Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reaper: Mind-cheeeeeeater...

Spoilers for "Reaper" coming up just as soon as I reshelve my "X-Files" DVDs...

A guy I know who works in a network's scheduling department has this theory -- backed by some persuasive examples -- that a show can start with soft ratings and build, but if a show is doing well and starts to lose viewers, they won't come back. The more I think about last night's "Reaper," the more I wonder if the same concept can't also be applied to the creative side of things. If I think a show starts out weakly but gets better over time (like, say, "Life," which has a really strong episode tonight), I'm apt to be kinder towards it than a show that I liked until it dipped, even if the show tries to get better moving forward.

The latest "Reaper" did a number of things I've been asking/hoping for, including more of Gladys the DMV Demon (though I think her fun sexy time with Sock would have been a lot funnier if it hadn't been a dream), some breaks from the formula (Sam goes soul-hunting on his own, the soul plays second fiddle to the cop) and the Devil seeming genuinely dangerous. But to quote the most insightful, articulate cultural critic of our day, I wasn't feeling it, dawg.

Part of the problem was that other flaws remained in place, like the relationship hamster wheel that Sam and Andi have been stuck on for no particular reason, or the soul again having no personality (though the tattoo gimmick -- lifted from an old Green Lantern villain -- was one of the more visually interesting powers to date).

Mostly, though, I feel like "Reaper" caught lightning in a bottle with that pilot and has been struggling to trap some more ever since. Some episodes are good, some are bad ("Charged"), and some are mediocre but have Curtis Armstrong. Ray Wise alone is probably enough to keep me going for the rest of the season, but barring a string of four or five consecutive episodes of "Leon" quality, I think the magic's gone for good.

What did everybody else think?

8 comments:

Maura said...

The latest "Reaper" did a number of things I've been asking/hoping for, including more of Gladys the DMV Demon (though I think her fun sexy time with Sock would have been a lot funnier if it hadn't been a dream)

It was funny on its own, but if it had been real, I don't think I would have been able to control my laughter.
I thought we might find out that Gladys is actually another human whose soul had been sold to the devil. Then I remembered the horns in the first episode, so that theory was blown.

I thought this was one of the better episodes. At least Andi got rid of her boyfriend (Doug? Greg? Whatever), and we got to see a slap fight between him and Sam. I don't have much patience with unrequited love stories on television shows, so I'm hoping that Andi's crying as she returned the necklace will make Sam realize that she wants more than friendship. I don't need seasons of them not working it out, or Sam stumbling around without a clue. He's not that dumb, is he?

Ben is my favorite dork at the moment: "Birdie!"

electricia said...

The whole Andi thing had me groaning and slapping my head. It just doesn't make any sense. I did, however, enjoy the slap fight in Greg's car.

I thought the episode was kind of weak overall, although I did enjoy the Sock/Gladys interaction and I like seeing a slightly softer side of Sock.

What i thought was the absolute best part of the episode was showing The Devil as actually being evil, rather than just kind of a pain in the butt. Ray Wise is just so darned charming, it does the show good to remind its audience that he isn't just a guy irritating the hell out of Sam (no pun intended), He is actually The Devil... ya know, evil incarnate and all that.

I also enjoyed [other sidekick whose name I've forgotten] seeing Sam's tattoo and cooing "Awww, birdie!"

But the real question this episode raised for me is... why would The Work bench need someone to scrape gum out of the Dumpster?

I'll keep watching Reaper, but Chuck is definitely winning this battle for me.

dez said...

But the real question this episode raised for me is... why would The Work bench need someone to scrape gum out of the Dumpster?

Because Ted's a dick! :-D

I really liked this ep. The part with Sock and Gladys making out was hysterical (especially after finding out that she did it to him on purpose), and I loved the Devil screwing over the cop. I also loved seeing Mitch Pileggi on my TV screen again.

What I enjoyed most was the "Get Out of Hell Free" card. If Sam hadn't gone back to pick it up, I was going to be pissed, even though I know (as does Sam) that it can't possibly be as straightforward as it looks (Sam would probably be offered the free pass only if he sells Sock's soul in return--or better, Andi's). But the fact that it exists opens up more funny possibilities, I think.

Anonymous said...

xIf I had a blog about TV shows, the title of this post would have been "Reaper: Don't tase me, bro!"

See, I don't think the Get out of Hell Free card was for Sam -- he's not literally in Hell yet, after all -- but he could maybe use it to save one of the escaped souls, or someone else who dies (Sock? Andi? His father?) It's too bad he didn't have it for the Patton Oswalt episode, I would have liked to keep him around.

Maura said...

What i thought was the absolute best part of the episode was showing The Devil as actually being evil, rather than just kind of a pain in the butt.

It was kind of shocking to me: "How could he do that? oh yeah. He's the Devil."

Is it bad that I laughed at Sock's story about being 6" tall in second grade?

David J. Loehr said...

I think it says something that the title for your post is a reference to "Chuck."

I love Ray Wise, and the writing is beginning to show signs of life, but beyond Wise, the show just does nothing for me. And I say this as a Whedon fan of long standing. (Then again, there are few who can do faux-Whedon well, and all of them came through his writers' rooms.)

Alex R said...

I stopped watching 2 weeks ago & it sounds like from the blog and comments that I'm not missing a thing.

Ray Wise was not enough to keep me around. Not when the star of the show, Brett Harrison, is a drab drag.

Hedwig said...

I too felt like it was a cop-out when the Gladys/Sock sequence turned out to have been a dream, but I thought they redeemed that cliched twist by revealing that the dream was intentionally caused by Gladys. I mean, just the look on her face made it worthwhile.

I'm still with this show, but it's more in the "reliable sorta fun" category than in the "must watch" one. Then again, that latter category is getting smaller and smaller lately, especially with Heroes following their one good episode with one of the lamest ones ever.