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Review: Reaper Season 2

The first season of Reaper was a triumph, albeit one blighted by the spectre of cancellation and low ratings. In that respect, Season 2 follows in its predecessor’s footsteps…

Reaper: The Devil and Sam Oliver...

Reaper: The Devil and Sam Oliver...

At the conclusion of this second series, having again garnered relatively poor ratings (a fact many attribute to poor scheduling) the show was cancelled by the CW. As a result, Reaper’s two main actors, Bret Harrison (Sam Oliver) and Tyler Labine (Bert ‘Sock’ Wysocki), left the show, making the possibility of an immediate revival on another network look unlikely.

The turmoil behind the show filters through to some of the episodes — later on in the series in particular it certainly feels like producers were trying to squeeze a lot of long-running storylines into the limited 13-episode space they had. While not wanting to give too much away, the ending to the series — if, as looks likely, it is also the end of the show — is not one that will particularly satisfy viewers, and leaves more questions than answers.

For the uninitiated, the show follows the life and times of Sam Oliver, who in the first series discovered that not only had his soul be sold to the Devil by his father, but that his real father was actually the Devil himself. While struggling to compute this fact, Sam is forced to act as a ‘reaper’ for the Devil, returning souls that have escaped from hell from whence they came, using a variety of weird and wonderful ‘vessels’.

To do this, he enlists the help of long-time friends Sock (Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez), and it is the dynamic between these three amigos that makes Reaper such a compelling, and often hilarious, show to watch. At its core, Reaper is an extended buddie comedy — the banter between the three friends providing a lot of light, yet heartfelt, comedic moments.

In the second series, Sam has come to terms with his new situation, and is now focused on finding a way out of his deal with the Devil. With the help of his on-again off-again girlfriend Andi (Missy Peregrym), Sam must balance his job at the Work Bench, his duties as a Reaper, and somehow try and find a way to free himself from an eternity in hell.

Not too much to ask, then.

In many respects, however, the storylines are often incidental to the enjoyment of the show. It is the natural — and organic — banter between the characters that keeps things entertaining. The dialogue between characters never feels scripted, which cannot be said for a lot of shows, and allows Sock to almost become the main character as he provides the majority of the comic touches.

 His wisecracks are always the best, and Labine pulls off the character with a charisma and free-wheeling charm that indicates he might well go far in this acting game.

Sam does the legwork, Sock makes the wisecracks...

Sam does the legwork, Sock makes the wisecracks...

While the humour and pace of Reaper keeps it engaging, there are a few weak areas. As mentioned above the storylines sometimes feel a little rushed, and sometimes religious ideology is often dropped in and out of episodes with seemingly little rhyme or reason. But this would no doubt have been ironed out if the show had been given more time.

Cut down before its prime, we should nevertheless be thankful for the 31 episodes of Reaper that were made. Given the obstacles it had to overcome, the cult following it has developed is testament to the quality — and uniqueness — of the experience it provided.


Rating: **** Taken too soon.


Series One of Reaper is out now.

Series Two starts on E4 on July 2nd.

June 23, 2009 - Posted by | Reviews, Television |

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