Now there are two “invisible ghost” sitcoms on network TV.
The new entry is “Not Dead Yet,” premiering Wednesday on ABC. In this one, Gina Rodriguez (one-time star of “Jane The Virgin” on The CW) plays a single woman on the verge of 40 named Nell who writes obituaries for a southern California newspaper.
The other ghost show is “Ghosts” on CBS -- the sitcom about a young couple who inherit a rundown mansion in upstate New York that is haunted by comical ghosts.
As “Not Dead Yet” begins, Nell has just returned to the small southern California newspaper where she once worked, after a romantic interlude overseas that did not work out.
At the paper, she is assigned to write obituaries, which is portrayed as a newsroom demotion, although in real life this is not necessarily the case.
Nevertheless, as she takes up her first assignment, she comes to realize that she has a sixth sense. Yes, like little Haley Joel Osment in “The Sixth Sense,” Nell sees dead people.
But unlike Cole -- the little boy played by Osment -- Nell only sees her dead people one at a time, while she is in the midst of writing their obituaries.
In the “Not Dead Yet” pilot, Nell comes to recognize her sixth sense gradually and reluctantly. Understandably, she does not accept that the older man who shows up suddenly wherever she goes is the very man whose obituary she is writing.
In the first episode, the obit is for a local musician best known for writing a famous commercial jingle many years ago. He is played by Martin Mull, seen in the photo above with Rodriguez.
In time (about 5-7 minutes in sitcom time), she comes to accept that she is actually conversing with this man who just died, and who refuses to rest in peace until the story of his life is told by Nell.
This is one of the title’s two meanings: (1) that the newly dead are “not dead yet,” and will not go to their eternal rests until they can be sure they will be remembered, and (2) that Nell’s newspaper career and life are “not dead yet,” and that both stand a chance of being revived by her new beat.
In the pilot’s third act, Nell suddenly learns a thing or two about life and death and just as suddenly, “Not Dead Yet” becomes meaningful, which is no mean feat for a network sitcom.
As for the show’s newspaper newsroom setting, the show gets the half-partitioned cubicle set-up exactly right.
“Not Dead Yet” premieres with two episodes on Wednesday (February 8) starting at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC. The series starts streaming on Hulu on Thursday.