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Series / The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

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The Ghost & Mrs. Muir is an American sitcom based on the 1947 film of the same name, which was based on the 1945 novel by R. A. Dick. It premiered in September 1968 on NBC, which cancelled it after one season; it was then picked up by ABC for a second and final season.

After lovely young widow Carolyn Muir (Hope Lange) moves with her children Candy (Kellie Flanagan) and Jonathan (Harlen Carraher), housekeeper Martha Grant (Reta Shaw), and family dog Scruffy into Gull Cottage—a quaint old seaside abode near Schooner Bay, Maine—they discover that their new home is haunted by the spirit of its former owner, an old sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Edward Mulhare). At first resisting this intrusion, Gregg soon develops a ghostly love for his uninvited guest. Rounding things out is Claymore Gregg (Charles Nelson Reilly), the captain's venal and cowardly grand-nephew who inherited the cottage and rented it out to Mrs. Muir.

Tropes in The Ghost & Mrs. Muir include:

  • Accidental Suicide: Captain Gregg is commonly believed to have committed suicide by opening the gas valve in his room, but he admits that he actually kicked the valve open in his sleep by accident.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Lucy Muir from the original movie becomes Carolyn Muir, her daughter's name is Candy instead of Anna, and her son (a character from the original book who was Adapted Out of the movie but is brought back here) is renamed from Cyril to Jonathan.
  • Altar the Speed: "Haunted Honeymoon". On their way to get married, Gladys (Yvonne Craig) and Harvey's car breaks down outside Gull Cottage on a very wet night. Mrs. Muir puts them up, much to the Captain's annoyance, as he wants to update his sea charts and Harvey is to sleep in his alcove (room). As Claymore is a justice of the peace, the Captain gets him to marry the couple so they can sleep together in the spare room.
  • And Starring: The dog gets credited this way. ("And Scruffy")
  • Baseball Episode: In "No Hits, No Runs, No Oysters", the Oysters are the local baseball team, of which Claymore is the manager. The family and the Captain want Jonathan to play for the team, but even he realizes that he is no good.
  • Birthday Episode: In "Surprise Party", The kids want to hold a surprise birthday party for the captain, but how can they make it a surprise when he might be invisible and listening in? Scruffy provides the answer.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Captain Gregg falls in love with the lovely Carolyn Muir, and the feeling seems to be reciprocated on her part.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: The Ghost & Mrs Muir puts the trope into reverse.
  • Christmas Episode: See Yet Another Christmas Carol below.
  • Costumer: Two, both set during the Victorian era when Captain Gregg was alive:
    • In "Medicine Ball", Mrs. Muir has a mystery illness. The Captain does not trust the doctor, so he gives her some of his medicine. She dreams and finds herself in a party in the Captain's time period.
    • In "The Ghost of Christmas Past", the Captain gives the Muirs, Martha, and Claymore a dream of when he was alive 100 years ago (they all play parts), loosely based on A Christmas Carol.
  • Curse: In "Son of the Curse", the kids find a clock in the attic and start it up, not knowing it has a curse on it that the last of the Greggs (Claymore) will die by midnight.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: With no one having occupied Gull Cottage since his death, Captain Gregg is a little ignorant of many of the changes in modern society, such as the march of women's rights.
  • Father Neptune: Captain Gregg led a very adventurous life at sea to judge from the memoirs he dictates to Mrs. Muir.
  • Flying Dutchman: In "The Great Power Failure", the cursed ghost ship Sea Vulture drifts into the area of Schooner Bay and while it remains there, the Captain loses most of his powers, so he can do nothing about the women's PTA meeting held at the cottage.
  • Friendly Ghost: The ghost of Captain Gregg pretends to be fearsome and blustery, but he is really rather sweet and in love with Mrs. Muir.
  • Gas Chamber: Captain Gregg died by accidentally doing this to himself. He accidentally kicked open the valve on the gas fire in the small room where he was sleeping and asphyxiated.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Being a comedy, the ghost wasn't really evil. They had to placate the ghost to stay in Gull Cottage, regardless.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: In-Universe examples:
    • Captain Gregg tries to convince everyone that a celebrated local hero was a ne'er do well and braggart. Yet when his grave is uncovered, the headstone reads of a man 'who did not hesitate', it seems the ghost has not a chance of changing any minds. When the dedication ceremony occurs, Gregg summons a windstorm to completely uncover the headstone, which then reads 'He did not hesitate – He Ran Like Hell!'.
    • Played with in a later episode, when Gregg realizes his recall of a second-hand account about two of the American Founding Fathers may not be perfect, and nearly ruins Mrs. Muir's son's school report by insisting they were bitter adversaries, not the friends the boy originally believed. While Gregg's stubbornness nearly derails the reputation of another rival-in-life by showing the school he supposedly founded was in fact founded much earlier, his historian descendant is delighted; it means their school is among the oldest in all of New England.
