As much as I loved last week’s season premiere of Reaper, one little question stuck in my brain: How long can the show stick to its gimmick — slacker dude gets pressed into service as the devil’s bounty hunter — without sliding into a predictable, Demon of the Week pattern? After last night’s second installment, I think I’ve got the answer: As long as there are new and varied electronic devices hitting the market. Initially, I wasn’t sure if that remote-control monster truck would prove as funny (or effective) as week one’s Dirt Devil, but I actually guffawed when Sam (Bret Harrison, pictured, center) directed the miniature vehicle into the road, popped it up on its hind wheels, and then watched in horror as a full-sized truck unexpectedly obliterated it.
Of course, Reaper hinges as much (if not more) on its characters’ funny quips as it does on the hunting of evil spirits, and this week’s MVP was Ben (Rick Gonzalez, seated), who got to dress up in head-to-toe scuba gear, then flee the lightning-powered villain while lamenting, “We’re gonna die dressed as condoms!” I also loved his little cry of “I don’t want to die at the Bench,” after sustaining a nail-gun injury in the aisle of his home-improvement-store job. Could it be Ben’s fate to be the only injured party every time he accompanies Sam and Sock on a mission? Reaper’s number-two episode also featured a number-two joke, courtesy of the Devil himself, who coolly strolled out of Sam’s bathroom, then cautioned his minion to “wait a minute” and “let it breathe” before entering. Coming from most actors, the joke would’ve been a stinker, but the elegantly zany Ray Wise somehow made it a breath of fresh air. (Sorry!)
Anyhow, I was glad to see Sam reveal the truth about his situation to his mom by episode’s end, and was also delighted by brief, vitriolic appearances from Sam’s brother, Sock’s ex (Valarie Rae Miller, third from left, who really knows how to squeeze laughs out of the word “jackass”), and the horned she-beast at the DMV’s portal to hell. The only character who hasn’t quite won me over is Sam’s love interest Andi (Missy Peregrym, far right), who always seems like she’s just taken a mild sedative; that said, her end-of-episode tale of assaulting Work Bench manager Ted was a step in the right direction.
What did you think of this week’s (first non-Kevin-Smith-directed) Reaper? What about Sam’s sudden burst of courage in facing down Ferrey at the dam? And are there any household appliances you’d like to see used on an upcoming episode? I’m rooting for a juicer. After all, don’t those things just sit in the closet collecting dust? Or is it just mine?