Review: Ghosts (2021)

It seems a bit odd, or perhaps even a bit hypocritical, to review an adapted/translated property considering last week’s post concerning the major criticisms and issues around translations and adaptations. Even more so, when this will be a mostly positive review and recommendation, but here we are. Though, to be fair, nothing in the core of the original British series was inherently British, and the American version does not shift the framework or narrative merely its execution to be a viable American translation. So, without further ado, let’s take a glance at Ghosts the 2021 version on CBS.

The basic premise of the show is a woman (played to perfection by Rose McIver) inherits a large estate from a distant, recently deceased relative. Wanting a change from her busy, seemingly going nowhere existence in the city, she, along with her chef husband (played by Utkarash Ambudkar), travels to the estate to see what she has inherited. While there, the loving couple decide to take a chance on a dream and convert the dilapidated estate into a homey bread and breakfast. However, unbeknownst to them, the large mansion is inhabited by the ghosts of many deceased inhabitants from various decades in the estate long, storied history. At least, unbeknownst to them until Samantha (McIver) suffers an unfortunate accident that results in her near death and miraculous ability to see the remnants of the afterlife, or in other words, she can now see and interact with ghosts.

Apparently, sage is actually a pleasant fragrance for the dearly departed.

From there we get standard half hour comedy fair with the expected shenanigans of Samantha being the sole living person who can interact with the various ghosts in and out of her home. We see obstacles and issues arise on the couple’s journey building their business, and, of course, the ghosts provide aid resulting in more entertaining scenarios and situations. While there are several spirits to be found in the show, the mainstay titular ghosts are Isaac, a Revolutionary era colonial commander (played by Brandon Scott Jones); Hetty, the former inhabitant of the estate and Samantha’s ancestor (played by Rebecca Wisocky); a bootlegging jazz singer (played by Danielle Pinnock); Pete, a milquetoast Wilderness Scout troop leader (played by Richie Moriarty); Trevor, an 80s stock broker/businessman (played by Asher Grodman); Flower, a hippie on psychedelics (played by Sheila Carrasco); Thorfinn, a Viking (played by Devan Chandler Long); and Sasappis, a Native American male troublemaker (played by Roman Zaragoza).

Ghosts is not some new, groundbreaking program that crosses barriers and tells original stories. Pretty much everything in it, we’ve seen before, and, frankly, that is completely okay. Not every show has to attempt to reconstruct the wheel or upend the paradigm. Some television series can, and should, be solid, entertaining insular stories that audiences can jump into at any point and thoroughly enjoy. And Ghosts does that immensely well. The cast has legitimate chemistry and works exceptionally well. At no point did I question the romantic relationship between McIver and Ambudkar. Their connection read as genuine and believable. Similarly, I had no trouble buying into the world of Ghosts and the various connections and relationships that exists between the multiple specters.

If you are looking for the next critical darling that will win big come awards season or the next show that will garner massive discourse from niche sections of social media, this is not the show for you. But if you are on the watch for solid writing, great performances, diverse, talented cast, and potential for many enjoyable stories being told, then I highly recommend giving Ghosts a watch. It is a great show that deserves attention, eyes, and more episodes to tell funny, interesting, episodic stories without the need of established IP or an overarching, background narrative building up to some grand reveal or conclusion.

Every once in awhile, you just really want a simple, comfort show that has just enough to remain engaging and Ghosts is more than a worthy entry into that genre.

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