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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My other social networking: The TV.

Okay, the last time I recommended a show to Mayor Sam, Life on Mars, that episode was so preachy! I apologize for their bad writing. But things are different now. Life on Mars is dead and buried. Prison Break has been pronounced dead by Fox for 3 months now, with just a few shows left, moved to the always dead Friday.

But Reaper, the rare comedy-drama that works both ways, and is totally, always compelling has just recently been pronounced dead by Hollywood Reporter. I think it's a premature burial, and still very much alive. Do you remember the Bee Gees song? I forget it, but it's something about staying alive.

If you liked The Screwtape Letters, (yes, the same C. S. Lewis who wrote the Narnia books, which are much better books than movies) you'll love Reaper. Basically, it's letters from Uncle Screwtape, a demon, to his demon nephew, on how to do it better: that is, how to tempt man and womankind, and what evil is, and how to make it.

I don't know if the extremely clever writers of Reaper actually read this book, but I read that Ray Wise, the only actor in Reaper I already knew, saw a lot of films with a devil to design his portrayal. And boy, does he knock it out of the park. He is the perfect devil. And Sam is his perfect victim.

The series begins with Sam, a slacker who works at a Home Depot type place because "college made him sleepy" waking up on his 21st birthday, ready for a normal day at his boring job. Then he meets the devil. Turns out his father, an attractive advertising exec, promised Sam's soul to the devil when he turned 21, in exchange for keeping his mother alive during some illness. (I think, the deal isn't quite clear.) Sam has 2 jobs now: his job at The Bench, and his work for the devil to find different souls who have escaped from hell and bring them back. He's allowed to let Sock and Ben, co-workers at The Bench, in on his secret, and they help him out in the chase.

One of the most beautiful things in this show is that even with the setup of a different soul (scary bad people of all types) to send back to hell every week, EACH EPISODE IS ALMOST TOTALLY SURPRISING! This is just not a predictable show. How rare is that! And thank Gah!

Other things I love:

* The casting is impeccable. Give the Casting Director an Emmy!!! Sam, Sock, especially Ben, Andi, of course the Devil, and even the supporting characters, like Ted, the funniest boss ever, Gladys at the DMV (because souls have to be handed back at hell on earth: the DMV. Hee!), Nina, who I'm very sorry to read is leaving - bad, Nina, bad-, Sam's parents, and even Morgan. I also especially liked Andi's ex, Greg - bring him back, brilliant!

* Locations. I know it's filmed in Canada, and I'm a union person - hate runaway production. But I like it when they go to various outdoor lakes, forests, houses, that are NOT LA. And I have to add that since I've been watching this, I've had to go to the DMV twice, and I didn't mind!! And to Home Depot. They weren't as bad or boring after this show.

* The first season, Reaper had a makeout session (and more) between Gladys (who happens to be a demon) and Sock. A twenty-something guy and 50-something woman get it on. On the CW. Is this not scream-worthy? In a good way? The brilliant part is they made it work. Sock was sexier in that scene than when he did his step-sister. (oops, hope I didn't spoil anything.)

* You might imagine that as a cartoonist I laugh a lot. Unfortunately for me, that is not the case. Yes, I often laugh at my own cartoons - at least the first few times - but I don't think a lot of other people are as funny as they think they are. TV hardly ever is. But I laugh a lot, and loudly, at this show. And the writing is so tight that I can watch it again, several times, and find even more cleverness in it.

* It's not just the funny. There are a lot of interesting iffy situations with good and bad, and constant choices. Is Sam really Satan's son? Ray Wise constantly tempts him and goads him. And who hasn't done more bad things than the latest soul, a young man who was a virgin, and coveted a woman? He went to hell for that! That wasn't fair! The Devil pointed up to the sky and said "His rules, not mine." Still not fair!

And just to prove my love, now look what I did. I wrote my latest Slate cartoon, above, to incorporate both Obama, his first 100 days, and Reaper. (You can also see it here on Gocomics, with comments - and add your own.) No, I don't really think Obama signed any deal, but he certainly isn't the angel some people think he is. I particularly disagree with some of his Cabinet appointees, and most of his economic decisions.

You can read more about this in my blog, Why I Did It.

Who isn't terrified of being buried alive? Don't do it to Reaper! It's on tonight at 8 PM on Channel 5.

Caption: About Barack Obama: "I can't believe it's been 100 days and he's still standing. Do you think it's like Reaper, and he made a deal with the Devil?" © D. Barstow 2009, All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

1. Who cares?
2. What does this have to do w/LA?
3. Who is Higby?
4. Where is Higby?
5. What does Phil Gendergone do to pay the rent?

April 28, 2009 5:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hmm, so a 50 something woman can get it on with a 20 some year old? (that's how you know it's just television) I'd settle for a 30 some year old just for fun. You know, like a toy.

April 29, 2009 3:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

WHY ARE THESE POSTS SO DAMN LONG? With alll issues in LA you post this?

Hey, does anyone know where the gang banger Mayor is hidingout? Don't count on LA lazy reporters to report where he's been.

April 29, 2009 6:51 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Since it is almost a whole day later, and nothing on this blog but garbage lately, 512pm poses excellent questions.

April 29, 2009 7:08 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

1. nobody
2. nothing
3. fat guy on a neighborhood council
4. @ noho cookie stand
5. it rhymes with "glowjobs"

April 29, 2009 8:10 AM  

Anonymous g said:


April 29, 2009 4:38 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I finally clicked on your reaper link and saw that the 20-something you're talking about who hooked up with a 50-something woman was a fat slob and looks disgusting. THAT is progress? If you have Geroge Clooney or any attractive 50-ish man banging a fat ugly 20-something you'd think it was pathetic. Donna, some women that age don't have to go so low. Think Kim Basinger.

April 30, 2009 12:12 PM  

Blogger Donna Barstow said:

My feelings get hurt very easily. When I only got one comment, I moved on to other things. But now I'll answer these.
@5:12 Hello, this is a television town. Higby was obviously enjoying my post. I don't know who PG is.

May 04, 2009 3:54 PM  

Blogger Donna Barstow said:

6:51, I know they're too long. I try to cut them back, and will try harder.


May 04, 2009 3:55 PM  

Blogger Donna Barstow said:

3:54, you're right. Gladys has had no plastic surgery, and needs a do-over badly. But did you glimpse Sock, the 20-something? Not that attractive, either. They had sparks! If I ever allow flash again, I'll find it on youtube for you.

May 04, 2009 3:57 PM  

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