When I saw the trailer for the new CBS comedy, “Ghosts,” I was sure that CBS had made a huge mistake. That’s how bad it looked.
But after watching the first three episodes, it’s clear the trailer really doesn’t do the show justice. However, in defense of the people who put the trailer together, it’s not easy to describe why “Ghosts” works. I just know that it does, and does really well. Based on a British comedy, “Ghosts” stars Rose McIver as Samantha, a New York City freelance writer who inherits a huge country estate. Samantha falls in love with the place and convinces her boyfriend, Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar), to remodel it to create a bed and breakfast.
But the mansion already has guests — a group of ghosts. There’s a 1920s jazz singer, a Revolutionary War-era militiaman, a ‘60s hippie, an ‘80s scout troop leader, a Viking, a ‘90s Wall Streeter, a Native American and an 1800s socialite. Because of their different time periods and backgrounds, the ghosts sometimes struggle to relate to each other, but their circumstances of being together for eternity have made them become a family. Concerned about the disruption of a bed and breakfast, the ghosts plot to scare Samantha and Jay out of the home, but their plans change when an accident causes Samantha to become the first “living” to be able to see and hear them as the ghosts decide that they can work with Samantha to make their experience better. For example, Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), the militiaman, enlists Samantha to write his biography, once he discovers that Alexander Hamilton had a hit musical written about him.
Everything about the premise of “Ghosts” screams silly, but the majority of the humor is actually clever and witty. The strange cadre of personalities could prove ridiculous, but it works due to the sharp writing and a top-notch cast. And the absence of a laugh track and the overall look of the show give it a cinematic quality we don’t really see a lot of on TV these days. It also helps that McIver, who is perfectly cast as Samantha, completely sells the premise, making her interactions with the ghosts completely believable and even downright heartwarming. The show does dig a little too low for its humor at times (I’m never a fan of fart jokes) and the running gag of the ghosts looking exactly as they did when they died (one without pants) wears a little thin. But overall, the show is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.
Yes, “Ghosts” is a little tough to explain. But sometimes you don’t have to explain something in order to enjoy it. And I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy “Ghosts.”
“Ghosts” premieres with back-to-back episodes at 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, on CBS.