The new TV show “Ghosted,” which premiered on FOX in October, can best be described as a supernatural-themed comedy. In it, two comedy veterans – Adam Scott and Craig Robinson – play paranormal investigators recruited by a shadowy government organization known as the Bureau Underground. There are plenty of comedic laughs, but also plenty of paranormal frights. So it’s safe to say that Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked in “Ghosted” – and we have plenty of fun watching what happens next.
Adam Scott, Craig Robinson and the paranormal buddy comedy
Over the past 30 years, there have been plenty of great buddy comedies on the big screen. Just think of movies like “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Midnight Run.” In many ways, “Ghosted” follows in this tradition – it’s like a buddy cop movie you might have watched in the 1980’s, but this time it’s two paranormal investigators.
On one hand, you have Adam Scott’s character (Max Jennifer), who is a disgraced astrophysics professor from Stanford who believes, deep down, that his wife has been abducted by aliens. Things have gotten so bad that he’s working at a second-hand bookstore just to make ends meet when the Bureau Underground recruits him to become a paranormal investigator.
On the other hand, you have Craig Robinson’s character (Leroy Wright), a former LAPD cop who is working as a mall security guard when the Bureau Underground contacts him. Unlike Max, Leroy has absolutely no belief in aliens or the paranormal.
So you can immediately see why Adam Scott and Craig Robinson make such a great comic duo. On one hand, you have the slightly off-kilter paranormal believer who’s afraid of everything; on the other hand, you have the no-sense LAPD cop who doesn’t believe in anything paranormal. This constant tension between the duo is played for some hilarious laughs.
If you’ve seen this comedic duo in an interview together, you’ll have a good idea why they work so well together in “Ghosted.” They literally finish each other’s sentences, and seem to have great chemistry working together. (You might recognize both of them from “Hot Tub Time Machine 2.”) In interviews, the two actors have specifically referenced as inspiration some of the all-time great buddy comedies, especially “48 Hours” (Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte) and “Midnight Run” (Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro).
The spooky elements of “Ghosted”
While there’s plenty of comedic material to mine for laughs, there’s also a lot of paranormal elements as well – including ghosts, aliens and things that go bump in the dark. What makes everything so spooky is that it’s never quite clear what the role of the shadowy government organization, the Bureau Underground, is in all this. In some cases, it almost seems as if the government is responsible for everything that has run amok.
The real challenge, according to Adam Scott and Craig Robinson, is how to balance the spooky and the funny within a 30-minute comedy format. But it’s a blend of comedy, fantasy and the supernatural that the show pulls off very well. In between comic scenes and comic banter, there are severed heads, spaceships and weird lights in the sky. The goal, say Scott and Robinson, is to create the perfect mix of comedy and horror, along the lines of the giant Marshmallow Man in “Ghostbusters.”
In many ways, you can also think of “Ghosted” as a comedic “X-Files.” There are unexplained disappearances, shadowy organizations, and paranormal events. And, yet, it’s somehow all very funny. And, just like the format of the “X-Files,” there’s one ardent believer in the paranormal, and another main character who doesn’t believe.
The best scenes in “Ghosted” are when Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked
There’s an undercurrent of zaniness that fills the entire show. And things are never quite as zany as when Adam Scott and Craig Robinson get spooked. It’s hilarious when Adam Scott starts freaking out, and Craig Robinson needs to calm him down. And some of the scenes are just hilarious – like when the two start slapping each other in the face. Or when they are both crawling around on all fours, trying to evade what they think are paranormal forces.
“Ghosted” in many ways feels like a spoof of classic sci-fi thrillers
There are so many different inspirations for “Ghosted” – the classic buddy comedy, “Ghostbusters” and “X-Files.” To that mix you can add the classic sci-fi thriller. In these thrillers, there’s usually some researcher or investigator on the relentless search for truth, trying to figure out the role of shadowy and corrupt government workers or money-hungry corporate R&D folks. In these thrillers, there are usually scientific experiments gone wrong, research findings that are supposed to remain secret and/or classified, and plenty of unexplained events.
So “Ghosted” often riffs on these themes, to hilarious effect. Take the example of the Bureau Underground. The very name of this organizations sounds like a hilarious mash-up of the Weather Underground the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There seems to be some kind of conspiracy going on here, yet it is the federal government that’s involved.
What goes down in these top-secret government facilities can be hilarious as well as spooky. Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) and Craig Robinson (“The Office”) have plenty of experience playing characters in zany, wacky work environments, and it’s clear that some of the top-secret government employees here are also zany and wacky in their own weird ways. This makes for some great parody and comic relief.
“Ghosted” is a fantastic combination of comedy, fantasy and the supernatural
It looks like FOX has a new comic hit on its hands. Adam Scott and Craig Robinson work well together, and never more so than when they’re getting spooked. This new FOX show combines comedy, fantasy, and the supernatural in a fun, enjoyable way that feels fresh and relevant. For fans of buddy cop movies, you have the non-stop banter between Scott and Robinson. For fans of “X-Files,” you have all the paranormal elements in this show. And for fans of all-time classic comedies like “Ghostbusters,” you have similar elements of the zany and the paranormal.