Reaper (Tuesdays at 9 on the CW)

on October 10, 2007 in Uncategorized

I can’t believe I’m actually allowing myself to watch a show that’s not research for the book. But it got such a great review from one of my fave TV critics* and since the series premiered while I was on vacation I decided to give it a try. And it’s so much fun.

The Premise

Sam’s our hero—and before he was born his father was very, very ill. The Devil offered to cure him in exchange for the soul of his parent’s first born child, to be paid to him on said child’s 21st birthday. Sam’s parents agreed and then secretly vowed never to have children—their doctor then informed them that they were infertile anyway. But the doctor had bargained with the devil too. The Prince of Darkness offered to wipe his gambling debts clean, and all he had to tell this one little lie . . .

And so our story begins on Sam’s 21st birthday as all of this shocking news unfolds for him. He’s working at a Home Depot-esque place called “The Work Bench” and has dropped out of college because it made him “sleepy.” His parents have indulged him out of guilt and then over-compensated by obsessively (and unfairly) pressuring his younger brother.

He’s got a crush on his co-worker, Andi (Missy Peregrym), who is so utterly uber-boring I hope she either fades into the background of the show or ultimately becomes an active part of his assignments.

Which, by the way, is to capture escaped souls and return them to hell.

That’s right. Sam’s a bounty hunter for Beelzebub.

Once his two best friends Bert “Sock” Wysocki—a Jack Blacked Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob, natch) and Ben find out about this, they want in, and hilarity ensues. And it’s actually a staple of the (super)hero—you need to have friends with nothing better to do, and who (hopefully) either have, or develop, the desire to do right.

Ray Wise (Leland Palmer of Twin Peaks) is charmingly, seductively, creepily perfect as the Devil. He’s like Malcolm McDowell as Mr. Rourke but with a sense of humour and a desire to be “with it.”

He acts oddly fatherly towards Sam, encouraging him to stick with things, not give up, and follow through. He tries to help Sam end up with Andi (does he actually want Sam to be happy—or is he setting the poor kid up for some easy manipulation?).

He even has fatherly scorn when Sam fails:

“It’d be one thing to blow off your bounty hunter duties to get the girl. But you’re not even doing that! You’re embarrassing me.”

It’s also interesting that there is a tricky sense of morality involved. Technically, Sam is doing good by returning these souls to hell, but he’s doing it for someone really, really evil. So is it still doing good?

While the Devil provides a “vessel” in which to capture and return souls, The Work Bench provides all the sporting equipment, extension cords, and bug spray necessary to make assignments successful.**

It actually reminds me a bit of Ash and the SMart from the cult classic Army of Darkness with a healthy dose of Ghostbusters thrown in.

As Wise’s Devil might say, “How cool is that?!?!?”

*The one whose piece on “Once More With Feeling” finally convinced me to give Buffy The Vampire Slayer a try—even after so many dear friends had failed to do so.

**The writers must have a BLAST coming up with wacky vessels–I just hope it’s a joke that doesn’t soon wear thin.

The series was created by Tara Butters and Michelle Fazekas (who both previously worked on Law & Order: SVU) and Kevin Smith directed the pilot.

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