'Reaper': Making monster trucks and toilet humor cool again

Reaper_lAs much as I loved last week’s season premiere of Reaper, one little question stuck in my brain: How long can the show stick to its gimmick — slacker dude gets pressed into service as the devil’s bounty hunter — without sliding into a predictable, Demon of the Week pattern? After last night’s second installment, I think I’ve got the answer: As long as there are new and varied electronic devices hitting the market. Initially, I wasn’t sure if that remote-control monster truck would prove as funny (or effective) as week one’s Dirt Devil, but I actually guffawed when Sam (Bret Harrison, pictured, center) directed the miniature vehicle into the road, popped it up on its hind wheels, and then watched in horror as a full-sized truck unexpectedly obliterated it.

Of course, Reaper hinges as much (if not more) on its characters’ funny quips as it does on the hunting of evil spirits, and this week’s MVP was Ben (Rick Gonzalez, seated), who got to dress up in head-to-toe scuba gear, then flee the lightning-powered villain while lamenting, "We’re gonna die dressed as condoms!" I also loved his little cry of "I don’t want to die at the Bench," after sustaining a nail-gun injury in the aisle of his home-improvement-store job. Could it be Ben’s fate to be the only injured party every time he accompanies Sam and Sock on a mission? Reaper‘s number-two episode also featured a number-two joke, courtesy of the Devil himself, who coolly strolled out of Sam’s bathroom, then cautioned his minion to "wait a minute" and "let it breathe" before entering. Coming from most actors, the joke would’ve been a stinker, but the elegantly zany Ray Wise somehow made it a breath of fresh air. (Sorry!)

Anyhow, I was glad to see Sam reveal the truth about his situation to his mom by episode’s end, and was also delighted by brief, vitriolic appearances from Sam’s brother, Sock’s ex (Valarie Rae Miller, third from left, who really knows how to squeeze laughs out of the word "jackass"), and the horned she-beast at the DMV’s portal to hell. The only character who hasn’t quite won me over is Sam’s love interest Andi (Missy Peregrym, far right), who always seems like she’s just taken a mild sedative; that said, her end-of-episode tale of assaulting Work Bench manager Ted was a step in the right direction.

What did you think of this week’s (first non-Kevin-Smith-directed) Reaper? What about Sam’s sudden burst of courage in facing down Ferrey at the dam? And are there any household appliances you’d like to see used on an upcoming episode? I’m rooting for a juicer. After all, don’t those things just sit in the closet collecting dust? Or is it just mine?

Comments (109 total) Add your comment
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  • Corinne

    I am loving it! This is the best new show of the season. Why does his brother look like he just stepped out of Father Knows Best or something?

  • shonuff

    so far, the show’s been great. having ben get injured on every adventure is a slight nod to the “kill the black guy first” cliche, which is great. the dialogue has been better than some of the better-bred shows, and the cast so far is hitting all shots. hope this one lasts.

  • Tipper

    When Ben got hit, I too was wondering if Ben was going to be the Kenny of Reaper! I also loved the bit with the cell phone in the bar–just made me happy. I adore this show to bits! Easily my favorite of the new season!

  • Deb

    I had to choose between Reaper and House (no DVR) and I’m glad I watched Reaper. Sock’s nervous laughter was good as well as another good mother/son moment. And Sam’s smile makes me melt. How about using some useless, tangled Christmas tree lights as we approach the holiday season?

  • bas

    Also love this show! The best part is how the Devil is more paternal than Sam’s own father. Ben grabbing his leg while Sock laughs in hysteria was my favorite part of last night’s show. The only complaint is that I could totally do without the lame girlfriend. Also, give me more DMV!

  • Jessica

    This is definitely my favorite new show of the season. It just cracks me up constantly. My husband and I LOVED when Ben ran up to Sam after Sam was electrocuted – Ben was trying not to laugh while asking if Sam was okay. That is exactly how I would have been! It’s quality writing and acting – thanks, CW! (especially after taking Veronica Mars off the air)

  • Nick

    I can’t tell if I’m into it or not….ive watched both episodes and will probably continue. they have me for now..

  • Jen

    I really like this show. I expected the show’s low budget to automatically mean low quality, but thus far I’ve been really impressed – the writing is great and the acting is even better. I adore these characters.

  • Roger

    Does anyone know where I can watch reaper? I mean, besides on the CW. My tuesday 9PM and thursday 9PM are already booked with house and the office so i’m out of luck. It’s not on iTunes for some odd reason (Gossip Girl is) and it’s not showing full episodes on the CW website. I’m really interested in watching it but unless there’s somewhere else I can see it, I’m gonna have to wait for the DVD. Somebody please help!

  • cj

    We’re loving this show. So funny.
    How about when the power goes out and Sam’s looking in the mirror and sees the skull so he screams – and then Sock’s making crybaby faces behind him. :)

  • cRAIG

    gotta say i agree on the question of how long the gimmick can be stretched out: i thought the very same thing. love Reaper’s “Scooby Gang”, and Ray Wise (Leland, Twin Peaks) as the Devil. they will eventually have to broaden their scope…

  • marta

    Definitely the smartest new show. And let’s hope Ray Wise sticks with it for as long as it lasts. I loved his expression of glee as he shoves the shopping cart in front of the car in the parking lot — offhand evil for the hell of it, gotta love it!

  • AA

    I know this is probably stating the obvious, but I love how the show is just called Reaper–there’s nothing grim about it. Am loving Ray Wise!

  • Ellipsian

    I was let down by the episode. My main concern is indeed the apparent “Demon of the Week” syndrome: I need it to go away. Also, the whole attempt to get rid of the box for the first ten minutes was obvious and weak, and the boss, who made me laugh last week, was suddenly just another annoying authority figure in a generic big-box store. I’m sticking with it because I love the genre (and I’ll take most things with even a shade of “Buffy”), but “Reaper” needs to step it up.

  • monica

    fave moments:
    1) When the devil refers to God as “what’s his face.” This man has huge cojones.
    2) When their boss accuses Andi (Missy Peregrym) of stealing money and she responds with: “You’re right I stole the $8. I was saving up to buy you a girlfriend. I’m assuming you accept the plastic kind, right?” Oooh, burn.

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