It’s a classic sitcom setting: a married couple moves into a new home and makes friends with the wacky people who live in the area. There is however, one twist: all their new friends are ghosts who reside in the same mansion. While most ghost stories take a plot like this with the intention to give a fright to its audience, CBS’ new series “Ghosts” uses the macabre of the haunted house as a setting for a promising ensemble comedy.
Based on the BBC series of the same name, the series follows married couple Sam (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) through their efforts to convert a newly inherited haunted mansion into a bed and breakfast. After a fall down the stairs leaves Sam in a coma for two weeks, she returns to the house with the ability to see spirits, including the plethora of ghosts living in the house. This ensemble of ghosts includes Captain Isaac Higgintoot (Brandon Scott Jones), a closeted gay Revolutionary War Officer, Trevor (Asher Grodman), a pantsless Wall Street Broker, Hetty Woodstone (Rebecca Wisocky), the old fashioned and poised landowner, Alberta Haynes (Danielle Pinnock), a glamorous yet shady singer from the prohibition era, and plenty more. These ghosts communicate with Sam to find some closure from their deaths, learn about the modern world, and get accustomed to the changes happening around the house.
As a pilot, “Ghosts” introduces itself as a promise of good things to come. While not instantly engaging, the audience can see the seeds being planted for a quality series. We get to meet our characters and start to understand their dynamics with one another. McIver and Ambudkar work well together as a married couple and function as perfect foils to the ensemble of ghosts. Even though they are not the main sources of comedy, Sam and Jay still get their moments to shine. As the sole translator between the living and the dead, Sam gets some hilarious moments of miscommunication. Additionally, one of the strongest episodes of the series features Hetty accidentally possessing Jay. Further, each ghost brings their own personality to the table, like the strong and glory-driven viking Thorfinn (Devan Long) who loves watching vikings on the television, or the fun-loving and perpetually stoned hippie Flower (Sheila Carrasco) who discusses her time as part of a commune and a cult. Also, there are other less social ghosts that live on the haunted estate that make their own appearance, like the posse of spirits who died of Cholera now living in the basement, or the Revolutionary Redcoats that found a new home in the shed. While the first episode simply sets up the exposition of the married couple moving into the haunted house, the world quickly expands into an intricate and complex setting for both the living and the dead throughout the course of a short season. Watching these characters interact with each other as their true spiritual selves is enough to make any actor jealous that they don’t get to be involved in a show like this.
“Ghosts” looks to be a promising series for CBS in large part due to its cast of characters and their mundane but haunted interactions with each other. So far, the story of “Ghosts” has been a solid but standard arc. Since this is a supernatural story, it can be hard to say that the series follows the traditional sitcom tropes, but “Ghosts” does not shy away from finding comedy within both the normal and the paranormal. The ensemble is nothing like the Brady family, but “Ghosts” still follows classic tropes like the main married couple inviting their neighbors over for dinner, or getting into a war with the neighborhood kids on Halloween.
The series will conclude its first season on Jan. 20 and has already been picked up for a second season. If you’re looking for a strong ensemble comedy, “Ghosts” is the show for you.
“Ghosts” airs on CBS and can be streamed on cbs.com and Paramount+.