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Review: Reaper

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 7:25 pm

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Reaper; CW, Tuesday, 9:00 PM

Yet another tired twist on a tired formula…once you see this, you’ll miss the old show Brimstone.

Sam (Bret Harrison, The Loop) turns twenty-one today, and finds out this is gong to be about the worst day of his life - where up to now his parents (Allison Hossack, Falcon Beach and Andrew Airlie, The L Word) have let him slide and do anything he wants to do, while pushing his brother Keith (Kyle Switzer, 15/Love), today they give him the interesting news that before he was born, his soul was sold to the Devil. Today is the day the Devil (Ray Wise, Twin Peaks, 24) takes his due. Sam is to become a Reaper, one who captures and returns souls who have escaped from Hell.

Giving the devil his due; Ray Wise and Bret Harrison

Now understand, unlike Ezekial Stone in Brimstone, who needed to shoot the escaped souls in the eyes, Sam needs to use a “vessel” to capture each one…this episode’s vessel is a DirtDevil hand vac (DirtDevil…get it? Real subtle, kids…), and his escaped soul is a firefighter who is setting fires all over town.

Add to this the twenty-something angst of him trying to ask his co-worker Andi (Nikki Reed, The O.C.) out for a date, and his getting other co-workers Sock (Tyler Labine, Boston Legal, Invasion and the stereotypical loser hippy) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez, Coach Carter) involved in his reaping, which involves Sock’s ex-girlfriend Josie (Valarie Rae Miller, Dark Angel), and oh, the merry mixups that can come into play.


Ok, some of the sequences were cool. As someone who has in his lifetime driven a Zamboni, the ice resurfacing sequence had me giggling a bit. The computer graphics were sorta cool in the firewalker sequences, and having the DMV be a portal to Hell didn’t seem to me to be so far away from the mark. Still, all in all, this is a program that doesn’t know what it is…unlike Supernatural, which walks the line between spooky and sappy with extraordinary aplomb, this thing just doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be when it grows up.

Contrasted to Brimstone’s Detective Stone, Sam isn’t a flawed nuanced character but rather an innocent sold into damnable slavery even before his conception…while there may be some pity for him, the character doesn’t have much to bite into starting out. And though I relish the chance to watch Ray Wise work (no one…I mean no one… can do smarmy like this guy - his mouth smiles while his eyes threaten unspeakable horrors), this doesn’t have much else going for it. The rest of the cast is competent but uninspiring, the plot predictable, the characters stereotypes, and I’m guessing even the running gags like the vessel-of-the-week will wear thin in a few episodes.

Sam’s destiny is to be a reaper. Mine is to look for better television programs to watch.

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