The somewhat inaccurately named Reaper follows the adventures of Sam Oliver. Before he had even been conceived, Sam’s parents made a deal with the devil. Sam’s dad got a miracle cure for a terminal illness and in exchange, the devil got possession of the soul of their first born son when he turned twenty-one. Now that Sam’s of age, the devil has him working as a kind of bounty-hunter, capturing escaped souls and sending them back to hell.
For Fans of: In terms of both theme and tone, Dead Like Me is probably the closest match. Even then, it’s not a perfect match, as Dead Like Me didn’t really have any action sequences.
The combination of tone and premise is a unique one. There actually have been at least a couple shows with a similar premise (such as Brimstone and G v E), and the tone is kind of similar to that of Dead Like Me, but we’ve never seen a show about capturing escapees from hell as light in tone as Reaper.
I’m really loving Ray Wise’s portrayal of Satan. The chipper and upbeat attitude with occasional doses of extreme menace works pretty well; he actually kind of reminds me (in a very general way) of Elizabeth Hurley’s Satan in Bedazzled. He’s often doing underhanded things, but in the grand scheme of things, he’s basically a good guy.
While Satan really is stealing the show, the rest of the cast is solid as well. The interplay between Sam and his friends is strong enough to carry things when Satan’s not on screen.
What Didn’t Work:
It’s a little disappointing they felt the need to set up two different ‘person doesn’t know about Sam’s new job’ plots that you know are going to be dragged out for at least the rest of the first season. At least there’s a substantial difference between the two (in the case of Sam’s parents, they know about the whole deal with the devil bit, just not that it’s still active whereas Andi has no clue whatsoever), but still I’m not sure it was necessary to double up on such a standard ‘superhero’ plot device.
My complaints about Reaper are pretty minimal. I think the title is something of a misnomer and I’m worried that the parallel plots of people not knowing Sam’s working for Satan could get old after a while. But the actual show is great so far, and I foresee this show as one that will only get better with time. Of course, it’s also the kind of show that gets canceled after one season, but hopefully it’ll beat the odds on that front.