Sitcom faves Scott and Robinson muddle through this overly explained 80s homage.
ITV has picked up Fox’s new paranormal action comedy Ghosted (a title presumably chosen to capitalize on the #hashtag rather than its merit), starring Parks and Rec’s Adam Scott and The Office’s Craig Robinson. Both also act as executive producers on the show, and, judging by the first episode, that’s where all the investment has gone.
The show tells the story of a classic odd couple, Scott’s awkward former astrophysics professor-turned-bookseller and Robinson’s cynical former detective-turned-security guard plucked out of menial labour by the mysterious Bureau Underground (another terrible name) and forced to work together to solve the case of a missing agent.
Shenanigans ensue as the duo investigate a shady factory on behalf of the Spooky Space Bureau (come on even that has to be better), fight through inevitable tensions and delve way too deep into each others back stories for the very first episode. Not only are their back stories explained somewhat rapidly but the entire episode is rammed full of clumsy and obvious exposition, often in lieu of actual jokes.
It often feels like the audience isn’t ever allowed to be left in the dark which, whilst an explanation is needed to an extent to set up the premise, almost defies the point of a paranormal mystery show.
Ghosted, like much of TV and film at the moment – *cough* Stranger Things *cough* – is a clear homage to all the 80s procedurals and spookfests (Ghostbusters, X-Files and the like) that came before it. However, what is baffling is that for all the generic 80s music it uses (which is a lot) the show is not set in the 80s. In fact, this trend of excessive SFX is prevalent, particularly in one of the funnier scenes where the duo have to improv over a copy machine, during which a boom is used to punctuate every other sentence.
It should be said that Scott and Robinson are likeable leads, but they suffer from not only retreading the roles of the stereotypical buddy cop duo but also retreading their previous sitcom characters, Ben and Darryl.
This lack of originality is not abetted any by the show’s two female characters, who fit in the Beautiful Competent Hard-asses template with little else to them. Hopefully this is just a symptom of the pilot’s short time span but I would like to say – and it is a criticism widespread of genre homages – that it’s all well and good recreating this stuff, but maybe it would be a lot more interesting if you did something different with it.
All off this is not to say the episode is a massively unpleasant watch, as it holds a good core storyline and an interesting cliffhanger. The intrigue there comes mainly from its defiance of most series tropes, allowing a missing central character to appear way earlier than expected.
Also, the presence of Adeel Ahktar as the science guy who just seemed happy to be involve is a nice surprise.
I merely hope that, as the series develops it relaxes on… well pretty much everything, and allows a bit more intrigue to develop. And more interesting female characters. That too.