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Throwback Thursday - Reaper - Pilot

Throwback Thursday is a SpoilerTv feature article where we examine a show or an episode from it that we felt had an impact on us.

Reaper premiered on September 25 2007 on The CW, and I honestly had no interest in the show. I had seen the trailer, but just didn't have the time to watch it. If anyone can recall though, 2007 was the year of the 2007-2008 Writer's Guild Strike and that mean a lot of shows took a rather long hiatus. During that hiatus I had nothing I was too excited to watch, so I went back and checked out the pilot episode of Reaper, which happened to be directed by Kevin Smith. I watched the pilot, and I was immediately obsessed. For me, as I re-watched the pilot for this article, it sort of felt like Reaper was the precursor for the CW to eventually explore shows like iZombie.(The shows have similar DNA being Supernatural procedurals with witty dialogue and rom-com angst)

The pilot episode of Reaper is such a wild ride because it's witty, clever and pretty intriguing. The pilot was written by series creators, Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, and honestly it felt like I was watching more a movie with open-endeness than a TV show, which in my opinion was a great thing. The pilot episode of Reaper introduces us to Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) on his 21st birthday and we see that his life is not all that exciting. He dropped out of college and lives at home, but his parents don't seem to mind (College made him sleepy) and have this kind of painful look in their eyes as they look at Sam. Instead of being in college, Sam works at Lowe's like superstore called the Work Bench, and spends his spare time pining over his co-worker Andi (Missy Peregym) and goofing off with his pals Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez).
Throughout his birthday, Sam sees weird things and when he ends up saving Andi from a falling TV by using what he believes is some sort of telekinesis he tells Sock that something is up. (I love Sock in this Pilot and throughout this series, he;s so nonsensical and goofy but it works, and his response to Sam explaining his powers is throw something at him that Sam does not move with powers, but just gets hit with...TWICE) Sam meets the Devil after he appears in the back of his car and causes him to have an accident and he finds out from his dad, that they had sold Sam's soul to the Devil long ago when he was sick. They promised the Devil their first born, and they planned to outsmart him by just not having children and were even told by a doctor that he was infertile, but it turns out that doctor had made a deal with the Devil to lie to the Oliver's in exchange for wiping his debt clean and thus Sam was born.

Ray Wise is simply fantastic as the Devil. (Anthony Stewart Head was considered for the role, but they thought Ray Wise really brought the role to life) He shows up and explains to Sam that he's not taking him to hell, yet. Hell has a bit of an overcrowding problem, so there are escaped souls on Earth that need to be captured and sent back to Earth through portals at places that are literally Hell on Earth, i.e. the DMV. He wants Sam to capture these souls using Vessels or objects that are supposed to be hand-made in the bowels of perdition by the iniquitous and the vile. The vessels appear to Sam inside a wooden box with an Italian inscription that translates to "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here". Sam's first soul is an arsonist who is on Earth in the guise of a fireman committing crimes similar to the ones he originally committed. His first Vessel? A dirt devil mini-vacuum. Sam enlists the help of Ben and Sock and it does not go well, with Ben getting injured. Sam considers quitting, after going off on Andi, who is just concerned about them, but is told if he doesn't do it, his mother's soul goes in his place. So Sam and Sock buck up and capture the soul and send him back to hell with a little planning and some of Sam's powers.

For me, what makes this episode worthy of a TBT article is that this is where it all begins. Reaper gets insanely good and it just really finds a way to balance the soul-of-the-week, the Devil and Demon mythos (Which gets real twisty as season 1 ends and into season 2 up to the series finale) and relationship angst(Minus Sock and his Step-sister which is a gag that gets painfully unfunny as it foes on). The show really deserves more recognition and I remember catching up and watching episodes live, including the season 1 finale and just freaking out the show. I think the pilot does such a great job of introducing us to the concept of the show, that while it's pretty standard when you look a the series as a whole, it's still important to start here. Reaper was truly a gem of a show and you can see the magic it's going to produce just by watching the pilot. It's hard to believe that it'll be ten years since the show premiered this year, because I was rewatching the pilot, the show didn't feel dated at all. Even though Reaper only had 31 episodes, I'm telling you it was such a fantastic series that is worth a watch if you ever get the chance.

Did you watch Reaper? What did you like about the show? Do you miss it? Would you watch the 3rd season that the cast would do, if they could get funding? Sound Off Below

About the Author - Winston Mize
I always have the most trouble coming up with a blurb to describe me. Which is really weird for someone who wants to make a career out of writing. If you think I'm awkward online, it's just because you haven't met me in person. I'd like to think I have other interests outside of TV, and maybe I do, but TV is the one that gets me most excited. I live a pretty boring life so TV's the way I get my fix, and I'd love to chat about it with you. I'm also always looking to guest on podcasts and become a podcasting sensation, so if you've got the opportunity, I'm in there like swimwear. You can check me out with different previews of various shows or read my reviews of iZombie, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Legends Of Tomorrow here on the site. If you're a fan of One Tree Hill you can check out my podcast about as well by checking out our twitter page @OnlyOthPod.
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