Tuned In

Reaper Watch: Reap-Off or Reaping Good Time?

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Sergei Bachlakov / The CW

If last night’s episode of Reaper had been the first one I’d ever seen, I’d have been delighted with it. The problem with it was that it was more or less the same, with a few elegant variations, as the very first episode we ever did see, last week. There was a vessel, there was ambivalence about doing the job, there was an escaped soul wreaking havoc (with lightning, not fire, this time), there was a trip to the DMV. I’m hoping this is just a momentary blip, but the show is going to need to develop some kind of arc if it’s going to be a long-term appointment for me.

On the plus side, the repetitions were repetitions of good stuff. There are probably endless gags this show can do involving making consumer products malicious, and at the top of that list has to be turning a Toyota Prius into an Avenging Hybrid of Death. The tossed-off dialogue is still first-rate: “Doctor Jager, Doctor Cuervo, Doctor Captain Morgan — he has two titles.” And having the Devil ask, “When does Ellen come on?” Never not funny.

On the more serious side, I like the theme of having each escaped soul metaphorically confront the evil he did in life, like the Enron-esque electricity executive raging over the loss of his reputation: it’s a very Buffy-like touch. But Buffy subsumed these episodic stories in the larger personal journeys of the Slayer and the Scooby Gang. Reaper has the potential to develop like that, but I want to see more evidence of it.

Reaper doesn’t seem to merit a regular Watch at this point, at least until and unless it starts showing some forward momentum. There are only so many variations on “Sam and Sock get dressed up in weird work gear and capture a soul somewhere dark” you can analyze. I’m still enjoying it and sticking with it for now, though. Are you?

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