CBS’ “Ghosts” is smart, funny, and low-key macabre

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For anyone old enough or fortunate enough to have seen classic Warner Brother cartoons, the humor in CBS’ “Ghosts” will feel familiar. The new show airs on the long-running channel on Thursdays at 10 p.m. “Ghosts” debuted Oct. 7, 2021.

“Ghosts”: the premise

The ghosts all “live” together in a dilapidated mansion, the site of all their deaths. Some of their lives pre-date the construction of the house, however. The group includes a Native Indian, a Viking, a blues singer from the 1920s, an 18th century contemporary of Alexander Hamilton who is obsessed with Hamilton, a Downton Abbey-type older lady who once owned the house, a hippie girl, a Scout Leader, and a stock broker from the late 1990s. An eclectic group to be sure.

The group is thrown into chaos when a living couple buys the mansion. After one of the ghosts makes the woman fall down the steps, she dies clinically for a few minutes, and afterward, she can see the ghosts and talk to them. Some of the ghosts are in their death states, so naturally she screams at the sight of them. The running gag with the 18th century politician is that he died of dysentery and smells like flatulence. The Scout Leader still has the arrow through his neck. The catch? She can also see dead people elsewhere, meaning those outside the house. While this might be funny on one level, seeing impaled construction workers might not be funny to those who lost a loved one in such a manner.

Oh, and there are cholera victims in the basement who just want a light left on. So far, they continue to be disappointed.

The ghosts dislike a few things that the living do. For example, being walked through apparently hurts, and moving objects take strength, and they cheer each other on for each act. What is interesting is that each tries to impart wisdom from his or her lifetime. When the couple’s car pulls up, the Viking has no words for it, and the former lady of the house declares it a “horseless carriage,” while the more recent dead know exactly what it is.

Why “Ghosts” works

The obvious reason the show works is because it has premiered in early October, when a lot of people are seeking at least slightly spooky viewing. In addition, and this is probably more important, the paranormal seems to be everywhere. There are numerous shows depicting real-life ghostly encounters. Not to mention the scary movies available since the invention of the medium. People are used to ghosts in one form or another. In this form, it is okay to laugh at them, and our interactions with them. However, in real-life, these encounters are less-than humorous.

It remains to be seen if the show will remain popular after Halloween. So far, “Ghosts” has been well-reviewed. Audiences should stay tuned to see if it survives to a second season.

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