Don’t Be Afraid, ‘Ghosts’ is Really Clever

Many of us grew up with and still have fond memories of silly TV comedies like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters and Gilligan’s Island. Though we sometimes try to pretend that we’ve outgrown them, deep inside we still miss them. Every so many years similar shows have been brought to the small screen only to die a slow death from lack of creativity and viewership. Although, every once in a while, one of these high concept shows actually makes it and becomes a nice break from yet another sitcom family or workplace hijinks. Hopefully, Ghosts will be one of those breakthroughs.

Adapted from a British comedy of the same name, Ghosts debuted last night on CBS with two back-to-back episodes. The story features two mortals, pessimistic Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) and optimistic Samantha (Rose McIver), who learn that they have just inherited Woodstone Manor, Samantha’s great aunt’s mansion located out in the middle of nowhere. Jay is skeptical, but his wife is already picturing paint colors in her head. They talk about turning the place into a bed-and-breakfast. Sam reasons that Jay is a chef so that already takes care of the “breakfast” part and she is a writer who can work anywhere, so they decide to make a go of it.

(L-R): Brandon Scott Jones as Isaac, Utkarsh Ambudkar as Jay, Sheila Carrasco as Flower, Román Zaragoza as Sasappis, Rebecca Wisocky as Hetty, Rose McIver as Samantha, Devan Chandler Long as Thorfinn, Asher Grodman as Trevor, and Richie Moriarty as Pete. (Cliff Lipson/CBS)

However, the mansion is actually filled with ghosts who have all died on the property at one time or another during differents time eras and include:

  • Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), Samantha’s ancestor and former wife of an 1800’s robber baron
  • Alberta (Danielle Pinnock), a prohibition-era lounge singer
  • Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), a pompous 1700’s Militiaman (and an Alexander Hamilton hater)
  • Flower (Sheila Carrasco), a ditzy ‘60’s hippie
  • Pete (Richie Moriarty), a really positive Boy Scout troupe leader from the ‘80’s.
  • Trevor (Asher Grodman), a smarmy ‘90’s finance guy
  • Sasappis (Roman Zaragoza), an American native from the 1500’s
  • Thorfinn (Devan Chandler Long), a cod-obsessed Viking explorer from 1009
  • And others including one guy who literally runs around with his head cut off

The ghosts become afraid when Samantha burns sage to cast away evil spirits in the home only to find that the scent is quite pleasureable and find that they are quite fond of the new inhabitants. However, they are not happy with the couple’s plan to convert their home into a hotel. The idea of having strangers walk around “their” home is frightening if not annoying, so they plan to scare the couple out of the house. Then, after a freak accident, Samantha discovers that she can see and talk to these ghosts but Jay cannot. (With her newfound abilities to talk these paranormal beings, one has to wonder if the creators of the show named Rose’s character Samantha as a nod to Elizabeth Montgomery’s character in Bewitched.)

And Samantha learns that each ghost has something that they would like to have. Thorfinn wants to watch Vikings on the “magic box”, Alberta wants to find out who killed her (even though she died of a heart attack), Issac wants Samantha to write his life story and possibly have it made into an award-winning Broadway musical, etc.

While rarely laugh-out-loud funny, Ghosts is actually pretty entertaining and clever. Like those colorful characters of sitcom pasts, this new series is full of personality and really fun to watch. With so many characters, including the future guests of the B-and-B, there is a lot of directions where this ensemble comedy could go. In addition, the pilot episode actually featured a tender monologue from one of the ghosts remember life before he died. I wasn’t expecting a sentimental moment in this wacky comedy, but it helped to elevate the show.

Will Ghosts survive? I don’t know. The network has rarely publicized the show and there isn’t much buzz about it, but hopefully people will tune in and appreciate this new silly show.

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