Wednesday, March 2, 2022

"Ghosts" US Vs "Ghosts" UK - Which Is Better ?


"Ghosts" - U.S

- VS - 

"Ghosts" - UK?

My vote, after watching the UK originator on Apple TV?

I can't choose, they're both hilarious - though big props to the UK for being the originator. 

AND - only two of the story lines are the same between the shows, so you're not watching the same story again.

Being quirky and weird myself, I love quirky, weird humor.

In fact, I haven't laughed out loud at any network comedy since The Big Bang Theory, until Ghosts, either version.

(I'll give a side-by-side comparison of what I like/don't like from each show, later on, though ;)

Typically, when a British sitcom is Americanized, it, well, sucks. 

The only exception thus far has been "The Office."

HOWEVER - considering the ratings, "Ghosts" may be another show that breaks that curse.

Though built on the same premise, both shows have different tales to tell - but then again, perhaps not so different after all?

The basic premise is a struggling young married couple discovers that the wife has inherited an old family estate from a distant relative, and though they initially pondered selling it, they decide to renovate stay and renovate it - much to the chagrin of the estate's resident ghosts, who of course try to haunt them off.

However, after the wife (Allison in the UK, Samantha in the US) takes a nasty fall that results in a head injury and coma, until she awakes to find that the has the ability to see the ghosts. 

Thinking she is suffering from post-concussive syndrome and hallucinating, she visits a neurologist, explaining her "syndrome" and asks what the doctor thinks - who, much to her surprise, tells her that her injury has left her with the ability to "see dead people" - informing her that he, himself, has been dead for years, then disappears through the wall when the living doctor comes in the room lol.

Allison makes deals with all of the ghosts to stay, but they're still not keen on any hospitality-business ideas for the estate, so it's a daily matter of negotiation.

Other than that, the similarities largely end there, including the back stories on the ghosts, with only two of the ghosts being similar in both countries.

In the UK, the living couple's names are Mike and Allison, and the resident ghosts are, in chronological order ...

Robin, a quick-learning, chess-playing prehistoric caveman - struck by lightning.  He enlightens the supposedly more evolved humans, both living and dead, on how "liberal/progressive" cave people actually were, compared to later generations, with regards to sex and gender roles, as well as reminds them that all of their wealth, power, social status, social conventions/rules, and materialism mean absolutely nothing, in the end, especially after death.

Sir Humphrey, a kindly Tudor nobleman who was beheaded and keeps losing his head - which we assume was due to formal execution due to the Catholic/Protestant debate, but soon discover his beheading was actually due to a freak accident.

Katherine/Kitty, a dim-witted-but-loveable 17th-century apparently illegitimate, black daughter of a wealthy nobleman (Katherine/Kitty) - not sure yet how she died, but something to do with her white half-sister, whom she thought was her friend.

Mary, an 18th-century milkmaid - burned at the stake for witchcraft, though innocent - still terrified of both fire and witchcraft - and everything is witchcraft to Mary -  any new technology they bring into the home, the TV, cameras, computers, until they explain them to her in a way that she can understand lol.

Thomas, a melodramatic, 19th century, terrible poet, who imagines himself a competitor to Lord Byron - died after being tricked into a duel, believing he was defending the honor of his lady love, after being intentionally misinformed by his cousin - now obssesed with Allison.

Lady Button, A Victorian/turn-of-the-century  British noblewoman, manor owner, and Alison's great-great aunt -died by being pushed out the top-story window by her husband, after she walked in on him with his (male) lover.

The Captain/Gerald, a still-in-the-closet gay WWII British Royal  Army Captain - unsure how he died, just yet, but believed to be military related, of course.

Pat, a kindly, motivational British Boy Scout troop leader (Pat) - accidentally shot in the neck with an arrow by one of his troop members in the 1980s.

Julian, a Thatcher-era-to-early-90s, snobby, philandering, drunkard, old-school-Tory/Conservative British politician, whom we don't know the details of surrounding his death, but he apparently died in a precarious position, because he isn't wearing any pants  - LOL.

Though we don't know how everyone died yet, in the UK version, we do know they all died on the property, including the plague victims in the basement, who don't associate with the upstairs folk because of their initial snobbery.

Other than a chill given when they walk through someone, only a few of the ghosts have any special abilities to be seen or heard or smelled lol ...

Lady Button - falls from the top-floor window every night with a scream, can sometimes  be seen by the living (other than Allison), even photographed, known as "The Grey Lady."

Robin - electrical disturbances, due to being struck by lightning. 

Mary - emits smell of burning, having been burned at the stake as a witch (though she's actually terrified of witchcraft). 

Julian - ability to briefly move items by touch, if he concentrates. 

The magic of the show is not only their finding an ability to live together for eternity (or until as Lady Button in the U.S. shows puts it, gets "sucked off" the afterlife lol), though no one knows when or why -   and not only how they "evolve" over time, but most of the humor is in Allison/Samantha trying to act like the ghosts aren't talking to her when other people are around, as well as the differences shown in the scene based on perspective - i.e. the same room is shown both with and without ghosts - loud ghost shouting  versus an actually very quiet room in the world of the living.

In the U.S., the living couple's names are Jay and Samantha, and ghosts are, in chronological order: 

Sassappis or "Sass,"  a 15th century Lenape Native-American storyteller and resident smart-ass - unsure of his exact cause of death yet..

