Reaper has been on for a while now, and I’ve already expressed my support here on the blog.  But I recently wrote a newspaper review of it, so I figured I would share it with you.  I have to break out of this no-post slump somehow, right?

The actual newspaper version, edited and all, can be found HERE.

The CW has been the pleasant surprise of the new fall TV season, finding an identity through gems like “Gossip Girl” and “Aliens in America.”  But the real standout for the network isn’t an East Coast “O.C.” clone, and it isn’t “Malcolm in the Middle” set in a post-9/11 world.  CW’s greatest achievement is “Reaper,” the best new show of the season on any network.

“Reaper” is the story of Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison, “Grounded For Life”), a slacker who lives at home with his parents, left college because it “made him sleepy,” and works at a Home Depot-like hardware chain.  On his 21st birthday, though, everything changes.  He learns that his soul was sold to the devil by his parents before he was born, and that he must now work for Satan.  His job: collecting souls that have escaped from hell.  Each episode, he must capture a different soul using a different device before the escapee has a chance to wreak havoc in the real world.

Sam is assisted through his new, exciting life by his sidekick Bert Wysocki.  “Sock,” as he’s known, is played by Tyler Levine, who fills the role by doing his best Jack Black impersonation.  Still, Levine is funny if you can get over the striking resemblance in looks and actions.  He also has a love interest in coworker Andi (Missy Peregrym), and a friend Ben who seems to get hurt every time they battle a soul.  The standout of the series, though, is Sam Wise as Satan. Wise absolutely nails the role, playing the devil as an older man, whose style is slick and his sense of humor dry and cruel.  But the role goes deeper, and Wise adds levels to the character.  The devil seems to have a softer side, a sense of sympathy and leniency in his demands.  He understands Sam’s personal demons, and often uses his power to present Sam with opportunities to better his life.

“Reaper” presents a wonderful blend of action and comedy, and it gets both right.  The fight scenes between Sam and the souls are always creative and exciting.  Each week, he has to use a different device to capture the soul, and part of the fun comes from figuring out how to use them (How do you capture a serial killer with a toaster?).  The show is also one of the funniest on right now, with much humor coming from the great delivery of Harrison and Wise.

The pilot was extraordinary.  It stood head and shoulders above anything else this season, and gave hope to ailing TV fans that feared there would be nothing good to watch.  This is due, in part, to wonderful direction by famous Jersey filmmaker Kevin Smith (“Clerks”).  The episode felt like a great little film.  Sadly, none of the 4 episodes that have run since that point have lived up to the pilot.  The show certainly isn’t getting worse – it remains the best new show of the season. But hopes that it would maintain the impossibly high standards of the pilot have faltered.

“Reaper” is definitely worth checking out.  It appeals to viewers of all ages and types, and the story line is not so dense that you can’t jump right into it.  The acting is fresh and funny, the action is well done, and the concept is wonderfully original. The CW has outdone itself with this one, and has taken a step to solidify itself as a legitimate prime time network.