As a commenter suggested last week, watching TV shows on DVD has made us both more patient and less patient as viewers. More patient in the sense that we are willing to forego the instant gratification of a self-contained episode for the payoff of a season-long story arc (which can still be fairly instant if you watch a season in a marathon weekend binge), and less patient in that we start twiddling our thumbs if a season-long story arc isn't immediately set into motion. Such is the case with The TV Blog discussion of Reaper , a show that for all its considerable charms seems to be making fans based more on potential than it what it has actually delivered so far. I'm on record as a big Reaper fan, and I've defended the show's light (some might say slight) comic tone so far because I've found it pretty damn engaging for the most part. But while I enjoyed "The Cop," that same nagging feeling in my stomach from the previous two episodes persists: Reaper just ain't goin' anywhere.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about that. This is the problem with reviewing a show as it unfolds: You have no sense of perspective. You consume each episode week in and week out, and speculate what every piece might mean over the course of a season. What appears minor now could in fact end up being incredibly important. Was that "Get Out Of Hell Free" card given to Sam at the end of "The Cop" significant? (The Devil was pretty blatant about treating Sam like a personal plaything this episode. Could be an interesting development.) Is the sexual tension between Sock and Gladys–so glad they made out, by the way, if only in a dream–significant? Is–dear god–the never-ending TediousFest known as the Sam-Andi "romantic tension whatever-the-fuck" significant? Who knows? Pretty soon, it might be, "Who cares?"
Eight episodes in, Reaper has shown that it can establish a good, satisfying formula, and also subvert it in subtle ways–in "The Cop," there was a nice twist where the cop pursuing Sam's soul-o'-the-week ended up being a damned soul himself, and I liked seeing Gladys outside the DMV with all her creepy angel figurines. And, man, there are still so many simple pleasures in the margins. (Watching The Devil laugh while Sam hit him over the head repeatedly with a baseball bat was one of the highlights of my week.) But we're talking appetizers here, not a main course: Reaper ultimately isn't satisfying the way truly great shows are satisfying, and the promise of a more satisfying meal later on is no longer tiding me over.
One more time--for the cheap seats--this could be totally premature. But my fear is that Reaper won't even try to aim a little higher. The ads for the show really bug me: "Some shows define their generation (I'm paraphrasing here) Reaper is not that show!" (Cue clip of Sock acting crazy! And the totally awesome, "we're just partyin' here, dude!" guitar riff!) Is this what Reaper is supposed to be? If it is, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I can enjoy the show on that level. But I'd like to take this relationship to the next level, if Reaper will take it seriously. So, Reaper, the ball is in your court: Will you take my diamond necklace and try to do something–anything–that might connect the episodes better and add a needed dose of suspense and intrigue, or are you content to be my weekly reminder of Ray Wise's awesomeness and nothing more? Ball is in your court.