CBS Sitcom Illuminates Witty Spirit With Midseason Premiere

Jan 16, 2023

After spooking up a series high of 7 million viewers with its two-part, holiday-themed episode this past December, Ghosts returns on CBS Thursday night for its midseason premiere, and the single-camera comedy continues to prove it’s the gift that keeps on giving. The bubbly, primetime darling has become a kaleidoscope of comedy across the network landscape thanks to its unique characters, sharp dialogue, and wholesome moments. Reinventing itself as a strong series outside its BBC One inspiration of the same name and diverging from its source material most naturally, the richly funny Joe Port and Joe Wiseman-created unicorn continues to demonstrate it’s one of the best sitcoms from the past decade. In celebration of its 2023 return, Collider got a chance to watch the first three episodes made available for the press, but don’t worry — no spoilers are ahead.

With writing that feels far stronger than some of its previous offerings this past season, which dealt with minor pacing issues that just didn’t quite feel like its usual compared to its 2021 debut, the next three episodes of 2023 are a welcomed return to its laugh-out-loud, comical spirit with much of that elevated through the directorial charm of Oscar-winning filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry, who directs the first two premiering this January. But while a lot of the comedic effort often rests on the shoulders of the Ghosts writers consistently maintaining their stamina for humorous storytelling and the absurdities their characters find themselves in, its front-facing magnetism relies on the playful ensemble led by Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar – and they do it ever so effortlessly alongside Brandon Scott Jones, Danielle Pinnock, Sheila Carrasco, Richie Moriarty, Román Zaragoza, Devan Chandler Long, Rebecca Wisocky, and Asher Grodman.

Image via CBS

Related: Why the Newest ‘Ghosts’ Holiday Special Hookup Weirdly Works

In Thursday’s all-new episode “The Perfect Assistant,” written by Lauren Bridges, fans will get to know one of Woodstone B&B’s newest residents Freddie (Mike Lane), whose dream to have his own cozy lodging establishment drives him to apply as assistant for Sam (McIver) and Jay Arondekar (Ambudkar). Of course, despite Freddie being an exemplary assistant for the couple and proving his worth to Jay through a mutual love for Keanu Reeves, he doesn’t come without his own kind of baggage. As Sam and the mansion’s ghosts soon learn his Toyota RAV4 does more than help him deliver aromatic foods in a side gig, the “land ship” is also home to the brunch-loving, mimosa-drinking Jessica (Nichole Sakura), a fun and bubbly spirit that has her eye on Sasappis (Zaragoza).

Elsewhere in the episode, Thorfinn (Long) tries to help his son, Bjorn (Christian Jadah), who lives two houses down at the Farnsbys and is being bullied by their 1950s housewife, Judy (Lindsay Broad). Naturally, Thorfinn with his tough guy ideals doesn’t think it to be as much of a problem as his son is making it out to be and shares some less-than-nice advice in tackling the issue. But when one of the other ghosts decides to step in with their own bullying advice while the big guy is away, things get a little heated when he finds out and feelings get hurt. Not to mention, we learn a lot more about one of the house ghosts and their past. Though the confrontation brings out a tender dialogue between the pair and one that will no doubt have audiences tearing up and at best, even relating, it’s in this twinkling storyline that Ghosts proves its heart is always in a good place with its medley of messages reiterating acceptance.

Since its premiere this past September, Ghosts has delivered a stellar lineup of new guest stars, but Sakura as Jessica is one of the best additions to the show so far. Brimming with personality and spunk, the actress, best known for her role on Superstore, brings an incredible amount of charisma to her character and one that fans are really going to love. Teased in reports earlier this winter, Sakura will be a recurring guest star this season with Lane, which means fans will see their respective characters fleshed out a bit more than characters like, Stephanie (“Attic Girl”). But while Jessica finds herself mingling with the ghosts across these next three episodes, Lane’s Freddie gets to work thanks to Sam and Jay putting their trust in him. In a performance that is just as lovable as Sakura’s, Lane as the bumbling yet endearing helper is a great fit for the series as he plays the nerdy personality riddled with anxiety down to a tee. His ability to fit in through a natural chemistry with McIver and Ambudkar speaks to the talent, but also to Ghosts’ casting department ensuring every pick for the series brightens its writing and complements its effervescent talent.

