Fox is on something of a weird, network television roll these days. Not only is its comedy slate surprisingly strong this year, but its willingness to explore more high-concept comedic ground in the wake of Last Man on Earth's success seems to have been paying off. The Orville isn't half as terrible as it sounds like it could have been, and together with Ghosted makes for not one but two comedic send-ups of beloved genre TV mainstays as part of the Fox lineup.
Basically going for a comedic take on X-Files with a bit of Ghostbusters thrown in for good measure (most notably present in the soundtrack department), Ghosted is a bit more of a straight-ahead sitcom than its sister show The Orville, though Its pilot—credited to Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten—ably introduces a healthy amount of elements that leave room for meatier story and character development down the line.
Adam Scott plays disgraced Stanford scientist Max Jennifer. Craig Robinson playing disgraced detective Leroy Wright. They're total opposites. BUT THEY HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER! You know the drill. Thanks to circumstances that the pilot doesn't even bother to begin flirting with (and this is actually a strong point; it's an episode so packed with jokes and information that you might not even realize until the end that we still haven't been told why the two main characters were chosen to work together in the first place), they're both kidnapped from their respective dead-end jobs and are conscripted to join the Fringe Division-esque Bureau Underground.
Together, they're given a single mission to rescue a missing agent who had been investigating something both very big and very supernatural. Predictably, the solving of this initial mystery raises more questions than it answers, and that's just as well. Gormican and Etten wisely avoid letting plot details get in the way of what they clearly know to be the show's strongest suit. Ghosted is very well aware that its audience is here to see Robinson and Scott bounce off one another, and it benefits from this awareness nicely. Both actors avoid straying too far from their well-worn comedic territory, but both add enough nuance to the mix to keep their characters from getting instantly stale. In fact, even though neither is boasting a particularly inspired backstory, both get enough of one to inform their motivations in a way that really breathes a bit of life into the proceedings.
In terms of its premise and execution, Ghosted isn't breaking any new ground, which is fine because the show really isn't aiming to do so. What it is aiming to do is set up a formula for some weekly supernatural hijinks, propped up by solid jokes, a bit of backstory, and just enough of a serialized arc to keep things interesting. All three targets are successfully hit.
The pilot wastes no time setting up its lead characters and their odd couple dynamic, and it does so with a noticeably refreshing sense of naturalism. Characters actually deliver expository dialogue when it logically makes sense to do so, allowing the teleplay to check the requisite "pilot episode" boxes without calling attention to having done so. There's a supporting cast that'll surely be more fun when actually given stuff to do, and there are hints at a larger mythology and mysteries involving both characters' backgrounds, but most importantly? There's charm like nobody's business, and that's what'll ultimately keep me coming back.
Oh, and also...
• Ally Walker is doing a fantastic Gillian Jacobs impression.
• We all know Adeel Akhtar is something special, but I'm excited for Amber Stevens West to get to have a bit more fun. She was effortlessly hilarious in the brief moments where she showed up.
• I'm really quite impressed with how story-light and jokes/hangouts-heavy this pilot was. A really smart call on the writers' part.