Season 1, Episode 1
Written by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten
Directed by Jonathan Krisel
“I’m measuring you in case I have to build you body armor. Or a coffin. Probably body armor.”
Despite the positive Twitter response, Ghosted doesn’t quite gel yet. Fox’s new comedy about two bumbling X-files types who may not be quite so bumbling exudes potential but feels like it needs more rehearsal time. Craig Robinson and Adam Scott display the early stages of good chemistry together but haven’t quite figured out how to throw lines at each other for the best comic effect. The premise channels equal parts Men in Black and Ghostbusters, so there’s nothing really new in the set-up. So far, the show demonstrates charm without much substance. Once the premise of the show is established and the actors define the characters more fully, the show may grow into something worth watching. Or it could become a hackneyed pastiche with a few funny moments that doesn’t quite rise to the level of a full-fledged spoof. Because of the good-natured vibe of the show’s stars and its writing, I hope it’s the former rather than the latter.
Craig Robinson and Adam Scott play people who were derailed from their promising careers by unusual circumstances. Robinson’s Leroy Wright left the LAPD after his actions led to the shooting death of his partner. Scott’s Max Jennifer taught astrophysics at Stanford until he started claiming that his wife had been abducted by a UFO. The two men work at dead-end jobs, one as a mall security agent and the other as a bookstore clerk, when a secret government agency roofies them, kidnaps them, and then enlists them to find a missing undercover agent. That hardly seems like a plausible premise, but it turns out that Leroy used to be the best missing persons investigator on the force, and Max possessed the best reputation of any astrophysicist in the country. Though they both present initially as affable but completely incompetent, they are both very good at their jobs: hence the heavy-handed recruiting.
The secret government agency positioned an undercover operative at a nuclear power plant who then disappeared. Our boys go looking for the agent and discover weird zombie guys who can remove their own heads while operating magnetic coils which siphon energy from the nuclear plant to a UFO. Obviously, the story is played for laughs rather than believability. Before his disgrace, Max wrote a book proposing a radical new theory that the universe is actually a multi-verse constructed of interlocking dimensions. While that sounds very cool, he thinks it means that the dimension we occupy could be accessed and even attacked by people in another dimension. It looks like Max was right about everything, even that his wife was abducted by aliens. The boys sign on with the Bureau Underground for keeps when they witness the missing agent being sucked up into a UFO.
The show utilizes a cop buddy show groove with a nutty professor angle thrown in for a little extra spice. So far Robinson shows a better grasp of his character’s personality. Scott descends into annoyingness instead of humor a little too often. Veteran Ally Walker plays it straight as the head of the mysterious department which hires Leroy and Max, and a goofy supporting cast rounds out the party. Twenty-three minutes of content for a first episode doesn’t provide a lot of material to assess, so it may take a few weeks to determine the value of the series. Hopefully by then Robinson and Scott will have worked out their dynamic. Once the writers are freed from the task of fabricating an excuse to throw Robinson and Scott together and they can concentrate on giving the actors more grist to work with, the show may live up to its potential. I want to like the show. I hope I eventually do.