN is selling only to schools and libraries due to a change in licensing terms. However, the GPN version is still available in some libraries.

DVD releases

In February 2010, it was announced that Season 1 of Ghostwriter would be released on DVD by Shout! Factory. The 5-disc set, running 870 minutes long, was released on June 8, 2010, and cost $34.95 MSRP. Supplements are a trivia game and a casebook.56

DVD name Ep # Release date Special Features
Season One 34 June 8, 2010 Ghostwriter Trivia Game, Ghostwriter Casebook
Season Two 28 TBA TBA
Season Three 12 TBA TBA

Awards and nominations

  • Writers Guild of America, USA, 1995
    • Won, WGA Award (TV) for Children's Script — Carin Greenberg Baker, for "Don't Stop The Music".
  • Young Artist Awards, 1993
    • Nominated, Outstanding Performers in a Children's Program: Todd Alexander, Blaze Berdahl, David López, Mayteana Morales, Tram-Anh Tran, Sheldon Turnipseed

After cancellation and The New Ghostwriter Mysteries

The show halted production in February 1995 due to a lack of funding. In 1997, CBS aired a new version of the show, The New Ghostwriter Mysteries, but it was cancelled after one season due to low ratings. The new show had little in common with the original, changing Ghostwriter's on-screen appearance, introducing entirely new characters, and getting rid of the serial format of the original series.7

The original series was rerun from 1995 to 1999 on PBS. The UPN Kids block on UPN also ran re-runs for a short time in 1997. Then, in 1999, it was syndicated on ABC for a short time. Later that year it moved to the cable/satellite network Noggin, and subsequently on The N when The N became a part-time channel/programming block on Noggin. Ghostwriter aired on The N until 2003.

Ghostwriter's identity

Ghostwriter producer and writer Kermit Frazier revealed in a 2010 interview that Ghostwriter was the ghost of a runaway slave during the American Civil War. He taught other slaves how to read and write and was killed by slave catchers and their dogs. His soul was kept in the book that Jamal first discovered him in in the pilot episode, and when Jamal opened the book he was freed.8

Radio series

In summer of 2006, BBC School Radio produced a radio series of Ghostwriter for primary school students. Character names from the TV show were retained, though voiced by new children. Music and the theme song were also kept, and a new musical jingle for children to recognize Ghostwriter's appearances was created by Sesame Workshop.

References

  1. ^ a b c Bernstein, Sharon (1992-09-12). "Fox to Premiere PBS' 'Ghostwriter'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  2. ^ Heffley, Lynne (1992-10-03). "Words Add Substance to 'Ghostwriter'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  3. ^ Bernstein, Sharon (1991-05-17). "Public TV: 'Ghostwriter' targets third- and fourth-graders, 40% of whom are said to lack basic reading skills. The series will debut in 1992.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  4. ^ "Ghostwriter Review | TV Reviews and News". EW.com. 1993-01-15. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  5. ^ "Ghostwriter: Season One : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  6. ^ "Ghostwriter Typed Up - IGN". Dvd.ign.com. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  7. ^ "Educating and Entertaining - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. 1997-08-31. Retrieved 2014-03-12. 
  8. ^ Honan, Katie (2010-05-06). ""Ghostwriter" Revisits Fort Greene Past - The Local – Fort-Greene Blog - NYTimes.com". Fort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 

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