Fox’s new comedy ‘Ghosted’ mashes up bits of ‘Men in Black’, ‘Ghostbusters’, various 1980s buddy-cop action movies and other obvious influences, and then largely shoves them to the background so that its two stars can riff off each other. That’s not necessarily a bad thing when those two leads are as talented and funny as Adam Scott and Craig Robinson.
Scott plays Max Jennifer, once a brilliant scientist but lately dismissed as a crackpot for repeatedly insisting that his wife was abducted by aliens. Now he works in a bookstore. Robinson is Leroy Wright, a disgraced LAPD detective reduced to working as a mall security guard for reasons he doesn’t want to talk about. These two men who’ve never met and know nothing about one another are forced together after being kidnapped by a top secret government agency called the Bureau Underground, led by agent Ava Lafrey (‘Profiler’ star Ally Walker). She explains that another agent named Kurt Checker has gone missing, and his final communication pointed to the two of them as the only people who could help him. Neither has ever heard of Checker or knows what Lafrey is talking about.
The Bureau Underground specializes in the paranormal, supernatural and extraterrestrial – a la the X-Files, Men in Black, or B.P.R.D. – and Checker was investigating something to do with intrusions from another dimension in the multiverse. It just so happens that Max literally wrote the book on theories about the multiverse. Leroy is an expert at missing person cases. After some coercion, they agree to help and are given 48 hours (buddy movie name-check!) to crack the case. This involves a lot of bantering and ball-busting while a Faltermeyerian synthesizer score plays on the soundtrack.
In short order, Max and Leroy find themselves at a nuclear power plant where they discover a device syphoning power. They get chased by ghoul who can remove his own head, and wind up in possession of that angry head while the body attacks them to get it back. Eventually, they locate Checker, but quickly lose him again as he’s sucked up into a UFO. The ghoul then reverts to a normal guy who has no memory of what happened to him.
By the end of the episode, Lafrey is impressed by what Max and Leroy uncovered. They officially sign on to join the Bureau. Max then spots his missing wife on security camera footage of people claiming to be alien abductees.
Despite the high-concept premise, this show lives or dies by the chemistry of its cast. Fortunately, Scott and Robinson are very appealing, even if neither seems to care much about the plot they’re supposed to follow. That’s just a framework for them to goof around and improv. Amber Stevens West (‘The Carmichaels’) and Adeel Akhtar (currently featured in the movie ‘Victoria and Abdul‘) also deliver amusing supporting turns as fellow agents in the Bureau.
In tone, this show very strongly resembles last year’s ‘Making History’. It’s clever and funny, but rarely gut-bustingly so. I expect that some viewers may find it offputting, and that its ratings will struggle similar to that show (which was canceled after one season). Perhaps I’m wrong about that, but at the moment I’ll be very surprised if this truly amounts to the breakout hit the network expects it to be. Still, I’ll watch it.