Review: Ghost Squad Comedy Pilot from Andy Kushnir, Carly Moseley Spoofs the Paranormal

Desperado Miller (Abby McEnany), the main character of Andy Kushnir and Carly Moseley’s spooky new comedy Ghost Squad, is an enthusiastic and self-appointed paranormal investigator. Her mother was (allegedly) murdered by a ghost, and she has since been on a mission to rid the Chicago area of all its pesky poltergeists, and perhaps make some pretty cool friends along the way. The only problem is: Desperado kind of sucks at her job.

Kushnir, who is a staff writer with Cards Against Humanity and directed the pilot, has described the series as “Ghost Hunters meets The Office“, and it’s certainly an apt description; Ghost Squad manages to balance a downright spoof of those night-vision laden reality shows with a charming and oftentimes hilarious workplace comedy. It may seem like an odd-pairing, but the inherent absurdity in the world of paranormal investigation and a cast of likable, comedic oddballs makes for the perfect Halloween treat.

Joining Desperado are all of the ghost hunting mainstays; there’s Sendrick X (Peter Kim), who had a near-death experience and is now a self-professed “psychic bad boy;” Wind Larmer (co-writer Carley Moseley), a corporate motivational speaker who uses her boardroom banter to reason with the spirits; Frank Fanning (Damian Anaya) a cryptic-zoologist who likes spiders; and the Dinkel Twins (Jo Feldman and Neil Jacobsen), a pair of “medium-clairvoyents” who were bullied as children for offering complimentary tea-leaf readings.

The team has assembled to rid a mansion in Glencoe, IL of its ghastly inhabitants. In a pitch-perfect reenactment, we are told the story of a wealthy suburban housewife who discovers her husband has been having an affair with his male tennis instructor. In a fit of rage, she poisons her husband, the tennis pro, and every guest at her elaborate dinner party. Tragically, her children snuck some of the brandy she used to enact her revenge, and they meet the same fate. And oh, she killed the dog too.

And so, the misfit investigators bumble through the mansion, seeking proof of the afterlife, and attempting to bring peace to the wayward spirits still stuck in our world. Kushnir and Moseley have a keen observational and absurdist eye, demonstrated in lines like “Furniture is just one of the hazards of a job conducted entirely in the dark”, and most notably, in a wacky “non-denominational” exorcism late in the pilot that serves to really bring the team together.

Ghost Squad is a love letter to the befuddled paranormal investigators of reality TV and the mockumentary-style comedy of the Office and Parks and Recreation. An official selection of the New York Television Festival, the pilot was officially released this week. Watch at Vimeo or below:

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Matthew Nerber

Matthew Nerber is a performer and theater artist in Chicago, and a former literary contributor with the Generation, the University at Buffalo’s longest running alternative newspaper. When not seeing or making theater, Matthew can be found at the Music Box or expanding his classic rock vinyl collection. He is a 2019 Fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.