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US Ghosts review – strip out the best bits of the original sitcom and you have… this | Television

ghosts is a British sitcom set to be remade in the United States. Indeed, remakes are all about buying formats and a big part of what makes the show good is the cleverly constructed premise. A young couple of urban slackers move into a crumbling country house they unexpectedly inherited, only to find it haunted by the spirits of people from different historical eras who died there. The woman can see and hear them, but not her other half. Bingo: It’s part gang/roommate comedy, part historical adventure, part imaginary friend prank.

It was the perfect vehicle for its creators, the British troupe previously known for Horrible Histories and Yonderland. Can this work for a phalanx of little-known American comedy actors? Yes and No: Ghosts US (BBC Three/iPlayer) is a decent showcase for its cast and it can’t kill the charm of the original, but what was delightful in the original show is now just enjoyable and what was unique is generic.

With a wide range of characters requiring Americanization, most have undergone changes. Fanny, the censored lady of the mansion, is transferred more or less intact as Hetty (Rebecca Wisocky), while Pat, the scout leader with an arrow in his neck, becomes Pete (Richie Moriarty), a scout leader with an arrow in the neck. his neck. But Robin the caveman is now Thorfinn the Viking (Devan Chandler Long), whose more advanced English makes him a little less interesting. The conversion of Julian, the Tory MP who died without pants, into Trevor (Asher Grodman), a Wall Street trader who jumped without pants, also feels like a downgrade: Trevor is a pretty standard sitcom horndog who might have wandered from Two and a Half Men.

Characters that were particularly British, and therefore needed to be cast, were replaced more than once with less nuanced characters. Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), the Revolutionary War soldier who, in the UK version, was the captain, a WWII veteran, got the emphasis of a self-proclaimed group leader. The gag of denial of his sexuality is also more evident: what was a fondly underrated trait is now given prominence, so Isaac returns to the sitcoms of around 30 years ago, when gay characters began appearing regularly. , but being gay was more or less the whole role.

Perhaps the best ghost of the original series, Mathew Baynton’s 19th-century love poet Thomas is gone, though American viewers would surely understand that. Witch trial victim Mary and cheerful Georgian Kitty are also cast. Brand new are 1920s jazz singer Alberta (Danielle Pinnock), whose bullish self-aggrandizement makes her a lot of fun, and 1960s hippie Flower (Sheila Carrasco), whose repeated references to polyamory…don’t. . Plus, there’s Sasappis (Román Zaragoza), a Native American who died 500 years ago but speaks as if he were alive in the 21st century. Generally, the show is less thoughtful than UK ghosts when it comes to what the ghosts know or the idioms they use.

It’s what posh British viewers assume all American comedy remakes will be: the original with the goofy rough edges – the best bits – sanded down. Even the house is less abandoned and the living couple moving in, played by Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar, lack that hint of slobby teenage oblivion that Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe brought to the roles.

Other familiar annoyances from American comedies, such as cultural references that will quickly become stale (“Halloween pics are already hitting the ‘gram! Ugh, there’ll be plenty of Carole Baskins hooking up with Baby Yodas this year” ) are present, a symptom that the characters are not richly imagined: instead of saying and doing things that can only come from the unique world created by the series, lines creep in that could come from any sitcom .

This is all, however, because Ghosts US has a different mandate. There’s only 20 minutes of story per episode because it airs on a mainstream American network (CBS) and has to stop in the middle for commercial breaks, so it sometimes feels superficial and rushed. But whereas British sitcoms are done in six episodes and then have a year to recover, the first season of Ghosts US is 18 episodes long and successfully lays down the machinery to launch them smoothly.

Later installments expand the show’s geography more ambitiously than the UK version also got around to. In the end, it’s still Ghosts so it’s still good – even if it’s a pale imitation.


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