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Wayne’s Worlds: What The Hell Is Up With ‘Reaper’?

“Of course you don’t like it! It wasn’t meant for you!” That’s what a co-worker of mine always says when I complain about a show I don’t like that isn’t intended for “mature” (in a good way) adults such as animation or those aimed at a younger demographics. Since I am 52 years old, I […]

“Of course you don’t like it! It wasn’t meant for you!”

That’s what a co-worker of mine always says when I complain about a show I don’t like that isn’t intended for “mature” (in a good way) adults such as animation or those aimed at a younger demographics. Since I am 52 years old, I can’t consider myself “young” any longer.

I always like to respond, “So that means it shouldn’t be good?” Good, apparently, is a relative term — if your relatives like it, it’s good.

Such may be the case with another quasi-genre show that Airlock Alpha hasn’t been covering — The CW’s “Reaper.”

I’ve been told that this program is for “young adults” (should I call them “whippersnappers” instead?) which explains why I don’t get the subtleties of the humor or plot twists. Maybe that’s true because I don’t find this show all that engaging.

My biggest problem with “Reaper” is that, like all the new programs this season, it is a classic genre show reinvented with a twist … but not all that well done.

“Brimstone” was one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, which is saying something since I’m not much of a horror fan. Sadly, the Fox network gave up on it far too soon in my opinion, so many of you probably haven’t ever seen it.

Here is the basic premise for both shows: The devil recruits a person to help capture and return escaped baddies who managed to get out of hell. In “Brimstone,” it was serious business. However, in “Reaper,” it is supposed to be funny.

Notice that I said “supposed to be” since I find the show sometimes wry, sometimes silly, sometimes nutty, but never really funny.

Another problem I have is that, like The CW’s “Supernatural,” I don’t find this show very scary either. In fact, no one I know who watches “Supernatural” ever gets scared. They like to look at either or both of the brothers — and don’t like the new ladies brought on this year, for some reason.

When “The X-Files” was on, I would often myself reacting very loudly to what I was seeing. Case in point: Tooms, who could elongate his body to slink into small hiding places or passageways, is in the pipes of a home trying to get inside. Meanwhile, in the home’s bathroom, a dutiful mother has taken a plunger to the toilet, furiously trying to unstop the drain (not aware that Tooms is what is stopping things up).

Sitting in the dark, I’m screaming at the television screen, “Get away from the toilet!”

(“The X-Files” had a thing about toilets and bathrooms, but that’s for another time.)

I’ve seen every episode of “Reaper,” and never have I felt scared or threatened in any way. For a show dealing with hell, the devil, escaped hellions and all, that’s not a good thing, I believe.

It’s not that the actors are bad.

Bret Harrison, who plays Sam, the young guy who had his soul sold to the devil by his parents, is very likable and pouty, spending most of his time trying to get out of the whole bargain or get away with something. Tyler Labine, who I enjoyed so much more as Dave the Blogger in ABC’s “Invasion,” really works as Sock, Sam’s crazy buddy. For political correctness, Hispanic Ben (brought to life by Rick Gonzalez) is suitably stunned by every new twist and turn.

Off-again, on-again gal pal Andi (Missy Peregrym) has recently fallen into a pattern of ignoring everything Sam and Sock do. What a smart girl!

One character that does draw attention is Glayd, a demon who works at the local Motor Vehicle Administration office. (OK, that’s funny — MVAs are the closest thing to purgatory since standing in line at the Wal-Mart). Sock breaks into her house one day and actually befriends her.

However, the actor and character that has received the most media attention it the devil, played by Ray Wise, probably best known recently for his portrayal of “24” vice president Hal Gardner. (Wise does in fact resemble a slender Al Gore in movement, voice and appearance as the devil, oddly enough). Over 60 years of age, Wise steals just about every scene he’s in.

The problem that I have is that John Glover (now Lionel Luthor on “Smallville”) did such a nasty, slimy underhanded low-life version of the devil that Wise’s take seems mild by comparison.

Another concern I have is that “Reaper” and the NBC series “Chuck” have so much in common. For example, both main characters work at a place of business obviously ripped off from a current chain store. Second, both leading mean struggle with females (who are so much smarter and better than they are) in their lives. Third, each is supported by a wacky group of nerds that make the main guy seem sane by comparison.

Both use a device or devices given them to catch the bad guys. Then, too, both work for a “higher power” that they often disagree with.

“Reaper’s” plots are very formulaic, always with Sam starting out pining for the girl in the Home Depot-like store, then getting his mission from the devil and the gizmo used to capture him or her. Sock causes things to go awry (so the story fills the whole hour), but Sam triumphs in the end.

Can someone please shake up the format just a little? And maybe explain just how all these baddies keep escaping from hell?

I guess I am too old and cynical to enjoy “Reaper,” but those of you who like your devil as a slick-talking, nice guy, who likes to hang around with silly nerdy friends and pine for women so much smarter and faster than you, this show might be one you’ll enjoy. And there will be new episodes for the next several weeks, so what the hell.

Wayne Hall is news editor of Airlock Alpha, writing out of Washington, D.C. He can be reached at whall@airlockalpha.com.

NOTE: “Reaper” is covered by Airlock Alpha’s sister site, Rabid Doll.

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