Reaper seems to have won over critics already, so that combined with the hope that we may finally be returning to the funny/supernatural roots that made The WB worth watching had me interested in watching the premiere.
Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison, Grounded For Life/Brad O’Keefe) wakes up on the morning of his 21st birthday, and his parents seem overly anxious about the day. His mom tells him she wants him to have a great day, no matter what happens. His friend Bert Wysocki (Tyler Labine) says they should get in a car, get some smack, and kill a hooker in Vegas to celebrate his birthday, to which his mother responds by leaving the room crying.
He gets grief from his brother Kyle for not completing college and for still working at a place where he has to wear an apron, which gets him to thinking he is getting tired of this place. Bert tells him he does want to keep working there because he’s going to make it a topless store eventually. He then tells him he should go after Andi (Missy Peregrym, Heroes/Candice Wilmer), but Sam says they’re just friends. While in the car, a dog starts barking and jumping at the car. Then on his way into work, Sam sees a shopping cart going through the parking lot. As he attempts to grab it, it runs away from him. Odd but seemingly nothing he considers out of the ordinary, yet anyway.
He does make something of an attempt to run with Bert’s idea of getting together with Andi when discussing that they both have the same day off, but when he asks her what her plans are for her day off, she lets him know she’s going to be writing a psych paper in the library.
As he’s working (watching TV with baby chicks and thinking it’s actually flames), he notices that something’s about to fall on Andi’s head, and he jumps to prevent it. He knocks the box out of the way, but after doing that, he says he didn’t even touch it because it was too far away. Bert throws a bottle at his head to prove he can’t move it with his mind. He again tries to bring up the subject of going out with Andi, but this time he’s interrupted by a bunch of dogs, standing in the aisle and angry.
Once that ordeal’s done with, he says he’s not feeling well and heads home. He’s okay until a man appears in his backseat… a man who introduces himself as the Devil. He gets into a car wreck, and when he gets out to check, there is no man in his backseat.
His father’s waiting up for him when he gets home, expecting he might have had a bad day. Sam says he thinks he might be going insane. He tells his dad about his day, when his dad tells him he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a cure for an illness he had before Sam was born.
Strangely enough, Sam doesn’t have much trouble believing this. He goes and tells Bert. “How drunk are you?” “Totally sober.” “How drunk am I?” Sock’s mostly upset nothing cool like that ever happens to him, but he buys it as well.
When he gets home, the Devil’s there waiting for him (I wonder if this Devil guy has another name so I don’t have to keep calling him “the Devil”). He tells Sam he’s going to be working for him on Earth, bringing escaped souls back to Hell like a bounty hunter. “All you have to do is track down fugitives and haul their asses over to a portal to Hell. Easy.” Any place that seems like Hell on Earth is Hell on Earth, like the DMV on Union St.
His first fugitive is a firefighter who escaped from Hell and also happens to weigh twice as much as Sam. He’s the one responsible for setting fires in town. The Devil gives Sam a vessel to trap him in. Sam tries to refuse to help, but he must, or the Devil gets his mother’s soul. When he opens the box, he finds a Dirt Devil inside, one that causes a truck to move. Shouldn’t he have to do this somewhat in secret instead of just telling all his friends/coworkers?
The Devil seems to have forgotten one minor detail. The fugitve can turn into flames and shoot them as well. Sam wants to catch him but can’t get the dustbuster to work. In the process, Ben, their friend from work, gets burned. Sam blames himself. He goes after the firefighter alone but just shows up to a burned down house.
When he gets home, his mom tells him she wants to go instead and to tell them to come for her. He pretends everything’s back to normal. Then, he heads to his room, which has been converted into a hockey rink. Sam gets frustrated and tries to give up, but the Devil tells him to investigate and figure out why the fireman does what he does. After killing the Zamboni driver, he advises him he doesn’t accept failure.
Sam goes to get Sock and figures out that the fireman is burning down the same places he was 50 years ago, so he wants to find out who he was when he was alive. They go to dig up legal records from Josie, Bert’s ex-girlfriend, who works in a courthouse. She finds out all the arson attempts Ned (excellent name for a scary killer) did when he was alive were unsuccessful, until he died in a fire he set at his parents’ house, which has not yet been burned down again but has been rebuilt as an elementary school.
After figuring out that the Dirt Devil wasn’t working before because it needed to be recharged, the boys head down to the elementary school to confront Ned. Sam figures out how to harness his powers to redirect the flames toward Ned. He then vacuums him up and takes him to the DMV.
Sam then realizes he must do this for the rest of his life, but he doesn’t mind it. He feels good about helping people and being responsible.
This is one of the better premieres I’ve seen in a while. Definitely a return to the old days of Buffy/Angel/Charmed. Good premise and well written, and the Bert character is hilarious.