The Boo Crew
CBS Watch! Magazine|September/October 2021
This Ghosts story tells how the new CBS comedy came together brilliantly in spite of the ghastly pandemic.
By David Hochman

They say change can be scary. A new town, an unfamiliar house, a bunch of deceased former residents who want you out of there pronto. That’s the spirit of Ghosts, a new CBS comedy—yes, comedy— about a cute young couple who inherit a rundown 300-year-old country estate (thanks, Great Aunt Sophie) along with a tight-knit group of dearly departed souls from different time periods who hilariously haunt the place.

You might think a free mansion with nine bedrooms on 10 acres in the picturesque Hudson Valley would be a welcome windfall for struggling freelance journalist Samantha (played by Rose McIver from The CW’s supernatural comedy iZombie) and her fast-talking chef husband, Jay (comedian and rapper Utkarsh Ambudkar from The Mindy Project and Pitch Perfect). And it is—for a minute. One look at her gorgeous family hand-me-down and all Sam can think is, “Dude, this could be the best bed and breakfast.” Unfortunately, it’s the property’s prior inhabitants—including a cod-obsessed Viking, a feisty Prohibition-era lounge singer, a trippy ’60s hippie, and an entitled ’80s Wall Street bro—who have reservations. The ghosts (who only Sam can see) don’t want new owners and definitely don’t want beds full of space-hogging overnighters, and so the kooky spooking begins. A lightbulb flickers mysteriously here, a vase crashes to parquet floors there—all to frighten Sam and Jay back to the big city. A spectral Yelp reviewer might sum up the guest experience in a single word: Boo!

Adapted from the hit BBC One series of the same name, Ghosts is a sitcom in the tradition of TV classics like The Addams Family, The Munsters, and, more recently, What We Do in the Shadows. The wisecracking is spine chilling without giving actual shivers. The real scares happened off-camera shortly after the pilot got picked up by CBS in February 2020. “We got the go-ahead just as the pandemic set in, and there was worry, along with everything else, that we’d lose momentum,” says Joe Wiseman, who is writing and executive producing the series with Joe Port, his creative partner from New Girl and other comedies. “But it’s such an inventive idea and has so much heart, we kept the faith that it would work out.”

After months of precautionary delays, Ghosts shot its pilot episode last December in Los Angeles under tight COVID-19 protocols, and the cast and crew couldn’t help noticing eerie parallels between the comedy and the lockdown life everyone had been living. As Port says: “It was suddenly very relatable to have people trapped together in a house and forever unable to escape each other. We imagine viewers will relate, and hopefully in a humorous way.”

It helps to have a dead-funny cast that includes Danielle Pinnock from Young Sheldon as a 1920s chanteuse, Brandon Scott Jones from The Good Place as a conflicted Revolutionary War–era militiaman, and Richie Moriarty (What We Do in the Shadows) as a 1980s scout leader who clearly got the bum end of an archery lesson: There’s an arrow through his neck. (See the sidebar for more on the ensemble.) Ghosts’ two leads are the stand-ins for the rest of us—that is, if the rest of us were standing in an abode full of freaky ghouls. Here’s what McIver and Ambudkar say about seeing dead people in prime time.

Team Spirit

Who’s who in the Ghosts ensemble

Román Zaragoza

Stumptown actor Zaragoza plays Sasappis, a snarky Native American who mostly rolls his eyes at his fellow specters. “We consider him the Chandler of the group,” says executive producer Joe Wiseman. “He’s got this brilliant, biting sarcasm, and he’s very over this whole ghost thing.”

Richie Moriarty

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