New sci-fi horror comedy Ghosted will be in part an homage to the buddy comedies of the 80s, writer and EP Kevin Etten said during a panel at Fox’s TCA. “It’s things like Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop,” Etten said. “Then we were influenced by recent movies like This is the End. We thought we’d do a true action sci-fi buddy-based relationship comedy.”

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EP Adam Scott plays the central role of Max, a conspiracy theory-obsessed university professor who joins forces with paranormal skeptic Leroy (Craig Robinson) in an attempt to save the universe. Scott seconded the reference to buddy movies of old. “We really wanted the relationship between Max and Leroy to feel real,” he said. “Midnight Run was a real touchstone for all of us with putting the whole thing together, and that relationship in that movie was hilarious to be sure, but also had its moments where it was really moving and it was important to us to have those moments.”

The current trend for the 80s paranormal story prevails strongly in this show, as evidenced by Scott’s ideal aim. “From the very beginning,” he said, “we were all kind of hoping that Ghosted at its best, ideally, would be the baby of something like Midnight Run and Stranger Things.”

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Despite the comedy horror factor of the show, some sense of sincerity was important, according to creator Tom Gormican. “A show like this could quickly devolve into parody if not handled correctly,” he said. “So one of the things that we’re doing is leaning on the actors both comic and dramatic. There’s a really solid mix of both of those things and that helps us sell the reality of the show. We want to feel like this is real danger and real people.”

In fact, the mixed comic and dramatic backgrounds of both Robinson and Scott have informed the tone of the show, the two actors said. “Mr Robot was the first intense heavy drama I did and it opened me up as an actor, it stretched me,” Robinson said. “It was perfect timing because I’ve done so much with comedy. For me it was this whole new world of seriousness, and it was intense. We would do these extra-long takes, like 25-minute takes, and I would wait ten minutes before I entered the scene. It was just so different, it’s not like something we could have planned. It’s a different world and coming back into comedy, I feel like the pace is so quick and I feel like I know a little more. I have experience now.”

For Scott, a foray into Big Little Lies was also helpful to his work on Ghosted. “It really served this show as well because we really wanted the relationship between Max and Leroy to feel real,” he said. “Going off and doing something like Big Little Lies was a great way to recharge batteries and make sure that we had those moments in here so that the comedy and the sci-fi and everything was hopefully working.”

As for whether the paranormal feels real in life to any of the creators or cast, most demurred. Except Robinson, who sheepishly admitted, “I’ve seen some things. I’m not going to talk about it.”