- Developers: Joe Port and Joe Wiseman
- Cast: Rose McIver, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brandon Scott Jones, Richie Moriarty, Rebecca Wisocky, Danielle Pinnock, Asher Grodman, Sheila Carrasco, Roman Zaragoza, Devan Chandler Long
- Genre: comedy-horror, sitcom
- Country / Language: USA / English
- 13 episodes, approx. 22 minutes each
- Last Air Date: January 20, 2022 (CBS Channel)
The new CBS series “Ghosts” is making waves online. The final episode will air on January 20th and is an American remake of the original British series of the same name which aired on BBC in 2019.
Both shows follow the basic premise: a young couple inherits an old, run-down country house after the woman’s distant relative who owned it dies. It turns out that this mansion houses the spirits of some people who died in this country. These spirits can see everything that is going on in the house and are not afraid to comment on it.
The British “Ghosts” (created by Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond) was a huge hit with BBC audiences when it aired in 2019. His plot of eccentric spirits (all from different periods) living under one roof and quarreling with the living owner was not an original concept. But his execution and absolutely stunning sense of humor proved a huge hit with viewers.
When CBS bought the rights to turn the show into an American show, people were understandably skeptical. It didn’t help that a short teaser was put online a few months ago, which reacted rather hostilely on the Internet. Do we really need another remake of a hugely successful show that was perfect in its own right and had no flaws that needed improvement? Also, the language of that old show was English, so do we really need another English language remake? And this show isn’t even old enough to be retold to the same generation…
But much of the backlash was unfounded as the American remake is quite funny and entertaining with some new jokes and situations, if not many. The American remake takes a lot (and I mean A LOT) of gut-wrenching jokes and one-liners from the original, as a remake should. Many of the characters, although part of the American story this time rather than the British one, can be identified as counterparts of the original show’s characters.
Developed by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, the remake follows New Yorkers Sam (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) as they move to the remote Woodstone estate after the death of Sam’s distant relative. One day, Sam trips, hits his head and has a near-death experience. Awakened from her coma, she can now see, hear, and speak to the spirits in her home. She now has to deal with challenges from both the physical and spiritual worlds.
While the show’s best points are the jokes and situations carried over from the British show are the best original Facet of this CBS series is certainly the cast, who play the ghosts great and even revel in their antics. Some of these ghosts are the flamboyant and petty American Revolutionary officer Sir Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), the stiff and orderly former Lady of the Manor Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), the gossip-hungry jazz singer of 1920s Alberta (Danielle Pinnock), the super-friendly Boy Scout leader Pete (Richie Moriarty), chauvinistic Wall Street trader Trevor (Asher Grodman), aggressive and physically intimidating Viking Thorffin (Devan Chandler Long), 1960s stoner hippie Flower (Sheila Carrasco) and Lenape, Native American Sassapis ( Roman Zaragoza). There are other ghosts in the storyline too, like the basement-dwelling ghosts who died of cholera, whose subplot is another highlight of the show (but is, once again, an introduction to the geniuses behind the British series).
This show will be hilarious, delightful and utterly refreshing for viewers who haven’t seen the original. With louder slapstick and outspoken humor, the show has an American flair due to its mostly family-friendly vibe and lots of heart. It’s fast-paced compared to the British show, and has a sunny look compared to the original’s rather misty, cloudy British look. The lenses for the cameras in these two shows are also different, with the American remake looking “flatter”. And of course, the original took a look at different eras of British history, while this one explores a bit of American history.
Some scene-to-scene similarities and dialogue-to-dialogue duplication might infuriate fans of the British series, which had a popular Horrible Histories cast, but the American remake does it well, too. The remake also contains very American references, such as the hypocrisy of the mansion’s white owner telling the spirits that it is her country that is leading the Native American spirit to oppose their claim, or Lady Hetty’s jokes about the children who work in their factories are much happier than other child laborers or the American revolutionary’s insecurities regarding his more famous rival, the now-famous Broadway character Alexander Hamilton. Also, the battles of the American Ghosts against the British Ghosts living in the shed are essentially American situations.
The older members of the cast are real show stealers like Rebecca Wisocky as Lady Hetty who made us notice her absence for two or three consecutive episodes during her absence and miss her dearly. Second, given the owner-spirit dynamic, Sir Isaac and Alberta’s friendship adds spice and entertainment. Alberta adds some much-needed jokes to the show not found in the British one, with her diva-like persona and talk of run-ins with mafia bosses, illegal liquor sellers and a crazed fan. The younger cast, however, are a hit-and- Miss, with Zaragoza looking pretty tired and distracted as Sassapis. His lines are weak and the subplot where he fights Thorfinn over a TV show is unfunny, unnecessary and even looks like a school play with the dialogues, as is his romantic subplot involving a different Lenape spirit . Carrasco as Flower is also another weak and unmemorable character with her two-dimensional, heavily stereotypical hippie character. The writers fail to squeeze the juice out of their drawn character, and neither does Sassapis, whose native background and history are ripe for both comedy and drama but ultimately go unused. A subplot about a ’60s bank robbery by Flower had a lot of potential, but this episode was pretty lifeless due to the bad script. Sassapis and Flower also happen to be original characters whose scenes are not from the BBC version. That explains why these characters, their dialogue and their situations are also the most humorless on the show, giving fans of the British show even more reason to criticize this CBS version.
However, a standout character among the younger Ghosts is Asher Grodman as the newest of Ghosts: 90s Finance Bro Trevor. Grodman’s drama and fiercely confident and assured acting skills make him extremely captivating despite his obnoxious personality. Despite being a derivative of the Tory MP character from the British series, Grodman adds his own loud and brash acting to make the character an essentially American character.
Another highlight of this show is the ingenious switching of shots, with Sam being surrounded and pursued by an ensemble of ghosts and then cutting back the shot of her standing alone and seemingly talking to herself. It has to be seen to be truly enjoyed.
Much of the brilliant humor also lies in the ghost cast, whose reactions, horrifying screams and angry sighs from the unknowing people who visit the house, make you laugh and smirk. It’s a testament to their excellent group chemistry (both cast and character).
Utkarsh Ambudkar doesn’t get much work in his role as Jay, the live character who is Sam’s husband. But he’s doing his best with what he can. He absolutely shines in the episode where Hetty takes over his body and makes him exhibit the demeanor of the lady of the manor. Rose McIver (from “iZombie”) is bright, sweet and innocent as ailing homeowner Sam, who must now contend with a new reality of being almost a second mother to that noisy nursery full of manic, cantankerous spirits.
Those who are upset about the existence of this remake can rest assured that the British original is not going anywhere and is still available to watch. Reimagining a jewel never “spoils” the original, it only enhances its legacy. Though it has its flaws, Ghosts is one of the strongest TV debuts of 2021. Gather your loved ones to watch this hysterical slapstick sitcom.
Watch Ghosts CBS
buy it Amazon
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