  • Hollywood New England: Gull Cottage is located near the fictional Maine fishing village of Schooner Bay.
  • Identical Stranger: In "Double Trouble", the Captain has been getting rid of Mrs. Muir's suitors. The latest one, Sean Callahan, is his double and claims to be a descendant of the Captain.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Composed by future Academy Award winner Dave Grusin (The Milagro Beanfield War).
  • Jury of the Damned: The episode "Not So Faust". After Claymore tries to cheat Mrs. Muir, the Captain decides to teach him a lesson by giving him a dream about an old enemy of his, the Devil, who puts him on trial before a panel of three judges: Nero, Blackbeard, and Jesse James.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: In "Puppy Love", Candy falls for the new English boy at her school, but her tomboy appearance counts against her. She is insulted when he thinks she is a boy.
  • Lovable Coward: Claymore Gregg, the Captain's great-nephew, who has inherited Gull Cottage and rents it to Mrs. Muir.
  • Lovecraft Country: A historic fishing village in Maine. Fearsome haunted house just outside of town (especially in the pilot, when Claymore apprises the Captain he had rented the seaside cottage to Mrs. Muir).
  • Meat Puppet: In "Centennial", the Captain takes over Claymore's body so he can dance with Mrs. Muir.
  • Monster Roommate: A young widow and her two children discover that the seaside cottage they move into is inhabited by the ghost of the old sea captain who once lived there.
  • New Old Flame:
    • A variant occurs in "Vanessa". A woman turns up in Schooner Bay with some old love letters from Captain Gregg to her great-great-grandmother, who was also named Vanessa. The Captain finds himself falling for her, as he did for her ancestor in the 1840s.
    • In "Mister Perfect", Mrs. Muir's old boyfriend (William Daniels) turns up on his yacht and wants to marry her. At first, the Captain tries to stop them; then he decides to help them get together.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Interestingly (see Historical Hero Upgrade for proof), this is how the Captain's ghost views his living self.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: The Captain chooses to be visible to the widow and her young son, but not to the widow's daughter or the housekeeper, both of whom assume that the ghost is merely the boy's imaginary friend. In the second season, Candy can also see the ghost.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: In "It's a Gift!", the Captain attempts to buy Carolyn a gift in an attempt to make up for his interfering in Jonathan's education. He is convinced that a parasol would be the perfect gift—as it would have been for a lady of his time—and has an Imagine Spot of her strolling in the garden wearing a lacy white dress and carrying the parasol.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: Captain Gregg died in his sleep, his foot having accidentally kicked the lever on his gas heater, turning the gas on while the window was shut.
  • Playing Sick: After slipping a disc out at Gull Cottage in "A Pain in the Neck", Claymore continues to malinger after his back is better so he can take advantage of Mrs. Muir's sympathy and hospitality.
  • Replaced with Replica: In "The Real James Gatley", an antiques expert and his wife want the Gatley barometer in Gull Cottage (the only other one being in the British Museum) and offer Claymore $2,000 for it. He has a copy made and changes it for the original, but the captain, who does not want to part with it, changes it back, which leads the couple having Claymore put in jail for selling them a fake.
  • Seadog Beard: Captain Gregg sports a very neat and well-groomed one. It does add considerably to his raffish charm.
  • Setting Update: The original novel and the movie are set (initially) in The Edwardian Era. The series is set in the (then) present day: the late 1960s.
  • Sick Episode: In "Medicine Ball", Mrs. Muir has a mystery illness. The Captain does not trust the doctor, so he gives her some of his medicine. She dreams and finds herself in a party in the captain's time period.
  • Souvenir Land: In "Tourist, Go Home", a millionaire wants to make the town into a tourist site, starting with the museum. The Captain is against it, until he finds out that he will have an important part in it. The revamped museum ends up as a sideshow mocking the Captain, which angers him.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: In "Host to the Ghost", Mrs. Muir desperately needs some work done on her kitchen. The only way she can get workmen to stay is if the Captain leaves for a while, so he goes to stay with Claymore and turns into a very unwelcome guest.
  • Treasure Map: In "Treasure Hunt", the water heater breaks down, but skinflint Claymore will not repair it, so the captain hits upon a scheme of burying treasure maps around the grounds, so Claymore will fix things as a cover for digging up treasure.
  • With a Foot on the Bus: In "Martha Meets the Captain", Martha has to go to Florida permanently to look after her mother. The only way the Captain can stop her leaving before her surprise party is to appear to her. The show ends with her staying.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: "The Ghost of Christmas Past". For Christmas, Captain Gregg gives the Muirs, Martha, and Claymore a dream of when he was alive 100 years ago (they all play parts), loosely based on A Christmas Carol.