Humor is subjective. Reviews are, by necessity, a matter of opinion. As the Internet acronym says YMMV. Most science fiction/fantasy/horror (SFFH) shows are serious dramas with occasional moments of comic relief.
Ghosts on CBS is a rare exception. In fact, Ghosts may be the best sicom on American TV since Barney Miller was cancelled in 1982.
What is “Ghosts”? Who is Behind It?
Just as Norman Lear did with All in the Family and Sanford and Son, Ghosts is based on a British comedy. The original BBC Ghosts was created by Matthew Baynton, Simon Farbary, Martha Howe-Douglas, Laurence Rickard, and Ben Willibond, the crew behind Horrible Histories . The orignal show is currently atreaming on HBOMax, and has been renewwd for a fourth season in UK. The American version was adapted by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist).
Samantha (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) are a young couple living in a fifth-floor New York City walk-up apartment. Sam inherits a gorgeous but falling apart mansion when her great-aunt dies intestate. She and Jay go out to look the place over before deciding whether to keep the mansion or try to sell it. Unbeknownst to Sam and Jay, Aunt Sophie’s house is not on;y haunted, but crowded. There are nine ghosts upstairs, and a plethora of cholera victims in the basement. After a near death experience, Sam devekops the abulity to hear and see ghosts. It takes a little while before she and Jay accept the ghosts are real. He is convinced at first that she is having hallucinations as a result of the concussion that put her in the hospital for two weeks. Jay can neither see nor hear the ghosts, but Sam has described them to him, and relays wh playaat they say … which makes for awkward conversations.
None of the cast are household names yet, but if the show continues to be successful, that could easily change. New Zealand actress Rose McIver has the most Geek Cred of anyone in the cast. She appeared in three Hercules movies and an occasional episode of Xena, Warrior Princess. She was Yellow Ranger in Power Rangers RPM, and of course she played Liv Moore on iZombie.
Román Zaragoza plays Sass, a Lenape who died 600 years ago. Sasappis gets some of the best lines in the show, or maybe it’s just Zaragoza’s gift for comic timing that makes the lines sound good. He appeared in Disney’s Austin and Ally as Miles and in Stumptown as Leigh Green.
Devan Chandler Long (Flex Mentallo in Doom Patrol, Otto West in Now Apocalypse) plays Thorfinn, the oldest of the ghosts. Thorfinn was a Viking who came ashore to hunt for moose and other supplies for his ship. He died when was struck by lightning, and thus can affect electricity.
Brandon Prescott Jones (Curtis Paltrow in The Other Two) plays Isaac, a gay Revolutionary War veteran who is dismayed to learn his former rival Alexander Hamilton has a prizewinning musical about him, whilst he is quite literally a footnote in history. No ghost likes being walked through by a living being. It’s uncomfortable for them. However, when a Living walks through Isaac, he emits an odor like flatulence, which can be smelled by both ghosts and Livings.
Rebecca Wisocky is better known for drama (she played both Medea and Lady Macbeth on stage, and Lorraine Harvey in American Horror Story) , but she is managing quite well at comedy as Hetty Woodhouse, the 19th century widow of a robber baron, and Sam’s great-great grandmother.
Danielle Pinnock (the voice of Barbastella in Thundercats Roar, and Angela in the upcoming The Undertaker’s Wife) is the ghost of an African-American lounge singer from the Roaring Twenties. When Alberta hums, Livings can hear her. Unable to believe she died of something as mundane as a heart attack, she wants Sam to solve her murder.
Sheila Carrusco (Sana Peruzzi in Jane the Virgin) plays a Flower, the ghost of a hippie from the Sixties, who is ectoplasmic proof of the old “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs” PSA.
Richie Moriarty (Arthur’s Father in The Tick, Doug Peterson in What We Do in the Shadows) plays Pete, whom Jay refers to as Arrow Guy. He was a scoutmaster and died when one of his charges shot an arrow through his neck.
Asher Goodman plays Trevor, the ghost of a lascivious, libertine Yuppie. He’s the ghost without pants. As with Disney’s short-lived The Hundred Lives of Black Jack Savage, the ghosts are condemned for eternity to wear what they wore when they died.
The ninth ghost is Crash, a headless motorcyclist. We’ve seen him in two episodes, but haven’t been properly introduced to him yet. Based on his clothing, he is probably from the 1950’s or ’60’s. The actor portraying Crash’s body is an uncredited role.
Last but far from least is actor/rapper Utkarsh Ambudar (Adam in the horror film Knock, Knock; voice of Chikki in Maya, Royal Detective). As a rapper he performs under the stage name UTK.
Ghosts is on CBS 9;00 Central, 8:00 Eastern on Thursday nights. SFFH or mundane, it’s one of the best shows on television at the moment. PBS’ The Watch attempted to be a fantasy comedy, but failed. Ghosts has been confirmed for a full season. CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl recently told Deadline that he thinks it’s a “unicorn” show that appeals to male, female, young and old audiences and that the show has a “lot of runway in front of it”.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a great show. I hope he’s right.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.