October is typically the time when new and often spooky movies and television shows are released. And in fine form, CBS has released a new series called “Ghosts,” a sitcom with some lighthearted horror elements.
The premise follows Samantha and Jay, a married couple from Manhattan; they learn in the pilot episode that a distant relative has recently died, bestowing ownership of a colonial era manor in upstate New York to the young couple.
The place is definitely a fixer-upper, but they both see the potential in possibly turning it into a bed-and-breakfast establishment. However, the current occupants aren’t liking that idea, and they do what they can to convince the two otherwise.
Oh, yeah, the house’s current occupants are the eponymous spooks and specters. They include a charmingly hilarious soldier of the Revolution, a hippie who got mauled to death by a literal bear hug, and one former owner of the mansion who is one of Samantha’s ancestors. All of the ghosts remain in a state similar to their moment of death.
The jokes and antics of the ghosts are a humorous side plot; the living are blissfully unaware, chalking up the flashing lights to shorts in the antiquated wiring or the weird smells coming from mold in the walls instead of the remains of the colonial soldier who died of dysentery. Quick cut edits flipping back and forth from the audience perspective and the humans’ perspective help make it even more hilarious.
Things get a little weird when Samantha has an accident and wakes up from a coma with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. From the outside perspective, she looks crazy, but Jay quickly begins to believe her. The darkly humorous tone plays with the ideas of death and afterlife and mental health without being insensitive.
There are some jokes meant to pick at some elements of woke culture, usually finding fault when the local gas station manager refers to Jay as a snowflake or effeminate for his choice of clothing or personality, but they land fairly well.
New Zealand actress Rose McIver, who plays Samantha, is no stranger to weird and spooky acting. She rose to stardom on the CW’s “iZombie” playing a zombified medical examiner investigating murders at the city morgue while hiding her undead status. She also caught attention in the U.S. through roles on the Hallmark channel and from a starring role in “Power Rangers RPM” (2009).
Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Free Guy”) who plays Jay brings his dry sarcastic wit to the table, playing a character struggling to adapt to a new normal that includes his wife having conversations with ghosts … one of which is a handsome Wall Street broker who died without his pants on.
The series has elements that draw from the ABC sitcom “Pushing Daisies” (2007-09) which incorporated dark humor and touched on many of the same subjects. There are also hints that the show may have been influenced by Peter Jackson’s “The Frighteners” (1996) starring Michael J. Fox where a man who had a brush with death can see and speak with ghosts.
All in all, “Ghosts” is starting off well. It falls into a niche genre, and the situations and plot lines feel like they may face the challenge of running out of story and may linger long after its business in this world comes to an end.
You can find “Ghosts” on CBS airing on Thursday nights.