Maybe They Should Just Give Ray Wise His Own Spinoff


I was glad to see Reaper finally return for a second season last night, and I enjoyed the episode, though it didn’t indicate that the show has made any big strides forward since its first season. The knock on Reaper, right from the second episode, was that it didn’t grow very much, instead going over the same territory that had been covered in the excellent pilot. It got better as the first season went along, but the premise and characters mostly were what they were originally; despite the mostly cosmetic attempts at adding a little mythology or continuity, you knew that the show had a very rigid formula that required it to keep going back to square one, story-wise but also in terms of character relationships and reactions. Devil gives Sam a job that seems impossible, Sam says he can’t do it, Sam and his friends ineptly manage to do it anyway. Sam isn’t going to get that much more confident about his ability to win, no matter how often he wins.

This doesn’t bother me a lot, because Reaper is a light-hearted show that I tune into expecting to get more or less the same thing as last time; it’s not a great show, but TV needs comfort-food shows too, and this has been an amusing, likable show with funny lines and a good central relationship between Sam (Bret Harrison) and the Devil (Ray Wise). It’s similar to Chuck, but more easy-going and, I think, more fun.

But the ratings weren’t good, even by airing-against-American-Idol standards. And the fact that the CW scheduled the second season up against American Idol (moving their precious 90210 out of the way) suggests that the network considers this their sacrificial show, something they can cancel to prove they really do cancel shows for low ratings, just like a real network does.

I’m actually serious in the subject of this post; if this show doesn’t have much longer to run, maybe the production company should at least consider spinning off Ray Wise and making a whole show about him. It wouldn’t work on the youth-oriented CW, but it might work on a basic cable network. Anyway it seems like a shame to lose him.

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Maybe They Should Just Give Ray Wise His Own Spinoff

  1. It’s a shame, really, this show definitely fits into the ‘comfort food’ style of show that Burn Notice does for me. Ray Wise takes the show to a higher level it than it would be otherwise, but I still the main trio adventures very amusing – it’s the constant retreading of soap opera elements that need to be toned down.

    But who cares I guess, this show doesn’t have a chance…

  2. It’s similar to Chuck, but more easy-going and, I think, more fun.

    So I take it you haven’t bought into the popular notion that Chuck’s taken a big leap forward this season.

    Personally, I have mixed feelings on Chuck. On the one hand, I think it’s the most consistently enjoyable show on television. It just makes me smile. On the other hand, it seems pretty clear that the show wants to be something more (as opposed to Reaper, which is content with being light, formulaic comfort food), and I’m just not sure it has enough oomph to pull that off. And when it tries, it inevitably falls short. I respect the ambition, but it frustrates me that the show hasn’t quite been able to live up to that ambition.

    The Buffy comparison is made a lot in respect to Chuck, but by this point Buffy had already embarked on the freaking epic Soulless-Angel storyline, and it would really shock me if Chuck was ever able to do something as powerful as that. That said, I’m not sure I would have anticipated Buffy being able to do it either based on its first season, so maybe I’m just impatient and unimaginative.

    In any event, I’d probably feel more invested in Reaper if it showed some of Chuck’s ambition, and that it doesn’t is kind of disappointing. It’s probably just an acknowledgment of limitations on the part of the writers, though.

    • I do think Chuck has gotten better this season, but my expectations of it are a little different, and maybe too low — I still think it’s basically a straightforward escapist adventure-comedy where the more ambitious moments get in the way of what it’s meant to be.

      I didn’t feel the same way about Buffy, where I thought the second season developed pretty organically from the first, which was already dark enough, and taking the premise seriously enough, that all they needed to do was build on that. I like Chuck, but I just feel like there’s a really great lightweight show trying to break free.

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