Necromancing as a sitcom

Every year, around this time, the major networks announce their new fall television lineups. And CBS yesterday announced that one of the new sitcoms they’re adding for the 2021-2022 season is a show called Ghosts.

Here’s the premise. A millennial couple inherit an old building, and they plan on turning it into a bed and breakfast … until one of them discovers that they can talk to the former residents of the hotel, or at least the ones who passed away. And apparently there are plenty of those residents.

And you know what … this would be a nice concept for a television series … if it hadn’t been done at least MANY times before.

No, seriously. The whole “human communicates with the spirit world” is almost as old as television sitcoms themselves. And every so often, the concept is dusted off and re-used. Sometimes with success, other times not so much.

In fact, let’s start in the 1950’s, when Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel in communicating with two members of the spirit world, in the sitcom Topper. Topper was based on a series of motion pictures from the 1940’s, and did quite well for itself on the small screen.

You would need to travel to the late 1960’s for this next series, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which lasted approximately two seasons. Again, the concept … woman inherits old estate, which apparently is still the home of a legendary and dashing sea captain of old. And yes, the platonic relationship exists.

Of course, there have been a few clunkers in this genre … like the Eric Idle sitcom Nearly Departed, which lasted maybe four episodes before NBC turned it into an ex-parrot.

And we can’t forget this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dead person sitcom, Jennifer Slept Here, featuring the legendary Ann Jillian.

And yes, the whole “ghosts can help solve crimes” plotline has been milked for TV dramas as well, with shows like Ghost Whisperer lasting for several seasons. Heck, at one point I thought a show like The InBetween might catch on, but that was only because I thought that lead actress Harriet Dyer really had a chance to break through to stardom. Unfortunately, the show was just a series of overly laden special effects and a plotline that sunk worse than cement galoshes.

Maybe the old rule still holds fast – imitation is the sincerest form of television. That which was once on the big screen will return again. Person (or persons) who died are forced to haunt an old mansion / house / estate, only to be seen by lonely man / impressionable child / romantic ingenue. Hilarity ensues. Objects move either with visible strings or with some sort of electronic manipulation, to give the impression of telekinesis. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Oh, well. Maybe Ghosts will be a good TV series that will last for many seasons.

Right. I’m betting this show lasts a year if it’s lucky.

Then it would become a ghost of a show as well. Ha.