So E.R. is the serious medical drama show, and Scrubs is the comedic, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, clowning cousin — same subject, different tone. Likewise, while Supernatural is the serious, heavy-handed, philosophical and emotionally weighty show about monster hunters, Reaper, which I just watched [listened to, rather, at work] a few eps of, is the silly soufflee version. It concerns a doofus 20-something who is a bounty hunter for the Devil, returning escaped souls to Hell with the help of his doofus friends and the doofus person he wants to be his girlfriend.
Really nothing about Reaper is original. Even the cleverest portions, set at the hellish hardware warehouse/store where all the doofuses slave away under a sadistically cheerful weirdo brainwashed by corporate affirmations, have been taken from countless movies and TV shows. I always appreciate a good work-is-hell theme, but the silliness in the hardware story kept reminding me of George’s awkward, excruciating temp work and scarily perky manager in Dead Like Me or Buffy’s McJob in BTVS. Reaper owes a lot, perhaps too much, to better shows about demon slayers that have gone before it.
The best part, a reason well worth sticking around, is Ray Wise as the Devil. Like Mick Jagger sings in Sympathy for the Devil, Wise’s Satan is “a man of wealth and taste,” always impeccably dressed and wearing that smug smirk of a privileged dead white guy who has omnipotence in his sector. He treats the reaper doofus with amusing avuncularity while constantly trying to mind-fuck him. You can tell Wise really digs playing the charming rascal, and he sure does it well because the screen lights up [with hellfire :p ] whenever he glides majestically on.
That said, I recommend Reaper. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it, but then again, I never really go out of my way to watch anything on my TV. If you’re looking for a low-key, silly time-passer that doesn’t take itself that seriously, see streaming eps of Reaper on the CW Web site, which I currently can’t dig up a link to. Me, I’m gonna go to the angsty side of the subject and listen to some Supernatural. I hear there were some vampires in a recent ep….