October 1, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Ghosted”


GHOSTED:  Sunday 8:30PM on FOX – In the Queue

FOX’s new sitcom GHOSTED has two big assets in stars Adam Scott and Craig Robinson, a pair of experienced comedy players who combine star presence with chops as members of the unselfish Parks & Recreation and The Office ensembles.  The premise of Tom Gormican’s series (Kevin Etten was brought in as showrunner) is amusing and flexible, and easily digested:  The X-Files played as Ghostbusters.  With all that going for it, the pilot is a bit uninspired, but Ghosted is certainly worth some time to see if it can rise to a more memorable level.

The premise pilot, written by Gornican and Etten, and directed by Jonathan Krisel, brings together Max Jennifer (Scott), a former Stanford astrophysics professor disgraced for claiming that his wife was abducted by aliens, with ex-LAPD detective Leroy Wright (Robinson), after an agent of the ultra-secret government Bureau Underground goes missing and with his last words asks for them to be put on the case.  Leroy is the skeptic, and Max is the true believer, although by the time Leroy has seen a functioning head disengaged from its body, he’s prepared to believe that something of the truth is out there.  The Bureau is run by no-nonsense Captain Ava Lafrey (Ally Walker), and fellow agents include nerd Barry Shaw (Adeel Akhtar) and bombshell Annie Carver (Amber Stevens West).

The pilot has charm, but not a lot of imagination or big laughs, and perhaps that’s because of all the dense exposition a high-concept half-hour pilot requires.  Scott and Robinson certainly have fun chemistry as visionary and tough-guy.  The script, though, is fairly rudimentary comedy, as where Max slaps Leroy in the face as part of their cover (as copy-machine repairman) midway through the episode, so by the end of the half-hour, Leroy has to slap Max back.  The tone isn’t assured, and when a fairly serious piece of backstory emerges for Leroy late in the pilot, it feels jarring rather than like something that deepens the character.  Gornican’s main credit before this was the forgettable big-screen comedy This Awkward Moment, which may not bode well, and both Etten and Krisel come from the more indie TV world of, respectively, Workaholics and Portlandia, so perhaps their sensibilities need some time to mesh.  (Krisel, who had probably never had a high-end network pilot budget before, does a solid job with the CG and production values.)

Ghosted may settle into being a rote paranormal-of-the-week, mismatched-partners sitcom, which could certainly fit in its snug hammock timeslot between The Simpsons and Family Guy, but with Scott and Robinson, it has the potential to be much more satisfying than that.  For the moment, it’s a bit earthbound.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."