- Title: Reaper – The Complete First Season
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On his 21st birthday Sam (Bret Harrison) learns a troubling fact which will change his life forever. It seems before he was born his parents (Andrew Airlie, Alison Hossack) sold his soul to the Devil (Ray Wise) who has come to collect.
Now Sam is forced to work as the Devil’s bounty hunter and capture escaped souls and return them to Hell through a portal in the DMV (also referred to as Hell on Earth).
Helping Sam on his missions are his two best buds Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) who work with Sam, along with the lovely Andi (Missy Peregrym), at the Work Bench (think Home Depot mixed with Cosco and Wal-Mart).
Over Reaper‘s 18 episode run Sam and his pals track down various souls including a bug lady (Julia Anderson), a magician (Darren Shahlavi), a cannibal (Thomas Saunders), a blob, two suicidal lovers (Mercedes McNab, Craig Stanghetta), an invisible hunter, the likable Leon (Patton Oswalt), and a model (Erica Cerra) who likes spraying others with acid.
In order to collect the souls Sam is always given a vessel which is different in each episode. Some of the more memorable are a Dirt Devil, a remote control car, bubbles, a scythe, an 8-track tape, and perhaps the ugliest Christmas sweater of all time. Of course none of these come with instructions.
Along the way the series also spends time of the relationships of the characters. Aside from the the central friendship between the threesome, there’s also Sam’s post-Satan meeting relationship with his parents, who are still holding Sam in the dark about the exact events of the deal, the ever-changing friendship between Sam and Andi, Sock’s combustible relationship with his ex (Valerie Rae Miller), Ben’s ill-fated marriage to Sara (Lucy Davis), the pleasure everyone takes in busting the balls of their boss, Ted (Donavon Stinson), and Sam’s odd buddy/employee relationship with the Devil.
Like most of the good shows created by the CW/UPN the show was killed off before its time (can’t get in the way of such quality programming as that Pussycat Dolls show or America’s Next Top Bulimic!). Still this one season has much to enjoy including a likable cast, some fun antics, and a devilishly good performance by Ray Wise as the Prince of Darkness. I enjoyed how the show began to have more fun with the Devil over the course of the series including the glimpse at the Devil’s mistress (Melinda Clarke), playing puppeteer with Greg (Colby Johannson) and even going so far to frame Sam for murder just for kicks.
The show also includes some fun guest appearances including Sam’s possibly demonic girlfriend Cady (Jessica Stroup), the threesome’s new gay demonic neighbors (Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black) who have their own ideas on how to fight the Devil, and Greg, Sam’s competition for Andi’s affections.
And as an additional geek fact for you, the “Pilot” episode was directed by Kevin Smith and is filled with his sense of slacker humor which continues throughout the series (he’s listed as a consultant for the rest of the series). Given his involvement here in kicking-off the show I’d like to see Smith consider doing more work for the small screen, perhaps even creating his own show.
The show is pretty darn entertainin’ with some nice special effects and fun storytelling. Sadly the show ends with several plot points still left unresolved including the secrets to Sam’s contract and parentage, the truth behind the Devil’s fascination with Sam, and the outcome of many of the characters’ relationships. Although it feels a bit incomplete at only 18 episodes there’s easily enough here to recommend, I just wish Reaper had hunted down a few more lost souls for a season or two before it got axed and sent to TV purgatory.