Gone Too Soon: Reaper

Posted: 09/01/2011 in Misc.


I was scrolling through Netflix’s list of movies and television shows that you can Watch Instantly when I came across Reaper: The Entire Series. I had immediately mixed emotions. Excited, as I planned out my evenings for next few weeks, watching episodes after my wife and daughter go to sleep. But also, very very sad at the realization that this would probably only take me a few weeks. You see, Reaper was put down just as it was reaching maturity, killed in the prime of its life. Two seasons and a cliffhanger season finale with many questions that will remain forever unanswered.

On his 21st birthday, a slacker named Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) discovers that before he was born, his parents sold his soul to the Devil. Instead of whisking him away to eternal torture in the depths of Hell, the Devil (played brilliantly by Ray Wise) employs Sam. Sam’s duties include finding, capturing, and returning souls who have escaped from Hell. Sam’s two best friends Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) partner with him as he attempts to do the Devil’s work while also dealing with an annoying (earthly) boss, aloof parents, and a flailing love life.

(In case you were wondering, I can include Reaper on this blog because season 2 introduces a zombie character, although any further details would be too spoilery.)

Reaper worked really well because of the cast. Ray Wise is probably my favorite Devil portrayal of all time. Harrison is good as the lead character and Missy Peregrym gives a solid performance as his love interest. Labine and Gonzalez are particularly great supporting characters. (Just saw Labine in the trailer for Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, also starring Steve the Pirate from Dodgeball. It looks pretty funny, I can’t wait to see it.) Later episodes also include characters played by Michael Ian Black and Ken Marino (Childrens Hospital). I’ll always like these actors because of their parts in Reaper. (Though not enough to watch Peregrym’s police drama or Labine’s formulaic sitcom, both of which I’m thinking must have been cancelled already.)

The first season of Reaper starts out with a pretty set routine. Devil introduces a soul with a crazy super-power. Sam and friends then have to figure out the soul’s weakness and exploit it so that they can send it back to Hell. It’s a little wooden at first as the actors work into their characters. Some stuff that doesn’t work is quickly and quietly removed, such as Sam’s annoying “Devil sense” (e.g. Sam slips and slides on normal surfaces when he’s charged with capturing a soul with slimy powers). By the end of the first season, however, the show had really found its groove. The story lines were a little more involved and serious questions carried over from episode to episode. By the end of the series I found myself anxiously awaiting the next episode and for me, Reaper had become appointment television. (And I’m not a big series TV guy at this point in my life. The only shows I set aside time to watch when they first air are Parks & Recreation and The Walking Dead) Unfortunately, after season two, Reaper was cancelled. The last episode is a cliff hanger that will never be resolved and I’m left watching reruns on Netflix and dreaming about what could have been.

So, I implore you, Gods of television and motion pictures, Give me a Reaper movie to wrap up all the loose ends!

  1. kjburke says:

    You should watch all two seasons of Party Down, which was also gone too soon. (Not to mention wasted by being on Starz) The two main characters are played by Ken Marino and Adam Scott (Parks & Recreation). Also, it’s pretty damn funny

  2. That has nothing to do with zombies…but, I will check it out because Ken Marino was on Reaper.

  3. I’m gonna check this out on Netflix just to see Ray Wise as the devil.

  4. Hi there! I just want to give an enormous thumbs up for the great info you’ve here on this post. I will be coming again to your blog for more soon.

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