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TV/DVD Reviews: Reaper, Dollhouse, Futurama
(3/2/09)

Here are some TV & DVD reviews.

Let’s start with TV

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REAPER (Tuesdays @ 8pm on CW)

‘Reaper’ returns to the CW for it’s second season beginning Tuesday March 3rd at 8pm. I’d like to thank the CW for renewing what was one of my favorite new shows of last since, but fuck CW for giving ‘Reaper’ the kiss of death slot up against ‘American Idol‘. Was the ratings challenged ‘90210’ (which resided in what is now ‘Reaper’’s time slot) so important to hold on to? Typical TV mentality, kill off the interesting different show so you can hold onto another bad teen soap (a rehash of a previously bad teen soap to boot).

That said, I hope you will all give ‘Reaper’ a chance. Maybe if we all watch, the ratings will be high enough that they’ll be forced to order a third season.

For those unfamiliar with the show here’s a quick rundown. Sam, a slacker who works at The Work Bench, turns 21, finds out that his parents sold his sold to the devil, and that he must now work for the devil capturing escaped souls (apparently it is very easy to get out of hell). His two best friends (also slackers who work with him) help him to capture the souls.

After a wonderful premiere episode that Kevin Smith directed, the show had about 6 episodes of just being about catching the soul of the week. Ho-hum, I thought the series was quickly losing steam and was getting ready to give on it. Then the writer’s stirke happened, and when ‘Reaper’ returned it became something so much more. All of a sudden there was character development, and really learning about the devil (brilliantly played by Ray Wise) , and the people who work with him, and other demons that were trying to destroy him. And then there’s the secret of who exactly is Sam, and are his parents his parents. The show suddenly got teeth, and became one of the few shows I looked forward to seeing each week.

The first season of ‘Reaper’ is available on DVD, and you can also watch some episodes from season one at their official site:

http://www.cwtv.com/shows/reaper

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DOLLHOUSE (Fridays @ 9pm on Fox)

In full disclosure let me start by saying I am a fan of Joss Whedon’s work. ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ immediately sucked me, and with the exception of a couple of episodes, was an absolutely brilliant series. ‘Angel’ was kind of hit and miss, but when it was on, it was really on (and the last season of ‘Angel‘, which Joss played a big part in, was clearly it’s best season). ‘Firefly‘, though short lived, was a wonderful series that led to the one of the best sci-fi films I’ve seen in years, ‘Serenity‘. And if you need a good laugh, last year’s ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog’ was absolutely hysterical (and now available on DVD).

However, I went into watching ‘Dollhouse’, Joss’s latest TV series, with low expectations. The pilot was re-shot, and Fox moved it before it premiered from a decent Monday night slot, to a graveyard of a Friday night slot. Obviously Fox had low expectations. Of course this is the same network that aired ‘Firefly’ on Friday nights, running the episodes out of order, and then killing it before all the episodes aired.

Here’s the description of the show on Hulu:

Joss Whedon, creator of groundbreaking cult favorites "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," returns to television and reunites with fellow "Buffy" alumna Eliza Dushku for a thrilling new drama, Dollhouse. Echo (Dushku) is an "Active," a member of a highly illegal and underground group who have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas. Confined to a secret facility known as the "Dollhouse," Echo and the other Actives, including Sierra and Victor, carry out engagements assigned by Adelle, one of the Dollhouse leaders. The engagements cater to the wealthy, powerful and connected, and require the Actives to immerse themselves in all manner of scenarios - romantic, criminal, uplifting, dangerous, comical and the occasional "pro bono" good deed. After each scenario, Echo, always under the watchful eye of her handler Boyd, returns to the mysterious Dollhouse where her thoughts, feelings and experiences are erased by Topher, the Dollhouse's genius programmer.

So what make I of ‘Dollhouse‘?

Truthfully, the jury is still out.

The re-shot pilot episode was absolutely awful, and if it was not Joss Whedon, I wouldn’t have given the show a second chance. Episode two, while better, was really not enough to keep my attention…except for a few seeds of what could be something further down the line.

However, last Friday episode three aired, and it was quite entertaining. Joss’s brand of dark humor that was largely lacking from the first two episodes, was front and center in this one. The episode dealt with Eliza’s character being imprinted as a backup singer/bodyguard, to protect a teen pop-singing sensation from a psycho fan. In true Joss Whedon fashion, what you think is happening twists into something completely different midway through the episode.

This episode gave the series a stay of execution from my viewing calendar, but they better keep it up or the show will quickly lose my interest again.

You can watch ‘Dollhouse’ for free on Hulu (I'd start with episode three):

http://www.hulu.com/dollhouse

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DVDs

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FUTURAMA: INTO THE WILD GREEN YONDER

Futurama returns with it’s forth (and currently last scheduled) direct to DVD movie. I love Futurama as a series, but the previous three direct to DVD movies, while hysterically funny at times, dragged in a lot of places. I still feel Futurama works best in it’s original half hour format (and there’s recent talk that Fox is considering bringing the show back with new episodes), but ‘Into The Wild Green Yonder’ works well as feature length film. The jokes are plentiful, the story moves along at a nice pace, and there are some great payoffs for long-time fans of the show, including an ending that leaves the door open for more, but feels fitting as closure if this is the end.

You can read a synopsis of the film at Futurama’s website:

http://www.ilovebender.com

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Ok, that’s all for now folks.