Ghosts and I, in general, have a rocky track record. There are a good few shows, games, what-have-you that I enjoy that include ghosts, but there are also a myriad that I’ve had to avoid for the same reason (shockingly, Casper the Friendly Ghost is the latter). It was, I think, over Thanksgiving break last year, though, that I sat down to watch evening sitcoms with my family and saw an episode of the CBS series Ghosts. What happened then kickstarted my love for yet another show that makes me out to be a hypocrite when it comes to ghosts.
Ghosts actually has two versions to it: the CBS version, which is slightly more recent, and the BBC version, the original. I’ve seen both of them all the way through at least twice—the BBC version is available on HBO Max and the CBS version is available on CBS’s website as well as Paramount Plus. With CBS Ghosts premiering season two today, Sept. 29, and BBC Ghosts having started season four on Sept. 23, what better time to talk about this frankly amazing show! Plenty of fans have tried choosing a side, but I find it impossible; there’s just so much to love about both versions! So let’s get into it!
Kicking off everything here will be the plot. Without going much into it, the basic plot of both versions is as follows: a couple finds out they inherited an old house from a family member they’ve never met. When they move in, they decide to open a bed and breakfast only find that the house is haunted by ghosts after the main character has a near-death experience on the property. This experience leaves the main character able to see, hear and speak to ghosts not only in the house, but everywhere.
Interesting, right? Both versions of the show start off similarly here, though there are some big differences, such as the personalities of Alison and Mike (BBC) versus Sam and Jay (CBS) as well as something that seems as trivial as the couples’ financial statuses. Even the accident that leads to the entire series is different, though I can’t say much there without getting into a full-blown analysis.
Anyway, like I said, the plot follows Alison and Sam as well as their husbands as they prep their houses to become a bed and breakfast, all while juggling the issues the ghosts bring to the table. Apart from a couple similarities in the early episodes, the plots of both shows branch quite drastically, which really helps when it comes to people like me who enjoy watching both versions. Even the characters who seem to be one-to-one representations of each other aren’t truly, though that’s for the next section. Speaking more directly on the plot, Alison and Sam face completely different situations when it comes to both their everyday lives and the ghosts they interact with on a daily basis.
To me, it goes great with both versions. It’s like having twice the content for the original concept without me even having to look for fanfiction! …Which admittedly I’ve done, though nothing quite stuck with me so far, haha.
Okay, you all know me. Characters are extremely important to me when it comes to any kind of media. I NEED compelling characters in order to get into something. Ghosts has probably some of my favorite sitcom characters from the last several years.
For BBC, we have the main two characters, Alison and Mike. Outside of them are the ghosts, of which there are nine main ghosts alongside the ghosts of the plague pit in the basement. There’s Kitty, a Georgian noblewoman; Thomas, a Romantic poet; Julian, a Tory MP; Fanny, an Edwardian ghost; Pat, a scout leader; Robin, a caveman, and probably one of my favorites of the BBC ghosts; the Captain, a WWII army officer; Humphrey, a Tudor nobleman whose head is almost always apart from his body; and Mary, a Stuart-era witch trial victim (though it’s unclear whether or not she was actually a witch). It’s interesting as well to note that this version includes many members of the cast from Horrible Histories, a sketch comedy series, as both actors and writers.
As for CBS, apart from Sam and Jay, there are eight main ghosts (those we have seen more than once) alongside the ghosts of the cholera pit in the basement. Nice parallel, right? We have Isaac, a Revolutionary War officer; Alberta, a jazz singer from the Prohibition era; Pete, a scout leader; Trevor, a Wall Street tycoon; Thorfinn, a Viking; Flower, a hippie; Hetty, the lady of the manor (I think she’s from an unspecified era, but she was the wife of an oil baron); and Sasappis, a Lenape Native American. Due to the fact that America is younger than England as a whole, the ghosts in the CBS version are generally younger than those in the BBC version—that is, they’re more recently dead. And speaking of that…
Usually with different shows, fans want the characters to live as long as possible, especially if we’re talking about sitcoms. The complete opposite is true of Ghosts; everyone wants to know how the characters died! Only a few deaths have been directly confirmed so far—those being Thomas, Julian, Fanny, Pat, Humphrey, Mary (technically), Robin, Thorfinn, Isaac, Alberta (technically, it’s a whole thing), Pete, Flower and Trevor. Okay, so maybe that’s more than a few, but it’s only a few for the CBS version. Everyone’s still waiting for more information on several of the characters who haven’t had their deaths confirmed, especially Kitty. I personally want to know more about Hetty, who had a pretty big moment for herself later in the first season of CBS. Oh, that reminds me! Did you know these ghosts have powers? ;)
The powers of each ghost tend to have to do with their backstories. For example, when Flower walks through people (which is extremely painful for ghosts), the person is temporarily affected like they’d just had marijuana. Or in Alberta’s case, living people can hear her singing. There are still a few ghosts who don’t have their powers confirmed either, which again is something I’m personally looking forward to.
Oh my gosh, the humor. The humor styles in the two differ, of course, but both are hands-down hilarious. I think one of my favorite running jokes in both versions has to do with the action of a ghost ascending to the more permanent afterlife: getting sucked off. Which is funny to me because I have the humor of a ten-year-old. It’s also interesting to note that this term has a different origin in both versions: in CBS, Trevor (the most recent ghost) convinces everyone else of its use, but it seems to be used further back in the BBC version than Julian, Trevor’s counterpart.
But there’s more humor than just this. I can’t make it through a whole episode of either version without laughing, especially at the interactions between the ghosts of various social standings and time periods. I’m honestly in love with the humor in both versions, and love watching compilations of funny moments from both.
So, have I convinced you yet? Ghosts is honestly, in my opinion, one of the best new sitcoms to air in the last five or so years, and I can’t wait to see what these two new seasons have in store!