If you're missing the blend of horror, action, and action that's been missing since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel left the air, take heart: Reaper delves into the same mix, with less detailed plotting but plenty of heart and fun.

Sam Oliver (Brett Harrison) is a slacker. He lives with his parents; he has a job at the Work Bench (a thinly-disguised Home Depot) where he hangs out with his best buds, the loud and wacky Bert "Sock" Wysocki (Tyler Labine) and more levelheaded Ben (Rick Gonzales), along with his cute female friend/wannabe love interest Andi (Missy Peregrym). On his 21st birthday things get weird for Sam, but he soon learns that there's a perfectly logical explanation: Before he was born, to save his father's life Sam's folks agreed to give the soul of their firstborn child to the Devil -- and he's come to collect.

The Devil (wonderfully played by Ray Wise) is always charming, always neatly dressed, and always has an angle. In this case, he decides that Sam will be his bounty hunter, catching evil souls that escaped from Hell (each of which has their own unique power) and sending them back. Usually after suddenly transporting Sam somewhere, telling him about his latest target, and sending him back, the Devil sends Sam a vessel to catch the soul. (These range from a Dirt Devil to a dove in a cage to an instant camera.) After a soul is caught, Sam brings it to the portal to hell -- the DMV -- where Gladys (Christine Willes) ships it down to the netherworld.

Sam is a reluctant hero at first, but he soon finds that he enjoys doing some good. (Sock and Ben also tag along on every hunt, no matter how dangerous.) However, apart from numerous screwups with the vessels, Sam also has trouble working for the Devil while keeping his life a secret from Andi, and keeping his job, and generally trying to stay alive.

Reaper is more silly than scary, but it's good fun. There are also several ongoing storylines that keep it from being solely about the nasty of the week. When Sam wants a copy of his contract to find a loophole, it's hundreds of pages long - and in Latin. Sam has a nice time dating Cady (Jessica Stroup), but there always seem to be hints that she's the Devil's daughters. And in a wonderful bit of casting, former co-stars from The State Ken Marino and Michael Ian Black are Ken and Tony, a friendly, polite gay couple who are also demons plotting to kill the Devil.

Far more comedy than action or horror, Reaper proves the supernatural can be quite lighthearted. The cast is consistently effective, even if Brett Harrison spends most of the series acting like a frustrated deer in headlights. For all the supernatural elements, this show is light and amusing: seldom scary, but good for quite a few chuckles.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch


smg58 said...

What time, and what channel?

James Lynch said...

Right now it's on the CW on Tuesday nights, from 9-10. Check it out!