|What I wanted.|
In the early 90s, being a badass was top. To me and my friends, the three most badass characters were Wolverine, The Punisher, and Ghost Rider. This was probably in no small part due to the comic special Hearts of Darkness that featured all three! Wolverine was a man constantly on the edge. He could go berserk and kill his foes or his teammates. The Punisher thought all criminals were scum who deserved to die. Though I was too young to understand, I'm sure there was a unconscious appeal of a character who so closely approached the psychotic that at times it was difficult to differentiate him morally from his enemies. Then, of course, there was Ghost Rider. He rode a motorcycle (cool), his face was a skull (cool), and he literally wielded and was consumed by hellfire (very cool). I'm sure something can be said about the feeling of being on the margins of the adult world, as a child subject to rules of my disliking, and being able to vicariously smash all the rules through fictional counterparts (and the accompanying feeling of empowerment), but at that time, I didn't really care. I just wanted to see bad guys being burnt and sent straight to hell!
|What I got.|
As you recall, this time was prior to the era of the superhero. There were no big budget extravaganzas starring Toby McGuire or Hugh Jackman. There were a few schlocky 70s flicks, which I enjoyed thoroughly (The Hulk TV series, Spider-man). However, you can imagine how elated I was when I discovered in the TV-Guide an entry for "Ghost Writer." This wasn't one of those old shows, it was something new! It also wasn't on one of those high numbered cable channels that my parents wouldn't subscribe to, it was on PBS. Now, I should point out that I knew how to spell both "Ghost Writer" and "Ghost Rider," and that they meant different things. Regardless, I just figured that the TV producers probably mispelled the show's title.
Anyway, I flipped over to PBS at the appointed time and was not greeted with hellfire and motorcycles. Instead, I got the story of a bunch of kids solving mysteries with the help of a friendly ghost that could neither hear nor speak; he could only write. Ghost Writer could rearrange the letters on signs to say any message he wished. Only the kids could see these message. A high point of the show was when the characters would rally, or meet. Ghost Writer would fly around the city to where each kid was and display the word "Rally" followed by the letter of whose house (example: Rally J) they should meet at. Was I disappointed and perplexed? Yes. However, I do have to admit I enjoyed Ghost Writer. It was filled with young kids, as the stars, and it invited the viewer to participate by trying to solve the mystery along with them. On the whole, it was probably more beneficial to me than watching a guy with a flaming skull give criminals the "penance stare."