Wednesday, September 26, 2007

 

Welcome back Ray

By Edward Copeland
Seventeen years after Leland Palmer died on Twin Peaks (except for a brief appearance in the series finale and the movie prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me), Ray Wise has finally landed a role that shows off his talents and it happens to be an entertaining new series on the CW. Wise's character isn't possessed this time, he's the devil himself and Reaper, at least in its first outing is a real hoot. (Owl reference intentional.)


Reaper premiered Tuesday night (with an episode directed by Kevin Smith no less) and I'm glad to say that I found it lived up to the advance buzz. I was destined to try it at least once, just for Wise, but I'm definitely coming back as long as it's this entertaining.

The show's star is Bret Harrison as Sam Oliver, an underachiever, stuck in a dead-end job at a home improvement store, who learns on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was even conceived. Now that he's 21, the bill is due.

However, Satan isn't interested in dragging Sam down to Hell: He wants to use him on Earth, tracking down escapees from the eternal fire and sending them back where they belong. Sam is understandably reluctant at first and offers to let the devil just take him to Hell (he's not doing anything that worthwhile anyway), but Old Scratch will have none of that.

He's of no use in Hell. He hasn't done anything that deserves punishment, but the devil still insists on having his debts paid and makes Sam an offer he can't refuse: Be his bounty hunter on Earth or his mom gets sent to the fiery pit.

Assisting him is his fellow co-worker and uber-slacker Sock (Tyler Labine), who seems like a character out of a Smith movie. Of course, Sam also has a crush on a female co-worker, but let's face it, that's not why I'm there. I tuned in for Wise and boy does he deliver.

There are a few little glimpses of Leland/BOB in his performance (as when he smiles or giggles), but mostly his devil is a portrayal unlike any I've seen. While he's capable of showing a bit of his sinister nature, this devil almost is a motivational speaker, encouraging Sam to give his life purpose and that the people he's sending to Hell, deserve to be there.

He even tries to assuage Sam's fears about helping Satan by informing him he's seen how the world ends and, trust him, God wins. Wise gives his portrayal so many fun spins that I hate to spoil them for people who have yet to see the show (apparently you can watch it anytime on the CW Web site).

I'm just glad that this fine actor has finally landed another series role worthy of his gifts. Welcome back Ray.


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