Pre-Air Extravaganza: Reaper
Pre-Air Extravaganza comes to a close with the long-delayed review of the supernatural-comedy-drama thing, Reaper. I know that it's been a while coming, but I've been hard at work, writing a book (only the bestest most awesomest book e-var!), and there are some things that take priority. Like eating.
Without forever ado, awaaaay we go!
- Bret Harrison - Sam Oliver
- Missy Peregrym - Andi
- Ray Wise - Satan
- Rick Gonzalez - Ben
- Tyler Labine - Bert "Sock" Wysocki
- Valarie Rae Miller - Josie
- Kyle Switzer - Kyle Oliver
- Allison Hossack - Mrs. Oliver
- Andrew Airlie - Mr. Oliver
Reaper tells the story of Sam, a slacker who's amounted to nothing because his parents never pushed him to succeed or see anything through to the end throughout his life. The reason for this, apparently, is because before Sam was born, his parents made a deal with The Devil (yes, that universal plot device and scape-goat, Satan, Beezlebub, Lucifer, etc), whereby they would trade their first-born son's soul so that his father could be spared from death. Why they took this as a sign that they didn't really have to try to raise Sam is beyond me: were they so cynical that they considered his ass doomed from the start? Just because he's going to hell in the end doesn't mean he can't be responsible, or achieve something before then. Typical baby-boomer parents, if you ask me.
Sam finds this out on his 21st birthday, when Satan plays by the rules - mostly - and will not be taking Sam's soul until he dies. In the meantime, however, Sam must serve the Dark Lord by "collecting" people who have escaped from hell. I wonder if this means that people can escape from heaven? I'm disappointed that the topic never really came up.
It's an oft-used premise, but don't let the unoriginality of the concepts keep you away from the show: the difference is in the execution.
After we get introduced to Sam and his best friend, a slacker who goes by the name "Sock" and has no concept of appropriate conversation (or grooming habits), the show follows Sam as he heads to his dead-end sales job at a big-box retailer (played proudly by one of Vancouver's finest Canadian Tire store locations). Here, a series of bizarre occurrences (including apparent exhibitions of psychokinetic powers on Sam's part, as well as his unique ability to attract snarling dogs - and Sock's ability to hit a small one with a car door, with no apparent moral qualms) builds up the "suspense" until Sam is visited by the devil himself on his ride home.
When next they meet, Satan gives Sam his tool for bustin' up hellspawn: a Dirt Devil vacuum. Of course, his friends think this is hilarious until they test the device out and it manages to pull a tractor-trailer toward them.
Apparently confident that he is, in fact, dealing with the devil, Sam accepts his role as vacuumer of the damned, and tracks down the first one: an arsonist who has returned from the grave as a firefighter with the ability to create flame on demand, and a mission to burn down all of the places that were rebuilt since he last had a chance to turn them into smoldering ruins.
Following a lot of filler about a girl that Sam is attracted to (whom I am convinced will turn out to be some sort of heavenly-creature sent to Earth to steal his soul back from the devil) and several attempts by Sam to vacuum-up his quarry, we're treated to the stand-out scene in the pilot episode (what this says about the quality of the episode is up to you to decide): Sam and Sock suiting up like the Ghostbusters to battle their flamey-nemesis at his next target, only to discover that Satan's evil dust-buster is out of juice and needs to be recharged. Hey, Satan may have command of hell's legions and be an entirely physical-law-bending, supernatural entity, but he's still bound by the law of the Conservation of Energy. The two morons must sit around for hours (inside the store, without getting arrested or fired - so I'm really not sure when this is happening) while the Dirt Devil recharges, providing a nice comedic break for the heaviness that a show about hell might have.
To avoid too much spoilage, I'll just say that Sam wins and everybody's happy. The end.
Well, at least until Satan finds that another damned spirit is roaming free. You'd think that hell, of all places, would have perfected the tracking-chip by now. Or an "Amber Alert" system.
Reaper turned out to be not half bad, but it doesn't stand out in any way, either. It reminds me of too many supernatural comedies that tried and died on UPN so many years ago, and so I don't hold out much hope for it. It wasn't terrible by any means, though, so go ahead and check this one out. You could do far worse.
Premieres September 25 on The CW.
[Oooh! Two favorite lines in this one!]
Mr. Oliver: Did you wish your brother a happy birthday?
Kyle (Sam's brother): The guy's 21, lives with his parents, and wears an apron for a living. There's no "happy" in that birthday, Dad.
Kyle: Sam didn't even go to college!
Mrs. Oliver: Yes he did, Kyle.
Kyle: For a month!
Mrs. Oliver: And we're very proud of him for trying, it's just that college made him sleepy...