Pilot Review: Reaper

Reaper is not a show that I’d usually pay much attention to. It’s on the CW network which is not only pretty small, but it’s targeted specifically at young people, a group I’m increasingly not counting myself among. The synopsis of the show reads like a mishmash of concepts from other (mostly failed) shows thrown together and the only person in the cast and crew I’d heard of was Kevin Smith who directs the pilot. But that last one, that’s a biggy and it’s enough to make me give up 45 minutes of my life.

The plot centres on Sam, a 21 year old college drop out (“It made me sleepy”) working in a DIY store and hanging out with a bunch of similar apparent losers and pining after the smart pretty girl who for some reason works with them. But as it turns out Sam (for various reasons) finds himself having to work as the Devil’s bounty hunter, collecting up escapees from hell and sending them back. He’s aided by aforementioned losers and tries to hide it from the aforementioned pretty girl.

It sounds like a brainless mix of Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me and Kevin Smith’s Clerks. And it is. But it works. It’s funny and charming and cute and quirky and weirdly endearing. Kevin Smith’s direction helps a lot, it looks interesting and somehow not-cheap despite the fact that I suspect it is. He works well with the limitations of budget, effects and talent making the episode a lot better than it really has any rights to be.

There are a LOT of clichés in this first 45 minutes, it would have been nice if the Devil was something other than a smooth talking car-salesman type and there wasn’t an overenthusiastic middle manager just for starters. But the clichés are done with a bit of a wink, they realise what they are and are just going with it. There’s absolutely nothing surprising, you can see jokes coming a mile away, but I still laughed at them when they arrived. It does what it does very well, it just doesn’t set itself any great challenges. It’s… comfortable.

Of course that description isn’t exactly something that’s going to make anyone go “oh my god, I must clear my schedule to watch this!” and I’m actually not going to be downloading the next episode. However I will keep an eye on it and add it to my dvd list to pick up at a later date to grab for mindless entertainment. I don’t think it’s going to be breaking any ratings records either, but being on the CW it doesn’t need to get very high ratings to be a success. I think it’s chances are good for picking up a good audience in its demographic and I hope it will make it through the season.

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