STUDIO:  Lions Gate
MSRP: $39.98
RUNNING TIME: 810 Minutes
-    Audio Commentaries
-    Deleted Scenes
-    Gag Reel

The Pitch

Dog the Bounty Hunter meets Ghostbusters meets Mallrats.  

The Humans

Bret Harrison, Ray Wise, Tyler Labine, Rick Gonzalez, Missi Peregrym

The grand finale of the act, a dramatic reenactment of episode 2.05 of Renegade and its climactic sword fight was never at a loss for crowd volunteers.

The Nutshell

Sam (Harrison) is one of those made-palpable-for-primetime slackers (which is to say he’s handsome, and not really a slacker) who is stuck in a dead-end job with his two best friends, Bert aka Sock (Labine) and Ben (Gonzalez) at the local hardware/seemingly everything else on Earth store (think Home Depotish).  Here Sam pines after his long-loved sweetheart Andi (Peregrym) who has come back from college and is starting working along with them. On his 21st birthday, Sam’s parents reveal to him the unfortunate news that they sold their firstborn’s soul to the devil in exchange for curing the father of a terminal ailment.  So right then and there Beelzebub (Wise) shows up and puts Sam to the work.  He’s going to be his bounty hunter on this earthly plane, making sure to recapture souls who have escaped from the bowels of Hell and send them back to whence they came. Each mission comes with its own special vessel to trap the demons in (usually an object one doesn’t equate with bad-assery or heavy duty capturing, but they get the job done), and with the help of his friends Sam looks to keep himself alive while doing the Devil’s work. Along the way he tries to also win the heart of Andi without letting her in on his extracurricular activities. 

“And you know how they say men can lactate?  It’s true.  And you know what else?  It’s chocolate milk.”

The Lowdown

The idea of a serialized Ghostbusters show is a rock solid one, especially in this day and age where television visual effects work has come along so far matched with a spook-of-the-week concept such as this. And while Reaper does have a lot of fun with the premise, and gets some great performances from many of its actors, it never really settles on what it wants to be and never manages to get into a groove in terms of its storytelling. Because of that, the show sits in an unfortunate sort of limbo, always on the cusp of being solid entertainment, but never fulfilling its promise right down to its final episodes.

Never park in a graboid’s spot.  Trust me.

Where the show shines brightest is in its cast and more specifically the interaction between all of the male characters.  And while I can’t give Kevin Smith much in the way of credit for his directing abilities (his work on the first episode seems to suggest there is a one-to-one correlation between unwieldy crane shots and scope), in his position as a ‘creative advisor’ to the show one can definitely see his ability to get witty banter reflected in the way these characters behave amongst one another. You genuinely believe Sam, ‘Sock’ and Ben are good friends through their interactions and wacky shenanigans. Their chemistry is rock solid and the show flies the highest whenever they’re just allowed to react to the situations around them or just hang out.

James had heard of rubbernecking, but this was ridiculous.

The other performer who is key to making this show better than what you’d expect is Ray Wise, who turns in a sterling performance as Satan.  He is equal parts funny, scary and fatherly in his scenes and you can’t take your eyes off of him throughout. His charm and likability dovetail perfectly with the somewhat sinister and seductive qualities the Prince of Darkness should have, and he knocks the role out of the park.  Unfortunately, on the flipside we have the female characters on the show. I can’t knock the performers, because I haven’t seen them in anything else, but on this particular show they aren’t given a hell of a lot to work with. Peregrym in particular strains believability as the main love interest and focal point of the show’s dramatic thrust, never really up to the task of feeling like a real human being. Perhaps it’s that she’s done up as a supermodel despite working at a Lowe’s rip-off, perhaps it’s that her character is never allowed to have any fun and is stuck with laborious details like a dead father whom she is still mourning, but her character doesn’t come off as being worth all the effort on Sam’s part (an attempt at a love triangle halfway through the season is a welcome respite from all of the will-they-won’t-they-but-we-don’t-give-a-fuck) and bogs down the inherent fun in the show whenever their romance takes center stage. 

As he awoke groggily from the previous night’s debauchery, Todd quickly came to a gruesome realization: he was the famed cereal killer.

When she was brought into the fold late in the season as an actual factor in the demon-hunting stuff, it seemed to be a sign that they were consolidating all of the storylines into one big happy television serial. The show really seemed to turn a corner in its second half with the introduction of a gay demon couple (played by The State and Wet Hot American Summer alums Ken Marino and Michael Ian Black) who befriend our main trio and eventually recruit the Sam character into their attempt to kill Satan in order to ascend back to Heaven. It was a nice subtle shift toward creating a running mythology, tweaking the formula that had been being used and it helped give the show some narrative momentum and a reason to keep tuning in besides the tepid and uninvolving soap operaesque romantic subplots. However, instead of building these plot threads towards a satisfying conclusion they instead introduce a gaggle of new elements in the final couple of episodes (including Lucy Davis as a co-worker who conveniently appears out of thin air) none of which are particularly interesting and only serve to sidetrack us from the storylines that were finally starting to come together and make the show compelling. Hopefully in its second season, the show gets its narrative shit together, as it still has a chance to become a fine piece of scripted entertainment. As it stands now though, the show only works in spurts and isn’t worth the time and effort to seek out.

Despite John’s lingering excitement two things became clear quickly: this wasn’t a surprise party and that definitely wasn’t a balloon animal.

The Package

The cover art is acceptable with the Wise lording over the boys image on a slipcase that covers the actual DVD case which is all foil-y and shiny fire and such. In terms of extras, the DVD actually lies to you, insofar as it advertises audio commentaries. There is just one, on the first episode, and to make matters worse it doesn’t even get Kevin Smith to participate in the episode he directed, which is almost criminal insofar as he would’ve given his true value to the production by getting him to sit down for one of his always entertaining commentary tracks. Alas, there isn’t much here beyond the commentary.   A couple of deleted scenes which add little and a gag reel that is standard insofar as it doesn’t make people outside the cast and crew laugh very much. The show looks good, though.  

6.3 out of 10