Spoilers for the "Reaper" season/series finale coming up just as soon as somebody helps me get nuded...
When "Reaper" and "Chuck" debuted at the start of last season, the comparisons were as frequent as they were obvious. Many people (myself included) even preferred the "Reaper" pilot, thanks to Ray Wise, bigger laughs and what seemed to be a more assured sense of story and tone. But watching what's likely the final episode of "Reaper"(*) one month after what thankfully turned out not to be the final "Chuck," it's not hard to see how the two shows diverged creatively, and why there was such passionate outpouring from fans and media about the Save "Chuck" campaign, while the movement to save "Reaper," while there, has been a lot quieter.
(*) Yes, the rumor of the CW affiliates picking up the show to help fill their now-vacant Sunday lineup is still out there, but A)I know nothing about it that you don't, and B)It seems like such a Hail Mary, between the logistics of ordering it and the departures of Tyler Labine and "Reaper" creators Fazekas and Butters, that I'm going to assume, until there are confirmed reports of production beginning on new episodes, that it'll turn out like "Arrested Development" on Showtime or the "Deadwood" TV-movies.
The "Chuck" finale was a balls-to-the-wall, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, other-hyphenated-cliche-about-giving-your-best-effort affair, something that built on everything that came before. It ended in a place that had me very eager to see the next season, while at the same time (though I doubt this was the creators' intention) had the same air of the "Terminator" finale, where what seems like a cliffhanger also feels like a satisfying stopping point if need be.
The "Reaper" finale, on the other hand? Well, it was funny in parts (the Devil making Sam dance like a monkey, Sock speaking in tongues after putting his tongue on a toad, Andi getting drunk, Steve complaining about life as a guardian angel), but it also felt as lazy and aimless as the show so often was, and the ending just has me frustrated that we likely won't get to see where things are going. (Even if the show comes back, the creators likely wouldn't be back with it.)
"Reaper," like Sam himself, has never seemed to have much of a plan, and while that feels thematically appropriate, it also gets frustrating to watch whenever the series does a mythology-driven episode like this one. As Fienberg points out in his own "Reaper" finale review, Sam's ability to play Quarters was never established earlier, and most of this season has felt like Fazekas, Butters and company were just treading water, not sure what to do after the unexpected renewal. Last year's finale already established that Steve was an angel again, and that Heaven had some kind of grand plan for Sam, and 13 episodes later, we're basically at the same point. Andi having sold her soul in the bargain does add a new element for a hypothetical third season, but that's only after wasting her as the wet blanket for most of this year. (And I sure would have liked to see Andi's first meeting with the Devil, as opposed to finding out about it afterwards.)
If "Reaper" somehow comes back, even in a cheaper form with a smaller cast and a new creative team, I imagine I'll still watch for a while, if only for Ray Wise and Rick Gonzalez. But the series could have been so much better than it was. Maybe if it had been, its future wouldn't be so uncertain right now.
What did everybody else think?