Created by stars Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci and director Jeremy Konner (“Drunk History”), with Jack Black as an executive producer, "Ghost Ghirls" began as a Syfy project before finding shape late in 2014 as a Yahoo Screen Web series consisting of a dozen 10-minute episodes. (Its general premise — a comedy about addled humans helping restless spirits move on into the light — was, not long after, the coincidental basis for the Tyler Labine-starring
Even before Yahoo Screen had its plug pulled, "Ghost Ghirls" had become hard to find; but it isn't now, and it's worth the clicks and more than worth the relatively small investment of time. You can binge the whole series in the time it takes to watch a couple episodes of "Game of Thrones." And yet it does not lack for variety or an air of abundance, its haunted places including a baseball diamond, a tax office, a middle school, a brothel and a woodland spa. The guest-star power is considerable: Jason Ritter and Jake Johnson in the pilot episode, along with Natasha Leggero, Kumail Nanjiani, Colin Hanks, Larisa Oleynik, Paul F. Tompkins,
“Gary Saves the Graveyard”
The setting (and some initial mayhem), notwithstanding, the comedy is gentle – it's a piece about friendship and fulfillment and the grind of life and not-life, and it's all lovely and almost sentimental in a way more associated with the holidays that end the year than the one we celebrate tonight. Santangeli, Dern and Medel are each excellent, locating the human in the uncanny, steering clear of caricature – I would make them stars if I could. (YouTube)
L.A. locals of a certain age may remember this after-school series, broadcast on Channel 9, then called KHJ, now KCAL, featuring a pint-sized Frankenstein puppet (voice of Jim Thurman) and his mad-scientist maker, Dr. Von Schtick (Gene Moss), a kind of Borscht Belt Transylvanian Soupy Sales. Though there are still a few kids shows whose adult makers are mostly entertaining themselves, this particular kind of loose-limbed, no-budget, hipster-ish, play-to-the-crew type of show doesn't really exist anymore, a victim of media conglomeration, corporate homogenization and video on demand, by tape, then disc, then download. (It survived as a memory in "Pee-wee's Playhouse," in "The Simpson's" Krusty the Klown.)
Broadcast from 1966 (or 1967, depending on the source) to 1968, more or less coeval with "The Monkees" and "Get Smart!," it captures the spirit of its transitional times, with one foot in Mad Magazine and the other in the Free Press; counter-culturally, in language and rhythm and attitude it is more pop-beatnik than proto-hippie, with its mix of elaborately formal language and beard-and-beret slang. But it's definitely the kind of outside entertainment that can make a young mind impertinent, skeptical of authority, disinclined to join the rat race. Note references to the Marvel Comics-based cartoons the series broadcast, way before anyone imagined that stuff would rule Hollywood. But Hollywood could use a lot more of "Shrimpenstein," for my money, and my Halloween. You can read more about the series here. (YouTube).
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