BY CAINE GARDNER
With little knowledge of the series before embarking on a journey through the five-disk box set when it arrived, Reaper is a sleeper of a series that offers younger viewers lots of laughs.
Reaper follows slacker Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison), who leads a very lackluster life. A college dropout, he lives with his parents and works at the local Work Bench, a home-repair store along side fellow slacker Socks (Tyler Labine).
On the brink of his 21st birthday, Sam notices his parents beginning to act in a peculiar manner. When strange happenings occur throughout his day, his parents sit him down and drop a bombshell. Before Sam was born, his parent sold his soul to Satan due to his father's illness.
And you thought your 21st birthday was hell.
Soon after this revelation, Sam is visited by Satan (Ray Wise) himself and his fears of going to hell are put to rest. He simply has to serve Satan as a reaper -- a collector of fugitive souls who have escaped from hell. Sounds easy enough, right?
With Socks and fellow Work Bench lackey Benji (Rick Gonzalez), Sam must seek out the fugitive souls and send them back to hell using vessels. Some vessels are as menacing as a Dust Buster and a lighter. Scary stuff.
Cited as a series consultant, writer/director Kevin Smith directed the pilot episode and set the tone for the series. I don't know to what capacity Smith is involved in each episode, but his fingerprints are all over this series. With zippy, clever dialog and enough one-liners to keep the viewer laughing throughout, Reaper is like a weekly dose of a Smith feature.
The three major players Harrison, Wise and Labine are wonderful in their roles, with Labine stealing the spotlight in most of the episodes. Wise's quirky portrayal of Satan is unexpected, but hilarious, and Harrison is a likeable loser that most of us can relate to easily.
Reaper deals with some subjects not suitable for very young viewers and I would be lying if I didn't say that's what helps make the series work. As a parent I would be wary to let a child in their early teens watch the show. While it doesn't come right out and address situations and ideas, innuendo is enough to be on your guard.
Slotted for a midseason debut, Reaper will hit the CW on Tuesday, March 17 at 9 p.m., immediately following 90210.
Final Cut: Reaper is a definite winner. Filled with off-color humor, zippy dialog and wonderful performances, Reaper would be a worthy addition to your DVD shelf. If your're looking for something fresh and funny, be sure to tune in March 17 -- you won't be disappointed.
Reaper: Season One (5-disk set)
Starring: Bret Harrison, , Ray Wise, Tyler Labine, Missy Peregrym
Run time: 800 minutes
* Includes all 18 episodes from season one
* Audio Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel