Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reaper: When doves kill

Spoilers for "Reaper" episode four just as soon as I find out whether my local Home Depot stocks obscure documentaries on DVD...

After two episodes suggesting that this might be a quintessential "Great pilot, mediocre series," we got a significant improvement last night. It still wasn't nearly as good as the pilot -- nothing's made me laugh out loud like Sock hitting the dog with the car door, or Sock and Sam suiting up and then having to sit around while the Dirt Devil charged -- and there are still some ongoing problems, but other things may be getting fixed.

First, Sam's interaction/climactic fight with the Soul of the Week lasted more than five seconds. The bad guy still didn't have much personality outside of being a Criss Angel wannabe, but at least he was scarier than the bee lady or the lightning guy.

Second, while I doubt the writers will ever come up with another vessel as inherently funny as the Dirt Devil, Ben's interaction with Winston -- sweet at first, disgusted at the end -- was amusing. I think Ben may have more long-term viability as a sidekick than Sock. As with Morgan on "Chuck" (and I promise this will be the only "Chuck"/"Reaper" comparison this week), a little of Sock goes a long way.

Third, there's some semblance of an ongoing storyline with Sam's attempt to get his hands on the contract. As Ben pointed out in the pilot, all the theology/mythology about souls being sold to the Devil agree that another person can't sell your soul for you, and setting up a situation where Sam might be able to find an (eventual) escape clause -- or even just find some kind of leverage to ask Satan for fringe benefits -- is interesting. At the very least, it'll save us from the repetitive "Sam hates both jobs but is stuck with them" theme we've been getting. Also, about time we saw Satan act genuinely menacing. I love Ray Wise.

On the negative side of the ledger, Andi being out of the soul/vessel loop seems like a waste of both our time and Missi Peregrym's, I hate how cavalier they've made Sam's parents about the soul-selling thing (the mom's angst in the pilot over what she'd done and Sam's attempt to let her off the hook gave the show some emotional weight it's been lacking ever since), the notion of The Work Bench carrying everything is going too far, and the escaped souls still need to be better written in the future.

But an improvement's an improvement, and as Ken Levine noted a couple of weeks ago, the second and third episodes of a series are often subject to a lot of creative compromises, so I want to be optimistic about the future.

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

Matt said...

I was really glad when they finally showed Ray Wise's devil to be inherently evil. It proved that he is just being nice to Sam because that is the best way to reach him and not because he is a genuinely nice devil.

Ben is growing on me, while Sock is getting less and less fun. I really hope they reveal to Andi what Sam really does before the end of the season. In this episode he didn't even have an excuse just a typical "it's complicated" remark. They need to get rid of that dynamic quick (november sweeps maybe?).

Overall, a much better episode and will keep me interested for another couple of weeks.

Edward Copeland said...

I agree that this one was a step up from keeping it from being too repetitious week after week. I also think this was by far Ray Wise's best overall episode and as long as he's as much fun as he was here, I'll probably stick with it. (I also loved the little Halloween promo with Ray Wise dancing around a graveyard. Sigh...to remember Leland Palmer dance.)

memphish said...

I thought last night's episode was much better than 2 or 3. Finally we got more Devil. The souls themselves I can take or leave. The Devil/Sam stuff was great. And I like Sock, Ben and the stuffy boss.

I agree Andi needs to be told what Sam is up to. For me where this show seperates itself from Chuck is that fewer people are kept in the dark about what's going on. Now lets get Andi on board and then we'll be cranking.

Lizbeth said...

I just got bored midway through the episode, and got up and left the room to check e-mail. I think I'm done with this.

BigTed said...

At least they're giving Sock a lot of meta-lines that are kind of fun -- like when he said that "beta males" are in right now. Guess he's been reading his own show's reviews.

What's with the trend of making characters' parents too young and hot to actually be their parents? Twentysomething Sam's mother looks about 33, tops. (See also "Gossip Girl" and every other teen soap with parental-romance B-stories.)

Eric said...

Just another voice in agreement, although I found Sock much funnier tonight than last week. Maybe it's from watching it immediately after Chuck, where Morgan (who really needs the nickname Torgo, not Organ) annoys me to no end.

I'm also encouraged by the hunt for the contract as the first indication that the writers want to explore their universe and its rules at least a little bit. And I actually find the parents' cavalier attitude amusing. They've lived in deep denial for 21 years, no need to break out of it now.

Here's what I'd like to see - Sam meeting an ex-Reaper (preferably a 99% John Constantine ripoff down to the accent, trenchcoat and stubble) who takes him under his wing, teaches him the ins and outs of the business, and implies that there's a way out.

Jennifer said...

My theory regarding this show is that the Devil has picked out Sam as his new protege, and perhaps a replacement devil someday. He seems to operate as a mentor and motivator (albeit an evil one) most of the time, except for when he has to lay some smack down.

But really, wasn't it all too easy for Sam to just say, "Gimme the contract," and the Devil to go, "Oh, all right, just 'cause I like you so much?" There has to be more to it than that.

I was expecting the Devil to somehow loophole things so Sam could go off with Andi after all. I am rather impressed that they didn't end it that way this time.

I do wonder if ANYONE else is being sent out as a reaper. Do other reapers exist, or is Sam the only?

Do agree that the Andi-not-knowing thing is dumb, especially when two other guys do and also reap as well.

Loved the bird.

KaveDweller said...

