[02/27/09 - 12:01 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "Reaper: Season Two" (The CW)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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(Tuesdays at 8:00/7:00c starting March 3)

The network's description (March 3): "THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT Sam (Bret Harrison) returns from a road trip with Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) hoping to make things right with Andi (Missy Peregrym). However, when the guys return they discover they've been fired from the Work Bench and evicted from their apartment. With nowhere else to go, they head to Sock's house only to find a strange girl (Eriko Tamura) living there. Meanwhile, Andi refuses to talk to Sam and The Devil (Ray Wise) is back with a new assignment. Stephen Cragg directed the episode written by Craig DiGregorio (#201)."

The network's description (March 17): No official description has been released.

What did they leave out? Valarie Rae Miller ("Josie") is no longer listed as a series regular.

The plot in a nutshell: After their two-week road trip turned into a month-long bender, Sam (Bret Harrison), Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez) return home to find themselves jobless, homeless and (in Sam's case) relationshipless. Even worse, some 20 - very angry - escaped souls have taken up residence in town since Sam's absence. Newly revealed dad The Devil (Ray Wise) isn't letting Sam off the hook either - he's got a duty to fulfill. And so Sam, Sock and Ben set out to rebuild their lives, or at least as close to a life as they had before. That involves moving back in with Sock's mom - who's conveniently off honeymooning with her new husband, but has left her new stepdaughter Kristin (Eriko Tamura) behind, blackmailing Ted (Donavon Stinson) to get their jobs back and (again in Sam's case) apologizing profusely to Andi (Missy Peregrym). The solution to all their problems however may turn out to be one of the escaped souls (Sean Patrick Thomas), who's somehow gotten out of his deal with the Devil. A second episode provided for review (airing March 17) sees Ben making yet another poor relationship choice in the form of a demon (Jenny Wade) who may or may not want to kill Sam, Andi and Sock going to war over his various work schemes after she's given managerial duties and Sam wrestle, for lack of a better term, with a reformed boxer (Erik Palladino) who's escaped from hell but just wants to win the title.

What works: The show's wheelhouse continues to be its slacker sense of humor, whether it be Sam drawing a Star of David instead of a pentagram to summon The Devil or the image of Sam dancing around to Joe Esposito's "You're the Best," you'll be hard pressed not to find a few laughs within each hour. It's also nice to see the show hasn't lost sight of its central theme - how ridiculous that of all people, it's these three knuckleheads that are tasked with sending souls back to hell. The season premiere in particular makes that case - the night before their big showdown they decide they might as well get drunk - as even against impossible odds, they'll luck themselves into a solution. Giving Andi more things to do than get mad at/be in love with Sam not surprisingly has also paid off - her showdown with Sock over a fake employee he's created to get a second paycheck is a nice change of pace - while seeing Ben get a meatier, again for a lack of a better term (you'll see what I mean shortly), plot has likewise opened up the show. All in all, it's great to have these characters back.

What doesn't: Those hoping for significant movement in the show's overall storyline are likely to be disappointed once again. "Reaper" never seems to be able to build momentum for more than a few episodes at a time - big news in episode one (someone's gotten out of their deal with the Devil!) is tabled completed by episode three. It's a slightly frustrating attitude at this point in the show's run - you've wet our appetite with various tidbits and plot developments in season one, we want something more in season two. Ultimately though, it seems "Reaper" is content with life as a soul-of-the-week show with laughs - a slacker mentality if there ever was one.

The bottom line: For that reason alone I'll continue to tune in.

  [february 2009]  


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