Boo! Sitcom ‘Ghosts’ combines outsider ghosts and feel-good charm


LOS ANGELES (AP) – The title seems like a dead giveaway, but the new comedy “Ghosts” has more to offer than things that rumble in the night.

“We totally see this show as ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ and ‘Ted Lasso’,” said producer Joe Wiseman.

Replace predatory vampires with outsiders and upbeat Ted with an adorable young couple, and you’ll get an idea of ​​what Wiseman and collaborator Joe Port have in mind for the CBS sitcom. It will air on Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT and streamed on Paramount +.

“Ghosts” plays Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Samantha and Jay. She is a freelance journalist, he is an aspiring chef, and they live the big city life. Then she inherits a mansion in New York’s Hudson Valley and on a whim hires a reluctant Jay to renovate it as a bed-and-breakfast.

However, it turned out that it is already inhabited by dead guests with deep emotional ties to the property – they died there – and who are terrified by the idea of ​​sharing their excavations with the living.

Among them the eerie eight: a Viking explorer, around 1000 AD (Devon Chandler Long); an early 20th century lounge singer (Danielle Pinnock); 1960s hippie (Sheila Carrasco); The 1980s finance shark (Asher Grodman) and a 16th century indigenous man (Román Zaragoza) with excellent weird timing.

A near-fatal accident gives Samantha the opportunity to see and interact with the deceased, who are far more whimsical than threatening. The series based on the BBC series of the same name is filmed in Montreal as a replacement for New York.

“When I read the pilot script, it was the first time in a long time that I just laughed out loud. And I love working on comedy television, ”said McIver.

She’s not sure why “interacting with the afterlife has been a very big part of my career,” as she put it, with “iZombie” and “The Lovely Bones” among her TV and movie credits. “I’m not particularly looking for it. I don’t know if it’s the color of my skin, ”said the actor happily.

Ambudkar, who described himself as hesitant to join the series, including the pandemic restrictions that delayed production, attributes his co-star’s urge to change his mind.

“Rose kept calling and saying, ‘Dude, what are you doing? We have to do this show together. ‘ She was very persistent, ”said Ambudkar (“ blindspotting ”,“ I’ve never been ”).

The project’s clever premise, a new version of what he called “dysfunctional family comedy,” and his alternate approach to the three-camera sitcom format with a laugh track, allayed his concerns about joining a traditional network series.

“I watched five minutes of the BBC show and saw the single-camera format,” recalls Ambudkar. “I saw the use of humor and I said, ‘This could really work wherever it goes.’ Sometimes you just have to trust the product itself, not where it ends up. “

The two actors eagerly exchange compliments.

“We call it a comedic weapon,” said McIver. Based on his improvisational experience, “Utkarsh always brings something surprising. We have developed a really good relationship, to work out our strengths and to play off each other. “

“Rose is really dedicated to her craft,” said Ambudkar. “She does all of her work outside of the camera with the same energy as she does in front of the camera. … It is really nice when your number 1 is so present and invests in the success of everyone. “

McIver said the prospect of working on the series was “a beacon” that helped her weather the COVID-19 pandemic. “And in return, we hope that the audience will enjoy it after such a brutal year,” she said.

The happy Emmy favorite “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV + is considered to be such an antidote, with the additional seal of approval of being part of a streaming universe that is quickly becoming more attractive for the TV industry and viewers.

But producers Port and Wiseman defend themselves against the idea that networks cannot be compared with online series – and at the same time state that “Ghosts” is gaining a foothold in both worlds thanks to the CBS sibling Paramount +.

It wasn’t long ago that television comedies were showered with awards, Port said. ABC’s “Modern Family” grabbed the fifth best comedy series in a row, Emmy, in 2014, with cable and streaming entries having dominated since then.

In addition, “the line between what is streamed and what is broadcast is a little blurred,” said Port. “Ted Lasso” for example, “is not the most eccentric show. It’s a feel-good show and something that, apart from a few parts here and there, could easily be a broadcast show. “

The Apple TV + comedy is a “traditional, well-made single-camera sitcom,” he said – a description that sounds hauntingly like “ghosts.”

Lynn Elber, The Associated Press

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