Saturday, September 29, 2007
Pilot reviews part 5: Journeyman and Reaper
For some reason or another I hadn't been expecting to like Journeyman at all. I guess it just seemed kind of vague and another weak sci-fi attempt by a major network. And um, it also might have had something to do with Gretchen Egolf, who I seriously despised back when she was on Roswell playing that awful Vanessa Whitaker. (I know, I know, I need to stop judging actors based on one bad role.)
But you know, I found myself really liking this pilot. I mean, it was pretty confusing and a lot of things make no sense, but it is a time travel show and I think you can kind of make up your own rules for these kind of things. The beginning of the episode was a little crazy because you barely find out who this guy is before he inexplicably starts time-traveling. And at first I thought Dan, played by Kevin McKidd, was kind of bland, but I found myself kind of liking and caring about him by the end.
There's a bit of complicated romance thing going as well...Dan in the present is married (to his brother's ex-girlfriend?) with a young son, but before that was engaged to Livia, who's now dead. Dan figures out that he's supposed to help someone during these little "trips" as he calls them, but he's always crossing paths with Livia as well. And one encounter is especially strange, as it seems to be a time-traveling Livia as well. I don't know, I'm intrigued, so I'm definitely going to stick it out for a few episodes at least.
I kind of had the exact opposite thing with Reaper; I was pretty sure I was going to like it. And I did. It kind of reminds me a little bit of the good old days of the WB when their schedule was chock-full of teen sci-fi with Buffy and Angel and Roswell and Charmed and such. The pilot was directed by Kevin Smith, and it really shows...there's a lot to like here.
The concept of the show is pretty silly...on his 21st birthday, Sam learns that his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born and now he has to work for the devil sending escaped souls back to hell. Sam (Bret Harrison) is yet another one of this season's lovable slackers who works at a megastore (this time, a Home Depot clone called the Work Bench), but it's almost not his fault. His parents, fearful of his inevitable fate, have been way too easy on him (he quit college because it made him sleepy), so he's been kind of a wimp his entire life. So in a way this new job is finally giving him some purpose and confidence. Like to go after Andi, the cute girl at work (played by Missy Peregrym). Yeah, we kind of all know where this is going.
But this show does have two really great things going for it: Ray Wise and Tyler Labine. Ray Wise is kind of brilliant as the devil, playing him with a big, slightly creepy smile and a kind of quirky sense of humor. And Tyler Labine (who I remember from back on Breaker High, the most ridiculous teen show that's ever existed but that also produced Ryan Gosling) is Sock, Sam's wacky coworker. And Valarie Rae Miller's in the cast too, who's a welcome face since I haven't her seen in anything since Dark Angel.
A lot of people have been comparing this to Chuck, but I don't think that's really a bad thing. The characters and tone of the shows are pretty similar, but Chuck has the spy thing and Reaper has the supernatural thing. I'm not sure that either of them is really going to be appointment TV but they're fun and for now that's good enough.