If the idea of a guy getting crushed by a Zamboni andleaving a blood-and-gore trail across a skating rink doesn’t make you chuckle,then you probably didn’t watch last night’s series premiere of The CW’s Reaper,the first freshman fall series to score a "series recording"designation on my DVR. (Much to my shock, this means my favorite new sitcom,Aliens in America, and now my favorite new hour-long show both reside on — dun, dun, dun — The CW. Who’dve thunk?)
In her A- review of Reaper in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, TV critic Gillian Flynn pretty much summed up my feelingsabout the show’s terrific cast, noting that sidekick Tyler Labine defies his"manic Jack Black sidekick role" by "actually being someoneyou’d want to hang out with," and calling series lead Bret Harrison (pictured, left, with Labine)"perfectly endearing" as Sam, who thanks to his parents’ deal withthe Devil, is forced to become a bounty hunter in pursuit of the escapedresidents of Hell. Indeed, Harrison, with his perpetually downturned mouth andsleepy, puppy-dog eyes, puts a fetching face on modern slacker-dom, scoring biglaughs almost every time he opens his mouth and decries his unexpected fate.(Sample rant: "I got chased by a pack of dogs. I moved an air conditionerwith my mind. Oh, and the Devil tried to carjack me. So overall, not a greatday.") The rest of Sam’s crew is terrific, too; I especially loved how Ben(Rick Gonzalez) responded to Sam’s "punch me in the face right now"request by giving him a comforting pat on the back. And even the show’sseemingly throwaway moments — the Devil (a hilarious Ray Wise) flirtatiouslynodding to a female shopper at Sam’s Home Depot-esque place of employment,demons being transported back to Hell via a pneumatic tube at the DMV — areall plotted and filmed with the kind of zest and cleverness that’s absent fromso many network series these days.
Anyhow, if you missed Reaper last night — I urge you tocatch The CW’s encore airing on Thursday night at 9 pm EDT. And if you’ve alreadyseen it, share your first impressions with your fellow PopWatchers in thecomments section below.