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HTF DVD REVIEW: Reaper Season 2

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#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Scott McAllister

Scott McAllister

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Posted June 21 2009 - 05:52 AM

Reaper Season 2

Studio: Lionsgate
Year: 2009
Rated: NR
Film Length: 585 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Languages: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Starring: Bret Harrison, Ray Wise, Tyler Labine, Missy Peregrym, Ben Gonzalez

The Show

"Hi, my name is Reaper....have a bad day."

Once more we venture into the world of CW's "Reaper", this time for the second season. This new set of episodes continues the story of Sam Oliver (Harrison), a mid-twenties guy who had his soul sold to Satan (Wise) and is now obligated to return escaped souls to Hell at his behest. Assisting Sam in his underworldly duties are his closest friends Bert "Sock" Wysocki (Labine), Ben Gonzalez (Gonzalez), and girlfriend Andi Pendergast (Peregrym). The new season picks up almost immediately where the first season left off. Sam, Sock, and Ben are returning from a month-long roadtrip after the death of Sam's father in the season finale from the first season. They return home to find that they've all been fired from the Work Bench, and evicted from their apartment. What follows after are thirteen well-written, clever, and entertaining episodes for a show that really needed a home run to help sell a third season.

Almost everything on Reaper has been improved from the debut season, most notably the overall story arch. I always got the feeling that the first season treaded dangerously close to being just another "freak-of-the-week" WB series. It had enough originality to avoid a full-blown lapse into that category but the elements were certainly there. Kudos to the production team for their deft handling and smart direction that kept Reaper from falling into that trap. Happily, the second season continues that trend, with even less time being spent on "the soul" and more time devoted to developing the existing characters as well as the new ones who were added. It was not uncommon for some of the episodes to get rid of "the soul" in the first few minutes, and a few episodes didn't even have one at all.

I'm pleased to say that this shift in focus has made the show even better than it was before. Some characters were phased out (Sock's ex-girlfriend Josie, Sam's mother), and newer characters were introduced. Jenny Wade turns in a fantastic performance as Nina, a demon assassin initially sent to kill Sam, but who ends up falling for Ben in the process. Armie Hammer's role as Sam's spoiled, bratty half-brother Morgan is also entertaining as well in his utter sleaziness. The show has also taken on a darker overall tone this season, and the Devil's endless hunger for souls is put on sharp display very early on.

Speaking of the Devil, there's no mistaking he's truly the arch-villian of this show now. Previously, the Devil was this charismatic, charming character with slightly nasty overtones who would assign Sam tasks and would continuously try to tempt him. In what I consider to be a very smart decision, Satan was made a real threat for this second season. Yes, he is still charming and he is still charismatic, but now he is also a main source of attempted corruption for Sam. He is, after all, trying to bring about the end of days and begin (literally) hell on earth with Sam as his right hand. In almost every scene he is trying to tempt people into sinning, and later we discover he even has a penthouse corporate office suite full of demon employees doing nothing but getting people to commit sins. Granted, these plans are presented to the viewer with some laughs, but in the mythos of the show this is as real as it gets.

Below are all thirteen episodes from the second season of Reaper.

Disc One
1. Episode IV: A New Hope
2. Dirty Sexy Mongol
3. The Sweet Science
4. The Favorite

Disc Two
1. I Want My Baby Back
2. Underbelly
3. The Good Soil
4. The Home Stretch

Disc Three
1. No Reaper Left Behind
2. My Brother's Reaper
3. To Sprong, With Love
4. Business Casualty

Disc Four
1. The Devil & Sam Oliver

Picture Quality

Reaper season 2 is presented with a strong visual quality. Upconverted to 1080i, it looks very clear for a DVD release. I found the color tone to be fairly neutral overall, with nothing really popping out at me and nothing very jarring either. Flesh tones looked realistic, and even the not-so-human effects looked good. I don't think fans will find anything here to complain about.

Audio Quality

This four disc set has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that doesn't really get used to it's full potential, but considering the content of show it's not a negative feature. The soundtrack does a good job of delivering the dialogue through the center channel, while the effects are handled well through the fronts and rears. While there are a few explosions and loud booms throughout the show, the subwoofer doesn't get much of a workout. Regardless though, the sound is solid and does it's job well. Viewers will not be disappointed.

Special Features

"The Devil Made Me Do It: A Look Back at the Making of Reaper" - This is a fifteen minute behind-the-scenes look at the show with some good interviews and insights from the cast and production team. The only problem with it? Well, it was clearly made during the filming of the first season. As such, there are interviews with cast members who aren't even on the show anymore and there's no discussion or scenes from the second season of the show, which some viewers might find confusing. Ultimately, it's better to have something than not but this would have been more suited for the Season 1 DVD release.

Deleted Scenes: Only four deleted scenes appear on this disc, which I suppose can be credited to shrewed, smart editing. There's nothing really significant here, except for the fact that the only appearance of Sam's mother during the entire season is included.

Gag Reel: There are some good laughs here and all the scenes recorded are from the current season. Definitely worth watching.

Wrapping Up

Reaper has been one of my must-watch shows since I reviewed the first season a while ago. It was funny, smart, and very entertaining then and has since only improved upon that with this new season. It's a good news / bad news scenario with the show though since (as of this writing) it has been canceled by the CW. This is very unfortunate, as the series had a lot going for it and most of that potential is due in large part to the second season.

Overall, I really enjoyed everything the team of Reaper did with the show this year. The entire story arch was set up and executed very strongly, and while the season finale will have to make do as a makeshift series finale, I can't help but think that Reaper would have excelled with one more season. The finale to season 2 was a very strong episode and could have been set up nicely for a series finale in a 3rd season, if it had been renewed to make one. Existing fans of the series will no doubt pick this up, but I urge non-fans to do so as well. The show may be gone, but a new viewer will still get a lot of entertainment out of the two years it was made.
"Being God must be tough, huh?"

"When you do it right, nobody thinks you did anything at all."

#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted June 22 2009 - 11:30 AM

Yes another Bone Headed Cancellation of a really good series, It was too bad that Liongate did'nt think it would sell enough to release on Blu Ray as it looked spectacular in Hi Def. But as you note the DVD looks pretty nice upconverted. The CW barely has any shows left and I think Reaper would've been a better pickup than the aging , Limping to the finish, Smallville.
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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Scott McAllister

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Posted June 23 2009 - 12:03 PM

I have to agree with you there Dave. After 8 seasons (with a 9th on the way), how much more story can there possibly be? I personally believe that Reaper had quite a bit of unplumbed depth, too bad we most likely will never see it.
"Being God must be tough, huh?"

"When you do it right, nobody thinks you did anything at all."

#4 of 5 OFFLINE   LarryH


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Posted June 23 2009 - 03:33 PM

I wholeheartedly agree that Reaper had a lot going for it and showed promise of only getting better. Once more the "suits" prove that they have no feel for programming and are only number crunchers. I'm still trying to stay with Smallville, but once that and Reaper are gone I see the WB going down the tubes.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   cajunhillbilly



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Posted June 23 2009 - 11:48 PM

I only watch Smallville, and Supernatural on the CW. I did watch Reaper, but now it is gone. I might give The Vampire Diaries a try. But I have no interest in just stupid fare as Gossip Girl, 90210 or any other teen soap opera.

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