Lost Signals: Ghostwriter (1992)
“He’s a ghost… and he writes to us. Ghostwriter.”
Back when the country cared about the decline of literacy in children comes one of my after school past-times, Ghostwriter. It was a series that aired on PBS in the early to mid 90’s that presented mysteries in the form of story arcs. It was about a ghost who first makes contact with two Brooklyn kids by the name of Jamal and Lenni in order to protect them from danger. These kids will become known as the Ghostwriter Team and began as a group of four but later added three more members. The ghost can only communicate to the children through manipulating text and shaping his own sentences out of them. Members of the Ghostwriter team wore pens around their necks that they could use to write to Ghostwriter whenever they wanted. They would even use Ghostwriter to send out a message to the entire group at one time.
Ghostwriter was set up for the viewer to participate in solving mysteries by piecing together clues in the form of word games. The series only lasted three seasons but was ranked in the top five children shows in America during it’s last run. This show is surprisingly unintelligent despite its attempts at being educational which only makes me pull a face-palm at the idea that I ever thought I was smart for solving these mysteries. Still, Ghostwriter was one of the first shows that I would tune in to watch after getting home from school and for some strange reason influenced me to think that wearing a pen around my neck was cool! The show also attempted to break cultural and racial boundaries by portraying inner-city children of mixed nationalities working together and played like a Spike Lee (who also makes a cameo) mystery for kids.
Who the ghost actually was has never been revealed and only bits of clues about his life and personality are given. D.J McHale, the co-creator of Nickelodeon‘s Are you Afraid of the Dark? series and the writer of the creepy pilot episode of Ghostwriter, has stated that “…Ghostwriter was supposed to be an ancestor of Jamal’s, who was an escaped slave from the south who educated himself and learned the value of reading.” Seeing as to how the Ghostwriter can only communicate through reading and writing, it would seem that literacy is just as important in death as it is in life! Samuel L. Jackson cameos in the pilot episode as Jamal’s father. Also worthy of note are appearances in the series by Mark Linn-Baker from the show Perfect Strangers, and Julia Stiles.
Growing up having weekly movie nights with a family of horror fanatics, Long Tran spent many of his early years traumatized by nightmares of scantily clad she-wolves and maniac cops. Now he writes about it at his blog The Midnight Brood, for all the people who grew up sneaking out of their bedrooms in the middle of the night to watch that horror movie that mommy and daddy didn’t want them to watch.