TV review: 'Ghosts' puts the 'ha' in haunting

The BBC show on HBO Max provides some paranormal humor for the Halloween season.

Simon Farnaby, Jim Howick, Ben Willbond, Charlotte Ritchie, Mathew Baynton, Laurence Rickard, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Lolly Adefope star in "Ghosts." Contributed /

After the last matriarch of the Button family dies, the large mansion estate is passed on to her distant relatives Alison and Mike Cooper, the young couple finds that they've inherited more than they could have expected.

As expected from the title of the BBC show, Button House is filled with "Ghosts" from a variety of eras. These nine spectors have lived in the house mostly in peace as it has been passed on from one owner to another. But when they discover Alison, played by Charlotte Ritchie, can communicate with them, misadventures and hilarity ensue.

What keeps "Ghosts" compelling through three seasons is the combination of unique personalities at play. Even after 19 episodes. viewers still don't know the complete backstories to each of the ghosts. We know they died in or around Button House, but how and why have yet to be revealed for a few of them. And there have been instances where the ghosts don't actually know the full story themselves.

The ghosts range from a chess-playing caveman to a Romantic-era poet to a beheaded Elizabethan who keeps on losing track of his ghost body. There's the World War II-era captain and de facto leader of the ghosts who has a few things he'd prefer to keep buried; the pantsless member of parliament from the 1980s who has the unique ability to touch objects if he concentrates really hard; and a scout leader with an arrow sticking out of his neck. Not to mention all the plague victims found in the basement who turn out to be quite helpful when fixing the furnace.

The relationship between Mike and Alison is strong, though occasionally strained by her ghastly housemates. She can see the ghosts, but he cannot, often leading to misunderstandings. The contrast between what she sees and his perspective is hilarious.


Most importantly, beating at the center of this zany show is a very strong heart. At the end of the day, the characters care about one another and it shows. It's a paranormal sitcom that cares.

BBC's "Ghosts" can be found streaming on HBO Max. An American version of the show with different characters also recently began airing on CBS, with different characters, but a similar plotline.

Related Topics: TELEVISION
Teri Cadeau is a general assignment and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for several community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle and occasionally, the Cloquet Pine Journal. When not working, she's an avid reader and crafter.
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