I had given up on television. I was tired of Law & Order Really Bad Stuff Unit, CSI Omaha, and everyone’s favorite, “Make People Compete To Get Married or Date Shmucks for Money”. I was out of the loop. It took me years to get a hold of Lost, Six Feet Under, Battlestar Galactica & their brethren in television. In the end those shows led me to agree with Matt Groening & J.J. Abrams that we are in a golden age of television.
What this all means it that I’ve been obsessively watching television since the beginning of the season. It’s the first time I’ve actually been paying attention. With that in mind, I think I’ll start reviewing some of my favorites & so so’s of the new shows. It may be too late to get started into them, but I’ll let you into one of my secrets on catching up.
I’ll review Reaper first.
I have to admit I love it. It isn’t even close to being great television or having anything to do with the “golden age”, and I’ve already had people tell me they don’t like it. Despite all of this…it’s still a fun show. Reaper stars Sam (Bret Harrison) who works at the Work Bench, which is an unholy union of Best Buy & Home Depot. His comedic sidekick is “Sock” (Tyler Labine), and his love interest is Andi (Missy Peregrym). All very standard positions for a television show. Through various silly antics taking place on Sam’s 18th birthday, his parents abashedly reveal that they sold his soul to the devil. You then meet said devil who reveals that Sam has an additional job: sending escaped souls back to hell.
Sam and Sock come across as an alternate version of Dante & Randal at the Quick Stop, friends talking about nothing while working at their meaningless job…(which is not too surprising since Kevin Smith directed the pilot).
Sam: We are not machines, we are not robots.
Sock: Be cooler if we were robots.
Sock: You know who I’d be if I were a robot?
Sock: The hot chick from Terminator 3. First I would tear this building down brick by brick, then I would go home, lock myself in the bedroom, and stare at my boobs for as long as I wanted.
Sock: Which would be a long time.
For me, Tyler’s character Sock carries most of the show for me. He has some of the best comedic delivery that I’ve seen in a while (which really needs to be watched rather than read).
Boss: You know what, Sam? I’m not really in the habit of checking other men out. Unlike some people I know.
Sock: Huh? Sorry. I was so busy checking out your ass, I missed your funny joke.
The absolute highlight of the show, which unfortunately only happens around three times an episode, is the appearance of the devil. Ray Wise is the best devil that I have ever seen. He’s a great mixture of being manipulative, funny, creepily nice, and intimidating. All the while he has ironically been a parent figure to Sam. Pushing him to quit being lazy, scolding him, offering him rewards, telling him to go for the girl…which all adds a great dimension to the show.
Other than that, I’m admittedly bored with Andi & Sam’s characters and their cliché “will they or won’t they” relationship…and quite a few characters on the show seem to have no character development. Oh well.
The show is rather formulaic, but in a way that makes you wonder what mixture of objects will appear in the next show. It goes as follows: Some weird things begin happening to Sam (He keeps getting shocked, bugs appear on everything he touches, things around him disappear), he then gets a different magical “vessel” to banish the escaped soul with (once it was a remote controlled car), and then fights the super powered escape soul. Sam, Sock, and their friend Ben (Rick Gonazalez) dress in funny outfits made from items around the Work Bench (gas masks, plastic wet suits), and then almost get themselves killed trying to get the bad guy. They then turn the soul into a portal of hell, the DMV.
It isn’t dramatic, it isn’t thoughtful, but it’s great entertainment. I wonder how long they can keep rotating these monsters, random items, and strange occurrences…but until then I will be perfectly fine being amused by Ray Wise & Tyler Labine.
Bartender approaches the Devil.
Devil: “I’ll have a cranberry and soda, my good woman.”
Sam looks at him.
Devil: “Oh I never drink when I work. It clouds the mind.”
Sam: “Maybe if you drank you’d be less of a dick.”