The Gold Standard #30


TV, TV, TV. I want my MTV…..alright, no I don’t, I hate MTV and everything they represent. But I do love my TV. I mean, come on, this is my second column in a row about my favorite shows, and boy is it going to be awesome! Last time around we talked about Fox’s Friday night lineup of shows to be canceled, so this time around I figure we talk about Monday and Tuesday!

So for starters, let me greet you with a name tag.

That’s right, the best show on Tuesday nights, CW’s REAPER!

Reaper is the story of Sam Oliver, a twenty-one year old who works at the Work Bench (a Home Depot on all kinds of crack). Sam is your average guy, I mean, he didn’t finish college, lives with his parents, hangs out with his two best friends Sock and Ben, and is in love with his co-worker Andi. Oh, and before he was born, his dad sold his soul to the devil. Yeah, that’s kinda the twist, Sam is property of the devil before he’s even born, and on his twenty-first birthday he finds out about it, and that his new job is to be the devil’s bounty hunter. Catching escaped souls from hell with vessels given to him at the start of each episode. All kinds of things, and all used in a way that they play out well with their intended use.

The cast of reaper from left to right: Andi, The Devil, Sock, Ben, and Sam is sitting down.

The Devil is by far the highlight of the show, which is saying a lot given how great the show stands on its own merits. Ray Wise portrays the devil as a smooth talking older man who is always wearing his black suit. He’s got this smile he always wears that could make anyone trust him, and his way with words? Almost on a weekly basis he gives Sam a job, a pep talk, and sends him out after the souls…..only for Sam to realize that the Devil neglected to mention some important detail like…..well, let’s use this past week’s episode, that the guy has a pet POLAR BEAR! He’s that kind of guy; he’s the perfect kind of asshole. The one you know is utterly despicable, but you absolutely cannot wait to see him on screen again.

Ray Wise as the Devil

Sock and Ben I’m going to lump into one section because, well, for as fun as they are, they really work better as buddies. Sock is by far the biggest slacker known to man, famous for finding ways to sleep on the job at every twist and turn, at least when he’s not using Work Bench property to goof off (he once made a mechanical bull out of a paint mixer and lumber, no joke) or to help Sam catch souls. Ben is the accident prone smart guy, who was beginning to get type cast as such in the first season, as he got hurt just about every time he went after a soul. Smartly, they toned that down. Ben is the religious one of the group, and comes from a religious family and even considered Priesthood. That said, he’s currently dating an incredibly hot demon, so you can imagine how hard it was for him to get over that whole “it’s evil!” thing. Sam’s two best friends, co-workers, roommates, and the two dudes who come with him on soul catches. Oh, and Sock in the second season has an incredibly hot step-sister that he, of course (understand, he’s a pervert) becomes totally obsessed with before giving the sexy time too. He also nails a stripper at one point. Sock is comedic gold.

I missed a chunk of the first season, namely the latter half of it, but I picked back up in the second season without any issue, and was quite pleased to discover that a big twist was that Sam is actually the son of the devil, a twist made that much more awesome by the inclusion of Sam’s half brother, Morgan. Morgan is the perfect son of the devil, I mean, he’s a fucking prick! He’s a fast talking, stealing, lazy asshole. He violates as many of the seven deadly sins as he can, and he’s blatantly the devil’s favorite son. Unlike Sam though, while he possesses all these devil-may-love traits, he lacks the work ethic. Because for as much as Sam might bitch incessantly, he never fails to get the job done. The Devil puts the two together in hopes that Sam might start picking up some of Morgan’s “better” traits, while Morgan might get some of Sam’s work ethic. The outcome is perfect, and an incredibly memorable moment, if not made perfect due to the fact that Morgan is developed carefully into the kind of character that you can’t see anything but Sam’s opposite number in. It’s a great rivalry.

Here’s a picture of Nina for no apparent reason. She’s Ben’s girlfriend, and a demon. This is her human form……I like this one better.

