Reaper 1:01 review

Another new US TV show competing for the eyeballs of the nation. But Ron says this one's good - and it's directed by Kevin Smith - so maybe it's worth a look...

Reaper is the big new launch programme from the CW in its ongoing attempt to turn a decent profit off of something. Once again, the network goes back to the supernatural realm. I mean, you sure wouldn’t expect the networks behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Supernatural, Charmed, and Roswell to stray too far from one of the few genres they’ve had success with, right?

One of the big selling points for the new series on the commercials leading up to it were the fact that it has a decent pedigree, especially for a CW show. From the creators of Ed and director Kevin Smith, the show is a one-hour comedy/action/drama deal about an unlucky fellow Sam (Brett Harrison) who just so happens to have had his soul sold to the Devil (Sam Wise, who is brilliant) by his parents, setting off a chain of events that will forever alter Sam’s life.

It’s Sam’s 21st birthday, and after an incredibly Clerks-esque opening montage of getting up and getting dressed, we find out that Sam is a loser who quit college after one month. We also meet his crass best friend Sock (Tyler Labine), who fulfills the Jay/Randal role to Sam’s Dante/Silent Bob. One of the things Kevin Smith does best as a director is establish the relationship between best friends well, so this pilot seems right down his alley.

Things are kind of weird. First, there’s the fact that Sam keeps seeing visions of horrible fires on television, even if no one else sees them. Then there’s the fact that, in times of danger or stress, Sam has suddenly developed the ability to telekinetically throw things around with his mind. And also, there’s the facts that packs of dogs now hate him and kind of want him dead. But other than that, it’s just another normal day until, in his words, “The Devil tried to carjack me.”

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Sam finds out that, well… his parents sold his soul to the Devil before he was born, and now he’ll have to do whatever the Devil wants him to in order to keep his parents from dying and being taken off to Hell. For most people, finding out they’re going to be Hell’s own bounty hunter would be a bad thing, but when your life centers around drinking at the local bar with your best buddies Sock and Ben (Rick Gonzales), lusting helplessly after the cute girl at work Andi (Missy Peregrym), and working at Home Depot knock-off The Work Bench, there’s really nowhere your life can go but up.

This is shaping up to be a cute little “Demon of the Week” show, and that’s not a bad thing. This week’s demon is an arsonist who escapes from Hell and returns to earth to resume doing what he loves best, burning things up. It’s Sam’s job to stop him, armed only with… a Dirt Devil cordless hand vacuum. Believe me, this vacuum really sucks.

There’s a Mallrats-style ‘girding for battle’ montage, and eventually the demon is sucked into the Dirt Devil, Sam learns slightly how to control some of his new powers, and the bad guy is dropped off at the DMV, because as Satan says, “Any place that feels like Hell on Earth, is Hell on Earth.” I can only wonder what his next weapon might be, as Sam is later told that the boss only gives you what he thinks you can handle.

Of all the new shows I’ve seen advertised, I must say Reaper is the one I’m most excited about. It picks up nicely in the comedy death show where Dead Like Me left off, but with a slightly darker tone. It’s funny, the special effects are good, and most importantly, it’s the first new show of the year where I didn’t feel an obvious attempt to capture the Alias audience by having a kick-ass female secret agent type character.

I can’t wait for next week.

All Ron Hogan got when he turned 21 was a free pack of gum from the liquor store and a nasty hangover the next day. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics and the Flektor Development Blog.

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