Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finishing Up The Season: Reaper

The second chance that this show got gave it the opportunity to flesh out its main characters and craft a more definitive tone for this odd hybrid between slacker comedy and horror fare. Just when it was really getting the hang of things, it appears the plug has been pulled on the show. Though there are rumors of the series airing new episodes in syndication in the fall, it’s become increasingly clear in past years that, with only four real exceptions (“According to Jim,” “Jericho,” “Family Guy,” and “7th Heaven,” if I'm not forgetting anything), once a show is dead, it’s dead. While I didn’t completely love this show’s sophomore season, I would actually be excited if it got an eleventh-hour pickup for another shot at glory.

Season one was hindered not only by a lack of clearly chosen genre but also by the general laziness of its leads. Obviously they’re not supposed to be motivated people, but their lack of energy hurt the show by omitting interesting storylines. Ben’s green card marriage fell flat, Sock didn’t do much, and the constant whiny bickering between Sam and Andi was unbelievably irritating. Ray Wise carried the show on his devilish shoulders. This season, with Andi in the loop and all of the cast members stepping up their game, things were a lot whole more engaging.

The second season did get off to a shaky start with a tragic misfire, the introduction of Sock’s sister who he so desperately wanted to sleep with that it was unbearably painful for every episode until she disappeared without a trace. Her absence didn’t diminish the quality of the show at all, and left Sock to do what he does best: provide comic relief as a fifth wheel or just plain annoyance. His quest to design the perfect girl by taking pictures of different body parts of many girls is a great example of what Sock, and especially actor Tyler Labine, really knows how to do.

Labine wasn’t the only cast member pulling his own weight this year. Rick Gonzalez, who is actually quite talented, rebounded from that purposeless trip to jail last year with a surprisingly fun romance with a demon, played to perfection by the endearing Jenny Wade. Their relationship seemed ill-fated from the beginning, but somehow they made it work and it lasted through the end of the season. Nina is a great character, and her pleasant lackadaisical demeanor perfectly mixes with the attitudes of her boyfriend and proxy friends. She’s by far the best significant other on the show, miles ahead of Sam’s former flame/possible sister, Cady (portrayed by Jessica Stroup, currently hanging out in a different zip code on the same network).

Bret Harrison’s always been a good lead (he got this gig straight after his similar starring role in FOX’s “The Loop”), and he’s able to infuse Sam with the appropriate entertaining panicky jitters. This year, he tried to get out of his deal with the devil and his scenes with Ray Wise were simply terrific. I, along with many others, compared Sam to the hero of NBC’s “Chuck,” and the main difference between the two was that people actually liked and believed in Chuck. This year, Sam has proven that he wants to do what it takes and really try to save his soul.

The finale was quite interesting in the implications it has for the future of the series, which now of course doesn’t exist. Regardless, it’s still worth going over. Sam figures out how to challenge the devil but loses in the initial challenge. Andi takes one for the team and offers up her soul if Sam can’t beat the devil. With some help from Gladys, Sam figures out how to beat the devil, but he’s delayed and, in a shocking move, gets felled by the angelic Steve of all people. This adds the dimension of Andi now being in the same position as Sam, but additionally of placing them somewhere in the grander scheme of things that are good. It’s an intriguing notion, and I’m glad to see that they’re something bigger at work here – I just wish we could see more of it. “Chuck” got saved, and it sure deserved it more, but I wouldn’t mind following up more on this show.

Season finale: B
Season grade: B
Season MVP: Tyler Labine

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You may very well get the opportunity to see more of this show, the plugged hasn't been pulled all the way yet.

If you're not aware already Abe, industry insiders confirm Hollywood Reporter's article that ABC Studios is actively trying to sell Reaper. Syndication is a very real possiblity right now, but EVERYONE is recommending writing your affiliates! Help out! All details here: http://community.livejournal.com/reaperdmv/46875.html or visit http://reaperdmv.com for the most up-to-date information.