Sam Oliver is a local slacker who discovers on his 21st birthday that his parents have sold his soul to the devil, who materializes to recruit him to be his personal bounty hunter to track down, captured, and return escaped evil souls back to Hell. Sam, with his doper fellow slacker friend, Sock,, an retail store co-worker, Ben, must try to stop a serial arsonist, masquerading as a fireman, and Sam in so doing his job discovers his newfound abilities of telekinesis, and communicate with Hell-bound hounds, to help him and save himself from death and eternal damnation, and hoping to survive his first job to get Andi, the attractive co-worker as his retail store job, to notice him, and for Sock to get his ex-girlfriend, Josie, a local district attorney, to get back together.Written by
Great job with the arsonist. Who's the hero, huh? You're the hero, man. Pat yourself on the back, and I have a present for you, for the next fugitive.
So I have to do this forever?
Well, I mean, technically, not forever. You're done when you die. Right?
You're such a dick.
Yes, I know.
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Reaper caught my attention for two reasons: Kevin Smith was directing the pilot episode, and Ray Wise (Leland from Twin Peaks, his performance on the show a milestone in TV acting) playing the Devil. Watching the pilot it almost looked like a not totally distant cousin of Dogma, only this time a little less on the philosophical debates and more on slacker dialog and special effects (make no mistake, Smith can direct an action sequence, least a little better, and maybe not entirely as jokey, as in Mallrats). Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison, who looks sometimes like his hair, or even face, changes from scene to scene) finds out after a horrible day at work where he magically saves his would-be crush (Missy Peregrym) from a mishap, gets chased by dogs, and gets payed a visit by the man downstairs in the backseat of his car. Turns out his parents made a pact with the devil that on Sam's 21st birthday his should would be claimed, and he'd have to do ol Lucifer's bidding. Whoops!
Anytime Wise pops up on screen- particularly the scene at the hockey rink, which for Smith (who's an admitted Twin Peaks die-hard) might be his own Black Lodge with a spotlight and random Zamboni machine included- he steals the show, even when he has to point out expository information like "don't fail me." Meanwhile, Tyber Labine fills in the big-time slacker quota for Smith- albeit Smith didn't write the pilot it feels very much like a Smith-esquire character, maybe conventionally so- and his funniest bits come at just acting like a total ass ("hey, think fast" as he throws a can at Sam to see if his powers will block it). And then, as it looks like might be the pattern on the show from here on, Sam has to fight a being from hell on earth and capture it/him ala Ghostbusters (*exactly* like Ghostbusters, down to the containment system at the DMV).
Ghost Rider the show is not, however; it's usually witty enough to pass by any pit-falls with a premise that easily fits into the disposable CW billing. Not to put down Smith's skills at picking projects, or at the writers, though it's slightly disconcerting to see that the episodes are on the channel at all- how long it'll last is a question that should have an easy answer, which isn't much (like many a show on the channel, the acting is just OK, as Peregrym, on first glance only, looks a bit bland, and Labine is a good but derivative take on a Jack Black dude). But for the time being, Reaper has the skills and humor of a cool little Tuesday night main program- it should appeal to Smith's fan-base and just to those wondering what it might be like to have Ray Wise as the devil: a proposition no one I know of could pass up to see in all glory be told.
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