Reaper is looking likely to be canned at the end of the season due to the creators signing a deal at another studio. It’s not impossible that CW will renew the show and replace the departed creators, but it is unlikely, which is unfortunate as this is truly a great show, and it deserves far more then the two seasons it got. It’s one of the few watchable shows on the network, and in a year it will be forgotten completely. It’s a sad state of affairs.

But now I think it’s time to talk about the man of the hour, the man with the power….

Chuck Bartowski!

Chuck is, in the wake of my beloved Battlestar Galactica’s ending, my favorite show on TV. It is not the only show I look forward to every week, but it is the one I think the most of. It’s the one that gets me giddy, and that I force myself and my cousin to watch last because I know it’s going to be that much better with Heroes, and to end on anything other than Chuck would be to end the night with a bad taste in our mouths. Chuck is a breath of fresh air in TV land, as it’s about a character that most of us can relate to. He’s a twenty something guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life, he has a dead end job but potential to take him so much higher if it weren’t for just a few incidents in his past that have shaken his confidence. He lives with his sister and her awesome boyfriend because their mother passed, and his father left when they were young. He plays Call of Duty with his best friend Morgan, and heads up the Nerd Herd at his local Buy More.

Average guy.

And then an e-mail from his old college roommate winds up downloading an Intersect into his brain. The Intersect is pretty much a giant super computer that houses all of the combined intelligence of the CIA and NSA. What this means is that Chuck can see a tattoo on a man and if either of the organizations has information on him, that will be enough to give him access to all of it. Due to the fact that getting it out is a whole lot harder than getting it in, Operation Bartowski was formed, comprised of Major John Casey of the NSA, and Agent Sarah Walker of the CIA. Sarah is the femme fatale whose job is initially to just look hot and then go bad ass on them (though her character receives an enormous amount of depth, and she becomes more then T&A), and Casey is the no nonsense bad ass with a gun.

Sarah, Chuck, and Casey

The show is just so incredibly well written that it’s worth noting again and again, the writers show an aptitude for juggling multiple plots and characters while still pacing in a way that the viewer is kept wanting more, but at the same time never feels cheated. When there’s a big plot that you know the writers are just waiting to pull the trigger on, they stay smart about it. The trigger gets pulled when the time is right, not the first chance they get.

In fact, that’s something that the writers of the show that comes on right after Chuck could learn a thing or two about. That’s right Heroes writing team, I’m talking about you and your inability to let a plot simmer and build slowly, always needing to blow your loads every chance you get.

Chuck’s signature move…..THE MORGAN!

Chuck is a bit of a geek show, to be honest. And they know it. Chuck is a geek, Morgan is a geek, the Buy More crew are geeks. And the guest stars? Definitely for the geek crowd. Tricial Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), Gary Cole (Office Space among other things), Dominic Monaghan (Lost), Ben Savage (Boy Meets World), Andy Richter (Destroys the Universe!), Scott Backula (Quantum Leap), and Chevy Chase (he’s Chevy fucking Chase, I don’t need to tell you what he’s been in) all have done stints on the show ranging from a single appearance, to having arcs built around them (Backula and Chase made frequent appearances at the end of the second season). And with guest stars like that, can you imagine that they never felt forced? That’s pretty cool. Especially when you consider how most shows do their one-shot casting and the characters are completely throwaway.

The show is the perfect mix of comedic, romantic, suspenseful, and mysterious elements. The writers take you in about four different directions at once, and all tie together perfectly. Whether the focus is on the Buy More, or if it’s about the main group inside of their secret base, or even if it’s about Chuck’s home life with his sister and her fiancĂ©e….Captain Awesome. The show grips you, and it does it well. It’s just a real treat, and in my humble opinion, the finest show on network TV.

Awesome and Ellie

Chuck is unfortunately still not officially renewed for a much needed third season, though it’s believed that the show is all but confirmed and just waiting on some issues between the production company and NBC over something completely unrelated to Chuck. That’s kinda sad, but at any rate, it just gives fan like myself the hope that they’ll get online one day, check their sites, and see it in big writing.

Chuck renewed for season three.

Has quite a ring to it, you think?

The Gold Standard

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