During Apple’s most recent presentation for their upcoming streaming subscription service Apple TV+, there was a wall of key art behind Tim Cook revealing which shows would be available at launch. One of them was an image that nobody had seen before with a group of kids standing amidst a pile of giant books with the title Ghostwriter written in a typewriter-style font on one of the spines. The title of the series and the presence of young characters made some kids of the ’90s raise an eyebrow in curiosity, wondering if this was a reboot of the PBS series of the same name, and now we have official confirmation.
We noticed this yesterday during Apple’s presentation, but at the time, it wasn’t confirmed if it was a reboot:
— Ethan Anderton (@Ethan_Anderton) September 10, 2019
Apple TV+ also posted this image to Twitter, touting it as one of the service’s launch shows on November 1:
Along with the image, Apple TV+ also revealed this brief synopsis:
What would you do if a haunted bookstore began releasing fictional characters into your neighborhood? The young heroes of Ghostwriter decide to chase the truth.
Deadline has a little information, adding that the kids must help solve a mystery in order to help fulfill a ghost’s unfinished business. Leaving behind messages that only the kids can see, the Ghostwriter pushes them along the path as they slowly become friends in the process.
Clearly Apple TV+ is going for a complete reimagining of the series, because the original show wasn’t anything like that. The show from PBS that ran from 1992 to 1995 and followed a group of diverse friends from Brooklyn who solved neighborhood crimes and mysteries with the help of a spirit called Ghostwriter, named such because it could only communicate through written text. The identity of Ghostwriter was never revealed on the show, but producer and writer Kermit Frazier revealed it back in 2010:
“Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War. He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods. His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal discovered the book.”
While some of the basic details about the new series have been pulled from the original, the involvement of a ghost with unfinished business, fictional characters appearing, and a haunted bookstore are all new elements. But that probably makes the show a little more interesting when you have characters who can engage with the kids instead of floating graphic text appearing in the space about characters as a puzzle.
The original series was aimed at helping kids read, write and use problem solving skills. More than likely, this show will have the same goals, but it does feel like it might be a little more cinematic, at least based on the key art. Luke Matheny, creator of The Dangerous Book for Boys series adaptation, will be writing and directing, and each episode will reference classic literature, as well as new work commissioned by popular authors like DJ Machale and Kwame Alexander.
As someone who was obsessed with trying to keep up with this show when it was on PBS in the 90s, I’m interested in seeing how this reboot turns out. It’ll be nice to follow the mystery without missing episodes, which happened all the time back in the 90s since there was no DVR and catching the show at the right time wasn’t always easy to set a VCR to record. The first season of the original series was released on DVD a few years back, but it looks like it’s pretty hard to get ahold of now without paying nearly $70.
The new Ghostwriter series will be available on Apple TV+ starting on November 1.
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