'Reaper': Radio plays that forgotten song

Reaper_lI was a little disappointed in this week’s Reaper, titled "Love, Bullets & Blacktop," because the promos (shot on film stock to look grainy and scratched) suggested the episode would be Reaper‘s own version of Grindhouse. And while there were a number of references to ’70s pop culture and a few crashes of classic cars, the episode was pretty tame overall: no flesh-eating zombies or people whose limbs had been replaced by automatic weapons — neither of which would be out of place on this series. Still, gotta give the show props for repeated use of Golden Earring’s "Radar Love," a song that will now be playing on a repeat loop in your head for the rest of the day.

As is more and more often the case, the soul-of-the-week capture was less interesting than the subplots, even though there were actually two souls for the price of one this week. The escaped souls were a couple, Kit and Holly, who patterned their exploits after those of the thrill-seeking pair in a forgotten ’70s movie (also called Love, Bullets & Blacktop), which mainly involved smashing up blue ’70s-model muscle cars like the one in the movie’s poster. Their cage vessel was an 8-track tape of the movie’s soundtrack. Aside from a moment in a body shop garage where Holly (Angel‘s Mercedes McNab) threatened Sam (played by Bret Harrison, far left) with a blowtorch, the couple were surprisingly easy for Sam and the gang to find and capture.

Of course, to get the 8-track to play (as well as the Betamax videocassette of the movie), Sam needed some additional vintage technology. Much of that was available in the living room of co-worker Russ (a droll guest spot by Curtis "Booger" Armstrong), an aging cheeseball gearhead whose fondness for old-school varieties of electronics, cars, and drugs made him appear a cautionary tale of what Sam and his pals will be like if they’re still punching the clock at the Work Bench in 30 years.

More interesting was the prospect of Sam moving on with his romantic life and actually going on a date. With a girl. Who wasn’t Andi. Apparently inspired by the thrill-seeking souls, the Devil urged Sam to give into his impulses and behave recklessly, repeatedly placing in Sam’s path a sexy, aggressive, fun-loving gal named Taylor. Sam ultimately worked up the nerve to ask her out and even found himself taking her into a backroom at the bar to make out (and possibly more), but he suddenly decided those weren’t his real impulses after all, that he wasn’t that kind of guy. Apparently, he’s the kind of guy who’d rather be relaxing quietly on the couch with Andi as they watch old movies and toss popcorn at each other.

Still, Sam seems to be moving forward, at least insofar as he recognizes that truth about himself, not to mention recognizing when the Devil is trying to lead him into temptation. He’s even learning how to push the Devil’s buttons, countering his cynicism about romance with the suggestion that the Devil, being as old as time, must have had at least one experience with love and heartbreak. That morose final shot of the Devil, drinking alone at the bar while a torch song played on the jukebox, suggests that Sam was right.

Questions: Did you miss Ted and Gladys this week? How awesome was Andi’s secret lair behind the boxes in the stockroom (or, as she called it, her Ted-free zone)? Will Sam ever date Taylor (or anyone else) seriously, and will Andi be as cool about it as she was this week? And are you disappointed that you didn’t get to see Sam strip at Taylor’s friend’s bachelorette party?

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  • Rich

    I’m finding that the “Office Space” aspects of working at The Bench are as interesting as the “monster of the week.” This week didn’t move the plot forward very much, but it was the the funniest episode since the pilot. “Hear that Sam? That’s the sound of every other man in the world laughing at you.”

  • wildecat

    Loved Booger’s cameo. Don’t we all know someone just like Russ? He played it perfectly. The last shot of the the Devil in the bar was great, too. Very intriguing. But my favorite part was Sock and Ben singing Radar Love desperately – and badly – to save Sam. What a hoot!

