Reaper stars Bret Harrison (who looks a little like a young Craig Berko, who I always remember from The Long Kiss Goodnight) as Sam, a slacker who works at a home improvement store, whose parents sold his soul to the Devil (Ray Wise). On his 21st birthday, he becomes a bounty hunter for Devil, tracking down souls escaped from hell using ‘vessels’ provided by Satan, because the Devil will take his mother’s soul instead if he doesn’t. He does this with the help of his best friend and work colleague, Bert ‘Sock’ Wysocki (Tyler Labine), and another work mate, Ben (Rick Gonzalez). Meanwhile, he pines for Andi (Missy Peregrym), who works at the Work Bench with him (she came back there when her father died and she needed some familiarity to comfort her) as they maintain a ‘good friend’ relationship.
Famously, the pilot was directed by Kevin Smith – who knows a thing or two about slackers – which probably helped the show get a leg up in the dog-eat-dog world of television pilots. He is listed as a consultant, even though he doesn’t really do anything, but his influence is felt in the relaxed atmosphere and easy-going dialogue. Also, especially in the pilot, he stated that there was a comparison to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost partnership from Shaun of the Dead – this works well, with Sam and Sock recreating the same dynamic (which means that Ben feels like a third wheel at times).
The pilot was a lot of fun and the set up was perfect for the episodic nature of serial television: Devil shows up (Ray Wise has a ball as the Devil, playing it charming, smarmy, oily, and threatening in perfect amounts), Sam gets a vessel and a mission, he and Sock do comedy, and there is the ongoing saga of ‘will they/won’t they’ of him and Andi. This last part could be annoying, but they balance this out very well, and it is one of the elements that keeps me coming back.
An aside – Missy is just far too attractive for this show. She is very pretty naturally, but she seems to stand out even more when you watch the programme, as if they are reducing the attractiveness on the rest of the actors and turning up her beauty levels. It’s rather odd.
The show keeps on delivering (even if they have practically eliminated the family as supporting characters) and provides some good stuff on a regular basis – the episode where Gladys, the woman at the DMV who works for the Devil to take the captured souls, makes Sock have a dream about getting it on with her: Labine’s (over)reaction when he wakes up was absolutely priceless. Congratulations all around for an enjoyable show.