I'm wondering where Sam lives that all these escaped souls just show up in his backyard. I know most have been from the same town, but that seems a little ridiculous too.

I didn't think this episode was any better than last weeks. I am starting to lose interest.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The show is supposed to be set in Seattle (or a nearby suburb), which puts the Flaming Lips concert just over the border in Idaho not incredibly far away.

My guess is that Satan has a lot of reapers in different locales. It would be weird if the only escaped souls were from the Pacific Northwest just because the show films in Vancouver.

Toby said...

"My guess is that Satan has a lot of reapers in different locales. It would be weird if the only escaped souls were from the Pacific Northwest just because the show films in Vancouver."

Well, we know he had Ezekiel Stone working out of NYC, LOL.

I'm still holding out for the season-ender to be Sam having to send the soul of Andi's Dad back to Hell. His death seems to be of more importance than we've seen so far.

He may have been a good dad, but that doesn't mean he didn't do bad things in life.....

It might add some Buffyesque depth to the series....

dez said...

This ep saved the show from be deleted off the ol' hard drive. Things are starting to gel and as you pointed out, the Devil was a lot more devilish and scary (like he was with the Zamboni incident earlier). I'm sticking with it. Especially since I can play my "Here comes the devil!" MST3K .wav before every show :-D

BigTed said...

Since they never actually go to the concert and it could have been anyone, why the Flaming Lips? Was it some sort of promotional tie-in, or just a shout-out to their infamous appearance on "Beverly Hills 90210" more than a decade ago?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Since they never actually go to the concert and it could have been anyone, why the Flaming Lips?

Presumably for the same reason that a Friday Night Lights episode last year talked about an Old 97's concert without anyone going to it: because the writer of the episode is a fan of the band.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know, a little bit better than the last two weeks, but I'm not left wanting more.

The thing that bugs me most is the logic. The devil is so mighty and evil and knows so much.... he has the devices to capture the soules - why the outsourcing and not catching them himself? I mean he wastes time in talking his reaper into it, in the same time he could do it himself. Maybe he thinks that Sam will be more effective one day, but still.

LA said...

I was really turned off by episode #2 and then the first 10 minutes of episode #3 found me turning the television off. I chalked it up to the fact that I'm not part Reaper's target demographic being a mid-40s female and whatnot.

Maybe I'll try again next week.

AlexR said...

Tonight's my last try as well. It's sitting on my DVR so if it really is an improvement, fantastic - but otherwise, if it's hardly better than 2 or 3, I am done.

"Chuck" is better, no matter what I see. I laugh out loud at "Chuck".

I don't mind Morgan on "Chuck" - yeah, he's annoying but thankfully, he's not in every scene and the 2 GREAT supporting characters, the 2 superspies, are.

Chris Littmann said...

Blerg. I want to like this show so badly, but I'm totally uninterested. And I think the sequences when he captures the souls tend to be really lame and overdone. I don't know, I get a laugh or two, but I won't be recording this if it conflicts with other stuff on my DVR anymore.

filmcricket said...

I'm sorry, something happened on TV last night besides Stephen Colbert announcing his Presidential run?

On the Chuck v. Reaper thing: I like Sock better than Morgan, but like Chuck infinitely better than Sam. Chuck was a go-getter nerd who got screwed, Sam is a smart-assed slacker who chooses to do next to nothing and whines. A lot. I mean, Chuck whines too, but not as much, and you get the impression there was less of it before he kept getting shot and and stuff.

I agree that the possibilities that arise from there being an actual contract could be interesting. And I hope Andi gets involved more in the soul collection parts of the story - whether it's more stuff like tonight, when she's in danger, or she actually learns what's going on - because right now she's just there for standard-issue UST and the thing is? I don't even care enough about the characters at this point to care whether they get together or not. That can't be a good sign.

k said...

anybody have any idea where to view the pilot for reaper, we screwed up and didn't dvr it...we have all eps since then but have waiting to watch the pilot.

cw doesn't show eps...is it on itunes or elsewhere?

since it seems like pilot is what most people liked best will we be ok just watching eps 2-4?

should i not bother?

Maura said...

The thing that bugs me most is the logic. The devil is so mighty and evil and knows so much.... he has the devices to capture the soules - why the outsourcing and not catching them himself?

There isn't any logic to the show. It's about a kid who catches souls for the Devil. But, wouldn't it be fair to assume that the Devil prefers to have others do his work for him because he's lazy?

I'm OK with Andi not knowing for now. As soon as Sam tells her, then she'll want to help, and he won't want her to, and then she'll get mad at him because she'll know it's because she's a girl. Then she'll get all petulant and stubborn and start following the guys when they go after the soul, and blah, blah, blah. It's been done a million times in some form or another. At the moment I'm happier with her being confused about his behavior.

I like the idea of Sam trying to find a loophole in the contract, but he's not getting out of it any time soon. Would we want him to? No Ray Wise? Blasphemy.

Of the four new shows I've picked up this year, this is my favorite. And I'm completely out of the target demographic.

jim treacher said...

I liked when Sock head-butted the balloons.

dez said...

There isn't any logic to the show. It's about a kid who catches souls for the Devil. But, wouldn't it be fair to assume that the Devil prefers to have others do his work for him because he's lazy?

He's also in charge of Hell, which I imagine is a rather time-consuming job. Plus, he's the Devil--he likes effing around with people's heads. Makes their souls tastier, I reckon >:-)