  • RustyT

    This ep didn’t seem to have a lot of momentum, though there were lots of funny bits to distract us. I remain annoyed that, after the pilot episode established Sam as having some power (over fire) to be developed, subsequent episodes have totally ignored that. In last night’s episode, for example, couldn’t same hae taken that blowtorch’s flame that the lady escapee was holding in front of his face and used it against her? If they would give Reaper Sam more power (other than just holding the wacky vessel o’ the week and pointing it at the baddie), then he would seem to really be playing a role, not just being a haphazard lunk with a supernatural toy. Sam’s utter aversion to the flesh of a not-so-bad girl also felt fake. We know from “Buffy” and so many other series that our main heroes don’t have to remain virginal in order to keep us rooting for them to end up with the Andi (or Angel or Spike, etc.) character that obviously exists in the story for them to pine away.

  • Anonymous

    I read that a girl will try for Sam’s affection. Someone with ties to the underworld. I’m not sure if it was the girl Taylor last night, but who knows. The potential girl who might want Sam might be the Devil’s daughter. I read this information from the E Online website.

  • C

    I was hoping to learn which of the bridesmaids slept with the groom. The Devil said he gave the couple 6 months b/c the groom slept with the maid of honor, but I wasn’t sure if that was Taylor or the brunette. Also, in the pilot Sam had the ability to move objects with his mind. Whatever happened to that? I keep expecting him to do it again, and then it never happens.

  • JP

    What? NO flesh this week?

  • Kai

    I agree with C. Where are those telekinetic powers from the premier? Did the writers retcon them in order to make it more “difficult” for Sam to capture the souls?

  • Nick

    Please let me know when this series drops its “wacky monster of the week” and goes after what this viewer really wants–Uncle Screwtape (c/o “The Screwtape Letters” by C S Lewis). That the series never went in this direction means that the creators lack any serious satirical moxy and are instead content to cater to Z-movie thrills. Bor-ing.

  • Sara

    WHERE ARE THE COOL SPECIAL EFFECTS FROM THE FIRST EPISODE???? If they don’t come back soon I might stop watching. You don’t get to be the bounty hunter for the devil without having & using some super powers.

  • jd

    Man, this show has really sunk fast. I’m done with it.

  • Anne13

    I still enjoy the episodes but I find it a bit ironic that the “action” portions are anti-climactic and formuaic while the character development, especially the conversations between the Devil and Sam, are much so much more satisfying.

  • Phil

    Gotta gree with mostly everyone here ranting about Sam’s lack of powers, esp. since he did definitely display telekinetic powers in the first episode. Kevin Smith, I know you troll these message boards every now & then, care to throw us a bone? Also, didn’t really miss ted, still trying to get over his 300 Spartan costume from last week, but Gladys better be off shooting like 3 more series guest appearances like every other guest star these days! Also, about Sam finally finding a romance. I had pegged on at some point that Andi was indeed also a servant of Satan, but I guess that could be wrong…but that still could be the case since The Devil doesn’t want Sam to eevr tell Andi about his job, perhaps he has her working the same deal, to torture them BOTH & keep them apart and miseribly in his service? Is Spike coming back? And what was dear ol dad doing tearing pages of Sam’s contract out & burning them? Also, considering the contract’s from hell, would burning the pages REALLY work??

  • Kathleen

    I still like the show a lot, but I’m siding with all the folks wanting Sam to have those powers again.
    “C” read my mind – I was totally assuming that it was Taylor who had slept with the groom because she came off as a little trampy when talking to Andi. Hoping for an answer to that.
    Wildecat – Ben and Sock singing that song was one of the funniest things I’ve seen on TV so far this year. :)

  • Tony

    When Sam and Andi finally hook up, I can only hope that it takes place in her awesome hidden lair! Now that will be a great scene.
    Sock and Ben fumbling through Radar Love – priceless.
    Gladys is one of the little wonders of this show, when they take the time to write her one or two snarky comments (“I’m amazed you three haven’t managed to get yourselves killed yet.”).

  • neillfilm

    I’m glad this show didn’t hop on the “Grindhouse” band wagon. Grindhouse movies are very cheesy, and while this show is funny, it’s not cheesy.
    You missed the best line of the night!
    The Devil: “I’m sorry Sam. I didn’t realize you were a homosexual.” So dead pan perfect.
    I’m still loving this show!

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