Reaper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 4, 2008
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Don’t laugh. The local DMV really is a portal to hell. At least it is in the CW comedy “Reaper.” Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) is just another slacker working at the local utility store until the devil shows up on his twenty-first birthday.

In a great performance by Ray Wise, the Dark One is a bureaucratic businessman with a killer smile that never reaches the eyes. He’s surprisingly friendly to Sam, considering he owns Sam’s soul. So, instead of being forced to slaughter innocents, Sam is employed as a catcher of escaped souls from hell – a Grim Reaper.

But he isn’t alone fighting supernatural crime. His loyal friends Ben (Rick Gonzalez) and Sock (Tyler Labine) join in the fun. Sock stands out as a ­giant teddy bear with a crazy side. He dashes around the Work Bench concocting idiotic schemes to help Sam, and manages to disarm everyone (except his ex-girlfriend) with his sincerity. Sock pulls off lines like “Sir, you are definitely ­living the life” or “Underwear, my brave underwear” through sheer charisma. The show’s strength lies in its ability to create outrageous caricatures and then round them out with a few surreptitious lines.

Usually, the message is an open-eyed tribute to the good of returning something stolen or letting go of the past. The underlying sweetness of “Reaper” is a bit self-conscious, however, and the writers prevent the characters from become cloyingly righteous by submitting them to Ted (played by Donavon Stinson), a boss like you’d find in a Dilbert comic strip.

Not all the performances
turn out that well. Andi (Missy Peregrym), the girl of Sam’s dreams, is unconvincing, but the fault may be the script not the acting. The unimaginative Andi is a one-­dimensional, troubled type
who is supposedly mourning her ­father (although we never learn much about the loss or her ­father).

The escaped souls are also unfortunate, being the results of cheap special effects and a highly imaginative costuming department. Though the premise does mean that the fugitives are evil and slightly insane, it would be nice to learn more about the buggers before they are packed up and shipped off.

This humor may not appeal to those looking for sophistication, but these original characters and their silly demon-hunts are good for more than just a laugh. All in all, the quirky, slightly unbalanced script and the quirky, slightly unbalanced actors make this a show worth watching.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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