Image via Paramount

With fans digging deep into another new episode next week with “The Family Business,” featuring Lane and Sakura, audiences will get a chance to see Sasappis strike up a romance with Jessica. While we don’t know where this leaves him and Shiki (Crystle Lightning) just yet, the sheer fact that he and Jessica have an affinity for aromatic meals like pizza and coffee feels like a match made in heaven (or whatever this is…). The addition of Jessica to Woodstone creates a fun dynamic for audiences in seeing another side of Sasappis that Zaragoza most effortlessly brings a renewed zeal to. Since Season 1, fans have seen a carefree spirit in the Lenape ghost, filled with sarcasm and eye rolls. But with Jessica in the picture now, audiences will see the young actor go all in for an enjoyable, shining performance that is quite rare to see in his on-screen counterpart and picks up beautifully from “The Tree” episode.

Meanwhile, in the episode, Sam is doing her best to meddle in Freddie’s relationship with his girlfriend Beth while wanting to know as much about him as possible. Again, we see her love for Hallmark movies and romance hard at work following the Ghosts Christmas special. But with going so far as to share relationship advice, much to Hetty’s (Wisocky) chagrin of getting too close to “the help,” things go exactly as they would when Sam and her fifth great aunt bump heads. With the official logline from Paramount narrowing into a power struggle between the two family members as Hetty attempts to discipline Sam, the issues that unfold between the two speak deeper to the layers audiences will see peeled back on Hetty.

Image via Paramount

Fans have been wanting to see more of the Woodstone matriarch’s backstory since the first season, and “The Family Business” will open their eyes to another side of her life and learn just why she’s so uptight most of the time. It is a luminous performance from Wisocky and McIver that just nails their on-screen dynamic so perfectly and explains what their characters each mean to each other in unspoken words. The tender moment that these two share will be one that leaves you in tears and wishing you could hug your mom. But at best, you can hug the TV since the show always feels like it’s hugging you back.

After “Alberta’s Podcast” and “The Christmas Spirit” from Ghosts Season 2, “The Family Business” is among the best so far. Featuring laugh-out-loud moments with hilarious one-liners that will undoubtedly be a favorite among fans and the polar opposite combos we love seeing mingle and share moments together, next week’s episode is a standout thanks to dazzling writing from John Timothy, the acute direction from Cherry and as always, the striking cast. Not to mention, audiences will see Woodstone turn up the dial on their childlike shenanigans, highlighting how Sam and Jay are genuine parents to this spirited bunch.

While talking about the third episode of 2023 would give away too much and spoil the fun, take our word on it that it’s another astoundingly funny addition to the catalog and a real standout. Diving deeper into the mythology of Woodstone’s ghosts and how they interact with objects, the episode is one that will leave fans in shock — and total awe. With Port and Wiseman cleverly injecting Freddie and his car ghost Jessica into the Woodstone B&B this season, it’s safe to say their addition to the series contributes to a larger, more internal arc for the remainder of Ghosts’ sophomore season – one that will have fans really excited to see finally peeled back. With ideas first sprinkled across Season 1, Freddie’s endearing charm officially sets things in motion for some of the ghosts thanks to his nerdy ways, and it will be an exciting chapter ahead. Or so we should hope. But it won’t be easy, that’s for sure. It might also be a little scary at first as it keeps fans at the edge of their seat come the start of February.

Through all its appeal and sparkle, Ghosts continues to set the bar for network sitcoms to think bigger in the realm of situational comedy thanks to its refreshing writing packed with entertaining one-liners, an energetic cast, and a strong, joyful sentiment that sits with you long after the episode’s over. Some episodes in the sophomore season might have missed the mark in its usual flavoring and felt a bit rushed, but the series remains a heartwarming and fun, easy-going sitcom that never preaches its messages and continues to be an instant joy gracing primetime — proving that if you’ve got it, haunt it!

Rating: A

Ghosts airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. EST on CBS and streams on Paramount+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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