Thorfinn, a 16th-century Viking, who refers to himself in the third person and is obsessed with the Danes - died by lightning strike.

Captain Isaac, a still-in-the-closet gay Revolutionary War Captain in the late 1700s - cause of death was dysentery.

Mrs. Hetty Woodstone, a late-18th-century robber-baron's wife, Woodstone's original manor owner, and great-great aunt of Samantha - unsure of exact cause of death.

Alberta, a smart, savvy, 1920s jazz singer and bootlegger - though records show natural causes, she suspects she was poisoned with bad moonshine, which we later discover is correct..

Flower/Susan, a 1960s hippie, still tripping - died while tripping on acid, trying to give a bear a hug lol.

Pete, a friendly, positive, motivational Girl Scout Troop leader, who was accidentally shot by one his girl scouts in the 1980s.

Trevor, a  shallow, greedy, skirt-chasing, 1990s Wall Street broker and party boy - whose exact cause of death is unknown, but who, like Julian, died without pants on so in a compromising position.

Crash, a 1950s biker who was decapitated during a motorcycle accident -  only appears thus far in the pilot/first episode. 

They, too, have plague victim ghosts in the basement, who don't like fraternizing with the upstairs ghosts and vice versa.

Like the UK originators, only certain ghosts have abilities.

Thor - electrical fluctuations (lightning strike).

Isaac - foul stench (dysentery).

Alberta - her singing can be heard.

Trevor - briefly moves objects.

Susan - if she walks through you, you'll feel all trippy and psychedelic for several minutes (she died while tripping on acid, trying to hug a bear).

So now, the comparison - what's better and what's worse, who wins at what,  between the UK and U.S. shows

Best Show Intro - UK 

Hands down, simultaneously spooky and funny.  Honestly, I can't even think of the U.S. version's intro, that's how unimpressive it is lol.

Length of the show - UK.

It's an hour long in the UK, but only a half-hour in the U.S., which feels too short and rushed.  An hour gives us more time to get into story, get to know the characters better, and wrap up the ending a way that feels less rushed.

Length of the season - U.S.

In the UK, there are only 8 episodes a year, August through Christmas.  Just when you're getting into the cohesive story, the series ends and you have to wait 8 months to find out what happens.  In the US, there are 16-24 episodes, because network prime-time shows go from September to December, hiatus, then return in late January to the middle of May.

Acting - Even.

I can't choose, they're all fantastic actors - although I'd have to admit, I find UK's Allison more genuine and likeable than the Samantha in the U.S. - although conversely, I like the U.S.'s Jay more than I like the UK's Mike.

Best Writing/Jokes - Nearly even, but the UK may have a slight edge.

Both make me laugh out loud, but the UK may win this one - which may be be because the UK's show is longer and has more time to display the writing/jokes and feels less rushed.

Best Demographic/Cultural Representation - the U.S.

Though the UK gets some points for including people of color in their main characters, both characters of color are presented as either incredibly stupid (Kitty) or doesn't have a regular job or career goal - which was a poor decision for the UK, for a 2019-debutting show.  

In the UK, Jay is a chef, and plans to cook the meals for the bed and breakfast they're creating, and Alberta is likely tied with Isaac as being the smartest character on the show. 

However, both get points for having gay main characters, although still in the closet, and of course, the frilly-coated Revolutionary War Captain is less shockingly gay lol.

Character story/development -  Even.

Although some caveats. 

I like all the characters, if I had to choose for ladies of the manor, I definitely like Hetty better than Lady Button - though  still confined to rules of the day for women and shocked by Samantha,  she's still less of a prude than Lady Button, and she's evolving into a feminist (as long as women don't handle money or ride bicycles?) lol

I also adore both Robin and Thorfinn, but Thorfinn makes me laugh more, with his bear hugs of people when he's happy, including trying to hug Jay (though Jay can't see, hear, or feel him) whom he calls "Little Man," and Thor's little outbursts and songs - for instance, his little lullaby to Hetty when she was a baby, born in the home lol ... 

"Hush, little baby, go to sleep - dream of killing Danes and laughing while they weep."


LOL - it's just absurd - and you know how much I love the absurd - and that is the quintessential walking contradiction that is Thor, in a nutshell  - he has a big and tender heart under all of that ferocity - he can also be the bravest among them, but can also be a big scaredy cat.

Favorite/funniest characters?

UK - Robin, Mary, Julian, and Pat, in that order.

U.S. - Thor, Captain Isaac, Pete, and Alberta, in that order.

Most annoying ghosts - UK.

Although, as I said, we like all the ghosts, and the ghosts are supposed to annoy, at times, the Captain drives me the most nuts with his regimentation, as does Lady Button at times, both with scenes that go on way too long. 

Also, although Kitty is loveable, full of joy and childlike, sometimes her stupidity as a grown woman grates? 

If you haven't seen either, the U.S. second half of Season 1 is just starting up again after holiday hiatus, with a delayed start due to a COVID outbreak.

(Speaking of which, no ghosts besides "Crash" are written out - if a ghost doesn't appear in a particular episode, it's because of COVID restrictions and keeping a limited number on set.)

In the UK, we'll have to wait for August for Season 4, unfortunately - and at present, you can only watch it on HBO Max or Apple TV, for a fee.  (I don't do HBO Max, the HBO plus channels are a greedy gimmick - so I recommend Apple, and buying the season, rather than per episode, it's cheaper.)

All in all, I can't pick between them - they're both worth a watch :)

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