TV Show Info:
Writers: Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, with contributions from Craig DiGregorio, Thomas Schnauz, Tom Spezialy, Jeff Vlaming, Chris Dingess, James Eagan, Kevin Etten, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Daley
Directors: Stephen Cragg, Ron Underwood, Kevin Dowling, John Fortenberry
Cast: Bret Harrison, Tyler Labine, Rick Gonzales, Missy Peregrym, Andrew Airlie, Ray Wise, Donavon Stinson, Christine Willes, Jenny Wade, Ken Marino, Eriko Tamura, Michael Ian Black, Armie Hammer
Original Air Dates: March-May, 2009
DVD Box Set Release Date: June 6, 2009
Episodes:…A New Hope; Dirty Sexy Mongol; The Sweet Science; The Favorite; I Want My Baby Back; Underbelly; The Good Soil; The Home Stretch; No Reaper Left Behind; My Brother’s Reaper; To Sprong, with Love; Business Casualty; The Devil and Sam Oliver
Online Availability: Amazon for $29.99
Reaper is the story of Sam Oliver, a slacker in his early 20s who, despite his lack of a sense of purpose in life, finds that he has a destiny to fulfill as the Devil’s bounty hunter, thanks to a Faustian deal his parents made before he was conceived. On the surface, his life is straight out of Reality Bites, replete with a 1990s retro style of disenfranchised angst. Sam (Bret Harrison, perhaps best known for his role as Brad O’Keefe in Grounded for Life) isn’t a complete loser, but success seems to always elude him by just enough of a lead that he can’t catch up with it. He’s employed, but in a dead-end job at The Work Bench, an obvious parody of The Home Depot. And he does get the girl, eventually — but he never quite seems to “get” the girl.
The girl in this case is Andi Prendergast (Missy Peregrym ofLife As We Know It and Heroes), a fellow employee at The Work Bench who has more ambition, more intelligence, and in general, more going for her than Sam or his slacker pals, Sock and Ben, who also work there. In contrast, Bert “Sock” Wysocki (Canadian actor, Tyler Labine) and Ben Gonzalez (Rick Gonzalez of Boston Public and The Rookie), manage to make Sam look good by comparison. While Sam is an “everyman” type of guy, the impulsive party boy, Sock, and the compassionate, rule-following, and slightly wimpy Ben, could be described, respectively, as the id and superego to his ego. Or, to put it in terms more appropriate to the show, they’re like the devil and angel on this average guy’s shoulders.
The real Devil in Sam’s life, however, is Satan himself, a slick and charming trickster portrayed by prolific character actor, Ray Wise (Dallas, Twin Peaks and 24. As was revealed in the first season, before Sam was born or even conceived, his parents signed away the soul of their firstborn in exchange for his father’s continued health in the face of grave illness. They intended to cheat the Devil by never having children, but he outmaneuvered them, and on Sam’s 21st birthday, the terms of the deal come due: Sam must work for the Devil as his personal bounty hunter, tracking down and capturing souls escaped from Hell. While at first Sam is horrified by this, the Devil convinces him that he is not doing evil by serving the Devil, but rather, he is helping enforce the balance between good and evil.
However, the easy morality of the show’s first few episodes is challenged in later episodes, and this continues to escalate in the second season. Sam’s role is no longer unambiguous, and his choices aren’t all black and white. Several revelations of the first season thrust Sam firmly into the gray area, bringing his friends with him. Even while they resist maturing and taking on adult responsibilities and roles, all are dealing with complicated family situations such as extreme sibling rivalry and torn loyalties.
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