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CBS steps into the unknown with ‘Ghosts,’ and back to the familiar with ‘CSI’


The premise in “Ghosts” is fairly simple, as a young couple (Rose McIver, Utkarsh Ambudkar) inherit an old house from the wife’s deceased great aunt, one inhabited by a number of ghosts from different eras, depending on when they died. Unable to leave, they’re excited about potentially having some fresh blood around, with one asking, “Whose life are you guys hoping to watch next?”

The eccentric residents include a ’60s hippie (Sheila Carrasco), an 11th-century Viking (Devon Chandler Long), a Native-American from the 1500s ((Román Zaragoza), and a foppish Revolutionary War militiaman (Brandon Scott Jones), who, among other things, is aghast to hear that one-time rival Alexander Hamilton’s name has become more famous than his.

Adapted from a BBC series (creativity in Hollywood only goes so far), the odd mix of characters yields a fair amount of hit-miss gags and movie callbacks. One of the ghosts, for example — a stock-broker bro (Asher Grodman) who died without his pants — can physically move objects, barely, in a nod to Patrick Swayze’s character in the singular movie “Ghost.”

Still, the question of whether the people and spirits can learn to coexist has an age-old quality to it, with the disclaimer that the premise creates some limits on where this concept can go, and doesn’t necessarily bode well for how it’s going to age.

For now, though, “Ghosts” — which premieres with back-to-back episodes — milks enough laughs from the sharpness of its writing and sheer goofiness to warrant a look. Whether that translates into a long-term stay remains to be seen, but unlike a lot of new sitcoms, at least this one doesn’t look dead on arrival.

Speaking of things that come back after dying, “CSI” revives one of TV’s biggest hits of the 2000s, bringing back several familiar characters while introducing a new boss, Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome), gradually setting up the premise with a mystery that stretches over the first few episodes.

Specifically, questions arise about tainted cases from the past, forcing Roby to reach out to the alumni squad in the search for answers. The old standbys include (not immediately, in all cases) William Petersen and Jorja Fox, but saying much more would risk spoiling things, to the extent they can be.

The series clearly feels as if it’s hoping to get a head of steam going on the strength of its nostalgia, before taking off in a more conventional body-of-the-week direction that made the original tick.

Of course, with a trio of “FBI” shows, two versions of “NCIS” and “S.W.A.T.,” CBS has demonstrated it’s wise not to bet against the lingering audience demand for capitalized crime shows.

So while it might take a couple of episodes to sort out the “Who are you?” part of The Who’s credit song, the “why” behind “CSI’s” revival is pretty obvious.

“CSI: Vegas” premieres Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. ET and “Ghosts” premieres Oct. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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