Sep 27, 2007

Wait a minute... this is pretty good!

Shocked as I'm sure every single one of you might be to hear it, I actually saw a show I liked tonight on the tee and vee: Reaper.

The CW showed an "encore presentation" of the pilot tonight, and I'm glad I didn't miss it. It was funny and fun, with a very likable cast, good dialogue, and ... well, you get the idea. I have to admit I was a bit taken aback to see that Kevin Smith directed the pilot, but it is my understanding that he and a fair percentage of the production crew in general were only on board for the pilot.

Now, I don't hate Kevin Smith. Hell, I don't hate anyone (or at least not anyone germane to this particular discussion). But I have to say I'm not the world's biggest Keven Smith fan. I thought Clerks was okay, and I kind of liked Chasing Amy, but Dogma was such a dragtastrophe that I kind of avoided anything with his name on it after that point. It wasn't particularly hard, since everything he did seemed to have Jay and Silent Bob* attached to the name, and I was done laughing at them about halfway through Clerks.

That was a rather long-winded way of indicating that Smith's absence will not necessarily be an obstacle to my enjoyment of the show.

Briefly, the show stars Bret Harrison as Sam, a college dropout who works at a Home Depot clone with his uber-slacker friend "Sock" and a host of supporting characters, including love interest Andi -- or, as Mrs. Morgue and I referred to her, "some girl with REALLY white teeth." I'm not kidding, she must brush her teeth with strontium-90.

After a series of odd events on the day of his 21st birthday, including the appearance of a man who calls himself the Devil (the very awesome Ray Wise), Sam sits down with his dad and is more than a little upset to learn that his parents had sold their firstborn son's soul to the devil. The fact that they're really, really sorry doesn't immediately cheer him up, nor does a second meeting with the Devil, in which the business-suited Satan tells Sam that he's either got to perform some repo work on hell's escapees or face the consequences.

His first attempt to repo the soul of an arsonist who has been reincarnated as a fireman is an unmitigated disaster and Sam disgustedly tells the Devil that he may as well take his soul because he sucks. Not so fast, the Devil tells him. It turns out that if Sam won't do the job, the devil will collect not his soul, but his mother's, which by some kind of transcendental escrow arrangement is actually the collateral on the whole deal.

Being a good son (and, more importantly, not holding a grudge for a certain preconception transaction), Sam agrees, and, with the help of Sock and a handheld vacuum cleaner, succeeds in bringing in his first fugitive soul.

It's nothing too fancy, grounbreaking, or original, but it is done well, with all the elements in place to make good on its premise. We'll see how that works out. While shows like Chuck and The Bionic Woman will really need to shine to make me forget how cruddy their pilots were, Reaper is going to have to work just as hard to live up to its debut.

* Trivia for people with no pop culture skillz: Kevin Smith is Silent Bob! -ed

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